As a whole, the Big 12 posted a 9-0 record in non-conference openers with TCU the lone program serving a bye week. Four of those wins came against FCS opposition, a scheduling perk for rebuilding schools but perhaps a detriment once the playoff begins. Here’s how each Big 12 team looked kicking off the 2012 season.
The Cowboys, unable to schedule a Cub Scouts troop in Stillwater, filled their opener with lowly Savannah State and strolled to an 84-0 victory. Even pseudo-athletic director T. Boone Pickens expressed dismay at the opponent choice but someone had to line up across from the Cowboys and the Little Sisters of the Blind were busy. To Mike Gundy‘s credit, he yanked starters before the conclusion of the first quarter, only allowed quarterback Wes Lunt to throw 11 passes (he completed all of them for 129 yards) and failed to score triple digits when it was more than mere possibility. Goose eggs mean an extra helping of yogurt for the defense and I’m interested to watch how in sync the offense is next week at Arizona. The Wildcats struggled to oust Toldeo in overtime but offer a slightly more athletic look than the initial Cowboys opposition.
UTEP missed field goals like a drug cartel had money on the spread. Had the Miners succeeded on special teams, the 24-7 Sooners win might have been a bit closer. Oklahoma didn’t pull away until late in the fourth and the offense exhibited the same issues as it did in 2011 post-Ryan Broyles. Landry Jones, flushed from the pocket continually, rushed throws and simply failed to find the rhythm of a senior signal-caller. Perhaps most troubling was the UTEP running game popping at 5.8 YPC against an Oklahoma defensive line that Mike Stoops may need more time to reconstruct than the non-conference schedule allows.
A stingy Cyclones squad forced three turnovers against Tulsa en route to a 38-23 win. Steele Jantz, Tom Cruise’s moniker in his next movie, tossed 2 touchdowns while Shontrelle Johnson repped 120 yards at 6.7 YPC.
Charlie Weis didn’t lose to a directional Dakota college in his debut so he’s a leg up on Turner Gill. Dayne Crist, Notre Dame transfer, played decent — 17/36, 169 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception — and that’s probably being kind. It doesn’t hurt when two runners (Tony Pierson — 124 and Taylor Cox — 121) produce 100-yard games. The Jayhawks bested South Dakota State 31-17.
A 44-6 mauling of Northwestern State gives Tommy Tuberville some breathing room beginning a season where his job is moderately on the line. New defensive coordinator Art Kaufman‘s 4-3 worked against an FCS opponent, will it continue in conference play? Eric Stephens returned from his 2011 knee injury to gain 58 yards and score 2 touchdowns.
The Wildcats led 9-6 at the half over Missouri State and finished with a 51-9 pasting. The culprit? Hell if I know, Bill Snyder provokes weird stuff. Kansas State rushed for 324 yards and kept Collin Klein (19/28, 169 yards, 2 touchdowns) healthy. It might not be sexy but again, do you think the head coach markets his style to MTV?
Malcolm Brown (105 yards, 1 touchdown) and Joe Bergeron (110 yards, 2 touchdowns) propelled an improved but not flashy Longhorns offense to a 37-17 win over Wyoming. Surprisingly, the well-publicized secondary was gashed for 276 yards by Cowboys quarterback Brett Smith. A Shipley caught a touchdown for Texas. Some things don’t change.
69 points in a destruction of Marshall means the Mountaineers have…regressed since bowl season? It wasn’t 70 but Geno Smith (32/36, 323 yards, 4 touchdowns) is better while Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey and Shawne Alston are who we thought they were (CROWN ‘EM). This offense is explosive, potent and ridiculously entertaining. The fault most likely to prevent a Big 12 championship? West Virginia’s defense gave up over 500 yards of offense, 413 of those through the air. Think a few Big 12 offensive coordinator’s might enjoy that challenge?
Robert Griffin III‘s legend will hover in Waco for generations though I’m not sure the Bears are in trouble as long as Art Briles is on the sideline. Baylor thrashed SMU behind Nick Florence‘s (20/29, 334 yards, 4 touchdowns) mastery to complete an undefeated weekend for Big 12 teams. Mustangs signal-caller Garrett Gilbert played and if you remember his struggles at Texas, tonight wasn’t much different. I’ve never witnessed a quarterback toss grenades into the hands of defensive linemen like the Lake Travis product.