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BIG 12 FOOTBALL: Three games in, and what have we learned?

So far we've seen some of what we thought and a few surprises, but as conference play begins there is still a fair amount of the unknown.

Richard Rowe-USA TODAY Sports

As the Big 12 bids farewell to non-conference play that did not go really well for the group as a whole, I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at what the media and I predicted in preseason.

Here are the picks...

Big 12 Media RobertW_CRFF
3 TCU 3 OU

I think the media got the four team scrum at the bottom right. West Virginia is definitely better (I think?) than Kansas or Iowa State, but not as good as Tech. I'm personally surprised at how bad Iowa State has looked. Rhoads usually does an admirable job getting more out of less, so I'm not sure if he is having an off year or if the team is that awful.

A little surprise here is Texas Tech. While TCU looked horrible with Boykin at QB (and the refs provided a couple of really nice assists), I think Kingsbury might have things moving in the right direction. Their QB situation is a bit iffy, so I will be curious to see how they manage the next 4 weeks with an incredably favorible schedule of Texas State, @KU, Iowa St, @WV. Wouldn't that be something if the Red Raiders were undefeated when they arrive in Norman on 10/26 to face a Sooner team that is either undefeated or sporting 1 loss (ND or TX).

Then comes the middle scrum, and that's absolutely an accurate description.

I think I nailed the Texas pick on the head, but Kansas State and TCU might compete. The Wildcats lost to FCS North Dakota State, and TCU looked downright terrible without Pachall at QB. This group is totally up in the air, mostly because of schedule. The Snydercats go @UT, @OSU, vs Baylor over their next three, so whatever magic the old man is working this time around in Manhattan will be fully disclosed. The Frogs don't fair much better, with 2 of their next 4 coming @OU and @OSU. The length of Pachall's absence will be a really big deal for them, as we saw from the loss at Tech last Thursday.

Mack Brown couldn't out coach Jason Garrett, and if you haven't figured it out yet, he's done at UT. Whether or not he's done sooner than the end of the season will depend on probably their most critical four game stretch of the year as they face home vs K State, @Iowa St, OU in Dallas, then @TCU. Honestly, even if they go 3-1 in this stretch, it may not matter if they suffer another bad loss to OU. Go 2-2 in that stretch and I think Mack would definitely be out following a loss to OU if the other loss is to either K State or Iowa St. The Longhorns are desperate to stop the bleeding after two consecutive embarrassing losses. Thank heavens the 2nd one was only on LHN.

Still, if Greg Robinson is able to right the defensive ship even a little, Texas could easily go 6-3 in the conference with their only losses being OU-OSU-Baylor. Nobody outside those three have shown anything demonstrative, and even the top three are still a bit of a question mark.

As for the scrum at the top, I go with my picks. OU needs to show that they can pass effectively against a competent Div I program, but their defense looks pretty salty. Again, need to see that against a team with an offense. OU's home stretch is tough, with 3 of the last 4 on the road at K State, Baylor, and OSU. Their next game at Notre Dame on 9/28 will be eagerly anticipated.

This league is about offense, so I'll give Baylor the nod over OU at this point. The media picking Baylor 5th is worse than putting Texas 4th. The Bears have yet to play a football team, but will get the chance to show us something against UL-Monroe, who also played and lost to OU. They've done exactly what would have been expected against weak opponents (ok...REALLY weak). Baylor could easily be 7-0 when OU comes to town on 11/7, although a visit to Manhattan 10/12 will not be a gimmie with Snyder involved.

While OSU most assuredly gets the nod here, I have to say that I don't get the sense that they are some kind of juggernaut just yet. The defense is WAY WAY better than last season, but will still need to prove it against a more quality offense. Based on what I've seen so far, that might not be til Baylor comes to town. Offensively, if a defense is athletic enough to handle the run (including Walsh) without committing extra players, I'll be curious to see if he can pick them apart through the air. Lord knows he has plenty of capable and dangerous targets. Walsh has definitely improved his passing, but neither he nor Chelf are capable of throwing the 20 yard seeds of Weeden legend. That's a large part of our problem...memories. I don't know too many Cowboy fans that are feeling extremely cocky about their next visit to Morgantown. The last time Dana Holgorsen was on the opposing sideline, other than last season, well....

While the Big 12 is obviously down this season, this is shaping up to be a pretty fun conference schedule. A lot of possibilities still exist, from cannibalizing their own to having 3 undefeated teams as they enter November. The last 3 weeks should be great entertainment and I will be shocked if the last weekend doesn't determine the champion.