Tuesday, October 11, 2016
The Big XII Midseason Update
We're five-six games into the season and it's clear that the Big XII is not the same conference it was last year. The preseason polls listed four teams in the top 25: Oklahoma at no. 3, TCU at no. 13, Oklahoma State at no. 21 and Baylor at no. 23 (with everyone else unranked) and while I rarely pay attention to polls, the initial AP one could not be any further off. Oklahoma, arguably the frontrunner for the 2016 Big XII championship, dropped their season opener to Houston and again two weeks later to Ohio State. While Houston has ridden the media wave (for good reason), their loss to Navy makes OU's loss more of a big deal. A 21-point deficit against Ohio State is OU's "good loss" (I still hate this phrase) and could make the Sooners back-to-back champions if they win out and everyone else loses at least two games. TCU's defense, or lack thereof, has contributed to their 4-2 record with losses to Arkansas in double overtime and against Oklahoma. The Horned Frogs struggled immensely in their season opener against South Dakota State but couldn't overcome their overtime struggle with Arkansas. The biggest surprise was watching them nearly fall to Kansas, who is one of the easiest opponents in the nation. TCU scraped out with a 24-23 win at Lawrence, but will need to step up during the rest of their loaded schedule. Oklahoma State proved that they're still a tough team under the reigns of head coach Mike Gundy featuring Mason Rudolph, and when Rudolph has an open James Washington and a fresh arm, they can accomplish anything. Unfortunately, their first loss of the season occurred after a horrible officiating call gave the win to Central Michigan. Their second loss to Baylor came with three forced fumbles, one game-winning interception, five pass breakups, four sacks and seven QB hurries; not exactly a game plan for winning. Besides Baylor, the only other undefeated Big XII team is West Virginia, but they haven't yet played any major competition (besides my beloved Kansas State). If WVU continues on their path of quiet dominance and Baylor wins out, we could see a Big XII "championship game" on December 5th. The college football fandom went crazy after Texas' overtime win against Notre Dame (I'll be damned before I ever praise Brian Kelly) but the Longhorns have dropped three consecutive games against California, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Even if they win out, it's almost impossible for UT to be a Big XII title contender this year. Kansas State finds itself side by side with Texas Tech in the middle of the conference. Both teams are 3-2 and neither have any quality wins yet. KState head coach Bill Snyder (aka the god in my holy trinity) is in his 25th year of coaching and doesn't show any sign of slowing down. Although his teams haven't been in the running for a Big 12 championship since 2012, he always knows how to produce great results with the talent he is given. This year is no different and the Wildcats are sure to give a few teams a run for their money. Tech is another monster as QB Patrick Mahomes is one of the greatest players in the nation. I'm a huge Mahomes fan and desperately want him to do well, but Tech's lack of a defense and strong O-line means they'll end up exactly where they've been for the past few seasons. Iowa State recently found their rhythm under new head coach Matt Campbell, but haven't yet proved that they can be title contenders. They nearly upset Baylor a couple of weeks ago and repeated the process against Oklahoma State, but couldn't seal the deal even with two fourth-quarter leads. With more effort and practice, I'm sure we'll see the Cyclones earn a higher bid within a few years. And then there's Kansas. David Beaty's squad is 1-4 despite their close TCU upset. They snapped their losing streak with a season-opening win against Rhode Island, but haven't won a game since. No game is guaranteed, however, and we'll see how Baylor holds up against the Jayhawks on Saturday. At this very moment, the Big XII conference frontrunners are Baylor and West Virginia, with Oklahoma holding on by a thread. Here's to the rest of the season! Let's hope it goes by extremely slowly.