RED RIVER ROUNDUP
ALEX CHINERY Sunday 6th September
Welcome to our weekly round up of life in the BIG XII Conference.
Here are this week’s headlines….
With only one game involving a Big 12 team able to be played this week, we are a little light on content for this article. With conference play starting next week we are going to take a look at who the contenders are and which players are Heisman Trophy hopefuls. With less than a week to go before the all important games start, let’s take a journey through the Big 12.
Oklahoma State Scrape A Win Over Tulsa
Much fancied Oklahoma State came into the season riding high. Many, including my College Chaps colleague Oli Hodgkinson, expected them to be dark horse playoff contenders, powered by the impressive offensive trio of Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. However Tulsa rolled in to town determined to spoil the party. The Golden Hurricanes defense would frustrate State for most of the afternoon. A physical secondary who didn’t let Wallace get into any kind of rhythm.
Problems compounded for State when quarterback Spencer Sanders left the game due to injury. His backup Ethan Bullock, a JUCO transfer this spring, hadn’t been able to take many snaps in practice and it showed. Finally after a brutal interception, coach Gundy subbed in true freshman Shane Illingworth who was able to get the offense moving. Behind an improved running game, the Cowboys were able to pull out the win.
It was a performance that will worry Gundy and will definitely not worry the likes of Texas and Oklahoma. Huge improvements are needed ahead of next weeks conference opener.
Big 12? More like Big 2...
The Big 12 conference has suffered a dire start to the 2020 season. Across the board teams have struggled against supposedly inferior opponents. This does nothing but lend credence to the idea of a Big 2 in the Big 12 in 2020. Nothing we have seen over these first two weeks would lead anyone to believe that the conference championship game will feature anything but a Red River Replay between Texas and Oklahoma.
Both of the Big 12 blue bloods opened their season with impressive victories against sub par opponents. The squads are stacked with offensive talent across the board and both coaches have proven experience at winning big bowl games. Their matchup in the Red River Shootout on October 10th will set the tone for the rest of the conference season. In this climate, with a shortened offseason, talent is going to win the day, because coaches haven’t had enough time to enact the meaningful change they try to do every year.
The best potential challenger to the top two, Oklahoma State, is in a state of flux from injuries and poor performance. It is going to take some huge performances from the Cowboys for the public to believe in them once again.
Playing For Third Place?
When looking across the rest of the conference the start to the season has been pretty dire. One exception has been West Virginia. The Mountaineers opened the season with a big win in week one. Led by quarterback Jarrett Doege and a two headed monster at running back, the team from Morgantown look like they could challenge to be the best of the rest in the Big 12 this season. This high powered offense is going to cause a lot of problems for the defenses in the chasing pack. Expect shootouts and lots of them.
Neither TCU or Baylor have been able to play a game yet because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the spring TCU secured the signature of exciting freshman running back Zach Evans, Evans has the chance to make a real impact in his first season. However I am not sure either of these teams are going to have enough to launch a real challenge for the best of the rest moniker.
Finally it is time to look at the two teams that were the favourite outside bets of many in the football world to challenge for the conference title. Iowa State were soundly beaten by Louisiana last weekend and quarterback Brock Purdy seems to be making all the same mistakes he was making a season ago. Head Coach Matt Campbell may have done all he can with this group. Oklahoma State have the players to be the best of the rest. I imagine they will continue to improve throughout the season, especially as Spencer Sanders and Tylan Wallace get back to being healthy.
I’d expect Oklahoma State to be the best of the rest in 2020. However, West Virginia and Iowa State could be the authors of some compelling stories this season.
Can A Big 12 Player Win The Heisman Trophy?
I’m worried this weeks column is becoming a little repetitive. After Chuba Hubbard’s failures in his first game of the season, the Big 12’s Heisman chances rest solely on the conferences two biggest programs. Oklahoma has been a Heisman trophy factory in recent seasons and Spencer Rattler looks likely to be the next guy off that production line. He sparkled against poor opposition in the season opener, but looks to have the poise and the arm to compete for the trophy. He will have stiff competition in Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and the guy below him in this section, but I think Rattler gets the invite to New York.
Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger was outstanding in his limited action in the first game of Texas’ season. From a first play touchdown to sublime control and explosive throws throughout Ehlinger entered into the Heisman conversation. The Texas senior is a dual threat guy with outstanding leadership qualities. If Ehlinger can lead this offense to continue to be as explosive as it was week one, not only will Texas win a lot of games this year but Ehlinger will be in the conversation. I expect to see him in New York and think that Ehlinger could be in with a real chance of winning the trophy.
Prediction Time: (10-0) Texas wins the Big 12 Championship with a 11-0 record over (9-1) Oklahoma who finish 9-2 on the year.
The difference in experience between the two talented quarterbacks will be the key to Texas winning the Big 12 this season. I expect both matchups with the Sooners to be really close, but I am giving Ehlinger the edge if the games are tight into the fourth quarter.
A texas and Green Bay Packers Fan alex is our head of football analytics, a college football and Nfl draft scout for the touchdown he will be popping up all over. he is also The host of the touchdowns Seven Step Drop NFL podcast and one third of the college chaps.