I said it a couple of years ago and I’ll say it again, the Big 12 has a problem. They want respect but do little to earn it. Don’t believe me? Look at what happened yesterday.
The first Saturday the Power Five conferences kicked off opened with three 11 a.m. games; Kansas State vs Arkansas State, Iowa State vs Louisiana and West Virginia vs Eastern Kentucky. Only one of those games ended with a Big 12 win. Let’s start with Iowa State.
The Cyclones entered ranked 23rd in the nation led by quarterback Brock Purdy and star tight end Charlie Kolar, a Norman native. Pegged as a dark horse Big 12 Championship candidate by some, but a team who should easily handle Sun Belt foe Louisiana University. Keyword, should.
What happened was the opposite. After a scoreless first quarter by both teams, ISU found themselves up at the half 14-10. However, instead of coming out strong in the second-half they did the opposite. They came out flat. So flat that they were flat-out run over, being outscored 21-0 en route to a 31-14 loss. This was Louisiana’s first road win over an AP top 25 team and their SECOND-EVER WIN OVER A RANKED TEAM as they were 1-32 entering the game.
Down in Manhattan, Kansas the Wildcats found themselves in a dogfight as well against another Sun Belt team in Arkansas State. The Red Wolves led by two-time Sun Belt Championship winning coach Blake Anderson dominated the Wildcats in the trenches rolling up 489 yards with 159 on the ground at 4.8 yards per carry. Defensively they held K-State to 91 yards rushing on 39 carries and 1-of-11 on third downs. The final cherry on top was the play of Red Wolves receiver Jonathan Adams Jr. who hauled in three impressive touchdowns on eight catches including the game-winner with 38 seconds left giving ASU a 35-31 win their first over a Power Five IN TWELVE YEARS.
Keeping things in Kansas the Kansas Jayhawks and head coach Les Miles were seeking revenge against Coastal Carolina who beat them last season 12-7. Well, things didn’t get off to the best start for the Jayhawks as their first six drives resulted in two interceptions, a fumble, a punt, and a missed field goal. The result? A 28-0 Coastal lead. Kansas added a field goal before the half and a late second-half rally outscoring Coastal 20-10 but for the second-straight year fell short 38-23.
The damage? Sun Belt 3, Big 12 0.
Making matters worse is what happened down in Lubbock, Texas as the Texas Tech Red Raiders found themselves in a dog fight, A DOG FIGHT with lowly Houston Baptist a team coming off a 57-31 loss to North Texas last week. A porous Tech defense allowed three touchdown passes of more than 60 yards as HBU quarterback Bailey Zappe threw for, and get ready because it’s a BIG number, 567 yards, and four touchdowns. 567 and four. Houston Baptist. SMDH. Sure Tech pulled it out in the end despite being outscored 23-14 in the second half and allowing 600 yards of offense but it’s shameful none of the less.
On a day the Big 12 had a golden opportunity to showcase their skills to a captive audience with little other options in way of football they blew it. Blew it like they seem to do every year in the playoffs. Blew it like they do in major bowls. This felt worse. This WAS worse. Losing three, THREE games to Sun Belt teams is an ATROCIOUS look. Kudos to the Sun Belt a very underrated conference that deserves credit and respect. Something the Big 12 didn’t earn.
If the conference wants to complain about its lack of respect or not being taken seriously there’s one thing they can do to fix it. One simple thing. One thing that didn’t happen Saturday.
Until they do against other teams at a high level consistently I don’t want to hear any gripes or complaints. If the Big 12 wants the respect it has to earn it. To earn it they have to do one simple thing. One thing late Las Vegas Raiders Owner Al Davis used to say, “just win baby win.”
Mass communications student at UCO. Rose State College graduate. Aspiring sports writer with a focus in basketball and football. The National Association of Black Journalists member. Writer for thesuavereport.com