Big 12 Football Week 4 Power Rankings: Upsets and offensive dominance

Big 12

The Big 12 had some major upsets this weekend, but the real storyline was Texas Tech’s offensive dominance over Houston that not only broke records but catapulted the Red Raiders as national stat leaders. Some teams rose, others fell, and there are a few that are shocking the conference–both in good and bad ways.

Here’s how the teams stack up through four weeks:


After taking it to ACU and UTSA to start the season, Baylor took a 40-27 loss to Duke on Saturday. Between quarterbacks Charlie Brewer and Jalan McClendon, the Bears had 270 passing yards and just one touchdown in the air. Baylor was a little more effective running the ball, but even with higher numbers, the Bears finished the day with just a single double-digit run by Jalen Hurd.

With three fumbles by the offense and zero sacks by the defense against a Power 5 team, this could help paint a more accurate picture as to what we can expect from Baylor this season.


There was a lot of hope and excitement regarding the Cyclones headed into the season, and yet here they are, sitting on a 0-1 start following a crushing loss against the Sooners on Saturday. While it was only a 10 point loss, Iowa State had issues controlling the clock at home. Moreover, the Cyclones’ defense allowed OU quarterback Kyler Murray to throw for 348 yards, averaging 12 yards-per-pass. With other Big 12 teams firing up high-powered offenses early this season, it could be an issue with the Cyclones’ secondary moving forward.

8. TCU

Facepalm. TCU and Ohio State originally scheduled a home-and-home series, but for a bigger payout, the game was moved to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, and that loss of home advantage could have been a difference-maker against the No. 4 ranked Buckeyes.

TCU started as an underdog against Ohio State, but simple mistakes prevented this game from being closer than it should have been. Quarterback Sean Robinson has thrown just five touchdowns this season but was plagued by turnovers on Saturday, and the Buckeyes capitalized off the mistakes, putting a fumble return for a touchdown, and a pick-6 on the board. While TCU has the talent to recover, a visit to Austin to play the Longhorns this week following their win over USC won’t provide the Horned Frogs much time to make adjustments.


Kansas is 2-0, and most people are actually really excited for the Jayhawks, whose only marquee win in years was against the Longhorns back in 2016. Sure, the Jayhawks’ 55-15 blowout victory was at home against Rutgers, but a few points emerged. Kansas has a serious issue with quarterbacks, but did manage four rushing touchdowns, and hauled in two defensive touchdowns on three interceptions thrown by Rutgers.

Kansas heads to Baylor this weekend, and with the way the Bears are playing, there’s a huge possibility the Jayhawks start in-conference play with a win over a team that’s still rebuilding.


Unfortunately, West Virginia’s Week 3 matchup against NC State was canceled due to Hurricane Florence, so there isn’t a lot of data to go off before the Mountaineers square up against Kansas State this week.


Kansas State beat UTSA, 41-17, and between quarterbacks, Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton, put up three touchdowns. Thompson established himself as QB1, throwing for 213 yards, with 66 rushing yards and a touchdown from one yard out.

UTSA head coach Frank Wilson said, “We held them to some third-down opportunities, but we just couldn’t get them off the field.” This is interesting because UTSA controlled time of possession, but Kansas State averaged 15 yards-per-pass compared to just 3.7 yards-per-rush. Kansas State faces a West Virginia team that had plenty of time on Saturday to study the Wildcats, who have been struggling in several areas to start the season. Bill Snyder will have his team’s attention, but West Virginia is hungry to get back on the field, so this will be a game to watch.


Texas got revenge on the No. ranked USC Trojans in its 37-14 victory in Austin on Saturday, but the win wasn’t without controversy. On a keeper from the end zone, USC defenders sacked Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger in what was a clear safety, but the officials said the football broke the plane. That missed call gave the Longhorns momentum throughout the first half, and USC just couldn’t make the necessary second-half adjustments, which have plagued the Trojans since its Stanford loss two weeks ago.

This upset was a morale booster as the Longhorns head into Big 12 play, and with the No. 12 ranked TCU Horned Frogs on the schedule this week, Texas should be riding high, while Gary Patterson will have to refocus TCU following its loss against Ohio State.

It’s also worth mentioning that Texas’ upset over USC is its 900th win in program history.


While Texas Tech rolled Lamar in Week Two, the Red Raiders were an underdog at home on Saturday, as they hosted the Houston Cougars who were riding high off a victory against Arizona the week prior. With heightened expectations by Houston’s Heisman talk surrounding Ed Oliver, the Red Raiders knew it was a tall task and responded with a 63-49 upset victory. Texas Tech true freshman Alan Bowman looked at that challenge and threw bullet after bullet, finishing the day with 43 of 59 for 605 yards, five touchdowns, zero interceptions, surpassing Patrick Mahomes’ single-game passing yards for a freshman.

As if one record wasn’t enough, Texas Tech wide receiver Antoine Wesley had 13 receptions for 261 yards and three touchdowns to set the record for single-game receiving yards. This was exactly the kind of quality win Tech needed as it hosts Oklahoma State this weekend to open a tough Big 12 schedule.

See:  Q/A: Former Texas Tech quarterback BJ Symons on Kingsbury, Quarterbacks, and more


Oklahoma State routed the No. 17 ranked Boise State Broncos in a 44-21 victory to wrap up its slate of non-conference games to start the season at 3-0.

Fifth-year senior Tyler Cornelius threw for 243 yards and a touchdown, with two rushing touchdowns on the day. Boise State senior quarterback Brett Ripien paid compliments to the Oklahoma State defense in the post-game. “Their D-line, I thought, did a good job,” Rypien said. “You don’t want to get into third-and-long against that defense.” That’s definitely advice the rest of the conference can use as we begin theBig 12 schedules.


Oklahoma dominated once again. Not only did the Sooners stay undefeated, but they also did so in a tough Jack Trice Stadium in Ames to go into Big 12 play at 1-0. Kyler Murray finished the day with a 90.5 percent quarterback rating and continues to help the Sooners retool their offense.

The OU defense was a different story, however. Allowing 10 yards-per-pass by Iowa State quarterback Zeb Noland doesn’t bode well for future Big 12 play, which also has offenses that continue to retool.

Want more? Check out The Big 12’s Week Three Power Rankings.



Q/A: Former Texas Tech quarterback BJ Symons on Kingsbury, Quarterbacks, and more

Texas Tech

Texas Tech fans, coaches, and players alike all have plenty of comments to make about the football program, but regardless of how many wins or losses that mount up at the end of the season, adjustments are made, problems are diagnosed, and everyone moves on with equal parts uncertainty and excitement. Unfortunately, pundits tend to discuss the “State of…” ad nauseum levels, and the opinions tend to create a narrative that former players might agree, or disagree with. The problem is, few seem eager to reach out to the guys who have shed blood, sweat, and tears in the trenches for expert analysis.

Former Texas Tech quarterback B.J. Symons was kind enough to sit down and discuss the biggest areas of concern regarding the 2018 season: Kliff Kingsbury, and quarterbacks. 

Q: In a situation when a team faces a quarterback battle, how does a coach know when a guy is the guy? Does the team tell him?

BJ: I think it’s different for every coach. I can only speak from experience. I admire Kliff Kingsbury as a coach, as a fan, and as a person. He’s committed to giving players the opportunity to prove themselves and earn the job as a starter. It seems like ever since Kliff got the [head coaching] job dating back to Baker Mayfield as a walk-on, he felt like Mayfield gave him the best chance to win over Davis Webb, who was a scholarship player, so they competed.

Mike Leach for example, when he got the job at Texas Tech in 1999, Kliff ran with the 1s from Day 1 and I ran with the 2s. And that’s not a knock against Kliff or the situation, that was just the reality. There was never a competition to earn the starting job, and honestly I think that had a lot to do with Leach, who came from Oklahoma the year prior when he was coaching with Bob Stoops. Our last game–my true freshman year when I was redshirting and Kliff was a FS/F our starting quarterback–Rob Peters was injured so Kingsbury started that last game of the season against Oklahoma, and he had a decent game and we won. So I think that played into that when Leach was hired at Texas Tech. He had the mindset that, “This guy started against us last year and played well.” I knew Leach because he recruited me to come to Oklahoma out of high school, so when he got the job at Tech, I was pleased with that. I knew him, he recruited me and I knew the offense he ran, but there was never a competition, And I guess I’m making that point because Kliff [has always been] committed to letting these guys each have a chance to compete and I think that’s  because he needs to know what he has in each of them, and if you know someone is the guy you’re not gonna invest reps in two other guys in practice if you think one of them is your starter. I don’t think Kliff knew [who the starting quarterback was this year], but from the outside, he really did give them all a chance because he wanted to see them prepare, practice and scrimmage, and wanted a sample size.

Going back to your original question, I think it’s different for every coach in how they know. He’s observing everything from afar. For example, how are receivers like in the huddle? What’s the morale of the team one guys in the huddle versus the other? Do guys play harder for one guy than the other? And we see in the news about things that Kliff said about game management and taking care of the football, and I think he just factors everything in. And at the end of the day, Kliff’s proven not only his ability to coach quarterbacks at a successful level dating back to Keenum, and Manziel who won a Heisman, and Pat and Davis and Baker; I think his track record speaks for himself that he’s going to make a decision to play the best guy that he feels is gonna give him the best chance to win.


Q: You were Kingsbury’s backup. Walk us through your thoughts when you knew it was your time to take over.

BJ: I was just excited because I had been a backup for four years one as a redshirt and three as a backup with Kliff as a durable quarterback. It’s really rare in todays game–especially with these offenses and the way you see qbs involved from an athletic standpoint. It’s pretty rare to see a guy not miss a start in three years. Look at the last Tech years at Tech. Mayfield started as a true freshman and had injuries, Davis had some injuries, Pat had injuries, Nik played and McLane started, so to have a quarterback start for three straight years without missing a start is rare. So as a backup, I really had no experience with the exception of blowouts here and there. In my time of being the No. 2, I had maybe thrown less than 50 passes, and it was all mop up duty, whether we were up 40 or down 40. So I think I was just excited to play in a meaningful game because I had worked and prepared for that opportunity. I was just looking forward to competing again at a high level. Part of what makes football so great and why people play it is because of the game and competition, and going out there with your team and trying to win; there’s no better feeling than that, and I had never had that because even when I played (as backup) it was fun, but it was an opportunity to play and have fun again.


Q: Dovetailing from that, what were your personal expectations, and did you use his records as your personal motivation?

BJ: No, I never once had a “I’m gonna set school records” mentality. I don’t even know how many yards or touchdowns Kliff had thrown for, but going into my year starting, I can’t tell you I knew those numbers at the time or set any goals. More than anything, I wanted to prove not only to myself, but to everyone that I was ready to light the world on fire. For me it was kind of like lightning in a bottle because we had so much depth and experience aside from me, so ya, I was starting for my first year but we had multiple-year starters, which made things easier. I just knew that I needed to do what I did in practice for four years. I was always a risk taker. I always tried to throw balls and make “wow” throws and force the issue which was good and bad… and the majority of my interceptions came after I was hurt, but I didn’t have records in mind. I knew we had a really good offense, and I knew what I was capable of.


Q: How does a quarterback carve his own legacy when he’s always being compared to the guy he replaced?

BJ: I don’t think quarterbacks think about carving legacies, but maybe some do. When I was going into my senior year at Texas Tech, I wasn’t think about carving a legacy, so I knew there would be comparisons with Kliff, but I knew my game was different than his and I wasn’t trying to be him, I was just going to go out there and be me. So I think you carve your own legacy by not trying to be the guy before you, and if that’s worthy of a legacy then it will create itself. You play your game and play how you’re coached and legacies come later.


Q: Any advice to the quarterbacks this season?

BJ: Trust your teammates and coaches… put in the work and just play. Don’t concern yourself with what’s going on around you. Don’t pay attention to media–good or bad. Focus on being the best, put in the time, watch film as much as you can, commit yourself to being the best quarterback you can without worrying about the distractions. At the end of the day these kids are student-athletes; they’re going to class, they’re on campus, but going out and doing other things can lead to distractions they can get caught up in and. So I would just say, my advice would be work hard listen to your coaches, study film, take care of yourself off the field, and play ball. Go out without hesitation and ball. [To be fair] I would give that advice now, but I wouldn’t necessarily have followed it. It was hard for me. I wasn’t accustomed to it. Maybe Kliff was used to everything that came with being quarterback at a high level for a D1 team, but for me it was still my first year, so I’m dealing with people in class, and fans at dinner. So it’s easy for me to sit here [now] and say “don’t pay attention to distractions,” but I wouldn’t necessarily expect 18, 19, 20 year old kids to be able to do that.


Q: If you could say one thing to the fans to excite them about this quarterback race, what would it be?

BJ: At the Ole Miss game, Carter was showing something. He was locked in, and I felt bad that he got hurt. I haven’t really seen Duffey play so I can’t give thoughts on him, but I’m excited about what I see in Bowman. Go back to when Patrick Mahomes came in as a freshmen. If I can make an analogy to Mahomes’ first start, he looked awful. Actually, I don’t think he looked awful, I just think he wasn’t ready. The very first action I remember seeing Mahomes he was  a true freshman, and I think Webb was still here and he got hurt, but Mahomes looked lost. I’m not hating on Pat, and I’m one of his biggest fans, but he looked like the lights were too big. What I’ve seen from Bowman makes me excited. It didn’t look like the stage was too big for him. We didn’t win the game, but he showed me a lot, especially in the way he competed. He didn’t make every throw, but he made a lot of good throws, and he’s athletic so he’s capable of making things happen with his feet, whether it be on the run or escaping pressure and making plays. I think about that and think “Wow, this is literally this kid’s first week–well not on campus–but this was literally his first game,” and I think that gets me excited. I’m not favoring him, but it was exciting.

What makes me excited about Texas Tech is the coach that’s coaching them.

Looking at the QB position in a vacuum, I’m exciting at what I see from Bowman. I didn’t see Duffy play, but Kliff gets me excited and comfortable with what we have at QB because he’s proven himself as a coach, and we’ll be fine there, but there are other issues. Penalties are a big one, and he’s the head coach and it’s all gonna fall down on his shoulders, but when you look at the QB position specifically, what’s not to be excited about? We’re gonna be fine at QB, but here’s the thing, with the track record Kingsbury has had with coaching quarterbacks, I think it’s hard to understand what’s been going on recruiting-wise the past three years where you have all this success at QB and a guy that gets drafted in the Top 10, so how do you not have five stars ready to plug in? People are on edge because it seems like we’re in a rebuilding mode and fans want to win now.


On money, infrastructure, coaches, and recruiting: The new facilities will help Texas Tech not get left behind. I love Lubbock but we know Tech isn’t gonna recruit at the level of OU, Texas, and A&M. And I hate to say this… actually, maybe that’s the wrong stance to have as a fan. In fact it is. It’s bullshit to even say that. Why can’t we? Lubbock is a great city. I love going there. It’s a great school, campus, and has great weather, so I think the mentality has to change. It can’t be like “Oh Tech can’t compete with OU…” Why not? Chris Beard is doing it. He’s proven that kind of talk shouldn’t be acceptable. He’s coming on back-to-back NCAA appearances and landing top recruits left and right. Players want to win. High school kids coming out want to do two things: Win and go somewhere that’s gonna get them to the next level… the NFL. The problem is, every kid lives in a false Twitter reality where they think they’re gonna be a star, and a first round pick. That’s not the real world. You having three thousand followers because you’re a four-star recruit doesn’t mean shit. So kids want to go where they’ll have the best shot. You have to put yourself in the position to win, and we’ve done what we need to in terms of infrastructure, but 6-6 isn’t gonna get you five stars. Winning a Big 12 championship is what’s gonna get you to where you’re constantly having a chance to compete for recruits and win.

Fans are nervous because they feel like there’s so much uncertainty and if there’s all this uncertainty, it feels like we’re in rebuilding mode. Then there’s the expectation at defense, but I was more disappointed in the defense than the offense. I get it, we’re down three starters in the secondary, but where was Dakota Allen? You’re preseason all Big 12 All American. I’m not hating on him, but come on, Special Teams? You’re giving a kick return for a touchdown on the second drive of the game after we’ve go 90 yards and get the momentum back and tie the game, and that shit kills the team.

Guys bought into the hype and were humbled. Regardless of what people say, Tech still has a ways to go. But here’s the thing, even if we go 6-6, Texas Tech doesn’t have the bank roll to be going through $5m a year coaches. So fire Kliff? And get who? [When he was hired at Texas Tech] Kliff was a new coach and didn’t have a huge network of assistant coaches who he could go to. He trusted them, and has been doing his job of diagnosing when coaches aren’t working out, and going from there.

I truly think Kliff Kingsbury is the guy who can get us to where we need to be, but with that said, he has to get it done and there’s work ahead, but I don’t think we’re going to find someone whos gonna come in and take us to a title. I could be wrong… look at what Chris Beard did, but let’s also take into account the size of the staff and roster.


More from Unafraid Show: Alston v. NCAA: Amateurism on Trial for Violating Anti-Trust Law


Big 12 Football Week Two Power Rankings: Which teams should be concerned?

Big 12 Football Week Two

Big 12 Football Week Two was very telling in many ways. For some teams, weaknesses were exposed, and for others, promise emerged.

Here’s how Big 12 teams stacked up.

10. Iowa State

Iowa State had a lot of promise headed into this season, and with good reason.  The Cyclones had one of the more impressive turnaround seasons last year. With its first game of the year cancelled due to weather, Iowa State knew they had to put everything into the Week Two road matchup against in-state rival, Iowa. Unfortunately, the Cyclones left much to be desired in all three phases of the game, and took a 13-3 loss.

Iowa State faces No. 5 Oklahoma in Ames next weekend, and have a very real possibility to start the season at 0-3 if things don’t start clicking.

9. Kansas State

Bill Snyder’s Wildcats are off to a very poor start. After winning their season opener last weekend against South Dakota, Kansas State dropped a big one against the No. 18 ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs at home. It wasn’t just a loss, however, it was a 31-10 route, and K-State only amassed 213 total yards of offense despite having possession for about half the game. As if those statistics weren’t bad enough, K-State is ranked 120th in the nation in passing yards after Week Two.

With UTSA on the schedule this weekend, the Wildcats have time to turn this around, but offensively, there’s a lot to be desired.

8. Kansas

With its 31-7 win over Central Michigan over the weekend, Kansas has finally snapped its 46-game road losing streak, and the Big 12 couldn’t be prouder for the Jayhawks. Kansas put up 361 total yards of offense, and capitalized on six CMU turnovers to go 1-1 before hosting Rutgers on Saturday.

Rutgers hasn’t played well this season, and the odds predictors already have the scales tilting in the Jayhawks’ favor. Could Kansas be 2-1 before the start of conference play? It’s certainly likely, and believe David Beaty’s team will have momentum in their favor this week.

7. Texas

Following Texas’ loss at Maryland, they needed a win last weekend to build momentum headed into Week Three against the USC Trojans. While the Longhorns took the W against Tulsa, it wasn’t pretty, and it raised more question marks than it answered.

Tulsa missed a few field goals which could have flipped the script, and second-half adjustments appeared to move Texas backwards. Those aren’t the halftime adjustments you need to be making.

Quarterbacking issues have been highlighted with Sam Ehlinger over the past two weeks, and while interceptions haven’t been an issue, his speed and inability to extend plays on the ground have been. It’s tough to win in the Big 12 if quarterbacks can’t extend plays, and if Texas is going to be truly competitive against video game numbers, they have to work through that.

6. Baylor

Baylor is a team that has been in rebuilding mode under head coach Matt Rhule, and in its 2-0 start to open the season, you can see noticeable changes in how receptive players have been to Rhule’s coaching style. What’s more, quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 328 yards against UTSA for three touchdowns. If that doesn’t scream “Big 12 cannon,” I don’t know what does.

Baylor had seven penalties for 70 yards, which is something they need to clean up headed into conference play, and of its 492 total yards of offense, only 92 yards were on the ground. With Big 12 defenses catching up to the passing game, that could also present an issue down the road.

5. Texas Tech

Texas Tech pitched a 77-0 shutout against Lamar on Saturday for the first time since 2006, which was the most points Tech’s hung on an opponent since 2005. Moreover, while Texas Tech ended their season opener win streak last week, Tech won their 19th consecutive home opener. To say Texas Tech rebounded from the loss against Ole Miss would be an understatement, and while Saturday’s win was against a team Tech should have handled easily, it not only showed the country what true freshman quarterback Alan Bowman was capable of, it also gave Tech an opportunity to let all quarterbacks see playing time, which impressed both in the air, and on the ground.

The Red Raiders were impressive in all three phases, and continue its turnover streak, but one area of concern is in penalties. Granted, there were plenty of fresh bodies who were rotating in for the first time, but Texas Tech had 14 penalties for 139 yards. That will not fly against a team like Houston this week, and throughout Big 12 play.

4. West Virginia

West Virginia has looked good against Tennessee and Youngstown State to start the season, but against teams in a rebuild (regardless of whether they’re in the SEC or not), and an FCS team, you’d expect more defense from a team trying to prop its quarterback up for the Heisman.

The Mountaineers racked up an impressive 625 yards of offense, and wide receiver Gary Jennings managed to haul in three touchdowns off just six catches bringing his yards-per-catch to an impressive 16.2 yards. This, coming off an offseason involving speculation as to how productive he’d be, or how much he’d contribute to the Grier Show. It’s safe to say West Virginia is positioning itself to have a nice showing against NC State on Saturday, but the Wolfpack has had a 2-0 start with double-digit victories, too, so that should be an interesting matchup.

3. Oklahoma State

South Alabama tried to limit Oklahoma State on the ground last weekend  They didn’t have much success, as they allowed four rushing touchdowns to the Cowboys’ already potent quarterback Taylor Cornelius’ passing game. Cornelius finished the day throwing for 428 yards which moved the football quite well, but one thing Oklahoma State will have to watch for in their young quarterback are turnovers. As previously stated, Big 12 teams are figuring out how to stop passing attacks, and if given the opportunity to snag two interceptions per game, opponents will, and have a much higher likelihood of returning them for a score.

The Cowboys take on No. 17 Boise State at home this week, and the two teams seem fairly even in terms of statistic this season. While Boise State is a Group of Five school, expect for the Broncos to treat this game as if it were the Rose Bowl.

2. TCU

TCU looked good on defense and on the ground.  In the air, quarterback Shawn Robinson left a lot to be desired.  He only passed for 146 yards, one touchdown, and one interception in the H0rned Frogs’ 42-12 victory over SMU.

Head coach Gary Patterson has a very short window to fix TCU’s quarterbacking issues, as TCU takes on No. 4 Ohio State in Prime Time on Saturday.

1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma remains the team to beat in the Big 12, but last weekend’s 49-21 win over UCLA wasn’t without a major hit. Top running back Rodney Anderson sustained a knee injury during the game that will sideline him for the rest of the season. Anderson has had three season-ending injuries in the last four years. so that’s a tough situation all around.

Thankfully for the Sooners, the talent up and down is abundant, and human highlight reel, quarterback Kyler Murray has people saying “Baker who?”

The Sooners face Iowa State this week. With the way the Cyclones have been playing, it could be a long afternoon of continued OU dominance.


Want More? Check out: Patrick Mahomes: Why The New Chiefs Quarterback Will Thrive In The NFL

Big 12 Football Week Two Rankings and Initial Thoughts

big 12

The Big 12 Conference is going to be an interesting one to follow this season, and Week One was a clear indicator of that.

Big 12 Football certainly had its share of weird in Week One. From a cancelled game due to weather, to an offensive monster in Kyler Murray, and everything in between, the first week of play for Big 12 teams was all the drama fans have grown used to expect. Here’s how each team stacked up.

10. Kansas

Kansas dropped its season opener against Nicholls State–at home. It was expected to be the most winnable game on the Jayhawks’ schedule, but instead, Colonels’ running back Chase Fourcade punched in a touchdown from four yards out in overtime.

Can head coach David Beaty make it through the season? Unfortunately, that’s the only question anyone can draw from this past weekend.

9. Iowa State

Iowa State was forced to cancel its season opener against South Dakota State this weekend due to inclement weather. And while the Cyclones might be better than we think this season, without game film from Week One, it’s tough to discuss Power Rankings.

The bigger issue here is that weather cancellations work against teams like Iowa State, which would have likely pulled off a win, and been one game closer to the six win threshold teams need to qualify for the postseason. This week’s opponent, Iowa,  steamrolled Northern Illinois last weekend, so unless the Cyclones want to avoid a 0-1-1 record on the season, they’ll have to regroup and get in a rhythm early.

8. Texas

The No. 23 ranked Texas Longhorns looked to exact revenge last weekend against Maryland, but are starting the season at 0-1 instead. As if that’s not bad enough, Texas fell out of the rankings this week, and received zero votes in the recent AP Top 25 poll.

Much of the focus over the last few weeks was on the unfortunate incident involving Maryland offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who died of an apparent heatstroke during Fall Camp. With the personnel issues that Maryland faced, it should have been easier for Texas to dial in and win. Fortunately for the Longhorns, Tulsa is headed to Austin this weekend, but Twitter would indicate that fans seem more interested in the tailgating than the actual game.

7. Kansas State

Thanks to two late touchdowns, Kansas State barely squeaked out a win against South Dakota State last weekend. While first-game jitters are to be expected, K-State has far too much returning talent not to use FCS opponents as opportunities to put on clinics and flex talents.

The Wildcats face a tough challenge this weekend against Mississippi State, which crushed Stephen F. Austin last weekend, 63-6. With win probabilities favoring the Bulldogs by close to 80 percent, this could be a long afternoon for Bill Snyder.

6. Baylor

Baylor finally put together a game they could be proud of in a monumental 55-27 win over Abilene Christian last Saturday. While the stage was fairly intimidating for ACU, Baylor used its opponent to open the playbook and and address personnel issues with ample time before conference play begins.

Baylor plays UTSA on Saturday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, and hopes to keep the wins trending upwards, especially considering the Bears have only won two out of the last five games played.

5. Texas Tech

Texas Tech might have snapped its 16-year win streak in season openers, but it showed some flashes against an Ole Miss team that has the talent necessary to compete for the division this season.

Not only are the Red Raiders starting at square one with a new quarterback and receiving corps, Tech’s starter, McLane Carter sustained a high ankle sprain and had to be taken out of the game just as receivers and Carter started to find a stride. It didn’t stop T.J. Vasher’s OBJ-style catch from earning top spot on the SCTop10, so that’s reassuring headed into a game against Lamar this Saturday that should tell fans more about what this team can do at home, where Tech has a favorable schedule this season.

4. TCU

TCU had an easy 55-7 win over Southern last weekend, and while that was expected, quarterback Shawn Robinson emerged as a player who could tilt TCU into a serious competitor for the Big 12 Championship. With 499 total yards of offense, and three turnovers on the defense, it really was a balanced showing for the Horned Frogs, who look to look to continue their luck on Friday against SMU–a game TCU is also favored to win.

3. Oklahoma State

Like several teams in the Big 12, Oklahoma State is testing the waters with a new quarterback this season, and against Missouri State last weekend, Pokes’ senior quarterback Taylor Cornelius threw for 295 yards, five touchdowns, and just one interception. If OSU can keep this up throughout the next two weeks against South Alabama and Boise State, their offense could be a headache for defenses once conference play begins.

2. West Virginia

West Virginia handed it to Tennessee to open the season last weekend, but more importantly, quarterback Will Grier’s Heisman campaign looked to be in mid-season form. Throwing for 429 yards and five touchdowns–including a 59 yard TD pass, and a 33 yard TD pass–Grier stretched the field and was able to get many of the Mountaineers’ receivers some reps, which will come in handy if depth becomes an issue later in the season.

Look for West Virginia to keep flexing against Youngstown State this weekend.

1. Oklahoma

Oklahoma really didn’t miss a step when quarterback Kyler Murray replaced current Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. Against Lane Kiffin’s FAU Owls, the Sooners put up 650 total yards of offense, and averaged 14.5 yards-per-pass. Where Oklahoma could get into trouble this season are in penalties. Oklahoma had a total of six penalties for 70 yards, and considering the offensive talent in the Big 12 this season, it would be beneficial for head coach Lincoln Riley to address discipline at UCLA on Saturday.

Missed Week One? Click here.

Big 12 Football Preseason Rankings: Which team will have the best start?

Big 12

Big 12 Football is an interesting beast, but non-conference matchups should provide a solid glimpse as to where teams could perform throughout the season.

In the world of Big 12 Football, you have a team on one hand that just can’t seem to find its rhythm regardless of athletic dominance in other sports, and on the opposite side of the spectrum, you have teams that are used to competing for the conference title. In the middle, are a stable of teams that just can’t break into the top of the conference, and it’s leaving a lot of room for discussion on the coaching carousel grab and dump we see every offseason.

With two coaches in the conversation for the hot seat, and several programs trying to plug in specialists to take over for dynamic playmakers, the conference really comes down to a few metrics this season. But for all 10 teams, those metrics are going to be particularly difficult to overcome, as several of the top production teams are starting new quarterbacks.

10. Kansas

Kansas faces an interesting situation this weekend against Nicholls State, which ranks No. 17 in the FCS preseason poll. The Colonels return the majority of its playmakers from last season, and has earned notoriety for pinning FBS teams against the wire, as was the case with Texas A&M last season, and Georgia in 2016.

For David Beaty’s Jayhawks, this should be intimidating, especially considering that Kansas’ only won one game last season. With the majority of Kansas blogs expressing more interest in discussing Beaty’s replacement in 2019, it could be a long season.

9. Baylor

Baylor is led by sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer, and has a stable of receivers that could have a break out season under second-year head coach Matt Rhule. The defensive side of the ball, however, is kind of a wild card. The Baylor defense ranked 111 nationally last season in total defense, and few playmakers emerged. While the Bears could get back to bowl contention this season, it might have to rely heavily on one side of the ball for that to happen.

As for Week 1, Baylor faces Abilene Christian in Waco, and already appears to hold an advantage, as ACU seems slightly enamored at the size of the atmosphere they’re entering on Saturday. While stadium capacity is a significant adjustment, ACU’s biggest obstacle against Baylor will be the speed of the Big 12, which is notorious for scoring fast and frequently. If Brewer gets in a rhythm early, perhaps defensive deficiencies won’t matter.

8. Texas

Is Texas back? Who knows, but that’s been the question for over a decade now, and yet the Longhorns continue to break into preseason Top 25 polls with little merit, aside from brand recognition. Ask most true Texas fans that, and they’ll agree.

The No. 23 ranked Texas Longhorns face a Maryland team that’s been embroiled in unfortunate incidents and storylines this Summer. With key members of the Terrapins’ staff (including the strength and conditioning coach) resigning or being investigated throughout Fall Camp, it makes you wonder if Maryland will be organized on Saturday. This could be advantageous to the Longhorns, which have two quarterbacks in Shane Buechele and Sam Ehlinger, compared to Maryland, which hasn’t quite figured that out.

Herman is looking for a revenge game, and if Texas wins, they should move up. But all things considered with Maryland right now, let’s keep the ‘Texas is back” conversation in the bag for a few more weeks.

7. Iowa State

Iowa State has been a fun team to watch in recent years, and 2017 set the bar incredibly high for the Cyclones. With the NCAA granting an extra year of eligibility to quarterback Kyle Kempt, the offense shouldn’t have skipped a beat.

Defensive coordinator Jon Heacock has done an exceptional job figuring out Big 12 offenses, and might have found a way to flatten production–a feat few teams have been able to accomplish. With confidence higher than ever for the Cyclones, it’s in the best possible position to make a serious run for the conference title.

Unfortunately, head coach Matt Campbell had to suspend four freshmen last week for poor conduct, but that shouldn’t impact depth. As for Iowa State’s placement in this preseason ranking, it’s difficult to see where South Dakota State at home helps to make the case for mind-blowing metrics early on. SDSU finished last season at 11-3, losing in the semifinal round of the FCS Championship. While that’s impressive, it’s also a reminder that in order to truly measure talent, strength of scheduling among Power 5 conferences should be the standard. (Looking at you, SEC…)

6. Texas Tech

Texas Tech returns 10 of 11 starters on the defensive side of the ball, and has plenty of depth under fourth year defensive coordinator David Gibbs. While Texas Tech’s biggest issues last season were on special teams, first-year special teams coordinator Adam Scheier brings a lot of talent which will hopefully fix the kicking issues people suspect took the wind out of Tech’s momentum on several winnable games last season.

While Kliff Kingsbury’s notoriety as the “QB Whisperer” will perhaps, be tested the most this season, quarterbacks and receivers don’t step foot in Lubbock without knowing what’s expected of them, and in his sixth year as head coach, Kingsbury certainly knows which prospects will work in his system.

Tech opens the season at Reliant Stadium in Houston against Ole Miss on Saturday–a team that is tested and has a stout offense. This is a weird juxtaposition because it’s usually Tech’s offense that makes headlines, but this time, its defense appears to be the backbone while Tech figures out the QB situation. Tech certainly gets points for scheduling a dynamic SEC team, but Kingsbury is 1-1 against the SEC, and last season, Tech started a perfect 3-0. If Tech can pull off the W this Saturday, many of the questions about Texas Tech this season should be answered.

For more on Texas Tech, click here.

5. Kansas State

Kansas State signed head coach Bill Snyder to an extension this summer, which gave the Wildcats confidence in leadership–a vital recruiting tool considering how shaky college athletics can be. With calm waters, it’s allowed K-State to focus on things that mattered, like developing the QB tandem in Skylar Thompson and Alex Delton, and fine-tuning its offensive line, which is slated to be the best in the conference, next to Texas Tech.

K-State faces another FCS team to open the season, in the South Dakota Coyotes, which finished at 8-5 overall last season. It’s advantageous for FCS teams to play Power 5 schools for several reasons, including money and exposure, but considering the contention to make it to the Big 12 Football Championship, teams like K-State should strive to schedule as many tough Power 5 teams as possible.

I anticipate Snyder will use this game to work kinks out, but so far, many of these Big 12 Preseason betting lines have Big 12 teams poised for some serious blowouts.

4. Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State opens its season against the Missouri State Bears, which only won three of its last five games last season. Another FCS opponent, and another anticipated blowout should give Cowboys’ head coach Mike Gundy plenty of time to figure out his quarterback situation, with the departure of Mason Rudolph to the NFL.

While Oklahoma State has plenty of talent at specialty positions like running back and receiver, the explosiveness and depth of the offense this season rides on whether a quarterback emerges who can truly command the team. If Rudolph’s successor emerges, anything is possible this season.

3. West Virginia

Quarterback Will Grier is the only quarterback in the entire Big 12 Conference that had a Heisman campaign launched in the Summer. That’s kind of crazy considering just how many playmakers have emerged in the conference as a whole throughout the last 4-5 seasons. You have to believe that had coach Dana Holgorsen is riding that momentum, as West Virginia also has Biletnikoff Award finalist David Sills returning at wide receiver, as well as Gary Jennings.

The offensive line could be another story, but with WVU opening the season in Charlotte, N.C. against Tennessee, the Mountaineers won’t have an FCS dress rehearsal as an advantage. Considering how long the Tennessee coaching search lasted in the offseason, it could work to the Mountaineers’ advantage, but the win probability dial is more neutral, especially considering this game isn’t in Morgantown.

2. TCU

The Horned Frogs could emerge as a team to beat this season. Then again, when years of player and talent development come together the way they have for TCU in recent years, it makes you wonder when offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie will leave for a head coaching job, or perhaps, if head coach Gary Patterson leaves for the NFL.

In any event, TCU is stacked this season. Next to Texas Tech, TCU is the only program in the conference that has people talking defense in a typically formidable offensive league. Returning, are the majority of its defensive line, including senior defensive end  Ben Bonagu, who earned the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year award last year.

Like many teams in the conference this season, TCU’s biggest red flags come in the form of untested quarterbacks, and an offensive line that hasn’t been proven. Thankfully for the Horned Frogs, they start the season against the SWAC’s Southern Jaguars, which finished at 7-5 last season. This should give Patterson’s team plenty of plays to shuffle the OL, and try to find that QB-receiver synergy.

1. Oklahoma

Baker Mayfield is now with the Browns, but it didn’t take very long for his backup, Kyler Murray to earn his spot leading the Sooners’ offense. Despite a failed run to the National Championship last season, head coach Lincoln Riley did what few first-year head coaches can, but he did so with a roster and coaching staff that was championship-caliber. With the same mechanisms in place for 2018, this season should be no different, regardless of position switch ups.

Oklahoma starts its season against Lane Kiffin’s FAU, who already said, “These are the guys you want to play the least.” While FAU finished the 2017 season at 11-3 with some monster numbers offensively, Kiffin might not want to play teams like Oklahoma, but it certainly provides both teams with fairly substantial talent to square up against.

The level of difficulty is certainly there, but the scoring potential could also provide Big 12 opponents a solid litmus test as to where the Sooners’ defense is this season.





Texas Tech Football fans weigh in on QB battle

Texas Tech Football

Texas Tech Football is notorious for offensive weapons, but the quarterback battle throughout fall camp is presenting some telling storylines.

From Rodney Allison to Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech Football has produced some notoriously potent quarterbacks in program history. The level of talent that’s filtered through the position at Texas Tech has also created a restless fanbase, which expects its gunslingers to be able to extend plays on the ground, and thread needles like Aaron Rodgers.

In 2017, Texas Tech Football was left with a substantial void due to the early departure of Mahomes to the NFL. That left Nic Shimonek as the anticipated starter, and just as it seemed he was finding his stride, fans grew restless because the void Mahomes left was just too substantial. Two seasons removed from the end of the Mahomes Era, and Red Raider quarterbacks are in an advantageous situation, as it presents the guys competing with an opportunity to carve their own legacies without the comparisons and criticisms Mahomes’ backups faced.

Heading into the offseason last season, the narrative was that if Jett Duffey didn’t start at quarterback, head coach Kliff Kingsbury was done at Texas Tech.

Since finishing an impressive senior season at Mansfield High School with over 4,000 yards of total offense and 48 touchdowns, Duffey has had to work his way back into the fold at Tech. Many expected Duffey to emerge past Shimonek to compete for the QB2 spot in 2016, but an investigation sidelined him through 2017 season, where he burned his redshirt year. This put McLane Carter in a spot to earn reps with the first-team offense, and in Tech’s victory over Texas last season, Carter was able to demonstrate his value in a trial by fire situation that carried confidence well into Spring Ball.

In the Spring Game back in April, Carter finished 11-of-19 overall for 139 yards, followed by Duffey, who threw 11-of-15 for 89 yards, and Alan Bowman, who finished 7-of-12 for 76 yards.

While passes and receptions were on-par between all three quarterbacks, rumor has it, Carter has been spending a lot of time with the first-team offense. Although, Coach Kingsbury has been adamant since Media Days that all quarterbacks will receive equal time vying for the QB1 spot, brief snapshots could carry hidden meanings.

But Kingsbury isn’t worried about the quarterback spot, and nor should he be.

“Just because they’re young or inexperienced, to me, you never know how they’re going to respond,” Kingsbury said. “I wouldn’t say [I’m] nervous. I think excited to not really know who it is, and be able to work with those guys and try to have one guy really step up.”

While practices have been limited to a few minutes for media, and scrimmages have been limited to short clips, it’s growing apparent that the progression needle is moving towards one quarterback in particular–McLane Carter.

What’s more, Texas Tech fans seem to believe Carter is the front-runner, too. Texas Tech Football fans were polled on Monday, and 82 percent of the 150 votes came in for McLane Carter, with Alan Bowman and Jett Duffey receiving nine percent of votes each.

Jett Duffey is a dual-threat quarterback who was billed to become Patrick Mahomes reincarnated, but unfortunately, the biggest issue raised regarding Duffy has been in his mechanics.

According to the Lubbock-Avalanche Journal, first-year c0-offensive coordinator Kevin Johns discussed what the requirements were to fill the QB1 spot, “Manage the offense. Take care of the football. Get us in the right play. Move the offense down the field. Be smart on third down. Things like that.” Said Johns, who also elaborated that Shimonek’s successor had to “Play smart. We don’t need anyone to necessarily win the game, but they can’t lose the game.”

While Duffey’s reps in front of media have been limited, his interceptions in practices have raised some questions, increasing the belief that experience will win out when Kingsbury announces who will start against Ole Miss on Sept. 1 at NRG Stadium.

As Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said on an SEC preview show, “The team will tell you [who your quarterback is].”  Coach Kingsbury is looking for a player who’s reactionary; a player who leads in every category, and moreover, a player who encourages progress and productivity by every player on the team–including quarterbacks.

And as Texas Tech Football fans have experienced in the past, backups are always one play away from reopening the doors on the competition.