Sports Take: Big 12 Shenanigans

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger (11) evades West Virginia safety Kerry Martin Jr. (15) on his way to score a touchdown during the second half of the Longhorns’ win Saturday in Morgantown, W. Va. Associated Press

By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer

Well, the Big 12 went nuts. I’m not sure this conference makes any sense anymore. Texas and Oklahoma had early scares, Baylor and Texas Tech pulled off upsets and Iowa State battered up a TCU team that’s still receiving votes for some reason.

To the Juggernauts

Let me first admit my bias. Les Miles is one of my favorite coaches in the country. I would eat grass for that man any day. So when his Kansas Jayhawks scored first against the Sooners, I got excited. Oklahoma ended up winning the game 45-20, but they showed some glaring weaknesses.

For the first time this season, Heisman candidate and quarterback Jalen Hurts was held under 300 total yards. Now he still had four touchdowns, but at least he’s human. Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb was held to just two catches for 25 yards. And considering earlier this week Kansas’ leading rusher, Khalil Herbert, left the team, their offense ran smoother than most would expect.

Meanwhile, UT faced a tougher test far from home at West Virginia. The Longhorns escaped Morgantown, W. Va., with a 42-31 win, but not before trailing by a touchdown late in the second.

Another Heisman candidate quarterback, Texas’ Sam Ehlinger, was also held under 300 yards. The Longhorns were able to take back the game, however, as Mountaineer quarterback Austin Kendall gave the game away with four interceptions. When the Longhorns face a competent offense, say, maybe the Bears, they’ll have trouble with that kind of offensive production.

The best part of the mayhem at the top of the Big 12? OU and UT play each other at the State Fair next Saturday. Two top-tier quarterbacks will take take on the task of tearing apart the tattered defenses across from them. The winner will practically lock in a spot in the Big 12 Conference Championship game later this season.

The Middle Tier

No. 23 Baylor remains undefeated. The Bears took care of business at Kansas State, 31-12, even with a late injury to junior quarterback Charlie Brewer. The Wildcats were creeping back in the fourth quarter and then Brewer went down after a nasty hit. One would think the Bear offense would take a hit without their starting quarterback, but back-up Gerry Bohanon took over and led Baylor to victory.

The Bears join the Sooners as the only Big 12 squads still without a loss, but after two straight opponents receiving votes, Baylor’s road doesn’t get any easier as they get the thriving Red Raiders for homecoming weekend.

Out west, Texas Tech upset Oklahoma State, who was No. 21 at the time. The 45-35 upset came at the hands of Tech’s backup quarterback, Jett Duffey. And while Duffey’s play was impressive (424 yards, four touchdowns), Tech’s defense, and specifically their turnover creation, is the biggest issue for the rest of the Big 12.

Somehow, TCU is still receiving votes in the Amway Coaches Poll. They’ve now lost at home to now No. 21 SMU in a close one, as well as a not-so-close one to Iowa State this past week. Somebody had to have forgotten to change their vote, right?

Anyway, Cyclone quarterback Brock Purdy led the game in passing and rushing, racking up four touchdowns in a 49-24 victory. The Horned Frogs struggled in the air and on the ground, and their defense was a sieve, allowing at least a touchdown in every quarter. If the Big 12 wasn’t so strong this year, Iowa State might have a chance to compete. But there are at least three teams better than them this season.