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[2023] Big XII Network Week 1 in Review: Four Blowout Wins (and Kansas)

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Editor's note: this will be a somewhat abbreviated week in review due to time constraints and the sheer number of games to preview next week.

 

In 5 Big XII games this week, four teams made big statements with wins of 21, 34, 22, and 28 points. Iowa State won big as an underdog, they and the Oklahoma schools won big on the road, and Texas Tech won big with an entirely new offensive scheme. Kansas...did not win, and that is a statement in and of itself. Nevertheless, the big picture is that it was an impressive showing from the nation's most exciting conference--so let's talk (briefly) about the games.

 

Thursday Night

 

:isu: Iowa State 38, :uab: UAB 17

 

Balance of Power: Iowa State threw the ball 30 times and ran the ball 24 times, finding success in both aspects of the offense. Vaughn Sheppard completed a career-high 20 passes for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns without an interception; not the most explosive game but a marked improvement from his first two seasons. Kofi McCullough had a career day as well with 137 yards and 2 touchdowns (which could have been 3 if Quincy Ward didn't vulture him) on 22 carries. The Cyclones were up 21-7 at the half and never looked back.

 

Spivey Sense: Iowa State put extra DBs on the field to counter UAB's passing attack, and it worked. Corey May was held to 18-of-35 passing for 209 yards, one touchdown, and an interception to Antoine Spivey on 3rd-and-long in dime coverage. Spivey also had a pass breakup and appears to be adjusting to his role very well so far. Iowa State also has to be happy with the play of Ian Johnson, who had 7 tackles (1 for loss) and a pass breakup to lead the team in both pass coverage and run coverage.

 

Next Up: Iowa State stays on the road to take on in-state rival Iowa as they look to start 2-0 for the first time since 2019.

 

Friday Night

 

:boise: Boise State 20, :kansas: Kansas 16

 

Weight of the World: Christian Graham threw for 300 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it took him 26 completions on 45 attempts to get there. Runningbacks Andre Black and Bryce Dubose combined for 21 yards on 11 carries, leaving the whole offense to the passing game. It wasn't enough. Graham connected early and often with tight end Mark Poole (9 for 125 yards, 1 TD) but couldn't find his receivers often enough to stretch the field and put more points on the board. Going kicker-optional, Kansas went 1-for-3 on fourth downs but converted both of their two-point attempts.

 

Nuke: Naiquon Crosby had a stellar debut, recording 5 tackles (2 for loss), 1.5 sacks, and stripping CeeCee Henderson--it would have been a huge momentum swing if only the ball didn't bounce directly to a Boise State offensive lineman. He was consistently in the Bronco backfield, and that led to a few passes into traffic--including a Javier Blount interception and two Shaq Stewart deflections. But they still gave back 250 yards through the air to Ian Hansen and 104 yards on 19 carries to Henderson. A very good defensive effort wasn't quite good enough.

 

Next Up: Kansas is on bye week 2 before opening up conference play with Oklahoma. They will look to avoid their first-ever losing streak to the Sooners.

 

Saturday Afternoon

 

:ou: Oklahoma 48, :tulsa: Tulsa 14

 

Battery Recharged: The debuts of Nick Brohm and Jaiden Douglas in the Oklahoma backfield were best described as perfectly solid. Brohm finished 19-of-32 through the air for 204 yards and a touchdown, and he showed his ability to get out of the pocket with a rushing touchdown as well. He spread the ball out between his receivers; Lucas Dykes was the most explosive with 52 yards and a touchdown on 3 catches, but Chase Reardon had a team-high 5 catches for 55 yards. Douglas was more efficient (relative to position) with 117 yards and 2 scores on 22 carries. 

 

Who Needs Offense: Even though nobody on the offense individually lit the world on fire, the defense showed exactly why this team is scary. They gave up 14 points, and countered by scoring 14 points without the offense touching the ball. Elijah Williams had a pick-six and two pass break-ups. (Hot take: he is really good.) Tulsa quarterback Charles Palmer also threw an interception to Kahawai Kolone, and Palmer completed the trifecta by losing the ball to a Max Abel strip--and Jeremy Small capitalized by recovering the fumble and taking it to the house. For good measure, they held the Tulsa run game to 22 yards on 13 carries in a dominant effort.

 

Next Up: Oklahoma's next game is their home opener, as they take on a Virginia Tech team that downed West Virginia in their own opener.

 

Saturday Evening

 

:okst: Oklahoma State 42, :zona: Arizona 20

 

Baldwinning: Remember when Ian Baldwin was in a slump over the second half of last season? Yeah, me neither. He torched the Arizona defense to the tune of 311 yards and 3 touchdowns on 25-of-38 passing, recording a 160.6 passer rating to land in the #1 spot among Big XII quarterbacks this week. If Samuel Barfield was open, Baldwin was finding him; he finished with 7 catches for 100 yards and 2 scores. Albert Wenzel stepped up big as well with 5 catches for 85 yards and a score; he's a player to watch as a third receiving option. And Amral Brown did Amral Brown things, picking up 118 yards and 2 scores on an efficient 21 carries.

 

The Defense Has B's Too?!: The biggest contributors on the other side of the ball were Amari Bradford and Cael Bruce, adding more stingers to the orange-and-black B-hive. Bruce made his Cowboy debut with 3 tackles (2 for loss) and a strip-sack of Christian Noonan that the fellow newcomer was able to land on himself. Noonan played with fire a bit too much, though, trying to throw as he was hit by Amir Pryor. That pass fluttered in the air, settled in the arms of Bradford, and the junior linebacker took it back to the house. Arizona scored just 10 points before fourth-quarter garbage time, and Oklahoma State left Tucson with a statement win.

 

Next Up: After watching their biggest rival knock the stuffing out of Tulsa, Oklahoma State will get their turn to do the same thing in Stillwater week 2.

 

:ttu: Texas Tech 42, :nebraska: Nebraska 14

 

Livin' to Dyer: Hayden Dyer has waited and waited and waited for his opportunity to be the guy, and he made it count in his first game as a starter. He finished the game with 21 carries for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a run where he outraced a would-be tackler to the boundary, turned the corner, and raced 40 yards downfield for the score. For the first time in a while, Texas Tech was effective through the air. Grayson Gillette went 19-of-33 for 231 yards and 2 touchdowns, which is the first 200-yard and 2-touchdown game by a Texas Tech quarterback since Christian Barkley's final game in 2018.

 

Two for the Record Book: With two sacks of Nebraska quarterback Lucas Elizondo, Curtis Jones has become the Big XII's all-time sack leader with 25.0 sacks. He broke the tie he was in with legendary defensive linemen Anthony Ortiz and Hudson Adam, and extended his lead over fellow senior Jamari Callahan to 2.5 sacks. That just part of the outstanding defensive ballgame the Red Raiders played: Zac Huntley had 1.5 sacks in his first game post-Samir Sample, Robert Brantley had 2 pass breakups, and Austin Callahan recorded his first interception since his record-setting freshman season--and took it all the way back for a touchdown.

 

Next Up: Texas Tech will be home for quite a while, with their first road game not being until week 5. The Red Raiders will host Marshall in Lubbock week 2.

 

Byes: 

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2 minutes ago, stormstopper said:

which is the first 200-yard and 2-touchdown game by a Texas Tech quarterback since Christian Barkley's final game in 2018.

lmao

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