Everyone loves a good trend, and while I may not speak for everyone in the wide world of college sports, I do have the opportunity on Heartland College Sports to discuss some interesting trends revolving around the Big 12 Conference and the 2023 college football season.
With this being the second iteration of Tillery’s Trends, I plan to discuss players, coaches, teams, betting lines, top stories, and anything else that stands out about the Week 6 slate of games, and the future of college football.
On the menu for today, we have a massive tackling issue in the Big 12 Conference, Friday night football continuing to work its way into the mainstream, and a horrible run of quarterback injuries. Enjoy!
CAN ANYONE TACKLE?
Tackling can be a real epidemic sometimes.
While the Big 12 Conference has some disciplined defenses like Kansas State, Iowa State, and West Virginia, the league also has a tough back end of struggling units. According to a recent statistic from SportSource Analytics, 1/3 of the Big 12 currently ranks among the top 10 Power 5 teams with the highest missed tackle rate this season.
Oklahoma State currently leads the nation with the most missed tackles this year with an absurd 20.5% missed tackle rate. Following closely behind are the Baylor Bears with an 18.6% rate, before Houston and Kansas check in at fifth and sixth with 17.1% and 17% respectively.
While it is important to keep in mind that each team on the list has time to improve in the tackling department, the trend of each team missing nearly 1/5 of tackles is an awful track record for how to win games in the Big 12 Conference.
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS
Oklahoma State and Kansas State are set to take each other on in Week 6 of the college football season on Friday, October 6th at 6:30 PM CT, further establishing the Big 12’s commitment to playing Friday games.
While it is easy to see some flaws with the idea of playing on Friday night including missing out on watching high school recruits take the field, the opportunity for viewership on Friday night is an interesting one.
When the Kansas Jayhawks and the Illinois Fighting Illini played each other back on September 8th, a Friday night game, the broadcast peaked with just over three million viewers, rivaling some of the biggest games of the college football slate that week.
While the spread between the Wildcats and the Cowboys is currently listed as a 12.5-point spread in favor of Kansas State, the matchup should generate a ton of eyes on Friday night for fans excited to kick off another weekend of college football.
People may not like the idea of changing games to Friday night, but with Brett Yormark at the helm as Big 12 Commissioner, the league is continuing to capitalize on trends like playing Friday night football, which gives the league a bigger chance of standing out each weekend.
QB INJURIES LOOM
The quarterback position in the Big 12 Conference has had a wild start to the 2023 season so far with multiple signal callers being sidelines in the first five games of the year.
The list of quarterbacks who have had to miss time or play injured this season continues to grow and is listed as follows: Jalon Daniels, Tyler Shough, Will Howard , Blake Shapen, Garrett Greene, John Rhys Plumlee, and more.
While the majority of trends I focus on in Tillery’s Trends are usually at least somewhat positive, the trend of some of the league’s best quarterbacks getting banged up has to change soon. Howard, Shapen, and Greene have all returned to the field this year and have looked great since their respective injuries with UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee set to take the field as the next veteran QB to make his return.
Texas Tech quarterback Tyler Shough is done for the year while Kansas’ Jalon Daniels is in the middle of an interesting situation due to some ongoing back issues.
While football is football and injuries do happen on occasion, the Big 12 Conference is better with the upper echelon of quarterbacks healthy under center. I do not want to see this trend continue.