Big 12 Contributor
On behalf of Sixth Gear Auto Sales
Oklahoma is OK, as they like to say, and the proof came in the fourth quarter and the two overtimes of the No. 19 Sooners’ 31-24 win over No. 23 Tennessee.
It was our RandHSports Spotlight game and it lived up to the billing, as the Sooners rallied from a 14-point deficit to force overtime, and then win the game in double overtime in front of a rollicking atmosphere at Neyland Stadium.
A win on the road against a ranked SEC team in September? Yeah, that’s going to have some staying power with the College Football Playoff committee, should the Sooners end up a contender.
Meanwhile, the rest of the conference fell to form in Week 2, as the other ranked teams — No. 3 TCU and No. 4 Baylor — won with relative ease, while Texas got off the mat.
No. 19 Oklahoma 31, No. 23 Tennessee 24 (2 OT)
The Sooners were terrible for three quarters as the Tennessee defense really did a number on them. But the fourth quarter quarterback Baker Mayfield proved he could cut some nuts, leading the Sooners to overtime. And wide receiver Sterling Shepherd is a grown man, as they say, who showed up to catch the game-tying score to force overtime and the game-winning score in which he juked a Volunteer defensive back right out of his pants. The Sooners put up some nice rushing numbers, led by Samaje Perine (78 yards), but the Sooners only averaged 3.4 yards per carry. They did show up to stop the run, holding Tennessee to 2.9 yards per carry and 129 total rushing yards. Zach Sanchez had an interception for the Sooners. This was just a tough football game all the way around. The Sooners were thrilled to get out with a win and this helps the strength of schedule for both the Sooners and the Big 12 as the season goes on.
Next game: vs. Tulsa, 11 a.m. CST, Saturday
The upside here is that K-State won the game with their new quarterback, Joe Hubener. But there are red flags, starting with the fact that K-State was only up 13-3 after three quarters. Hubener — making his first start at any level — admitted to nerves before he put up 243 yards passing and 58 yards rushing. The offense struggled at times against a Roadrunners defense that sought to tee off on the pass rush and got to Hubener early. But, the good news is the Wildcat defense held down a Roadrunner offense that put up 34 points against Arizona to just three points and 229 total yards. That’s the sort of performance a FBS team is supposed to have against a Conference USA team. The overall issue is this Wildcats team is still a work in progress.
Next game: vs. Louisiana Tech, 2:30 p.m. CST, Saturday
Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes is putting up some huge numbers right now. Against UTEP Mahomes put up 361 yards and four touchdowns. So, it looks like head coach Kliff Kingsbury made the right choice at quarterback. DeAndre Washington poured in 138 rushing yards on just 12 carries and Jakeem Grant is still terrifying cornerbacks (141 receiving yards, TD). But the defense needed to make progress. Holding UTEP to 20 points is progress. The Red Raiders also forced two turnovers and limited UTEP to 414 yards in a game that was out of hand by the end of the third quarter. By the way, that 414 yards allowed came in 40 minutes of UTEP possession. Solid. More interestingly, the Red Raiders are a plus-5 in turnovers thus far. Defensive end Pete Robertson returned and had a sack.
Next game: at Arkansas, 6 p.m. CST, Saturday
The Mountaineers are easing into this season. Defensively what impressed me was West Virginia shutting out an explosive Liberty offense at halftime (up 20-0). The offense has probably been the most consistent in the Big 12 in the first two weeks, as quarterback Skyler Howard (three touchdown passes), running back Wendell Smallwood (two rushing touchdowns) and wide receiver Shelton Gibson (81 yards receiving, TD) put up solid numbers. The Mountaineers run defense held Liberty under 100 yards. The quality of play right now for the Mountaineers should leave head coach Dana Hologorsen hopeful for league play.
Next game: off this week: vs. Maryland, Sept. 26, time TBA
I was at this game and it was sufficiently ugly. TCU fine-tuned the offense, with quarterback Trevone Boykin 285 passing yards, 4 touchdowns) and wide receiver Kolby Listenbee (142 yards receiving, TD) having huge afternoons. More encouraging was the defense. Not necessarily the performance, even though the Horned Frogs held the Lumberjacks to 21 passing yards. But the Horned Frogs needed to find some linebackers after losing two in the Minnesota game, and former safeties Montrel Wilson and Travin Howard stepped in and had solid games. Safety Denzel Johnson returned a Lumberjacks turnover for a touchdown and freshman KaVontae Turpin averaged nearly 40 yards per return. Head coach Gary Patterson was encouraged overall, though the Horned Frogs will likely lose another defensive starter in safety Kenny Iloka.
Next game: vs. SMU, 7 p.m. CST, Saturday
The Hawkeyes take home the Cy-Hawk Trophy, but this was a game that the Cyclones led 17-10 at halftime. But the Hawkeyes shut the Cyclones out the final two quarters. Quarterback Sam B. Richardson had another solid game (247 passing yards), but the Cyclones struggled running the football. I-State came up with 63 total rushing yards, while Iowa ran over the Cyclone defense for 260 on the ground. This was a contest where Iowa gradually imposed its will on Iowa State. Other issues? I-State was 4-of-14 on third down, gave up 475 total yards and lost the time of possession battle by about five minutes. Cyclones linebacker Jordan Harris said there were “mental breakdowns” in this rivalry game and actually mentioned that the junior college transfers weren’t mentally ready for a rivalry game like this. Defensive tackle Demond Tucker sprained his ankle and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready for next week.
Next game: at Toledo, 7 p.m. CST, Saturday
Kansas allowed 651 total yards but was only down 24-13 at halftime (Kansas actually had a 10-0 lead in the first quarter). But in the third quarter Memphis outscored Kansas 24-7. That was the game. The upside was running back Ke’aun Kinner continued to develop, as he rushed for 113 yards and a touchdown. But quarterback Montell Cozart (118 passing yards) took a step back and was benched late for Deondre Ford (head coach David Beaty said “no one is entrenched at any position, ever”). This Kansas offense had 20 third downs and only converted eight. This Kansas defense was a plus-3 on turnovers and when your defense has a ratio like that your team usually wins. But this is Kansas, a program that is now off to an 0-2 start for the first time since 2002. These Jayhawks could already use a break.
Next game: Off this week; at Rutgers, 11 a.m. CST, Sept. 26
Once again, the Cowboys struggled for points in the first half, up only 10-0 on UCA at halftime. The upside to that is the defense built on its solid performance at Central Michigan and nearly shut out the Bears, holding them to 220 total yards. Quarterback Mason Rudolph showed progress after last week, tossing two touchdowns on 401 yards passing. Wide receiver David Glidden had a big game (145 yards receiving, two scores) and the Cowboys found balance on offense. Emmanuel Ogbah and Jimmy Bean both had a sack for the Cowboys, who gave up 3.4 yards per play. Encouraging all the way around.
Next game: vs. UT-San Antonio, 2:30 p.m. CST, Saturday
Baylor, strangely, was “only” up 35-21 on the Cardinals at halftime. But the Bears cruised anyway, behind quarterback Seth Russell and his four touchdown passes (342 yards passing). The Bears had three different backs with 100 or more yards, led by Shock Linwood’s 130, and two receivers with more than 100 yards receiving, led by Corey Coleman’s 182 (he also had a school-record four receiving scores). That’s 785 yards of total offense for the Bears, despite going 3-of-11 on third down, turning the ball over four times and racking up 12 penalties. Those are huge red flags if you’re playing a better team. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and wide receivers coach Tate Wallis were suspended for one game due to a violation related to evaluations of prospective student-athletes during the recruiting period last spring. They will be back next week.
Next game: Off this week; vs. Rice, 2 p.m. CST, Sept. 26
Texas got off the mat, taking a 21-0 lead in the first quarter before Rice stormed back to make it a bit of a game, 21-14 at halftime. But Texas was up 42-14 by the end of the third quarter. Head coach Charlie Strong started Jerrod Heard at quarterback (120 passing yards, 2 touchdown passes, 96 yards rushing) and he gave the Owls some problems. The bad news is the offense as a whole was anemic, managing just 38 total plays on offense and 277 yards in total offense. Fortunately, the defense bounced back, forcing five Rice turnovers and scored once on a Malik Jefferson fumble return (the Longhorns scored another time on special teams). Jefferson is turning to a productive player as a true freshman as a future star for this overall unit. But Texas can’t count on 14 points from defense and special teams each week.
Next game: vs. Cal, 6:30 p.m. CST, Saturday
My predictions? Perfect for Week 2, though Oklahoma made me sweat it out.