Recognizing the best and brightest from around the Big 12 in Week 1:
Texas Tech QB Baker Mayfield: To say that Mayfield’s performance against SMU on Friday was unprecedented is certainly not hyperbole. He may be the first-ever walk-on to start a season opener as a true freshman, but he looked like he’d been in Kliff Kingsbury’s offensive system for years. Mayfield threw for four touchdowns and rushed for another in a 41-23 win over SMU. He brought serious swagger to his highly-anticipated debut and asserted himself as the clear No. 1 QB right now in Lubbock.
Oklahoma LB Corey Nelson and LB Frank Shannon: What did defensive coordinator Mike Stoops have up his sleeve in his second year back in Norman, with so many new starters taking the field? If Saturday was a sign of what’s to come, this Sooner defense just might be better than we expected. Nelson led the Sooners with eight tackles and a sack, and Shannon chipped in seven stops in a 34-0 shutout of a Louisiana-Monroe team that’s no cupcake. They contributed to a stout rush defense that held the Warhawks to 38 yards on the ground.
Oklahoma State's defense: Quarterback J.W. Walsh might’ve been considered the story of the day for the Cowboys, but let’s take a moment to give the Pokes’ defense some respect. Mississippi State booted in a field goal midway through the first quarter and was shut out the rest of the way in a 21-3 OSU victory in Houston. That marked the first time since 1995 that the Cowboys held a BCS opponent to three points or fewer. Caleb Lavey led the unit with 11 tackles and two tackles for loss, but this shutdown performance required the help of several guys. We went in expecting another OSU shootout, but Glenn Spencer’s defense didn’t permit one.
Texas QB David Ash: If Ash had throw two first-half interceptions last season, as he did Saturday against New Mexico State, things were at risk of falling apart for him. Not this time. The Longhorns’ junior quarterback rallied to throw for 343 yards and four touchdowns, rush for 91 yards – including a 55-yard score down the sideline – and didn’t take a sack on the night. Ash led a Texas offense that produced a school-record 715 total yards, and he managed the up-tempo attack well once it got rolling late in the second quarter.
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk: This honor could go to any number of Bears after their prolific night against Wofford, but we’ll go with Seastrunk simply because he made things look easy as usual. Seastrunk kicked off his Heisman campaign with 111 yards and two touchdowns, and he only needed 11 carries to do so. He’s now rushed for 100-plus in five straight games, and the Bears put up a school-record 69 points. Imagine what they’d score if they actually needed their elite junior back to tote it 20 times.