The second week of the 2023 college football season left the Big 12 with some more answers as to what the conference hierarchy might look like this season.
Texas went into Tuscaloosa and dominated Alabama, Texas Tech took a good Oregon team to the wire, and Kansas looked impressive against Illinois.
Now, we turn our attention to a few interesting games, including the first Big 12 game of the season between TCU and Houston.
With that in mind, here are the top five storylines that you should be keeping up with heading into the third week of the season.
How Does K-State Handle its First Test of the 2023 Season?
After dominating SEMO and Troy to start the season, Kansas State will hit the road for the first time to take on Missouri in Columbia on Saturday. The Wildcats are currently listed as 3.5-point favorites and have looked like the more impressive team to this point. However, Missouri has been a tricky place for teams to play over the last several seasons. Even Georgia, who demolished TCU in the national championship in 2022, had to escape the Tigers in Columbia, with a 26-22 nail-biter. K-State throttled the Tigers in Manhattan last season with a 40-12 beatdown, but I’ve got a feeling this will be a much closer contest.
Can Texas Avoid The Hangover?
Texas proved that it belongs on the field with the best teams in the nation last week, taking down Alabama 34-24 in Tuscaloosa in impressive fashion. The Longhorns’ defense dominated Alabama’s offensive line and got after Jalen Milroe all night long. Now, after earning the No. 4 ranking in this week’s AP Poll, the Longhorns will have to get up for a 7:00 p.m. home game against the Wyoming Cowboys. Just two weeks ago, the Cowboys shocked Texas Tech in Laramie and are a well-coached group. Can Texas take care of business, as it should being a 30-point favorite, or will they produce another letdown that their fanbase has grown so cautious of?
Can the Conference Avoid a Letdown?
Of the 13 games being played by Big 12 teams this week, nine contests come against G5 or FCS opponents. Compared to last week, the slate feels awfully bare this week, but that also means that there’s the chance of a major letdown somewhere. Oklahoma State hosts a South Alabama team that returns 18 starters from a 10-win team in ’22, and is just a 7.0-point favorite. Iowa State is on the road at Ohio and is favored by just 3.0 points as of Thursday. Cincinnati hosts Miami (OH) in what has been one of the most competitive rivalries in the country (Cincy leads 60-59-7), but the Bearcats have won each of the last 16 meetings and are 14-point favorites. The Big 12 should fare well this week, but they’ll need to avoid a letdown somewhere.
Can West Virginia Get Revenge in the Back Yard Brawl?
Last season, we saw Neal Brown and West Virginia drop a winnable game against Pitt on the road, as the Panthers returned an interception 56 yards, giving them the 38-31 lead with less than three minutes left in the game. This time around, the Mountaineers are the home team and are a 1.5-point favorite in the contest. The Backyard Brawl is one of the longest-tenured and deepest running rivalries in the nation, which means that WVU fans are going to be rowdy and ready to make the home-field advantage a real thing on Saturday. Getting to 2-1 would be incredible for Neal Brown’s group, especially if they can grab a win over their bitter rival.
Who Gets the Early Lead in Big 12 Play?
TCU will head to Houston for the first Big 12 game of the 2023 season, and the first-ever Big 12 game in program history. The Horned Frogs are a 7.5-point favorite on the road, and both teams come into this game with a 1-1 record. Houston is coming off a heartbreaking double-overtime loss to crosstown-rival Rice, 43-41. These two teams shared the Southwest Conference from 1923-1996, but have played just a total of 25 times, with Houston leading the series 13-12, but the Horned Frogs winning each of the last eight meetings. I expect this game to be tightly contested, and it might come down to whoever has the ball last. Whoever wins it will have an early leg up in the Big 12 race, and will get to that vital 1-0 in Big 12 play.