Welcome to the HCS Big 12 mailbag. This mailbag is for all you football junkies out there who root for a Big 12 school who not only have questions about your team, but other teams in the conference as well. So, join me, grab a cold brew or your favorite drink and relax as I answer all your Big 12 questions in my mailbag. For those interested, I will send out a tweet (@Derekduke25) every Monday at noon until last call (No, not 2 AM) at 8 PM CT for you to send in your questions to be answered every Tuesday right here at Heartland College Sports. Of course, I was a day late, but I had some other things to take care of as I will be heading to game two of the World Series in Houston to cheer on my Astros.
I want to thank each one of you who submitted a question this week and for those reading, I am glad you could join me. I am doing this on Tuesday evening and of course this mailbag wouldn’t be nearly as fun without a cold beverage right next to me. Tonight’s drink of choice? An ice-cold beer. Things haven’t quite cooled down in South Texas yet, so I am keeping beer around. Tonight, I am drinking an Untraditional Cream Ale from Infamous Brewing Company out of Austin. It’s a solid very drinkable beer. Probably better suited for a hot day but it will certainly do. I do want to say that since I will be in Houston on Wednesday night and because of the high amount of questions, I will have to get through them a little quicker tonight. Cheers!
@KBehr68 asks: Next years Big 12 schedule came out today, what are your top 5 games that you see?
Duke: It’s an exciting time of year for me. Football season going on, my Astros are in the World Series and now with these schedules coming out for 2020, I already must start planning on my trips for Big 12 games. However, we don’t know anything about what these teams will really look like come next year but I will take a stab at it.
- Oklahoma vs Texas
- Oklahoma at Iowa State
- Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
- Iowa State at Texas
- Baylor at Oklahoma
@RPTexan asks: Texas Tech played well enough to beat Baylor, but after playing against Iowa State poorly, where is there such inconsistency? Also, what alcohol goes with inconsistent play?
Duke: Man, I know the officiating situation in the Baylor game, but Tech fans must move on! The inconsistency last week came from the situation. With Jett Duffey at quarterback, Tech wants to run the football and play great defense as they control the game. Well, that game plan got tossed out the window quickly because Iowa State took a 20-0 lead before I could blink. That forced Tech to throw the football A LOT more than they would have liked to. In fact, Jett attempted over 50 passes in that game. That’s not ideal for the coaching staff. Jett is more of a game manager and the situation last week with the game flow forced him out of that role. The defense didn’t help either so there is also that. Overall it was just a bad game for Tech all around. Let’s see if they can clean things up in Lawrence this weekend. As far as booze goes for “inconsistency” it should be the same as the team. Maybe be inconsistent with your alcohol selection. Maybe have a beer, then a shot and then a cocktail. Don’t be afraid to mix it up but just make sure you are ready for the hangover the next morning.
@TedFlintKansas asks: At what point do fans of Iowa State and Baylor get angry at all the talking heads acting like there is no chance anyone beats Oklahoma?
Duke: I am sure the entire Big 12 fanbase outside of Oklahoma is ready for the Sooners reign to end. But I will say that Iowa State and Baylor have the best chance of beating the Sooners right now. The Cyclones will travel down to Norman when they play the Sooners and Baylor will host Oklahoma the same weekend Iowa State will play Texas in Ames. That weekend will be HUGE for the conference. The good news is that no matter what someone will get a second crack at the Sooners in Arlington with a Big 12 title on the line. Maybe Oklahoma goes 12-0 heading into the Big 12 title game, but some team will get their shot to knock the Sooners out of the playoff and leave Jerry World as Big 12 champions. Now, I amt not confident in anyone beating the Sooners but it isn’t impossible by any means.
@RealJevJev asks: Will West Virginia ride out with Austin Kendall or see what another quarterback they can use this season to keep Austin healthy for next season?
Duke: Given their current situation on offense, I still think it would be good for Kendall to keep playing. Before he got to West Virginia, he hardly ever saw the field due to sitting behind two Heisman winners at Oklahoma. Starting experience is important as a quarterback and it’s best for him to play and learn this season so he can be better mentally and physically for next season. Let him get those mistakes out this season so they don’t happen as often next year. I understand where you are coming from, but Austin will be a better quarterback in 2020 due to playing this season. Not to mention, he is getting no help from his offensive line and the running game. If he can get better play from his line and running game next season, just imagine how much better he will look.
@scriv62 asks: Halfway through the season, which new hire do you think has done the best job so far in the Big 12?
Duke: Right now, it would be a toss-up between Chris Klieman at Kansas State and Matt Wells at Texas Tech. Both teams are better than I expect this season, but I guess if I had to go with the tiebreaker it would belong to Kansas State just because they have the better record now. The Wildcats are 4-2 and I think they have the best chance to make a bowl game out of any other Big 12 school with a new head coach. Klieman plays old school football with the running game and great defense yet he brings a more modern twist to the program that just wasn’t there with Bill Snyder. I just thought the hire was a great fit.
@Cywerd1 asks: What team in the Big 12 is most equipped to beat Oklahoma?
Duke: At this point it’s either Iowa State or Baylor. Texas had their shot and maybe when they get healthy, they can make a case, but I don’t like what I have seen defensively for Texas. Both Iowa State and Baylor have been playing exceptional defense lately and both of their offenses seemed to be clicking at the right time as both teams are red hot right now. Ask anyone in the Big 12, outside of Oklahoma, which team would you not want to play right now? I would bet most would say Baylor or Iowa State. The only reason I am leaning Baylor is because they will get the Sooners in Waco while the Cyclones must go down to Norman. On a neutral field, I might say Iowa State simply because I like their defense more than Baylor’s. Plus, Brock Purdy and they way they can run the football right now. They are finally looking like the team that I picked to finish third in the conference.
@KyleGAdema asks: What can the Big 12 do about their terrible bowl tie-ins? The system will probably be trashed by 2024 but it’s still frustrating to see the “Camping World Bowl” as a top tier destination.
Duke: I am not sure about how the conference sets up these games, but you are spot on about the Camping World Bowl. I remember someone asking which Big 12 bowl game is the worst and I immediately responded with the Camping World Bowl. First off, it’s possible that a Big 12 runner up will have to play in this bowl game if they don’t make a NY6 Bowl since the second-place team is usually slotted for the Camping World Bowl. Imagine your team going 10-2 going into Big 12 title game then having to play in the Camping World Bowl because you lost to Oklahoma in the conference title game and that knocked you out of a potential NY6 bowl. How great does the “Camping World Bowl” sound then? It sucks. Orlando isn’t exactly a great college football city because of Disney World, and you will likely be fighting for elbow space on the airplane with a nine-year-old due to all the kids on the plane trying to go to Disney World.
@BeenKevin asks: Do you see Baylor losing three conference games?
Duke: Baylor is sitting at 7-0 right now with just five games left. Honestly ask yourself, do you see them losing three out of the next five? Here is what their schedule looks like to finish the year: vs WVU, @TCU, vs Oklahoma, vs Texas and @Kansas. Without a doubt in my mind they are beating West Virginia, TCU and Kansas. That leaves just Oklahoma and Texas as toss up games for me although I think Oklahoma would be the favorite on the road. Even if they lost to Oklahoma and Texas, they would still finish the year at 10-2.
@TheThomasFitch asks: Does the problem with the Texas defense stem more form injuries or Orlando’s coaching? Obviously being banged up doesn’t help but the backups playing are mostly still former four-star guys.
Duke: I think a little of both. I know not everyone has been on board with Todd Orlando in the past and I know he comes up with some advanced type of game plans and defenses week to week. The fact that Sam Ehlinger talked about how simple the Oklahoma defense was and how that let them make it easier to make plays was interesting and to me was a direct shot at Orlando in a way. Now obviously injuries and poor tackling have plagued the Texas defense. Brandon Jones, Josh Thompson, Chris Brown, Jalen Green have been banged up and that has forced backups to step in. Sure, they are talented guys, but they have hardly any experience and that does matter. Some people underestimate experience in college football. Don’t be one of those guys. But at the very least, CAN WE SEE SOME TACKLING? That has by far been the worst part of this defense as they have missed more tackles than any other team in the entire country. Injuries aren’t an excuse for poor tackling.
@gzalesk asks: How happy are you that the Breece hall train is finally leaving the station?
Duke: I have said it here and other places, but you probably know that I am the president of the Breece Hall fan club. I have been raving about this kid since the spring and now to see it all come true is awesome. It tastes like sweet victory and in this business, enjoy it while you can because you are never going to always be right. People only remember what I have to say when it’s wrong so when people give me credit for being right about something, I celebrate a little. Here’s a drink to that. Cheers!
**We now have FREE Big 12 Forums here at Heartland College Sports. Go sign up here and join our conversation! **