I hear it all the time, “Who has the best conference in college football?” SEC? Big 10? ACC? What about the Pac-12? Very rarely are you going to hear the words “Big 12” coming out of someone’s mouth in that conversation. Whether you do it or not, there are plenty of folks out there who love to bash the Big 12 conference (cough, Paul Finebaum, cough). After a rough week one, the Big 12 bounced back in a big way in two key games. If you are a fan of either one of these teams than congratulations, but I am here to tell you why these two teams will not be the only ones to benefit from the taste of victory last Saturday.
TCU Horned Frogs (Beat Arkansas 28-7 in Fayetteville)
Most of us have heard it all offseason, “TCU is going to bounce back in 2017”. If they are to have a bounce-back year then their recent trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas was going to play a huge part of that statement. Not only did the Horned Frogs beat Arkansas, they beat them soundly, for the most part.
The star of the show Saturday was the Horned Frogs defense. TCU held the Hogs to 37 rushing yards in the first half. At the break TCU was up 14-7 and never looked back. Gary Patterson’s defense continued to suffocate the Arkansas offense turning it into pulled pork as the Hogs never scored a point in the second half. TCU ended up scoring two late touchdowns to pull out the victory in Fayetteville to come away with a 28-7 victory.
What was most impressive about this TCU win? Kenny Hill had a lackluster performance (21 for 31, 166 yards, 0 TDs and 1 INT) and the Frogs still managed to win by three touchdowns. For what was labeled as a classic “SEC defense”, Arkansas was absolutely shredded by the TCU rushing attack led by RB Darius Anderson (15 car for 106 yards and 1 TD). Did I mention that Anderson averaged a mind-boggling 7.1 yards per carry against this “SEC defense”? That wasn’t the only surprising stat on Saturday for the Frogs. TCU not only was able to score four rushing touchdowns, but they also held Arkansas to 267 total yards and led the time of possession 33:52 to 26:08. You tell me who was the “SEC” team on Saturday?
— Derek Duke (@DerekDuke25) September 9, 2017
Oklahoma Sooners (Beat Ohio State 31-16 in Columbus)
Raise your hand if you thought that Oklahoma would walk into Columbus, Ohio and beat the Buckeyes in a stadium with 100,000+ screaming fans. If you’re raising your hand right now then I am calling bullsh*t.
What had to be a frustrating first half for the Sooners (outgained Ohio State 222-92) resulted in a 3-3 tie at halftime. Not bad for a team that everyone thought had no chance to win though, right? After a total of six-combined points in the first half, we saw a total of 41 points scored in the second half. Ohio State started the second half with a big kickoff return that resulted in a four-yard TD run by RB J.K. Dobbins (dude will be a Heisman winner one day, mark my words). Oklahoma responded with a 36-yard TD passes from Baker Mayfield to FB Dimitri Flowers to tie it up at 10. Next, the Buckeyes were able to hit another field goal to up 13-10 and then something happened.
The Sooners went on a tear offensively cracking the Buckeyes defense for a sum of 21 unanswered points and found themselves in the driver’s seat leading 31-10 late in the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes were never able to crawl out of the hole only managing to tack on a late field goal resulting in a 31-16 win for the Sooners.
Baker Mayfield was the star of the show (27 for 35, 386 yards and 3 TDs) making plays with guys who aren’t necessarily household names. TE Mark Andrews was banged up and FB Dimitri Flowers was the receiving leader of the night (7 receptions for 98 yards and 1 TD). Overall, the Sooners outgained the Buckeyes 490 to 350 and held Ohio State to 186 total passing yards. This defense turned J.T. Barrett from a possible Heisman contender to a pretender faster than you can say O-H-I-O.
Baker Mayfield is a SAVAGE pic.twitter.com/93CFOyA6be
— Derek Duke (@DerekDuke25) September 10, 2017
What This Means for The Big 12?
Two big non-conference victories will not only help the Big 12 Conference’s public perception, but it should help sway some respect from the playoff committee if a Big 12 team is even in the discussion towards the end of the season. If Texas somehow manages to pull off a huge upset against USC (who the committee wouldn’t shut up about last season with three losses) next weekend in Los Angeles, just think about how quickly the perception of the Big 12 would change. That would be 2 conference-title favorites that go down to Big 12 teams. Should there be a Big 12 champion with one loss, the playoff committee would have a harder time leaving them out after a solid conference performance this weekend with victories over Arkansas and Ohio State (who the playoff committee has historically given the benefit of the doubt to because of who they are, i.e. 2016 selection).
I realize the weekend stings for folks in Ames, Lawrence, and Waco. But in the end, every fan of any Big 12 fan should be thrilled with how Week 2 went for the conference, as a whole.