Sporterberg: Big 12 goes 4-5-2 against COVID-19 in week one of college football

West Virginia running back Alec Sinkfield (20) rushes for a touchdown against Eastern Kentucky during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020, in Morgantown, W.Va. (William Wotring/The Dominion-Post via AP)

By Matthew Soderberg | News Editor

The Big 12 chose to push on through the pandemic, but after this weekend, I think they might regret it. Let’s call it COVID-19: 5, Big 12: 4, with two draws.

The Four Wins

No one should be surprised by No. 3 Oklahoma’s 48-0 rout of Missouri State. Quarterback Spencer Rattler was impressive in his debut for the Sooners, throwing for 290 yards on 17 attempts with four touchdowns.

Unranked West Virginia lit up Eastern Kentucky for its first win of the season. With a score of 56-10, junior quarterback Jarret Doege threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns while running back Alec Sinkfield rushed 15 times for 123 yards and two more scores. Projected to finish 8th in the conference, the Mountaineers at least had a better weekend than two of the teams ranked higher than them.

The University of Texas had an odd weekend, to say the least. The No. 9 Longhorns pounded UT-El Paso into the turf to the tune of 59-3 as quarterback Sam Ehlinger started his Heisman campaign with 426 passing yards and five touchdowns. But reports surfaced during Saturday’s game that defensive back and projected early draft pick BJ Foster seemingly quit the team in the third quarter.

Upset with his playing time, head coach Tom Herman said Monday at a press conference that the former five star recruit “let his frustrations get the best of him,” and he was back with the team at Monday’s lift.

Texas Tech squeaked out a win against a one loss Houston Baptist. The 35-33 victory against the FCS squad was sure to worry some Red Raider fans, but with a projected No. 9 finish in the conference, don’t be surprised if their fortunes only fall from here.

The Five Losses

The most surprising of the lot came as Iowa State and quarterback Brock Purdy stumbled and fell against University of Louisiana-Lafayette. The Ragin’ Cajuns embarrassed the No. 23 Cyclones for their first road win over a ranked squad in school history. Iowa State managed 14 points in the second quarter, but were shut out in the second half as ULL racked up its total to 31 on the way to a No. 19 ranking, another first in school history.

The second loss came at the hands of Arkansas State as Kansas State fell on a last second touchdown, 35-31. Red Wolf wide receiver Jonathan Adams Jr. tore apart the Wildcat defense with eight receptions for 98 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winning grab with under a minute to go.

Kansas notched its first loss of the season to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The 38-23 loss is a tough blow for Les Miles, the second-year head coach and former champion who hopes to turn the program around for the first time in over a decade.

The biggest blows of the weekend may have come directly at the hands of the virus, as the Big 12 entered week one down 2-0 before even taking the field. Texas Christian’s contest against Southern Methodist was postponed due to an outbreak in Fort Worth, and Baylor’s game with Louisiana Tech was postponed after the 38 Bulldogs tested positive in the wake of Hurricane Laura.

TCU’s matchup doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, so Horned Frog fans will have to wait another year for the 100th meeting between the two schools.

The Two Ties

Baylor quickly moved on from their schedule and filled a hole next weekend with the University of Houston. The Cougars and Bears each had an open slot on Saturday, so the two schools set up an impromptu meeting.

The two Texas squads haven’t faced off since the dissolution of the Southwest Conference, but there are some recent ties as Houston head coach Dana Holgerson has a 5-2 record against the Bears from his time at West Virginia.

Oklahoma State’s game against Tulsa was also postponed, but thanks to the outbreak happening in August, the game was just moved back a week to give the Golden Hurricanes some more practice time.