In a league filled with questions in the preseason, Big 12 teams are getting answers, but few of them are satisfactory.
Texas’ run defense is somehow getting worse, much worse. In a sign of desperation, the Longhorns will shuffle their defensive coaching staff after firing Manny Diaz, who was considered a rising star only two years ago.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma and West Virginia have learned they can’t rely on their passing games. TCU has an answer to its quarterback quandary, but that’s only because Casey Pachall’s season was cut short for the second time in two seasons.
For TCU and Texas, there’s little time for recovery after eventful Saturdays as the Horned Frogs catch Texas Tech’s high-powered offense and the Longhorns play host to Ole Miss, a team with SEC talent, if not experience and depth.
Oklahoma State and West Virginia also will deal with off-field concerns as a Sports Illustrated report will allege corruption and violations of NCAA rules (though they are outside of the NCAA’s statute of limitations) in Stillwater. A West Virginia assistant who used to work at Oklahoma State, Joe DeForest, will be named in the report.
Big 12 Post-Week 2 Power Rankings
Oklahoma State (2-0, 0-0): The Cowboys’ defense may be a concern at first blush. Oklahoma State allowed 35 points and 504 yards to UTSA, but much of that was on four long touchdown drives in the third and fourth quarters. Perhaps a bigger concern should be the run game. Oklahoma State averaged only 2.7 yards per carry on 32 attempts. The Cowboys averaged 7.2 yards per carry against Mississippi State, so maybe this was an aberration. This week: Lamar
Baylor (2-0, 0-0): The Bears are running their offense with brutal efficiency despite a starting quarterback in Bryce Petty who was untested to start the season. Baylor has only one TD drive that exceeded two minutes (2:07 against Wofford). The Bears will have a chance to build upon their gaudy numbers against ULM, West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas before the Big 12 gauntlet in November. This week: Off
Oklahoma (2-0, 1-0): Oklahoma briefly benched starting quarterback Trevor Knight, who was 10 of 20 for 119 yards with a TD and two third-quarter interceptions. Blake Bell directed to second half possessions, but only accounted for three plays himself (one incomplete pass, two carries for 21 yards), but that may be enough to signal a reevaluation of the quarterback position. This week: Tulsa
TCU (1-1, 0-0): TCU will carry on again with Trevone Boykin as the starting quarterback as Casey Pachall will miss eight weeks with a broken arm. Boykin went 3-6 as a starter last season, but three of those loses were decided by a touchdown or less. Boykin brings athleticism to the position, but now that speed is confined to quarterback. He had been logging time at receiver as well this season. The TCU defense has been vulnerable to the big play in two games this season, an interesting storyline entering the first conference game. This week: at Texas Tech (Thursday)
Texas Tech (2-0, 0-0): How much do we really know about Texas Tech and quarterback sensation Baker Mayfield? Texas Tech has defeated a mediocre FCS opponent and an SMU team that gutted out a 31-30 win over Montana State the following week. Kliff Kingsbury’s high-powered offense faces its toughest challenge of the year against TCU. This week: TCU (Thursday)
Texas (1-1, 0-0): Mack Brown fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after the debacle in Provo, but Texas’ problems run deeper than one playcaller on defense. The addition of Greg Robinson to the staff is a curious one, but he led a top-25 defense at Texas in 2004 before his failed tenure at Syracuse. The offense could be an issue as well as quarterback David Ash and running back Daje Johnson are evaluated for injuries. This week: Ole Miss
Kansas State (1-1, 0-0): This was the Kansas State we’re used to seeing, if only in the win column. The Wildcats defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 48-27, but they threw an uncharacteristic 34 passes. Kansas State was on the wrong end of the turnover margin (minus-1) and allowed 370 yards. After UMass this week, Kansas State goes on the road for back-to-back games against Texas and Oklahoma State. This week: Massachusetts
West Virginia (1-1, 0-1): West Virginia stuck with quarterback Paul Millard despite an ugly game for the Mountaineers’ offense (three fumbles, one interception). West Virginia averaged seven yards per carry, but that was buoyed by a 75-yard touchdown run by Dreamius Smith in the first quarter. The Mountaineers have a game against Georgia State to work out some issues before a stretch against Maryland, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas State and TCU. This week: Georgia State
Kansas (1-0, 0-0): Let’s move Kansas out of the cellar for at least a week after the Jayhawks ended their 11-game losing streak. Despite its high-profile quarterback transfers, KU will be anchored by its run game. James Sims and Darrian Miller led a 280-yard (5.6 yards per carry) effort against South Dakota. Seeking its first FBS win in 21 games, Kansas faces a Rice team that beat the Jayhawks 25-24 in Lawrence last year. This week: at Rice
Iowa State (0-1, 0-0): Iowa State had the week off to prepare for Iowa with hopes of avoiding an 0-2 start against in-state programs. This week: Iowa
Big 12 Week 2 Recap and Awards
Offensive player of the week: Brennan Clay, RB, Oklahoma
Oklahoma’s 16-7 win over West Virginia wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t anything near the aerial showdown last year’s meeting was. As the Sooners sorted through their quarterback situation, Bob Stoops put the offense on the back of the run game. Brennan Clay rushed for a career-high 170 yards on 22 carries to lead a 316-yard rushing day for the Sooners.
Defensive player of the week: Ty Zimmerman, S, Kansas State
Kansas State’s mainstay at safety ended any momentum Louisiana-Lafayette hoped to build in the second half. The Ragin’ Cajuns scored a touchdown on a kickoff return and then on a Terrance Broadway run in less than two minutes to cut a 34-3 lead to 17 points. On UL Lafayette’s next possession, Zimmerman took an interception back 32 yards for a touchdown to effectively put the game away in a 48-27 victory.
Freshman of the week: Baker Mayfield, QB, Texas Tech
The Texas Tech walk-on continued his torrid start to the season by completing 21 of 30 passes for 367 yards with three touchdowns in a 61-13 win over Stephen F. Austin. Mayfield’s 780 passing yards and and seven touchdown passes in two games both rank third in the country.
Team of the week: Baylor
In the first two weeks of the season, Baylor has put on a quick-strike spread offense showcase that only Oregon can match. Baylor’s 70 points against Buffalo was the most for the Bears since 1929. With 501 yards in the first half, Baylor extended its streak of 400-yard games to 29 consecutive games going back to the 2010 Texas Bowl against Illinois. First-year quarterback Bryce Petty completed 13 of 16 passes for 338 yards with two touchdowns, averaging an astounding 21.1 yards per pass attempt.
Coordinator of the week: Del Miller, Kansas State
Kansas State’s offense stalled last week against North Dakota State, particularly in the run game. The Wildcats opened things up against UL Lafayette with an uncharacteristic 34 pass attempt to 37 rushing attempts. Kansas State topped 30 pass attempts only four since 2011. All four were either high scoring shootouts or games in which K-State played from behind; all four were losses. Jake Waters completed 22 of 31 passes for 278 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for Kansas State’s first win with at least 30 pass attempts since Nov. 22, 2008 against Iowa State.