The week five takeaways from the Big 12 start with a comeback for the ages. What’s sad is most of the college football public probably didn’t see it. Texas played another backup quarterback and had no issues. Oklahoma also had no issues from a visit from Iowa State. With all the dust settled from week five, what other noteworthy takeaways do Big 12 fans need to know?
Week Five Takeaways From the Big 12
Game Of The Week (Season?)
At the start of the fourth quarter of their Big 12 home opener, UCF held a 35-10 lead. This was against a Baylor team all but cemented as the worst team in the conference. Baylor head coach Dave Aranada saw his Bears team, who did welcome the return of quarterback Blake Shapen, take the field on their own 25-yard line. What happened next is only something Aranada could have pictured in his dreams. Baylor proceeded to score 26 unanswered points. With 1:21 left, Baylor hit a 25-yard field goal to go up 36-35. But UCF head coach Gus Malzahn is no stranger to wild endings.
The Knights came onto the field and promptly gave the college football world one of the most incredible plays of the year. On fourth down, from their own 26-yard line, Knight’s quarterback Timmy McClain took the snap needing to convert to keep the drive alive. He broke two tackles scrambling backwards, before breaking a third in his own endzone. He then threw a strike to RJ Harvey, who made a leaping catch and picked up the first down. While the play was jaw-dropping, the last-minute attempt to save the game fell short. UCF attempted a 59-yard field goal that never came close as the Bears completed the improbable comeback. The Bears might not be the worst team in the Big 12 after all. In fact, it’s looking more and more like that title is going to be reserved for one of the newest members of the Big 12.
Combined 1-7 Record
With the Knights blowing their game, Houston not showing up for the second half against Texas Tech, and Cincinatti failing to finish drives for the third straight week against BYU, the new crew of the Big 12 has a combined 1-7 conference record. None of the four rookies of the Big 12 have a single win against the original conference members. It would be a *slight* overaction for the week five takeaways to lump all these four teams together and declare “THEY STINK!” UCF is playing with its backup quarterback, Cincinnati is moving the ball on offense pretty well (just not finishing), and BYU has a quality road win against Arkansas with their only loss coming to a solid Kansas team.
Houston has enough evidence to suggest they will be living at the bottom of the Big 12. What does that mean for Dana Holgerson’s job? Remember, he works at a school that has a university president in Renu Khator who famously said, “Winning is defined at the University of Houston as 10-2 … We’ll fire coaches at 8-4.” So, what about a coach that went 12-2 in 2021, but the other 4+ seasons has a 17-21 record? Oh and is likely not going to a bowl game this year.
Coach of the Year Candidacy
It is no secret that end-of-the-season awards often go to the teams that finish atop the conference. Much of the voting will lazily pick Texas’ Steve Sarkisian for coach of the year. This is assuming the ‘Horns handle their business (more on them later). Or Oklahoma, with a Charmin soft schedule their year outside of Texas and possibly one other team, could make a run to the Big 12 title game and Brent Venables could receive it. But make no mistake, the best coaching job happening in the Big 12 is being orchestrated by West Virginia’s Neal Brown. This is the most important of the Week Five takeaways from the Big 12. It is time to start talking to your loved ones about a 10-2 West Virginia team.
After pulling another team into a slop-fest/rock fight, the Mountaineers secured victory over TCU with a blocked field goal at the end of the game. West Virginia’s remaining schedule isn’t loaded with challenging opponents. It is the four newest Big 12 members (see above paragraph), Baylor (see two paragraphs above), Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma left of their schedule. The Sooners will likely be the only top-25 team they face the rest of the season. The Mountaineers don’t play pretty football, but it is winning football. Against Power five opponents, West Virginia has not surpassed 24 points in a game. Yet, here they are currently 4-1 on the season. But their physicality on both offense and defense wears teams out. It is also clear this team believes that they can win every time they step on the field.
Two Helpings of Red River?
The last of the week five takeaways from the Big 12 is a simple one; Texas is different this year. Yes, Kansas unfortunately had to play with its backup quarterback. But it was not going to make a huge difference in the Longhorn’s 40-14 smackdown of the Jayhawks. Texas appears to be locked in this year. It’s hard to envision them playing down to an opponent the rest of the season. Meanwhile, Oklahoma hung 50 on a good Iowa State defense. The Sooners made quick work of a team that they had struggled to put away in games the last few seasons.
With Red River coming up this Saturday, it is looking more and more likely that this will be the first of two meetings between these two rivals. If that happens, SEC fans will be delighted that Texas and Oklahoma can save a down SEC this year. Kansas State certainly could still play its usual spoiler role. However, the two most complete teams in the Big 12 just so happen to be the two who are on their way out.