Through one week, the Big 12 holds the crown for best Power Five Conference.
It wasn’t pretty at times, as noted in my Saturday afternoon story that’s currently being blasted by some folks. After it was published, all became fine. Texas Tech easily dispatched Montana State in Matt Wells’ debut. Surely, Terry Bradshaw’s mouth is shut after the performance Sam Ehlinger put on display in Texas’ rout against Louisiana Tech. Kansas State put on a clinic against Nicholls State. Baylor covered a 43 ½-point spread against Stephen F. Austin. TCU won their game over Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Finally, Oklahoma came out of the gates with a vengeance against Houston and spoiled Dana Holgorsen’s return to the Cougars.
The Big 12 took care of business. It is the only undefeated conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision. Some may say the Mountain West Conference outperformed the Big 12. We must certainly pay the Mountain West some respects. They did defeat teams from each of the other four Power Five conferences. However, that conference still lost three games (albeit, all away from home against Power Five Conference schools).
While the Big 12 stands tall on the mountaintop after week one, it was a disastrous first week for the other Power Five conferences. First off, the almighty SEC has a myriad of losses and has never looked so top heavy before. Yes, the SEC has mostly been Alabama and then the rest of the conference. Now, the bottom five of the conference are just downright pathetic. For starters, Ole Miss dropped its rivalry game (believe it or not, it’s called the Black & Blue Bowl and the NCAA Football video games recognized the rivalry) against Memphis 15-10. But wait, there’s more. Former Texas head coach Mack Brown returned to North Carolina and knocked off South Carolina in the debut of his second stint with the Tar Heels. North Carolina finished 2018 with a 2-9 record, and likely would’ve lost to UCF had the game not been cancelled. But wait, there’s more. Missouri scored Clemson transfer Kelly Bryant. Well, that wasn’t good enough to even beat Wyoming. The Cowboys whipped the Tigers from start to finish and pulled off the upset.
But wait, there’s more. Jeremy Pruitt is officially on the hot seat in just his second season with the Tennessee Volunteers after they dropped the season opener to Georgia State. I know what you are saying. Who? Exactly. Georgia State is a football program that started up in 2010 and finished the 2018 season 2-10. Five teams in the SEC have losses thanks to Vanderbilt dropping a conference game to heavily favored Georgia. That’s not all though. Florida barely skirted by rival Miami (FL) in a game which featured five fumbles, five total turnovers and 218 total penalty yards. Both teams eclipsed the 100-yard mark in penalties. Arkansas survived a scare from FCS foe Portland State 20-13. Louisiana-Lafayette gave Mississippi State all they could handle in a 38-28 Bulldogs victory. Kentucky held on for a 30-24 win over Toledo. And Oregon held a lead against Auburn all the way up until the final seconds. The SEC was, by far, outperformed by the Mountain West and the American Athletic Conference.
The SEC wasn’t the only Power Five conference that struggled though. As bad as the SEC was, they did finish 2-1 against the ACC. On top of that, Florida State lost to Boise State and Wake Forest had to come from behind to squeak by Utah State. Both of those games were hosted by the ACC team. If ESPN wasn’t trying to build up their brand new ACC Network, this conference would be talked about as the worst Power Five conference in the nation right now. Three conference games also helped its image a little this week.
Meanwhile, the Pac 12 actually seems better than the conferences on the east coast right now. Perhaps, that’s because of the “what have you done for me lately” cliché. The Pac 12 took care of business Saturday. Oregon was the only team hit with a loss, and they really outplayed Auburn. The Tigers woke up in the final minutes of the game to realize the game actually counted, thus coming from behind to win. While the Pac 12 finished Saturday with a 6-1 record, including a Stanford victory over Big Ten West Champion Northwestern, their results before that were downright awful. Arizona dropped its opener at Hawaii. Chip Kelly is now 0-2 against Cincinnati while coaching UCLA. As mentioned before, Oregon State was run out of its own building by Oklahoma State.
To cap it all off, the Big Ten also dropped a game to the Mountain West Conference. Purdue entered halftime up 24-7, only to fall apart in a 34-31 Nevada victory. We told you that Northwestern lost to Stanford. Although the other schools wound up victorious, some of these games weren’t pretty. Rutgers trailed UMass 21-7 at the end of the first quarter in Piscataway. South Dakota State held a lead for much of its 28-21 loss at Minnesota. Miami (OH) gave Iowa plenty of fits. Nebraska and Indiana were not all too impressive against South Alabama and Ball State either.
The Big 12 wasn’t pretty early Saturday, but every team survived. Yes, even Kansas is 1-0 and did so without star running back Pooka Williams. That in itself is a major accomplishment and must be noted. Things will be tougher in week two. West Virginia travels to Missouri. Texas hosts an LSU squad who had, by far, the most impressive performance out of the SEC teams (Alabama’s score against Duke is a lot prettier than their performance was). As for the six teams that faced FCS schools, they’ll have to play against FBS schools the rest of the season.
Still, the Big 12 Conference took care of business. Period. It is currently the best Power Five conference in the nation from top to bottom.
**We now have FREE Big 12 Forums here at Heartland College Sports. Go sign up here and join our conversation! **