As we get ready for Week 2 in the Big 12 football season, there are no shortage of storylines to keep tabs on. Some teams are already feeling some heat (Kansas, Texas Tech), others are still thankful to have dodged a bullet (K-State), while teams like Oklahoma and West Virginia have their eyes set on a Big 12 Championship or even a College Football Playoff. But of course there’s still a ton of football to be played. So here are some storylines I’m most intrigued by heading into Week 2 of the Big 12 football season.
1. The effort levels from Texas Tech and Kansas
Both teams have coaches who are squarely on the hot seat and both teams lost in embarrassing fashion in Week 1. Tech fell to Ole Miss by 20 points and Kansas lost to FCS Nicholls State. So as the teams gear up for a Week 2 match up, where is the confidence level of the coaching staff and the team? Do the players come out with energy or do they appear to have already mailed it in in Week 2. I’d be surprised if the latter were the case for either team, but it’s something to keep an eye on. Granted, Texas Tech can probably sleepwalk through a game and beat Lamar, but if there is even a semblance of trouble in this one, it won’t be good for Kingsbury. Likewise for Beaty against Central Michigan. No, it’s not an easy game for KU, those don’t exist, however if it gets ugly against a bad CMU team, watch out.
2. Baylor’s QB battle
Baylor goes down to UTSA looking for revenge from last season’s loss to the Roadrunners. So now that Baylor appears to be vastly improved over last season, and finally healthy, the quarterback battle is one to watch. Both Charlie Brewer and Jalan McClendon performed well last week in the opener against ACU. McClendon finished 10/13 for 173 yards and two touchdowns, while Brewer was 8/15, 138 yards and an interception. Assuming both players play this week, who gets more snaps? Does Matt Rhule begin to lean in one direction over the other as the schedule gets tougher with Duke in town in Week 3 and then Big 12 play starting? We’ll find out, but it’s actually a fascinating battle and an underrated one not enough people around the conference seem to be talking about.
3. Kansas State’s QB battle
Ah, another quarterback competition to watch. However unlike the Baylor battle, the Kansas State battle has been a race to the bottom, at least thus far. Both Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson underperformed last week against South Dakota. So, Bill Snyder said this week he has not decided who his starter is yet. That’s unfortunate, because now they have to host Mississippi State, which is a very underrated SEC team. The Bulldogs have a stout defense, especially along the line, and will be a handful for the Wildcats on Saturday. K-State is understandably a double-digit underdog, but if there is a way to pull this one off, excellent quarterback play from one of these two is a good place to start.
4. Oklahoma’s defense
This unit was the unsung hero last week against FAU. While everyone is, rightfully so, raving about Kyler Murray and the offensive side of the ball, I’m sitting here thinking about about how Mike Stoops’ defense just had a “different” look to it. It was the kind of look it hasn’t had in over a decade. Maybe I’m overreacting to one game, but it was against a very good FAU offense and a great offensive mind in Lane Kiffin. Brendan Radley-Hiles appears to be the real deal as a five-star true freshman. There’s reason to be excited at every level. UCLA is rebuilding, but I’ll be very interested to see if OU’s defense can continue its momentum from last week.
5. Iowa’s State strange season opener
Since the Cyclones had their game cancelled last week after just a few minutes of action in the first quarter, it’s sort of like the season opener for the Cyclones. How does that affect them when they now have to play their biggest rival of the season on the road? Will they miss not having that FCS game for a tune up? I’m curious to see how Iowa State starts in the first quarter on both sides of the ball and if there is any rust that needs to be knocked off. Unfortunately, Cy-Hawk is not really where you want to be having to do that, but even Matt Campbell doesn’t have the ability to control Mother Nature.
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