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Five Thoughts on the Big 12 during Oklahoma State’s Bye Week

What a wild weekend.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Oklahoma State had the week off, but the Big 12 was still its wacky self.

It was the first week of conference play for much of the country, and when the Cowboys step into the Big 12 battlefield next weekend, the conference landscape will look a little different than they expected. Here are five thoughts on the weekend.

1. SEC

The SEC is taking two of the Big 12’s bottom-feeders (in the standings after only one week of conference play).

Oklahoma and Texas fell to unsuspecting Big 12 teams on Saturday. The Longhorns fell 37-34 to a Texas Tech team that was picked ninth in the Big 12 this preseason. Oklahoma, meanwhile, fell to a Kansas State team that lost at home to Tulane a week ago.

Chris Kleiman owns OU, having won three times in four seasons against the Sooners. And Adrian Martinez got some sort of Husker revenge, as the former Nebraska QB had 382 yards and five total touchdowns.

Two conference games into 2022 and the league’s defectors are 0-2, just like their adopters predicted, I’m sure. Now, I don’t think the SEC is going to be looking for its receipts and checking if the tags are still on or anything, but for a league deemed unworthy in the Big 12, this must feel pretty good.

2. Kansas!

The Kansas Jayhawks are two wins from bowl eligibility.

The Jayhawks moved to 4-0 on Saturday with a 35-27 victory against a then-unbeaten Duke in front of a sold-out David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. It’s KU’s first 4-0 start since 2009. If Kansas reaches bowl eligibility, it’d be the first time since 2008.

KU coach Lance Leipold might belong in some hall of fame for this piece of wizardry.

And it doesn’t seem fluky, either. Kansas looks … dangerous? The duo of Jalon Daniels and Daniel Hishaw were dominant Saturday. Daniels had 324 passing yards, 83 rushing yards and five total TDs. Hishaw had 61 rushing yards and a 73-yard touchdown catch-and-run that looked like he was playing against seventh-graders.

And Hishaw might only be the Jayhawks’ second-best running back. Devin Neal rushed for 54 yards on 6.0 yards a carry Saturday. Neal had an OSU offer once upon a time before electing to stay in his hometown for college.

Back to Daniels, the guy is a dude. He had as many touchdown passes (four) as incompletions Saturday. With his rushing touchdown, Daniels became the first player in KU’s history to be responsible for five touchdowns in multiple games. The last time he did it was last week when he threw for three and ran for two against Houston.

On the year, Daniels is completing 71% of his passes for 890 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception. He has run for another 320 yards and four touchdowns. In 2020 (when KU played 10 games), the Jayhawks threw for seven touchdowns the entire season.

When the polls come out Sunday, the Jayhawks deserve to be ranked. They haven’t been in the AP Poll since 2009.

3. Baylor Offense Has Strong Performance

Baylor appears to be a team still in search of its identity in 2022, but it made a step in the right direction with a 31-24 victory in Ames.

Before Saturday, BYU was the only team of substance the Bears had played, and they lost that game. Wonders of the legitimacy of the reigning champs were warranted, but they looked strong against the Cyclones.

Not long into the fourth quarter, Baylor took a 31-14 lead that the Cyclones chipped into with the game mostly already in hand. Most importantly for the Bears, their offense seemed to get going. Blake Shapen threw for 238 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, and running back’s Richard Reese and Craig Williams each ran for more than 3.5 yards a carry.

This ought to make for an interesting Big 12 title rematch next weekend when the Pokes head to Waco with revenge in mind.

4. A Good Look for the New-Look League

A look at the new-look Big 12’s weekend:

West Virginia 33, Virginia Tech 10
Kansas 35, Duke 27
TCU 42, SMU 34
Texas Tech 37, Texas 34
Baylor 31, Iowa State 24
Kansas State 41, Oklahoma 34
Houston 34, Rice 27
UCF 27, Georgia Tech 10
Cincinnati 45, Indiana 24
BYU 38, Wyoming 24

That’s 10-1 with the only loss being a little friendly fire.

Through four weeks of the season, the new-look league is a combined 35-11 with only two teams having multiple losses. For some perspective, the Big Ten has five teams with multiple losses, the SEC has four teams, and ACC has six teams and the Pac-12 has four teams. Some of this is skewed because some teams have played multiple conference games, sure, but still.

Is the Big 12 the strongest league? No, probably not, but it deserves much more credit than many national talking heads will be willing to give it.

5. Let’s Have a Season

This thing feels wide open, folks.

For the first time in a long time, it feels as if more than two or three teams have a shot at the league. The reigning Big 12 champs looked good. The reigning Big 12 runner-ups are still unbeaten. OU and Texas both have the talent to make a game of anything (though only one seems capable of winning with consistency). TCU is unbeaten. Kansas is unbeaten. If K-State can get that Adrian Martinez every week, look out.

The Big 12 won’t look the same after this season, so here is to this era of the Big 12 going out with a bang.

Big 12 Standings
Big 12 Overall
Kansas 1-0 4-0
Baylor 1-0 3-1
Kansas State 1-0 3-1
Texas Tech 1-0 3-1
Oklahoma State 0-0 3-0
TCU 0-0 3-0
Iowa State 0-1 3-1
Oklahoma 0-1 3-1
Texas 0-1 2-2
West Virginia 0-1 2-2

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