Big 12 teams head into Week 3 in the new college football season with 17 wins in 19 games and with an average margin of victory of almost 40 points. What can we conclude from that? Read on to find out.
Going into Saturday night's college football action, the record of Big 12 teams in the 2012 season stood at a perfect 11-0. The Big 12 registered four more wins Saturday night, but it also had its double-digit winning streak snapped as Kansas and Oklahoma State couldn't hold on to early leads.
Kansas State had the most impressive performance among the eight conference teams that were in action over the weekend. The Wildcats ran up a 24-6 lead on the Miami Hurricanes in a home game in Manhattan Saturday afternoon and then blew away the Hurricanes in the second half for an impressive 52-13 victory. Oklahoma, TCU, Texas Tech and Texas also rang up a lot of points on their non-conference opponents over the weekend as teams from the Big 12 upped the league's record to 15-2 through the first two weeks of the new season.
Baylor and West Virginia, both of whom had impressive first-week wins were idle this past weekend. Both return to action this weekend: Baylor will host Sam Houston State, and the Mountaineers will take on James Madison in Washington, D.C.
After two weeks of action, Big 12 teams are outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 726-119, which breaks down to an average score of 48.4 to 11.9. Of course, that takes into account that, except for three or four of the 17 games played so far involving teams from the Big 12, most were against much smaller schools that were at a much lower competitive level than the schools that make up the Big 12.
Five Big 12 teams remain in top-25 national rankings this week, headed by Oklahoma at No. 5 in the USA Today coaches' poll and West Virginia at No. 8. Also in the top 25 for a third straight week are Kansas State, Texas and TCU.
It is admittedly difficult to draw any definitive conclusions at this still very early stage of the season, but the early trends seem to reflect what we predicted in the preseason: that this was going to be another big year for the offenses in the Big 12. With the offenses being so pronounced up and down the conference, it would seem that whichever school(s) could muster the most consistency on the defensive side of the ball would have a very good chance of competing for the conference championship. And we won't really get a good read on that until head-to-head league competition gets started.
When Kansas State visits Oklahoma two weekends from now, we will get our first real glimpse at two of the top teams in the conference in a head-to-head confrontation. Both teams are loaded with offensive weapons, so it would stand to reason that the team that plays the best defense for all four quarters will be the team that prevails in the final outcome. We'll soon see if that's the case.
Here are five key things we learned after Week 2 in 2012 Big 12 football:
- Kansas head coach Charlie Weis came out on the losing side in his second game with the Jayhawks, and he wasn't happy. Weis is counting on quarterback Dayne Crist, a senior transfer from Notre Dame, to be one of the Jayhawks' team leaders and key performers this season. Through the first two games, though, Crist has completed just slightly more than half of his passes and has thrown three interceptions to just two touchdowns. This won't cut it when the Jayhawks begin playing conference games, which they do this coming weekend when they will host new conference member and defending Mountain West champion TCU.
- Because of quarterback Collin Klein's speed and running ability, the Kansas State offense has been run-oriented the last couple of years. Against Miami on Saturday, we saw that the Wildcats can and will throw the ball more this season. K-State still had more rushing yards than passing yards on Saturday, but Klein threw the ball 11 times, completing nine passes, for 210 yards. The Wildcats have some excellent receivers in Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, and if they are able to get their aerial game going in combination with a strong running game, it will become doubly difficult to stop their ball-control game and keep their offense out of the end zone.
- Iowa State is the real deal. The Cyclones are going to match their xx-win total of a year ago and could exceed it. Coach Paul Rhoads' team won at Iowa on Saturday for the first time in 10 years, and it was the Cyclones' defense that won the game. Iowa State stopped an Iowa drive late in the fourth quarter with a game-saving interception deep in its own territory by linebacker and All-American candidate Jake Knott. The Cyclones are not going to be an easy win for anyone in the conference, and for Kansas State, Oklahoma and West Virginia, who all have to go to Ames this fall, it could be a very tough afternoon.
- Oklahoma State is not nearly as strong this season as its 84-0 pounding of Savannah State a week ago would indicate. The Cowboys had no trouble generating offense (636 yards) against Arizona on Saturday, but the defense gave up 501 yards in a costly 59-38 loss that dropped the country's third-ranked team last season out of the top 25. The 59 points scored by Arizona were the most given up by an OSU team since Sam Bradford and Oklahoma hung 61 on the Cowboys in 2008.
- Watch out for the Texas Longhorns. Texas has one of the best defensive units in the Big 12, and everyone knew coming into this season that Coach Mack Brown had a full stable of strong and extremely fast running backs. After two games and two victories, it appears that sophomore quarterback David Ash is coming into his own as a capable passer to complement the powerful Longhorn running attack. On Saturday, Ash completed 16 of his 22 pass attempts for a career-high 221 yards. He also had a 49-yard touchdown run. Ash also is avoiding throwing interceptions. He has thrown 73 passes since his last interception.
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