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. I want to thank each one of you who submitted a question this week and for tonight’s drink of choice? You’ll just have to see for yourself. Cheers!
@KyleGAdema asks: Will Iowa State win three more games to get bowl eligible? Rank their remaining games in order of win probability.
Duke: This is something every Iowa State fan is thinking about right now. Their conference title hopes are long gone and getting to a bowl game is all that is left to play for. Will they get to six wins? I say yes. As for an order, I don’t think it matters much. I would have them favored to win their home games (Oklahoma, West Virginia, and Texas Tech) and lose their road games (at Oklahoma State, at TCU). If they can win three out of their next five games, then they will become bowl eligible.
@RCJGraves asks: Advanced stat metrics, like the FEI and SP+, rank K-State’s defense as the best in the Big 12 & among the best nationally, yet no one is talking about the Cats’ defense. What is your perception of how K-State’s defense stacks up with the best in the B12? Why is no one noticing Kansas State’s defense?
Duke: Nobody is talking about the Big 12 nationally so why would they be talking about Kansas State? If you follow the conference at all, you know Kansas State is a good football team in general. They have a ton of talent on defense including two great pass rushers in Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Khalid Duke. Plus, I really like the cornerback duo of Julius Brents and Ekow Boye-Doe. To me, it’s more of a lack of respect of the Big 12 than Kansas State. If national media members don’t respect the conference Kansas State plays in every week, then how would they even know anything about Kansas State in general? That is why this website exists because we are here to give the Big 12 and the teams in it the respect they deserve.
@mat_with2ts_ asks: Across the board in the Big 12, how do you feel about the officiating this year?
Duke: Most of you who read this mailbag or follow me on Twitter know that I am not afraid to speak my mind. Ever since I started covering this conference, officiating has been a problem. In fact, it’s been a problem long before that. I always say that at some point and time your team is going to get screwed by the refs and this season is like no other I have seen. Between replays, clueless targeting calls (or no calls), and other things, this is as bad as I can remember. The reason is due to the fact that there has been a change with a lot of these refs. It’s an entirely new crew from two years ago because so many of them have left to other conferences or even to the NFL. What we are seeing now is a new wave of officials who do not appear to be very experienced in my eyes. The good news is that it can’t get any worse, can it?
@RPTexan: Behren Morton played his tail off vs OSU and Donovan Smith has won multiple games. Tyler Shough has beaten both out twice! Which one should be Tech’s starter for the rest of the year – barring injury? Joey wants to win now & a bowl game.
Duke: I have never been sold on Tyler Shough being some kind of program savior. He had his moments at Oregon but I could never fully buy-in. As for Donovan Smith, he is a great athlete who can make things interesting, but turnovers have been a problem. That leaves Behren Morton who I think has the potential to be a great quarterback for the Red Raiders. I kept up with his high school career and he even made the elite 11 coming from a small west Texas school. He’s got the arm talent and the accuracy to be a good quarterback. Plus, he is more athletic than people think. To me, Behren is the future of Texas Tech football, and that future starts right now.
@DBSportsYT asks: How does Iowa State get over the hump? We hear so much about details and margins from Matt Campbell, but that seems to always be where we fall short. Is it players, is it coaching, is it both? What has to change?
Duke: Sometimes I find it funny when Matt Campbell talks about the details, yet special teams has been a problem in Ames for years. That is an area where Iowa State needs to improve in, and it has cost them big at times. Defensively, I wouldn’t change anything because Jon Heacock is one of the best defensive minds in college football. In fact, that defense is what has kept this year’s team in games. The problem has been the offense. I am a believer in Hunter Dekkers, and I knew he would have some growing pains as a first-year starter. He’s got weapons on the outside with Xavier Hutchinson and Jaylin Noel who I really like.
However, the problem for the offense has been the lack of any sort of running game. Iowa State needs a consistent running game to take some pressure off of Dekkers. Look at what Iowa State’s offense did with Breece Hall. Will they ever get to that level? No, but it took a lot of pressure off Brock Purdy and made the offense more balanced. Plus, where are the tight ends? They are nowhere to be found. Those two things have been holding Iowa State back this season.