John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire
First impressions may not be lasting impressions when it comes to season-opening games in college football, but we do learn some things from them, despite the obvious competitive mismatches.
The Labor Day holiday is over, marking the unofficial end of summer and, thankfully, the end of the all-consuming preseason rhetoric and year-end predictions in college football. .With the first weekend of action in the 2012 season now in the books, all of the preseason chatter can be filed away in the irrelevance file as the focus turns to what's actually occurring between the sidelines on the actual field of play.
It was a clean sweep of victories for the teams of the Big 12 in the season-opening games. Nine games, nine wins, with only TCU idle on opening weekend. The Horned Frogs open their season at home at newly renovated Amon G. Carter Stadium on Saturday against nonconference opponent Grambling State.
The competition gets a little tougher for some conference teams in the second week. Kansas State is at home to host the Miami Hurricanes. But Oklahoma State goes on the road to Tucson, Ariz., to take on the Wildcats of Arizona, and Iowa State will try to make it two straight to open the season, but the Cyclones will have to do it at in-state rival Iowa, which barely got by Northern Iowa on Saturday in a game played at Soldier Field in Chicago. And in Week 3, several conference teams will begin play against Big 12 opposition.
Only one of the nine teams in action on the opening weekend scored fewer than 31 points, and that team was Oklahoma, the preseason favorite to win the conference. The Sooners struggled against a Texas-El Paso team that had its chances to pull off the game-one upset but wore down late in the heat at the Sun Bowl against the deeper Sooners, who pulled out a 24-7 decision.
Five Big 12 teams won by five or more touchdowns in their season-openers at home last weekend, led by an 84-point performance from defending conference champion Oklahoma State, piling up almost 700 yards of total offense in an 84-0 shutout of Savannah State, nearly 400 of which was running the football.
Big 12 teams outscored their opponents 437-137 in the opening weekend, and six conference teams remained ranked in the nation's top 25 in both the AP and USA Today polls for Week 1 of the college season and two in the top 10: Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Kansas State, plus Baylor ranked in the top 30 in both polls.
As always, the Big 12 football action this past weekend offered some revealing observations:
Five Things We Learned From Week 1
- Kansas won its first football game in almost a year, defeating South Dakota State 31-17 on Saturday, and gave Charlie Weis his first victory as the Jayhawks' new head coach. But it was hardly an Impressive performance. The Jayhawks fell behind 7-0 midway through the first quarter on a 99-yard touchdown run, striking fear in the hearts of Kansas fans who early-on thought the horrors of last season might be starting all over again. Transfer quarterback Dayne Crist completed less than half of his pass attempts, but Weis cautioned that the senior transfer from Notre Dame hadn't played in a game in over a year. The KU defense yielded over 400 yards of total offense to the Jackrabbits, a Division I-AA team that was playing without the services of its starting quarterback.
- Kansas State looks to have it going again this season, but coach Bill Snyder's bunch sure seemed to take their time getting into the flow of things Saturday night. The Wildcats led by only three points, 9-6, at halftime, but poured it on in the fourth quarter, outscoring Missouri State 35-0 to take a runaway 51-9 victory. This is the way everyone thought things would turn out, but K-State certainly came out rusty and lethargic at the start. This week, the U. of Miami will be the opponent, and if the Wildcats don't get their act together earlier, it won't be as pretty at the end.
- This was supposed to be more of a rebuilding, regrouping year for Oklahoma State after losing All-Americans Brandon Weeden at QB and wide-receiver Justin Blackmon to the NFL, but you would never know it from the Cowboys' 84-0 blowout of Division 1-AA opponent Savannah State from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Forget this game. It was more of a preseason game, given the vast difference in the talent level and difference in school size and level of the two teams (Savannah State finished last in the MEAC last season with a 1-10 overall record). Reserve judgment on how good this team really is until after this coming weekend, when the Cowboys get in their first road test and first real game test, and go up against someone their own size, this weekend at Arizona.
- The team that seemed to struggle the most in its season opener is the one the Big 12 coaches and most college football experts projected to be the best in the conference this season. Oklahoma did not look sharp or like they were much into the game Saturday night against UTEP. If the Sooners thought this was going to be a walkover, they quickly got a rude awakening. In the end, OU was just too deep and talented and the Sooners eventually wore down their highly fatigued opponent with a huge help from the heat and humidity of the West Texas desert. We'll get to see just how worthy the Sooners are of their top-10 national ranking in two weeks when Kansas State comes calling in Norman.
- The most impressive Big 12 team from last weekend, in my opinion, was Iowa State. The Cyclones bounced back from a 16-7 first-quarter deficit and displayed a balanced offense, led by senior quarterback Steele Jantz, to defeat a good Tulsa team 38-23. Paul Rhoads is one of those Bill Snyder-type coaches who is able to get more out of his players than their skill and talent level suggests, and that showed again in Iowa State's season opener.
Watch for the Big 12 Game of the Week preview - Kansas State vs. Miami (Fla.) - this Friday.
Follow Big 12 football all season long, including specific news and commentary on the two Kansas teams, at SB Nation Kansas City.