Sunday, September 9, 2012
What we learned in the Big 12: Week 2
By David Ubben
After an eventful, surprising day across the Big 12 on Saturday, here's what we learned:
The reigning Big 12 champs are quite mortal. Chalk this one up as the biggest surprise of the young season in the Big 12. Turns out, Oklahoma State can't just plug-and-play to replace a pair of first-round picks. Tracy Moore turned in a fantastic game (eight receptions, 106 yards, four TDs), but Wes Lunt is no Brandon Weeden, and Justin Blackmon's usually sure hands were missed. Lunt threw for 440 yards, but three interceptions and a school-record 167 penalty yards on 15 flags were too much to overcome. The front seven looked like it had never seen a zone read before, giving up 59 points to a still-learning Arizona team in a 59-38 loss. The defense was missing its coordinator, Bill Young, who is dealing with a health issue, but the Cowboys might end up looking pretty mediocre in a very deep Big 12 if the turnovers and penalties don't cease. Worse than committing four turnovers? Forcing zero. The Cowboys didn't get a single takeaway in the desert on Saturday night after forcing 44 last season.
Kansas State's Collin Klein accounted for 281 yards and four touchdowns against Miami.
Kansas State is back, and better than ever in Snyder's second go-around. Nobody saw Kansas State's 39-point romp coming, not even the Cats themselves. But what did you expect? This team was going to get better in the offseason. That's just what most college football teams do, and especially ones that return the kind of talent Kansas State does under Bill Snyder. The U looked completely overmatched from start to finish, and Collin Klein looked much, much better. Miami's not a very good team, but it has some great athletes. Kansas State completely negated Miami's speed by dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. The day's biggest eye-popping performance.
Never, ever doubt Paul Rhoads (again). How do we keep doing this? A tossup game? Against a rival? Most folks (myself included) picked the Hawkeyes, but Rhoads pulled off another huge program win, setting a milestone yet again with the Cyclones, who hadn't won at Iowa since 2002, when Seneca Wallace was still in town. It didn't look pretty, and Iowa State's loaded with flaws, but there's no such thing as a bad win when it comes against a rival or it comes on the road. Iowa State got both on Saturday, making big plays down the stretch to make it happen.
TCU knows how to make an entrance. Yes, it was an FCS opponent, but zero incompletions in 17 attempts for two quarterbacks, and a defensive shutout? Oklahoma State showed us on Saturday night exactly what beating up on an FCS opponent ultimately means (nothing), but what else could TCU do? Look out for true freshman Devonte Fields, too, who could become a force in this league. An injury to Ross Forrest has forced TCU to depend on him more than it would like, but the talented blue-chip recruit notched his first career sack as Gary Patterson became the school's all-time leader in wins.
It's going to be another long year in Lawrence. What's more troubling? Kansas losing this game? Or Kansas being just a six-point favorite against Rice, which had never beaten a team from the Big 12 since the league was formed? The Jayhawks looked the part of an inexperienced team that didn't know how to win on Saturday, squandering a 24-13 lead late in the third quarter and losing a game it had no business losing. Dayne Crist's second interception of the day was a back-breaker, giving Rice the ball near midfield to set up the game-winning field goal as time expired. Crist is better than KU's alternatives, but he hasn't played well to this point. He finished just 16-of-28 for 144 yards with a touchdown and two picks. I thought Kansas would be better this year. The Jayhawks may improve by season's end -- Saturday proved they've got more room to do it than any team in the Big 12 -- but good grief, losing to Rice at home? I don't care what the circumstances are. That's terrible for a Big 12 team. This is the worst KU loss since the 6-3 North Dakota State disaster that kicked off the Turner Gill Era in 2010.