Did you need salt tablets, pickle juice and plenty of water after the early games?
I certainly did.
The Big 12 did not look good at all. For two of the games, struggles were semi-expected. Kansas is always on upset alert against FCS schools, and was forced to come from behind to score a victory over Indiana State. That, in itself, is a victory for the entire conference. Many of us, including our own Pete Mundo, picked Indiana State to at least cover the spread if not win. Not only was Kansas victorious, but they covered the spread in Les Miles’ debut.
However, Iowa State is considered a contender for the Big 12 Championship. Many have picked the Cyclones to advance to the title game. For much of the second half, Iowa State trailed in-state rival Northern Iowa. This game went into three overtimes before Iowa State finally dispatched the Panthers. Iowa State returned their entire starting lineup on the offensive line. Brock Purdy is back at quarterback. Yet, this offense could only score 13 regulation points against an FCS team. Yes, Northern Iowa is a solid FCS team. Regardless, an FCS team should not be taking a Big 12 contender into overtime.
As if the first two games did not make us sweat enough. West Virginia went into the locker room trailing 7-3 against the FCS No.2 James Madison Dukes. Neal Brown is an offensive mind. It’s one thing to trail James Madison at halftime. However, for a team that has transitioned from one offensive genius to another offensive genius, three points is a serious issue. West Virginia is not known for its defense. Sure, Brown’s offense is not exactly the same as Holgorsen’s. Yes, the Mountaineers are replacing Will Grier with a new quarterback.
In addition, we might as well pull Lincoln Riley into this conversation. Yes, Riley has been on some staffs with absolute stellar quarterback play. He was at Texas Tech when they had B.J. Symons, Sonny Cumbie and Graham Harrell. He has been the head coach at Oklahoma during the Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray eras. However, with each of those, he’s had plenty of help. Many can say Leach and Holgorsen groomed the Texas Tech trio. Bob Stoops and Kliff Kingsbury both helped groom Mayfield. Additionally, Kyler Murray’s father is a former professional quarterback and he played for Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M. If Austin Kendall, who looked shaky for the first half against James Madison, is a product of Lincoln Riley’s true quarterback production, the Sooners will need to welcome the transfer portal with open arms for the rest of Riley’s tenure.
This is just Week One. Kansas and Iowa State won their games. The Big 12 is currently undefeated (something the SEC can’t say). There are certainly positives. It was not pretty though, and the Big 12 has not done anything to improve its perception this season yet.
All in all, the morning of Aug. 31, 2019 was a sign of trouble. It’s not a disaster (The Big 12 is undefeated), but it is a sign of trouble.
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