When the odds came out for this past weekend’s college football games, and Oklahoma was listed as a 28-point favorite against Kansas State, I thought it was absolutely ridiculous. Kansas State may have looked bad in their season opener, but they beat Oklahoma last season, and the Sooners’ Spencer Rattler was making his first start against Power-5 competition. Rattler has been much hyped as a darkhorse Heisman candidate, due partly to his talent level, which is clearly high, but also due to Lincoln Riley, the ‘QB whisperer’. Riley has produced a Heisman finalist in each of his four years as the Oklahoma head coach, including two winners. One potential factor, brought up by many analysts, was that each of those prior quarterbacks had been transfers.
Despite the question marks, Rattler quieted many doubters in his debut as a starter, dicing up an inferior Missouri State offense for 290 yards and four touchdowns in just one half of play. Yes it was Missouri State, but Rattler hardly looked wowed by the collegiate stage. It looked like more of the same in the early going against Kansas State, as Rattler posted a 17-19 stat line, tossing three touchdowns. However, those two incompletions fell into enemy hands, as two interceptions kept Kansas State in the game. The second pick led to the Wildcats’ only scoring drive of the half, as the Sooners led 21-7 at halftime.
Oklahoma kept up the pressure at the start of the second half, racking up two more scores to go up 35-14 with 2:46 to go in the third quarter.
If you’re a Sooners’ fan…look away now,.
After taking a 21-point lead, it took a total of 13 snaps for their advantage to be narrowed to a single touchdown. The Wildcats utilized a 78 yard pass to score in three plays. They forced a fumble on Oklahoma’s next possession, and then they punched in another touchdown, grinding it out on a 8-play, 38-yard drive. Suddenly, it was 35-28, but Rattler still had an advantage, and the ball.
To be fair, it wasn’t just Oklahoma’s redshirt-freshman quarterback that melted on Saturday, but he didn’t inspire anyone with his clutch-time performance. He went 2-5 on the ensuing drive, getting to midfield before stalling out. A blocked punt set up the Wildcats for another touchdown to tie the game, and Oklahoma got the ball back with 8:17 left in the game. Rattler completed one of three passes there, taking a bad sack on third down, which led to Kansas State getting great field position at their own 40. The Wildcats banged through a field goal, but hope wasn’t yet lost for the Sooners.
Rattler and Co. would get two more chances with the ball. But neither possession was a productive one, as the Sooners went 3-and-out and punted it away. They got one more shot, starting at their 24-yard line, but Rattler was picked off on the second play of the drive, securing the stunning comeback upset victory for the Wildcats. All-in-all, after taking a 35-14 lead, Rattler completed 4 of 13 passes for 65 yards, throwing an interception and taking one very ill-timed sack. Prior to that, he was 26 of 28 with four touchdowns.
The takeaway? Rattler is really good – but he is also really young. The talent was clearly there in his impressive early numbers, but the poise and clutch gene appeared to be lacking in a horrific finish to the game. Essentially, he’s young. Thus, Lincoln Riley, who has been elite with a varied batch of transfer quarterbacks, must now prove his mettle in mentoring a quarterback with virtually no collegiate experience. Rattler’s three interceptions was the most by an Oklahoma quarterback since 2014, before Riley arrived in Norman. It’s an entirely new challenge for the QB Whisperer. And he doesn’t have a lot of time to figure this one out. Oklahoma travels to Iowa State on Saturday, and the Cyclones are getting hyped up for the primetime clash, breaking out their all-black uniforms that they are 3-0 all-time in. They are not an easy game, and no one can be taken lightly after Oklahoma lost to K-State, who was 0-1 with a loss to Arkansas State. Following Iowa State? It’s the Red River Rivalry and another Texas-Oklahoma classic.
Rattler’s got talent. But it takes more than just raw talent to survive in College Football, particularly in the offense-heavy Big 12. Can Riley work his magic once more, or are the Sooners done in 2020?
I love Big 12 football, and the reason is it is the most unpredictable conference in the Power 5, and possibly all of college football. The consensus best team in the conference, Oklahoma, looked to be cruising against a Kansas State team that lost their opener to Arkansas State. And suddenly the Sooners lose to the Wildcats 38-35, for the second year in a row. Highly touted Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler looked impressive most of the game, but he struggled in crunch time and made big mistakes. He was 30 of 41 for 387 yards and four touchdowns, great stats until you add in three interceptions, with one of them to end the game.
The presumed second-best team, Texas, beat Texas Tech in overtime 63-56, but they needed to come back down 15 points with a little over 3 minutes to play to tie it up, and then an overtime victory. The third best team, Oklahoma State, narrowly won for the second week in a row, this time beating a bad West Virginia team 27-13. And then you have Iowa State beat TCU 37-34, even though signal-caller Brock Purdy threw possibly the worst pick-six I have ever seen. This conference does not play defense, and there offenses just compete to outrun the other down the field.
If I have to pick a favorite right now I would say Baylor because they have experience at quarterback with Charlie Brewer, and they are the only team to play anything resembling defense. Am I confident in picking that? Not at all. The Big 12 right now is like March Madness, I have no conviction with any pick.
If you’re looking for a fun football game, I suggest watching the Big 12. That being said, if you’re looking for good teams who live up to expectations… do not watch.
An All SEC Conference Schedule Is A Bruiser
In every other power five conference, there are two or three games you know are going to be difficult on your schedule, and the rest you do not generally have to worry about, but that is not the case in the SEC. The SEC West has six teams that any team could lose to on any given day. Alabama and Auburn are brutes, LSU is too talented to ever take for granted, and although Texas A&M has not put it all together, they have too many pieces to be taken lightly. Then theres the wonderful emergence of the Mississippi schools. If any state deserves Mike Leach of Mississippi State and Lane Kiffin – the Lane Train – of Ole Miss, it is Mississippi. Mississippi State knocked off the defending national champions, LSU 44-34, and there quarterback, K.J. Costello, threw for 623 yards, 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, effectively leading Mike Leach’s air-raid offense. Meanwhile, Ole Miss lost 51-35 to Florida, but they played the Gators competitively and really impressed me. Even Arkansas, who lost 37-10 to Georgia, looked competitive, leading the ‘Dawgs 7-5 at halftime.
Yes, we did already know the SEC West is tough, but is the East? Yes. Florida and Georgia are always powerhouses, Tennessee recruits at a high level, but does not seem to put it together, but they can win games. Florida’s offense was pretty much impossible to stop as Kyle Trask threw for six touchdowns. Georgia was slow out of the gate, but they eventually rolled Arkansas with their third-string quarterback, and the Vols gutted out a tough road win at South Carolina. Kentucky lost to Auburn 29-13, but the Wildcats were a couple plays away from a different game. Missouri got wiped by Alabama, but traditional cellar-dweller Vanderbilt only lost 17-12 to Texas A&M, So at best, there are 3-4 easy games. That is a grueling schedule for teams. We always see an SEC team come out undefeated or with one loss, and you know they are a legitimate team, because they need to go past so many dominant squads. If I am an SEC coach, there are not many game nights I would be able to get any sort of sleep.
BIG 10 and PAC 12, WE DO NOT NEED YOU
I have been clear about my issues with the BIG 10, and I feel the same way about the PAC 12, but they are just followers of the BIG 10, so I will focus my anger on the BIG 10. Hear this loud and clear: we do not need you -and your shortened schedules – coming back. College football this weekend was extremely exciting. The SEC games were well played and interesting, the ACC games were competitive, the Group of Five games were close, and it was good football to watch, while the aforementioned Big 12 games were extremely hilarious and engaging. So Big 10, what gives you the right to jump in late because other conferences figured it out? And then think you can schedule Ohio State vs Michigan on the same day of Army vs Navy. This is a shame, and it is horrible that this was allowed to happen. Army-Navy is an American tradition. It is the only game played on week 16, and has been that way since 2008. This is the reason I boycott the BIG 10, because they do things like this. The average fan will watch Ohio State-Michigan and not Army-Navy. It is a shame for the game and a shame for the country. I will not be watching and I hope anyone who calls themselves a fan of college football will watch Army-Navy, not Ohio State-Michigan. BIG 10, how about you take The Game to the spring, and let us have the season we wanted, without you.
The Big 12 gets back into the swing of conference play this weekend, and it’ll be nice to see how some of these teams stack up against each other. The conference as a whole has not had great coverage over the first two weeks, as they collapsed versus the Sun Belt, and Oklahoma State didn’t look good in barely putting away Tulsa last week. The narrative is that it’s Oklahoma’s conference, Texas is pretty good, and it’s a lot of nothing after that, so we will see if anyone can shake that perception. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best Big 12 bets to make this week. As with our SEC and ACC bets, nothing here includes odds better than -200.
Texas @ Texas Tech, OVER 70.5
This over/under probably would have had to have touched 80 before I would have considered betting the under. Texas dropped 59 points on UTEP in their opener, while Texas Tech gave up a horrific 33 points to Houston Baptist. Texas’s defense was not strong last year, and while I anticipate an improvement, I still think Texas Tech has the offense to put up around 30 points. But I’d also be betting on the Longhorns dropping another 50-piece on the Red Raiders, whose abysmal defense will be picked apart by Sam Ehlinger and Co. I’d consider betting Texas -17.5 here as well, but I think the over is a pretty secure shot.
Baylor (-18) vs. Kansas
Baylor has beaten Kansas ten straight times, and in nine of those ten games, they won by at least 19 points, including the past eight. Baylor has had several games postponed or cancelled and have been gearing up for gameday multiple times, so I don’t doubt that they’ll be ready to go out of the gate on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kanas lost to Coastal Carolina. By 15 points. At home. Roll Baylor here.
Kansas State (+28.0) @ Oklahoma, OVER 60.5
I’m hitting this game with the double bet. This seems like a pretty low over/under for two pretty solid Big 12 offenses. Kansas State put up 31 points in their first game, while the Sooners dropped 48. Meanwhile, Kansas State gave up 35 to Arkansas State, so I anticipate Spencer Rattler and the Oklahoma offense to easily eclipse 40+ points. If they hit 42, that leaves Kansas State needing just 19 to hit the over, bringing me to my second point.
This spread is just ridiculous to me. Over in the SEC, Georgia is a 28-point favorite against Arkansas, who hasn’t won a SEC game in two years. Kansas State went 8-5 last year…and they beat Oklahoma! How are they 28 point ‘dogs? Maybe I’m missing something drastic, but with Rattler making his first start against Power-5 competition, I just don’t see Oklahoma rolling over this 28 point spread.
The Big 12 has a very strong top, and a very poor middle/ bottom
The top two teams in the Big 12 this weekend were dominant. Oklahoma destroyed Missouri State 48-0, and Texas waxed UTEP 59-3. Both played weak opponents, but beat them handily and proved they were good football teams who were ready to play a season. Oklahoma State, who is the third best team in the Big 12, did not play, but I expect them to be good as well. West Virginia also looked good this week beating Eastern Kentucky 56-10, but I do not expect the Mountaineers to be a contender in this conference. Baylor and TCU also did not play because of postponements, so they escape the coming criticism that the rest of the league will be hearing. Now for the rest of the conference, Texas Tech won 35-33 against Houston Baptist, and FCS opponent. Texas Tech comes out of this weekend looking the best compared to Kansas, Iowa State, and Kansas State. Kansas got blown out 38-23 by Coastal Carolina, who finished second to last in the Sun Belt last year. What’s even worse is this is the second year in a row Kansas has lost to Coastal Carolina. Kansas State followed the trend by losing 35-31 to Arkansas State, another Sun Belt opponent. They did lose on a touchdown pass with 17 seconds left, but this is a middle of the pack Big 12 opponent losing to a middle of the pack Sun Belt opponent. It is not acceptable. And lastly Iowa State dropped an egg against Louisiana, yet another Sun Belt team, losing the game 31-14. Highly touted Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy was 16-35 for 145 yards 1 interception and 0 touchdowns. He was absolutely atrocious, and to make matters worse, Louisiana scored two special teams touchdowns. Texas tech, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Kansas embarrassed themselves this week and embarrassed there conference.
The ACC is going to be interesting this year, but Clemson is really, really good
The ACC had a good weekend this week, with four inter- league games. In out of conference play ACC squads went 3-0, as Miami pulled away from UAB, Louisville beat Western Kentucky, and Pitt handled Austin Peay with ease. In conference play, Notre Dame vs Duke ended 27-13 in favor of the Fighting Irish, Georgia Tech beat Florida State 16- 13, North Carolina dominated Syracuse 31-6, and Clemson cruised past Wake Forest 37-13. The Notre Dame and Georgia Tech games were interesting and seemed like they could go either way – the Irish only led by four entering the fourth quarter, and Georgia Tech overcome a 10-0 deficit and two blocked kicks to top the Seminoles. North Carolina was so much better then Syracuse, and a 21-point fourth quarter exemplified that and put the game in the bag. Meanwhile, the #1 team in the country did what they were supposed to against Wake Forest – crush them.
This league looks to be really competitive for the second spot behind Clemson. There are a handful of teams that showed this weekend they are capable. Clemson is easily the best team in this league, and showed why against Wake Forest. With their offense led by the best and most experienced quarterback/running-back duo I’ve ever seen in Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne, the Tigers are the most complete team in both the ACC and the country.
The Sun Belt had possibly its best weekend ever
Four Sun Belt teams won this week, three against Big 12 opponents, and one against a Conference USA opponent. Also, South Alabama was close to beating a strong AAC team in Tulane. This conference showed to be stronger then expected, and they looked really impressive in one of the best weekends in conference history. The Sun Belt has become the “Fun Belt” conference officially. Appalachian State is still the best team, overcoming a slow start to beat Charlotte 35-20, but Louisiana (31-14 upset of #23 Iowa State) is very good, and there are other teams that could keep things interesting. For the first time ever, I can say I was impressed with the Sun Belt.
Nathaniel Lapoint: The Rundown with the kid who never played a down
The Humiliation of the Big 12
What an amazing week for everyone in college football except for the Big 12. The Big 12 got absolutely bullied this weekend by the Sun Belt Conference. The losses started in Des Moines, where the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns absolutely took it to the 23rd-ranked Cyclones and Brock Purdy. Let’s keep in mind that a lot of college football analysts had picked Iowa State as a potential opponent for the Oklahoma Sooners in the conference title game. The Cajuns’ special teams made sure all those analysts ate their words on Saturday, beating the Cyclones 31-14 with a pair of long touchdowns coming on kickoff and punt returns. Louisiana special teams alone would have tied former Heisman hopeful Brock Purdy on Saturday.
The Cyclones weren’t the only Big 12 team to get stomped out by teams in the Sun Belt. Coastal Carolina for the second time in two years rolled the Mad Hatter and the Jayhawks in Lawrence. The Chanticleers put up 28 unanswered points to take a 28-0 lead into the half and went on autopilot in the second half on their way to a very comfortable 38-23 win.
Luckily not everyone in Big 12 scheduled Sun Belt teams but one more unlucky member of the conference did schedule a game with a Sun Belt opponent and that was Kansas State. The best team in Arkansas – no that’s not a typo – went into the Little Apple, and showed the rebuilding Wildcats how to play football. Final score Arkansas State 35, K State 31. Arkansas State had a dominant performance from wide Receiver Jonathan Adams Junior, who caught 8 passes for 98 yards and three TDs. They also saw four different players complete passes en route to victory.
Florida State Suffers Embarrassing Loss To Hapless Yellow Jackets
For anyone who stuck around through all of the lightning delays in the FSU GT game, you were in for a treat. In the first half, the Yellow Jackets threw two picks inside the red zone and had two field goals blocked. The exact same team that couldn’t do anything right especially in the kicking game came back from a 10-0 deficit at half time to beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee 16-13. Georgia Tech was picked to be the worst team in the ACC this season and turned in one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen by a Power-5 team in the first half and still won. The world of college football needs to apologize to Georgia Tech for talking that trash because this team went on the road in Week 1 of conference play – in the weird world of corona college football – and handed FSU one of the most embarrassing losses I’ve seen in years. This GT team left 21 points on the field ( 2 INT inside the 20, 2 missed FG, 1 missed PAT) and still won.
Florida State – you are quickly becoming a basketball school…
Duke is in business, and Notre Dame looks ordinary
Don’t look too much into the Duke Notre Dame game because both teams have a lot of potential this season. However, there are a few takeaways from the season opener in South Bend: Duke’s O-line isn’t that bad. In the first half particularly, they looked very competent at opening up running lanes against Notre Dame’s vaunted defense. They also only gave up three sacks in the game, which is not bad considering the overall expecations of this unit. This is a good sign for the Blue Devils because quarterback Chase Brice won’t be able to do anything with a terrible line. Chase Brice is going to be a good QB in Durham – he just needs time to settle in and become comfortable with his new team. This season is not geared towards transfer quarterbacks having success especially early in the season. If you’re a Duke football fan, if they come out of hiding before basketball season, don’t worry: you’re in good hands.
Now for Notre Dame. The defense looks solid, but Jay Bramblett was arguably their best player and he’s the punter and Ian Book needs receivers… badly. Having lost his top three receivers from last year, Book turned in the 2nd worst performance of his starting career by quarterback rating. These Fighting Irish are solid and in a year without the Pac=12 and no Big 10 (as of now), they could have some success, but this team is not special in my eyes.
Texas State Makes Me Sad
The Texas State Bobcats have made me so sad this season. I’m not disappointed in them – they just make me sad because they play well and are so close to snaring a result, but they can’t get out of their own way. In Week 1, the Bobcats almost took down SMU in Dallas but came up just short. As if last week’s loss to SMU wasn’t bad enough, this weekend, after battling back from being down 31-14, to UTSA midway through the third quarter. They tied it up on a 91-yard punt return with 1:16 left in the 4th, with an opportunity to take the lead with the extra-point, 42-41. Things were looking good for the Bobcats until kicker Alan Orona hooked the PAT to send the game to OT. Both teams scored in the first OT but in the second OT, Orona missed the game-tying 20-yard field goal, and UT San Antonio won 51-48. I’m not even a Texas State fan, but this team tears at my heartstrings and makes me sad every week.
The Sunbelt is making moves this season
The Sun Belt is on the up and up and if anyone tells you otherwise its because they don’t watch college football. Not only did they win three games against Big 12 opponents this past weekend, Appalachian State looked great in their opener featuring their third head coach in three years, and the South Alabama Jaguars also looked very good this weekend suffering a tight and controversial loss in Mobile on Saturday night against Tulane, as some questionable calls did not help their case. With the American conference struggling early this season look for Sun Belt to make a move at that Power 6 spot if this trend of great Sun Belt football continues.
Three Quarterbacks who had great opening weekend games that I could care less about:
Spencer Rattler: We have heard for a long time now that Spencer Rattler is a good QB and let’s be honest Lincoln Riley is one of the best QB coaches in the country. I very much expected Spencer Rattler to have a great debut against Missouri State which he did throwing for 290 yards and 4 TD in his one half of play. Sooner won 48-0
Sam Ehlinger: The Heisman hopeful from Texas opened his 2020 campaign against the always impressive UTEP (lol not). Ehlinger hung 426 yards and 5 Touchdowns on the Minors in his one half of play. Horns won 59-3.
Trevor Lawrence: The likely 2021 first overall pick in the NFL draft also started his season on the road Saturday against the Demon Deacons. Lawrence threw for 351 yards and 1 TD and ran in 2 TD against Wake en route to a 37-13 win. Lawrence and the Tigers looked like they never came off of autopilot and cruised to an easy opening win over Wake Forest.
Well, the college football season is officially underway, proving many wrong who believed that no games would be played this fall. While there’s still a lot of uncertainty – what happens when games are almost inevitably postponed? SMU and TCU have already called off their September 11th contest due to COVID testing results, and if conference games begin to be afflicted, it could be very difficult to stay on course with a tight window to play the season.
But that’s the pessimistic view. The optimist in me is thrilled we have college football and ready to start taking a look at the conference championship race. In each of the Power-5 conferences, lets take a look at which games will shape the title races.
Texas @ Oklahoma State, October 31
Iowa State @ Oklahoma State, October 24
Iowa State @ Texas, November 28
There’s a clear pattern in the three games listed above, as these three squads – Texas, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State – are generally considered the three contenders to face Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. The Sooners should be in it, even as they break in their third quarterback in three years, so none of their games make the list. The separation from #2-4 in the conference is slim-to-none, so these three games will be absolutely crucial in deciding who gets to challenge the Sooners in the Big 12 championship. In a season with just three Power-5 conferences in play, a 1-loss Big 12 champion is virtually guaranteed a Playoff berth, so if one of these teams can go 2-0 in these games, they give themselves a probable win-and-in situation in the title game.
Just from an early outlook, Oklahoma State is probably the favorite to emerge from this group. Chuba Hubbard is just an absolute monster in the backfield, and the Cowboys return a whopping 19 starters. They host both the Longhorns and the Cyclones, and although home field advantage is diluted this season, it still means something, and if the Cowboys can hold up in back-to-back weeks, with Oklahoma looming just two weeks after the Texas clash, then they could emerge. However, one slip from Oklahoma State, and Texas and Iowa State will be chomping at the bit to take advantage.
A worst-case scenario for the Big 12, is each of these teams knocking each other off and losing to Oklahoma, bringing into play a 2-loss Big 12 champion that may be left out of the CFP, a disastrous look for the conference. \
ACC 1. Notre Dame at UNC, November 27
2. Clemson at Notre Dame, November 7
3. Clemson at Virginia Tech, December 5
Notre Dame is a major factor in these games, as the Irish were a consensus pick to finish 2nd in the conference, but we will see if they can match the hype. They’ve got a November 7th showdown with Clemson that they hope to enter unbeaten. An October 24 road trip to Pitt, who always seem to play Notre Dame tough, may be their toughest obstacle to achieving that goal, and if they get to that point, beating Clemson in South Bend seems like a real possibility. But if they don’t, that will leave the margin for error absolutely razor-thin for Notre Dame, who will be forced to potentially play for a berth in the ACC championship with a late-season road trip to Chapel Hill to take on Sam Howell and the UNC Tar Heels. Can the Fighting Irish pull it off? That game may decide if they have a shot at bringing home their first ever conference championship.
I’m listing the Clemson-ND game as the 2nd game, because it leaves the loser with a series of must-win games. This may seem more perilous for Notre Dame, but Clemson has some tricky games as well. The winner of this game is a virtual lock to be one of the two teams in the ACC Championship. Not to mention, it’s arguably the biggest regular season game of the year.
And finally, I’m listing the season-ending contest between Clemson and Virginia Tech. Blacksburg is not an easy place to play, and the Hokies might look forward to a Senior Day clash with the Tigers. If Clemson has lost a road game to Notre Dame and is caught looking ahead to a rematch with the Irish, Virginia Tech may do more than just step on Clemson’s toes in the season finale. Clemson is definitely the favorite in the ACC, but don’t write their name in the championship game in sharpie just yet.
Georgia at Florida, November 7
Alabama at LSU, November 14
Georgia at Alabama, October 17
The SEC has the best chance of putting two teams in the College Football Playoff, so making the SEC championship could be a ticket to the postseason. Georgia faces Florida in what is listed as a home game, but it is being played in Jacksonville. The pressure is on Dan Mullen to break through and win the SEC after back-to-back New Year’s 6 bowl victories. Can he make it happen against Kirby Smart and Co? This game, barring any surprises, should decide the SEC East.
Alabama at LSU could very well decide the SEC West. Alabama is hosting the Iron Bowl, which makes this their biggest obstacle to an undefeated season. LSU has been hit hard by opt-outs, but the defending national champs won’t go down without a fight at their home stadium against the Tide. Texas A&M and Auburn are also interesting picks in the division, but ultimately, I believe the West comes down to this battle.
That being said, Alabama has to escape an early-season battle with the Georgia Bulldogs. A loss there puts the Tide on the edge, well before they get to Death Valley. By the same vein, it puts Georgia behind the 8-ball in the SEC East race, so that game will serve as a critical clash en route to deciding who makes it to Atlanta in December.
To be the man, you gotta beat the man. And until they’re dethroned, the Sooners remain #1 here. To stay there, they’ll hope Spencer Rattler becomes the latest QB prodigy under Lincoln Riley, and playmakers aplenty populate the skill positions in Norman. They have plenty of talent to work with, and the Sooners should feature a loaded offense in 2020.
2: Oklahoma State
Chuba Hubbard is an absolute monster out of the backfield, and they may just have the offense around him to keep pace in the Big 12 this season. Quarterback Spencer Sanders was solid last season and looks to take another step forward, while his favorite receiver, Tylan Wallace, opted for another year wih the Cowboys.
Sam Ehlinger starts the season as the best quarterback in the big 12, although the development of Spencer Rattler for Oklahoma may change that. His Longhorns may not be ‘back’ just yet, as Texas looks good, but not great. The offense should be pretty good, but their defense that averaged over 30 points allowed per game must improve for the Longhorns to compete for a title.
4: Kansas State
Debuting a new coach last season, Kansas State went 8-5 and beat Oklahoma. They have to replace some production in the trenches, but Skylar Thompson is a fairly consistent quarterback not prone to making many mistakes. He should keep the Wildcats in a lot of ballgames.
After nearly making the Playoff a year ago, Baylor figures to take a step back this season. They lost coach Matt Rhule to the NFL, They gave up under 20 points a game in the Big 12 – an extremely impressive feat. Their defense lost a lot of production (9 of their 11 top tacklers) but they return Charlie Brewer under center and have some intriguing offensive talent to keep them competitive in 2020.
6: Iowa State
Brock Purdy took a slight step back last season, but he remains a top-tier quarterback within this conference. Iowa State didn’t lose a single game by more than 10 points in the regular season last year, losing by more than 1 possession just once, losing five games by an average of 4.2 points. If they can turn some of those tight losses into wins, they’ll be improving on this 6th-place ranking.
7: Texas Tech
Texas Tech will hope to win a lot games 52-49, or by other similar scorelines. They return a lot of offensive talent from their 4-8 team a year ago, but they also lost lot of pieces from a defense that was already giving up a whopping 7.2 yards per play.
8: Texas Christian
TCU has struggled recently after a solid stretch of success in the middle years of the decade. Freshman 5-star running back Zach Evans could make an impact this season, and their defense appears to be solid, if not great. Solid defense can be good enough to win in the Big 12, if the offense is clicking, so the Horned Frogs will need to get their retooled offense up to speed pretty quickly with a conference-only schedule ahead.
Not last – what a shocker here for the Jayhawks! Kansas showed marginal improvement in the debut season of Les Miles, including encouraging wins against Boston College and Texas Tech. They also lost 10 seniors off their defense and will be breaking in a new starter at quarterback. Running back Pooka Williams should be the bread and butter of Miles’ offensive scheme, and we’ll see if he can bring the Jayhawks a win or two.
10: West Virginia
West Virginia averaged only 19.6 points per game last season. In the air-raid, offense-heavy Big 12, that’s just not going to cut it. They could improve on that mark, with Jarret Doege returning under center and a promising group of receivers complementing him in the offense. However, the ground game is a major question mark after averaging just 2.63 yards per pop last season, so retooling the backfield and offensive line will be a must for the Mountaineers, if they are to stay competitive in any way shape, or form in 2020.
Offensive Player of the Year
Spencer Rattler- Quarterback, Oklahoma
Chuba Hubbard won this award last season, breaking a string of four straight Oklahoa players. Rattler is a 5-star recruit and figures to be an absolute stud in Lincoln Riley’s system. Far be it from us to start doubting Riley’s QB-whispering abilities now.
Defensive Player of the Year
Caden Sterns- Safety, Texas
Picking this award can feel like a crapshoot in a conference that routinely sees absolute slugfests, with both teams rising over 30 or 40 points. Stearns is an intriguing pick here, as he will have to be a leader for a Texas secondary that must improve if the Longhorns are to finally breakthrough.
Coach of the Year
Mike Gundy- Oklahoma State
The Cowboys haven’t made the Big 12 title game since it was re-instated in 2017, as 20`16 was the last year they finished top-2 in the conference. They haven’t taken home a Big 12 title since 2011, but they have as much promise as they’ve had in recent memory. Gundy came under fire this offseason for wearing a controverisal T-shirt in public, an act that was called out by some of his own players. If he can regain control of the locker room and get the Cowobys to the Big 12 championship, he is very deserving of this award.
Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State
Oklahoma wins 42- 31
To be the man, ya gotta beat the man. And it’s not happening this year. Boomer. Sooner.
Due to the coronavirus, the college football season, and especially the College Football Playoff, has a lot of questions surrounding the possibilities of playing. The BIG 10 and the PAC 12 have already announced they will be playing conference only games for the 2020 season, and the other power five conferences, the SEC, the ACC, and the BIG 12, are all expected to follow the conference only games model. The Group of Five conferences have not made decisions on their schedules for 2020. This will be an exceptionally hard year for the committee to decide who will get into the Playoff because there will be no common opponents, and the Group of Five will also be even more unlikely to get a bid into the playoff with no power five contests. The CFP directory has announced they will be flexible and ready for any situation that results in a season.
The question on a lot of minds right now is what does a conference-only schedule mean for the Playoff? The committee will have to adjust the way they review teams – that is the only option. In past years, common opponents and strength of schedule were weighed heavily; this year, these categories will not have the same effect. I believe that this year will mostly be an eye test. The committee will have to watch the top teams, and I believe they will have to rank them based off of which teams are dominating. I also believe this will be a “what have you done for me lately” situation. Although the committee is not supposed to take prior years into account, these are human voters and prone to biases. \
This also raises even more questions. First is how do you rank conferences? For example, say we have a situation similar to 2019 where Ohio State, Clemson, and LSU are undefeated. Hypothetically, you have an undefeated Oregon and an undefeated Oklahoma, and both are conference champions. How will the committee rank the PAC 12 versus the BIG 12? This situation, which would be highly unlikely, but could arise, would come down to margin of victory. However, the BIG 12 is stronger then the PAC 12, so if Oregon has a better margin of victory, but Oklahoma is in a tougher conference, does Oklahoma get in?
Another question is that of a team is dominating but has a slip up in one close road game, and then you have another team that is undefeated but has one all close games, which gets in? Another hypothetical situation that could possibly happen: Ohio State loses to Penn State in a close game on the road, but blows out every other team, whereas Oregon is undefeated but most of their wins is close, which team will get in?
What happens if Clemson loses a tight game although Clemson has been a consistent performer in the playoff semifinals and national championship. In a season full of questions, will the Committee look at past seasons? With all of these questions, the biggest factor for the committee’s decisions will be the eye test – the teams that are truly dominating will be ranked the highest. Another unknown is what does the committee decide when teams have quarantined players and drop a game because they lose a key piece. For example, what if Justin Fields, quarterback for Ohio State, is sidelined because of the coronavirus, and Ohio State drops a game to Rutgers (an extreme example) because of it, a game they easily would have won with him? How does that factor into the committee’s decision?
An intriguing option that is being discussed around college football, is the one year expansion to an eight team playoff. I like a lot of college football fans would love to see an eight team playoff. The reason that this is almost necessary for this season is the fact that the committee is not going to have enough information I believe to properly rank these teams. Because of these circumstances, I don’t know if there will be enough evidence to name definitively the best four teams, That is why I believe if they expand to eight teams fir one year, they can duke it out on the gridiron and the committee will not face as much scrutiny, and it will give more power five teams a chance within the confines of these strange circumstances. The Committee announced they are weighing there options, but experts do not expect that they will make a decision until late October, because there first rankings will not be out until the first week of November.
The biggest takeaway I have for teams with CFP aspirations, is that there is even less room for error this year then in past years. Teams need to go out and dominate every night they play and can leave no questions unanswered. The committee will have to base their final decision on how a team looks to determine who the best teams are, so top teams must avoid any slip-ups or close and overtime games against a bad team – nobody can question that this will be a radically different season, and that extends from season openers to the Playoff.
With Playoff berths and bowl games, March Madness appearances and trips to the NCAA Tournaments on the line, conversations always arise every season about which conferences are the most competitive in every sport. The SEC, Pac-12, ACC, Big 12, Big 10, and Big East in basketball battle for supremacy, so let’s rank them in the major sports – football, basketball, and baseball.
The top two in this list was pretty clear, as the Pac-12 and SEC have long been the most dominant conferences, combining for 30 College World Series titles between the two of them. The Pac-12 leads the way with 18 (titles won by an active Pac-12 member) although current members USC, Arizona State, Arizona, and Stanford have combined for 23 championships. After Spencer Torkelson was taken first overall this past year, the Sun Devils lead with four #1 overall picks in the MLB draft. The only major category the Pac-12 trails in is total CWS appearances, where they fall just short to the SEC (103-101).
The ACC comes in third, despite having just two College World Series titles as a conference. The ACC gets to Omaha frequently (96 total appearances), but they rarely bring it home as Florida State, Clemson, and North Carolina represent the top 3 programs with the most CWS appearances without a championship (46). Current member Miami has four championships, but only one as an active ACC member, and Virginia has the other ring. It was a battle between the Big 12 and Big 10 for the cellar, and it was the Big 10 taking last place with only 29 total appearances in Omaha, albeit six championships. Texas and Oklahoma State have combined for 32 first round draft picks, and no Big 10 school has more than 10.
The ACC was the clear choice for #1 here. They’ve won three of the past five national championships and are tied for the most with 15 overall. They have the most NCAA Tournament appearances with 398, the most first round draft picks with 202, and tied for the most #1 draft picks with 11. No contest
After that, it got a little dicey. I was leaning towards the SEC for second, but the Big East’s recent superiority tipped them over the edge. They have three championships since 2013, whereas the SEC hasn’t won one since 2012. It was close to a toss-up for their but I went with Big East at #2, and the SEC for #3.
After those initial three selections, the Big 10, with 11 #1 picks (T-1st), 132 1st round picks (132), and 10 national championships (4th) were the clear choice to slide into the fourth slot. They haven’t been very relevant, with only one title in the 21st century, but there’s lots of history and talent in this conference.
The Pac-12 and Big-12 were separated by a razor-thin margin and bring up the rear in the power conference rankings. The Pac-12 used to be one of the best, but they’ve faded from relevancy in recent years. Despite 15 national championships – tied for first with the ACC – the Pac-12 was largely fueled by UCLA’s dominance and their 23-year championship drought is the longest ongoing drought by any major conference. They slot in fifth, with the Big 12 bringing up the rear, running last with 50 first round draft picks, only one national championship, and next-to-last in NCAA tournament appearances.
I would say it was the dramatic unveiling of the best conference of the best college sport, but did anyone ever doubt who was finishing #1 here? Led by Alabama’s recent dynasty, the SEC have 25 national championships, including ten of the past fourteen. They’re second all-time in #1 picks and first-round picks, and top to bottom, they have more elite talent and depth than any other conference.
The Big 10 and ACC were a toss-up for second place. People love to mock the ACC, but they’re the only non-SEC conference to win national championships since 2005. They may not be loaded with talent top to bottom every year, but they’ve boasted some of the best teams of this past decade, and throw in Miami’s dynasty in the late 20th, early 21st century, and the ACC isn’t the laughingstock people make them out to be. However, the Big 10 does edge them out – they have 296 first round draft picks, which ranks first, eight #1 overall picks, and 22 national championships, marks that rank third and second respectively. Their biggest knock is a lack of recent national success – Ohio State has won two titles this century, but that’s it for the Big 10.
Bringing up the rear is the Pac-12 and Big 12 with championship droughts of 16 and 15 years respectively. The Pac-12 has featured some elite talent with 14 #1 draft picks, but they rank last in total first-round picks and national championships. USC’s mini-dynasty from 2003-2005 helps the Pac-12 avoid the basement, an honor belonging to the Big 12. The Big 12 only have two championships since 1985 – every other conference has at least three titles since 1997. Oklahoma has really been the only team doing anything on the national level since Vince Young and the Longhorns in 2005, which lands them in the basement.
Overall, regarding these three major sports, the SEC has to be considered the most complete conference, with the ACC coming in a close second. Both came in with a trio of top-3 finishes and a #1 ranking. Overall, I’d rank the SEC #1 and the ACC 2. After that, I’d say the Pac-12 takes #3, fueled by their dominance on the diamond, and the Big 10 clocks in at #4. The Big 12 was the clear choice for last place, as they took last place in two of the three sports, with their fourth-place finish in baseball saving them from a sweep of the cellar.
2018 Stats: 11-19 passing for 100 yards and 1 touchdown. 16 rushing attempts for 47 yards and 1 touchdown.
Kendrick played in a backup role in 2018 and did not play in 2019. He is a dual threat quarterback and was listed as a three star recruit by 247sports, and he is a decent decision maker and does not make a lot of mistakes. My concerns about Kendrick, however, are that he has not played much, he is undersized (5’10, 205 lbs), and he does not have talent around him. He also does not have the potential to carry his team. He is still in a battle with Thomas MacVittie, but he is projected to win that competition – my take on Kendrick is he is an average player on a below average team.
9: Jarrett Doege, West Virginia, Senior
2019 Stats: 79-120 passing for 818 yards, 7 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 11 rushing attempts for -41 yards and 0 touchdowns.
Doege has experience as a transfer from Bowling Green, where he was a starter. Last year, he won the starting job and played pretty well in four games. He is a pro style quarterback at 6-2, 200 pounds and was rated as a three star quarterback by 247sports. Another quarterback with not a lot of talent around him, I think Doege will have a decent year and may surprise people, but in a pretty stacked Big 12 quarterback room, I have him ranked 9th. He is a good decision maker with experience, but in an offensive conference, not having weapons around you can be fatal.
8: Skylar Thompson, Kansas State, Senior
2019 Stats: 177-297 for 2,315 yards, 12 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. 114 rushing attempts for 405 yards and 11 touchdowns.
A 6’2 and 210 pounds, Thompson is a dual threat quarterback, who was ranked as a three star recruit by 247sports. A quarterback with a lot of experience playing the Big 12 gauntlet, he has plus decision making and leadership. He has been praised for his leadership, and he brings back a strong receiving core, but K-State replaces all five offensive lineman. The reason Thompson is rated low is because he struggles with his accuracy, and he will struggle with that entirely new offensive line. For another year, Thompson will lead Kansas State to mediocrity. I like his leadership ability, but I do not believe he has the talent or the throwing ability to really succeed in the Big 12.
7: Max Duggan, TCU, Sophomore
2019 Stats: 181-339 for 2,077 yards, 15 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. 130 rushing attempts for 555 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Duggan played well at times as a freshman for a struggling TCU team. He showed a fierce competitive drive and leadership that is not often seen in freshman. As a 6’2, 190-lb, dual threat quarterback, the TCU signal-caller was ranked as a four star recruit by 247sports. Duggan has the potential to have a breakout year, which we saw at times last year. However, I think that he’s one year away from that happening. TCU does not have a lot of offensive weapons, and Duggan still will suffer through some growing pains. He will eventually be a dominant quarterback in this league, but he still needs to improve. I believe he will build on his freshman season in 2020, but I do not believe he will have the breakout year that many project.
6: Alan Bowman, Texas Tech, Junior
2019 Stats: 101-157 for 1,020 yards, 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. 7 rushing attempts for 14 yards and 1 touchdown.
Bowman played in only three games in 2019, but he had impressive numbers in the air raid offense. The former three-star recruit (247sports) has had to battle through injuries in his last two seasons. He is a 6’3, 210-pound, pro style quarterback The biggest question surrounding Bowman is his health. If he remains injury-free, I believe he will have a breakout year. He has all the talent and potential in the world to excel in a weak defensive conference. He is the perfect quarterback for the Big 12 because of his arm strength and accuracy. He does not have insane talent around him, but he has enough to pair with his talent. The only reason he is not ranked higher is because the Big 12 has great quarterbacks, and injuries are a question. A lot of experts rank him lower, but I believe Bowman will be dominant this year if he is on the field.
5: Spencer Sanders, Oklahoma State, Sophmore
2019 Stats: 155-247 for 2,065 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. 139 rushing attempts for 628. yards and 2 touchdowns.
Sanders, a 6-2 195 ILBs dual threat quarterback who was a four star by 247sports, returns to Stillwater for his second year. His numbers were good his freshman yea,r and there is definitely talent to build off of. The main concern is the 11 interceptions, but I chalk many of those up to inexperience. He can run and throw at a high level, and he has talent around him coming back in Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard. I have him at #5 because I think the guys in front of him are better, but I really think the top six on this list can finish in any order – that is how deep of a list this is. I look for Sanders to have a big year for the Cowboys.
4: Charlie Brewer, Baylor, Senior
2019 Stats: 251-389 for 3,161, 21 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions. 147 rushing attempts for 344 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Brewer is a 6-1, 188 ILBs pro style quarterback, who was a three star prospect by 247sports. He is a fierce competitor with talent and I believe he will have a really good year, but there are multiple questions surrounding his 2020 campaign. First, how will he blend with a new coach in Dave Aranda? Many people believe his success was due to new Carolina Panthers’ head coach Matt Rhule, and this is his chance to prove them wrong. Also, his offensive line really struggled last year, and he needs to be protected to succeed in 2020. He lost Denzel Mims to the draft, but he does have playmakers around him. I believe Brewer will have a great year based off of his competitive spirit and will to win. He is not the most talented guy on this list, and he may not have the most talented team around him, but I believe he has the most grit out of all the quarterbacks in the Big 12 and that is why I see him having a good year.
3: Brock Purdy, Iowa State, Junior
2019 Stats: 312 of 475 for 3,982 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions. 93 rushing attempts for 249 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Purdy is 6-1, 202 ILBs, pro style quarterback, who was a three star by 247sports. Purdy could be number one on this list. He is an absolute stud. The reason I have him at #3 is that he does not have the talent around him that Ehlinger and Rattler have, which limits his ability to put up big-time numbers. He has great accuracy and good arm strength. He is not known as a running quarterback, but he can do so effectively if needed. Look for another big year out of him at the helm of this Iowa State offense. He is proven as a talent and he is a good leader. Do not be surprised if Purdy is a darkhorse Heisman candidate.
2: Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma, Freshman
A five star rated by 247sports, Rattler is 6-1, 198 ILBs, and he was the number one pro style quarterback in the 2019 class. He is an absolute stud who can throw and run at high levels. He is inexperienced, but I believe that inexperience is helpful to him because he sat behind Heisman finalist Jalen Hurts and learned how to be a great quarterback and leader. The other thing that makes me optimistic about Rattler is the system and coach Lincoln Riley. Since Riley took over, his three quarterbacks have at least been Heisman finalists and two have won. The reason I rank him at two is because he is relatively unproven, and as much as I want to put him at #1 and believe he could be the best quarterback in the Big 12, I can not really justify it before he takes a snap in the 2020 season. That being said, look for a great year out of Rattler and the Sooners.
1: Sam Ehlinger, Texas, Senior
2019 Stats: 296-454 for 3,663 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. 163 rushing attempts for 663 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Ehlinger is a 6-2, 230 ILBs, dual threat quarterback rated as a four star by 247sports. As much as I believe there really are six guys that could top this list, I put the most proven and most experienced quarterback at number one. Ehlinger has played in a lot of big games and made a lot of big plays in his career at Texas. The team underachieved last year, but his numbers were great, and I believe they will improve in 2020. I see no reason that he will not be a Heisman finalist. I would not definitively say he is the most talented quarterback on this list, but you can not coach experience. Ehlinger will have another big year in Austin, and hopefully he will prove me right and be the best quarterback in the Big 12.