Most, if not all, of the major “Power 5” conference heavyweights have been tested. Some of them have passed, others have not. But, for some reason, there’s only one conference that remains the biggest mystery of all. It’s America’s most confusing conference….THE BIG 12.
I’m not trashing the Big 12, so stop with the assumption that this is my intention on this fine Wednesday. I’ll wait for the inevitable choke job in December to do that.
We aren’t even three weeks into this young college season and among the contenders for the college football playoff, only Baylor and TCU have yet to receive what some would consider a “real challenge.” Ohio State traveled to Virginia Tech and prevailed in impressive fashion. Oregon traveled to Michigan State and although it was a loss, they played very well. Meanwhile, Alabama met with Wisconsin in Arlington, Texas and played an impressive game to start the season.
Now, what about TCU and Baylor?
So far in the 2015 campaign, the only team that’s challenged this Texas private school duo is Minnesota, who made TCU work for their first win of the season on Sept. 3. The Horned Frogs won that game 23-17.
Baylor, on the other hand, has struggled early with SMU and Lamar before coasting to big victories. Although the Bears won big, they were far from playing a solid opposing team. We’re nearing the end of the non-conference schedule and we still don’t know much about TCU and Baylor.
Are they playing a big poker game as a way to not reveal too much, or are they, dare I say it, overrated?
One team who’s grabbed one of the best wins in this early season is Oklahoma. This past Saturday, the Sooners went to SEC stalwart Tennessee and climbed out of a 17-0 hole to stun the Volunteers in overtime by a score of 31-24.
It remains to be seen if the Sooners can capitalize off of this recent SEC victory, unlike last time when they defeated Alabama in the 2014 Allstate Sugar Bowl and laid a comparative egg with last season’s 8-5 record.
Three schools that could tip the balance of the conference race are West Virginia, Oklahoma State and K-State.
This weekend the Wildcats and Cowboys wrap up their non-conference slates with Conference USA schools Louisiana Tech and UTSA.
The Cowboys face an interesting task of stopping the potent UTSA offense that put up 32 points against Arizona but only managed three points against K-State this past weekend.
West Virginia wraps up its nonconference schedule against longtime rival Maryland on Sept. 26; however, it’s their opening Big 12 schedule, which includes trips to Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU, that is even more interesting.
Two teams that we’ll also get a better read on this weekend are the Texas Tech Red Raiders and the Texas Longhorns.
With a season opening blowout loss to Notre Dame and the recent firing of embattled athletic director Steve Patterson, there’s no school more desperate for a win than the Texas Longhorns, who welcome California this weekend.
The Red Raiders have a chance to grab a huge win on the road at Arkansas; a second Big 12 win against an SEC school would certainly put another chink in the collective “SEC armor”.
And finally, the two most consistent teams in the conference remain Kansas and Iowa State, and that’s not a good thing.
This past weekend, the Iowa State Cyclones let a 17-10 halftime lead slip away, and their Iowa Hawkeyes rivals took the 31-17 victory, as well as the Cy-Hawk trophy.
Kansas, on the other hand, remains the most inept “Power 5” program of recent memory. Kansas remains so bad that opposing coach Justin Fuente of the Memphis Tigers said that his upcoming matchup with Bowling Green is actually a “significant step-up” from playing against Kansas last week.
I guess no matter how much changes at the top, some things will always remain the same.