How good did it feel to consume this past week one across College Football? The Big 12 delivered an electric matchup on Thursday and many blowouts on Saturday. Please spare us any talk about “We don’t want to see our school play FCS teams.” Here, we love all forms of football. Just like the worst pizza you have eaten, you still enjoyed it because it was pizza. But did we learn anything? Of course, we did. Here are the Big 12 week one takeaways we learned now that the dust has settled.
Big 12 Week One Takeaways
Backyard Brawl Delivered
Realignment has robbed the college football world of some great historic rivalries. Not just recent realignment announcements, but the last 50 years of changes have taken down matchups individual fan bases wish could return. Fortunately for us, one of those bitter rivalries returned with an extra kick. After all, this batch of the shine has been fermenting and aging for 11 years. Thursday night’s installment of the Backyard Brawl was the perfect kickoff to the season. In a back-and-forth affair, West Virginia clung to a 31-24 lead with just over four minutes left in the game.
After a tied touchdown by Pitt, West Virginia took the field looking to win the game with 2:58 remaining. But a pass that was bumped up into the air for a Pitt defender to snag resulted in a 56-yard pick-six. As M.J. Devonshire crossed the goal line, it lit the Acrisure stadium powder keg. The record-setting crowd of 70,622 sent echoes through households and all across the Allegheny river. West Virginia tried to rally for a tie but ultimately came up short. The Mountaineers were the only blemish on the Big 12 record for week one. However, assuming JT Daniels stays healthy, West Virginia will be a tough out for all its conference opponents.
Solid Debuts For New Faces
The two most impactful personnel in the Big 12 this year finally got onto the field. Down in Austin, Quinn Ewers had a shakey first couple of throws in his first Longhorn start. However, against an overmatched UL Monroe team, Ewers finished the game 16-24 with 225 yards passing, two touchdowns, and one interception. The freshman did not have to do much to get a week one victory. It will be interesting to see how coach Steve Sarkisian gameplans this week with Alabama coming to town.
New Oklahoma head coach Brent Venables made his first appearance on the Sooner sideline since 2011. Venables also brought in a very talented and experience transfer quarterback to lead his offense this season. He also just so happened to have run offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s offense at UCF. Dillon Gabriel only needed to attempt 23 passes against the UTEP Miners. He completed 15 of those attempts for 233, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.
Big 12 Blowouts Everywhere
Five of the 10 Big 12 teams opened the season with an FCS opponent. Three of them faced off against Group of Five opponents. And TCU played likely the worst Pac-12 team. Here are the largest of the Big 12 week one takeaways. In the nine combined victories, the average margin of victory was 37 points. In the five games just against FCS opponents, that average margin of victory was just a tad under 45 points. We can hear it now, “Well yeah, they should be blowouts.” Really? Ask Iowa, Navy, San Jose State, Washington State, or even Nebraska fans what they thought of their FCS matchup.
Fan bases like Kansas and Texas Tech, who have not had the luxury of just assuming a win against FCS opponents in recent years, had to feel very good seeing their schools handle their business from kickoff till the end of the game. Oklahoma State could have pushed that average margin of victory into the 40s if it didn’t go to sleep on defense in the fourth quarter against Central Michigan.
Massive Week Two Slate
Overall, the Big 12 handled its business. And even though one Big 12 bold prediction came up short, it was fun to be back. Next week should give us a much clear view of who these teams actually are. Just look at some of these matchups:
Alabama at Texas
Missouri at Kansas State
Houston at Texas Tech
Iowa State at Iowa
Kansas at West Virginia
Arizona State at Oklahoma State
Baylor at BYU
For as little national attention the Big 12 received outside of the Backyard Brawl this week, it will be the exact opposite on Saturday, September 10th. The conference has felt wide-open in the lead-up to this season. But with all of these high-quality matchups next week, the Big 12 has an opportunity to deliver a message to the college football landscape. It very well could be the same message that the Pac-12 just sent in week one. Or, they have an opportunity to highlight the quality of depth of the entire conference. We will see which letter ultimately gets distributed to the masses.