Week 7 of the Big 12 Football season is in the books, and boy are there tons of storylines coming out of the five games on Saturday. Caleb Williams is now the man in Norman, Iowa State gets its first win in Manhattan in 17 years, Baylor beats a future Big 12 member, Texas collapses again and Tech finally rolls over Kansas.
So while there’s plenty to recap after Saturday’s action, here are my top five takeaways from Week 7 in the Big 12 Conference.
1. Caleb Williams is the Man in Norman
There’s no turning back now. The Oklahoma offense has looked like a different beast with Caleb Williams in charge over the last six plus quarters. Oklahoma’s win over TCU on Saturday night caps off a dramatic week in which Lincoln Riley cancelled press conferences, Spencer Rattler’s dad talked to the media, and even I was called out by The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel for my commentary on Rattler. But now that the dust has settled, it’s beyond obvious that this unit is playing harder for Williams than it ever did for Rattler, and the true freshman has unique talents and leadership ability that are going to be fun to watch over the coming weeks. It also gives OU fans reason to believe that, despite some early season issues, this team deserves to be favored to win the Big 12 and appear in a College Football Playoff.
2. Jim Knowles Will Quickly Become a Household Name
Our own Dave Beall wrote an excellent piece on Saturday about how the Oklahoma State Cowboys need to pay defensive coordinator Jim Knowles ASAP. Knowles is making less than $1 million per season, which is less than half of what Texas DC Pete Kwiatkowski is making (who of course Oklahoma State beat on Saturday). Oklahoma State fans have obviously known what Knowles has been building on the defensive side the last couple of seasons, and astute Big 12 fans have been noticing as well. But soon, as the Cowboys continue to play great football on the defensive side this season, Knowles’ name is going to start coming up for bigger jobs. I see it less likely that Knowles is a head coaching candidate as much as he might be a guy who could get poached by an SEC or Big Ten team who will shell out a ton of dough to bring him to run their defense.
These are the kinds of moves that Big 12 programs need to avoid having happen to them with regularity. With realignment on the horizon, Big 12 programs need to retain their top coaches and prove to the Big Ten and SEC that they will not just be a place for their coaches to build their resumes and bolt for “bigger and better”. Jim Knowles’ situation will be an interesting storyline to follow.
3. Brocktober is in Full Swing
Something about Matt Campbell and Brock Purdy in October just clicks. For whatever reason, this team consistently works out kinks in September, but come October, they’re a well-oiled machine. That was on full display last night as the Cyclones beat the Kansas State Wildcats 33-20 for their first win in Manhattan in 17 years. Matt Campbell is now 15-2 in October dating back to 2017, and they’ve been some big-time wins with victories over teams ranked No. 3, 4, 6, 18, and 25.
Oh and if you want to add to this great storyline, who have those two losses been to? Oklahoma State, who comes to Ames next weekend in what will likely be a Cowboys team ranked in the Top 10.
And for what it’s worth, this might be the best Brock Purdy GIF to date.
4. Is Dave Aranda’s Rise Happening Too Quickly?
The Bears are 6-1 overall and 3-1 in conference play after rolling over future Big 12 member BYU 38-24 on Saturday afternoon in Waco. What Dave Aranda is doing this season is really impressive, and it’s catching most everyone outside of Waco by surprise. Baylor will be heard from in the Big 12 title race over the second half of the season, which given the fact that Baylor won just two games last season, is a huge testament to this coaching staff.
But much like the Jim Knowles conversation above, is Aranda’s stock rising too fast? Let’s hope not, as already national media are talking about Aranda going back to where he came from: LSU.
The good news is that Baylor has not been shy about paying for what they want. But of course we don’t have much idea as to what Aranda’s loyalty is to Waco at this point. We knew that Matt Rhule really did appreciate Baylor, but he always had his eyes set on the NFL, if the right opportunity presented itself.
How does Aranda feel? That seems like more of an unknown, but the next couple of months could be telling. However he first needs to finish strong the next couple of weeks and see how the season shakes out.
5. Texas’ Second-Straight Collapse
The Longhorns are a really solid team and I like the direction of the program under Steve Sarkisian. But with that being said, a second-straight collapse where this team blows a double-digit lead in the first half is problematic. It’s a bad sign for the coaching staff, which isn’t making in-game adjustments that their counterparts on the opposing sidelines appear to be making. Also, it’s a bad look for the players, who may be losing some of that fire that they played with in the first quarter against both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Texas has a week off before huge games against Baylor and Iowa State. These are two games that will go a long way to determining who is playing for a Big 12 Championship in December. If Texas doesn’t at least split these two games, then the first season for Sarkisian could quickly fall off the rails.