The stereotype that surrounds Big 12 teams is just as true in 2014 as it has ever been. Teams in the conference can break scoring records, but cannot stop their opponents.
The Big 12’s dangerous offense are well documented. In fact, some of college football’s most dangerous offensive units in recent memory have been members of the conference.
Currently, the country’s two leading scorers are Big 12 schools – Baylor and TCU. They combined for 119 points in a ludicrous game in Waco, Texas.
Baylor’s offense has been a powerhouse for multiple years now. Head coach Art Briles’ squad has finished in the top four in the nation in points per game each of the last three years. This year, they look no different. While they have injuries and were set back against West Virginia, they still are second in the nation in points per game.
Led by quarterback Bryce Petty and wide receiver Antwan Goodley, the Bears have the same dangerous players that they did last season, but they added a spectacular option in freshman wide receiver KD Cannon. He has even been outperforming Goodley statistically.
As much as it might seem like Baylor is a one-trick pony, Briles’ offense has the second most rushing attempts in the conference. Sophomore running back Shock Linwood saw some action last season, but is now shouldering the load for the Bears. He’s carried the ball 140 times for 696 yards and nine touchdowns in 2014-15.
TCU, however, is finding success this season after a disappointing 2013 campaign. Last season, they averaged just 25.1 points per game, which was 89th in the nation. So far, the Horned Frogs have more than doubled that total and lead the nation with 50.4 points per game.
The offensive production has been so unexpected for TCU that they ran out of the season’s supply of fireworks to shoot off after touchdowns. Much of the newfound success can be attributed to finally having steady quarterback play and new co-offensive coordinators Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie.
Meacham is well traveled in his time as a coach. His most notable work came at his alma mater Oklahoma State, where he was the team’s passing game coordinator from 2005-12. His explosive style of offense helped the Cowboys have a very successful stretch and he has taken that style and improved TCU’s offense tremendously.
Cumbie, who left his alma mater of Texas Tech to join forces with the long-time assistant, is in his first season at TCU.
After two season of splitting time at quarterback, junior Trevone Boykin has taken the full-time job and is a big part of what’s making TCU so dangerous. He’s thrown for 2,306 yards with 21 touchdowns and just three interceptions.In addition to his passing prowess, he has ran for 374 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Running back B.J. Catalon is also a weapon for the team, as he averages 5 yards per carry and has scored eight touchdowns in 2014.
Despite these eye-popping numbers, there is one team who has defied conference odds and showed dominance on the defensive side of the ball. The team is the only one who has yet to allow 100 or more points in Big 12 games. Most impressively, they are eighth in the nation in stopping the run and are tied for 16th in the nation in fewest points allowed per game.
That team is head coach Bill Snyder’s squad at K-State.
The question for the rest of the season in Manhattan will be if the Wildcats can compete with the potent offenses mentioned above. Three of their remaining five games are against teams that are ranked 23rd or higher in points per game – West Virginia, TCU and Baylor.
What the Wildcats can be happy about is their opponents’ use of the running games. While the teams do a lot of passing, they all have some dependence on their ground attack. Snyder’s squad is fierce in run defense, and has a great chance at making these teams one-dimensional.
K-State does not solely depend on its defense as it carries its own potent offense. They average 36.9 points per game, which is 23rd in the nation. Neither Baylor, TCU or West Virginia have a great defense, either. Each team has allowed an opponent to score 45 or more points this season.
How K-State plays against TCU, West Virginia and Baylor will write the script of this season. With a defensive lapse, the season will look drastically different. If the defense continues at its current pace, the 2014-15 season will be something special for the purple-clad faithful.
Austin Earl is a sophomore in fishing, wildlife and conservation biology.