Big 12 non-conference play is now in the books (with the exception of TCU and Houston). Some teams really are wishing for a re-do. While others could not be happier with the start of their 2023 season. The schedule now turns to the true meat and potatoes portion of this college football menu. But before we can decide just how rare we want that steak, it is important to digest the week three takeaways from Big 12 play.
Week Three Takeaways From the Big 12
Heading into week three, the Big 12 had matchups against six different FBS conferences and FCS opponents as well. Baylor and Texas Tech took advantage of opportunities against FCS opponents. Both the Bears and Red Raiders secured their first victory of the season, leaving no more winless teams in the Big 12. However, more significantly, the Big 12 had victories over the SEC as well as the ACC.
BYU played another wild game in a fun shootout against Arkansas. The Razorbacks got the ball all the way down to BYU’s 16-yard line in the final seconds of the game, but the Cougars held on to a 38-31 victory. The latest edition of the Backyard Brawl was not as thrilling as 2022’s. However, West Virginia head coach Neal Brown got a big win that could go a long way in keeping his job for another year. A grind from start to finish resulted in a 17-6 victory over the Mountaineers’ biggest rival. While these were significant to the overall perception of the Big 12, the next results speak the loudest in the week three takeaways.
There were plenty of surprising results from the slate of Big 12 games, although one of them should not have caught anyone off guard. Everyone’s favorite mid-week conference, otherwise known as the MAC, picked up not one but two victories over the Big 12. Iowa State played another rock fight for the second consecutive week. And for the second straight week, the Cyclones lost. The Ohio Bobcats, who were only a three-point underdog, won by a score of 10-7. Neither team scored in the first half of the game. The MAC’s other victory came against an in-state opponent. Cincinnati was coming off an upset of Pitt in week two (although Pitt is trending in the not-very-good direction). The Bearcats fell at home in overtime to the Redhawks by a score of 31-24.
Kansas State reminded everyone that, while it is very consistent and competent annually, it will drop a game against a lesser opponent. Losing to an SEC foe normally wouldn’t be something to look down on. However, Kansas State handled Missouri just a year ago and had looked physically dominant to open this season. It did take a 61-yard field goal to sink the Wildcats by a score of 30-27, but it was just a loss that seemed to open the floodgate of bad news for the conference. The team that took it the worst was Oklahoma State. It is becoming more and more clear that Mike Gundy’s time as Oklahoma State’s coach has run its course. The Pokes had been playing three quarterbacks evenly across the first two games, and it’s clear that was happening because none of them could win the job. Gunnar Gundy finished this game as the passing leader with a stat line of nine-for-18 passing for 64 yards. South Alabama went into the fourth quarter with a 23-0 lead before finishing the game off by a final of 33-7. The signs of the Gundy era coming to an end are becoming too obvious to ignore.
The Question On Everyone’s Mind: Can Anyone Challenge Texas?
It must have been semi-impossible for Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian to keep his team motivated this week. And it showed on Saturday night in Austin. The Longhorns and Wyoming Cowboys were tied at 10 going into the fourth quarter. The Pokes were 15 minutes away from unofficially winning the Big 12 after taking down one Texas team already this year. But the Horns avoided disaster and pulled away in the fourth quarter. With an undefeated non-conference schedule complete, Texas now has its eyes firmly on a conference championship.
With some jarring results out of the conference, the last of the week three takeaways concludes with a simple question. Should Texas be crowned already? Is there a legitimate threat in the Big 12 to challenge them? Well, Oklahoma has been on a tear (albeit against a weak non-conference schedule) to start the season. Sooners Head Coach Brent Venables has his team rolling (just like September 2022). Red River is three weeks away. Oklahoma has to be healthy coming into that game if they want a shot to bring down Texas. But if Oklahoma can’t, is the only hope going to come from the state of Kansas?
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