THE BIG 12 REPORT

Big 12 Conference play kicks off with a Texas showdown you will not want to miss

Tom Herman and the Longhorns have another big game. Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Big 12 stood at the center of the national spotlight in Week 3 and did not disappoint. The most praiseworth victory came when Texas dominated the 22nd-ranked USC Trojans 37-14. Other notable performances came from Oklahoma and TCU. The Sooners defeated Iowa State to remain undefeated and secure their position as one of the Top 5 teams in the nation, while TCU surprised college football fans across the nation as they gave No. 2 Ohio State a serious run for their money. With week 3 of college football in the books, conference play begins and things should heat up as teams start to make their push at a Big 12 conference title.

Must Watch Games week 4

Texas vs. TCU (17)

With both teams sitting at 2-1 and coming off their most difficult games of the season, this matchup between TCU and UT should be one to remember. Texas will be energized from their most exciting victory in the past two years after defeating No. 22 USC in convincing fashion, and the Horned Frogs will be looking to get back on their feet after falling short in a hard fought game vs. the Ohio State Buckeyes. Texas looked sharp on both sides of the ball as they scored 37 points and only allowed two touchdowns, both of which came in the first quarter. TCU on the other hand found themselves slightly ove matched by Ohio State and could not recover from their mistakes on the offensive side of the ball. This Texas showdown should be full of exciting plays and jaw dropping moments. Both teams have proven their ability to cause havoc on the defensive side of the ball, and with the Longhorns finding their groove on offense there is no telling what types of acrobatic plays will be made by the athletes on each team.

Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma State (15)

This Week 4 matchup between the Cowboys and the Red Raiders should be one that will light up the scoreboard. Oklahoma is one of only three teams in the Big 12 that remain undefeated and has scored 157 total points in their first three games of the season. Texas Tech will enter into Week 4 with a 2-1 record but has actually outscored the Cowboys with 167 total points so far this season. Oklahoma State is considerably the more complete team with the help of RB Justice Hill who has eclipsed 100 yards rushing twice this season and has found the end zone four times. Texas Tech on the other hand has proven to be largely one dimensional as freshman QB Alan Bowman threw the football 59 times on his way to a record breaking 600 yard passing performance with 6 touchdowns vs. the University of Houston. If you love fast paced shootouts, you won’t want to miss this one.

Kansas State vs. West Virginia (12)

The final Big 12 game to catch this weekend is No. 12 West Virginia and Heisman Hopeful Will Grier vs. Kansas State. The 12th ranked Mountaineers will head into their first Big 12 matchup with a 2-0 record after their Week 3 game vs. NC State was canceled due to hurricane Florence. While West Virginia remains undefeated, there are concerns that the cancelation of the NC State game could have potential implications on their chances of making the college football playoffs. What this means for West Virginia going forward is that if they do not win the remainder of their games in convincing fashion, they could be forced out of National Championship contention. Luckily the Mountaineers have just the man to help accomplish this feat in QB Grier, who has thrown for 761 yards and 9 touchdowns already this season.

Big 12 Players to watch week 4

Oklahoma State RB Justice Hill

Yes, there is no doubt that the game between Oklahoma State and Texas Tech will be an offensive shootout through the air, but the difference maker in this game could be Cowboys running back Justice Hill. Through three games Hill has racked up 277 yards and 4 touchdowns, which is even more impressive considering the fact that he has averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. If coach Mike Gunday can find a good balance on office and spread out the Red Raider defense, Hill will take advantage of wide open running lanes all game long.

TCU WR’s Jalen Reagor & KaVontae Turpin

The biggest matchup of the weekend in the Big 12 will without a doubt be 17th ranked TCU vs. UT. Both teams have shown major potential to control games on both sides of the ball and the ability to make highlight plays at any moment. For TCU there are two players that I believe could cause serious issues for a young Longhorn secondary. Wide receiver’s Jalen Reagor and KaVontae Turpin have combined for 321 yards and have led the TCU receiving corps in receptions in every game so far this season. The duo will be facing off against a Texas secondary that has shown moments of susceptibility to big plays through the air. Not to mention the Longhorn defense will be without starting Safety BJ Foster for the first half of the game after he was ejected for targeting vs. USC and possibly without starting cornerback Davante Davis who left last weekend’s game with an apparent ankle injury. Look for coach Gary Patterson to find a way to get these two speedsters involved often and early.

Texas QB Sam Ehlinger

The final player to keep your eye on in this first week of Big 12 conference play is Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger. While Ehlinger has had two efficient performances in a row since the Longhorns Week 1 loss to Maryland, the young quarterback seemed to find his confidence last weekend vs. USC. Ehlinger showed trust in his big play wide receivers and his arm strength by taking multiple shots down field. Ehlinger will be going for his fourth straight 200 yard passing game and in all honesty is growing into his pressure filled role as the end all, be all factor for the Longhorns.  

 

Ed Oliver skips bowl game to prepare for the NFL draft. Houston Cougar Football Facebook

The regular season is over for Houston football, but a lot has occurred since last week. Let’s take a look at what to expect for UH:

The Armed Forces Bowl

Houston (8-4, 5-3 in AAC) will face Army (9-2) at Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on Dec. 22. The Black Knights are ranked No. 22 in the Top 25 AP Poll, mostly due to their prolific triple option rushing attack which ranks third in the nation. They are on a seven game winning streak since losing to Oklahoma. The Big 12 Conference Champion struggled at home against Army, but would later win in overtime. Army averages 300 yards per game on the ground this year, making them the third team (Navy, Memphis, Army) that Houston will face that is ranked within the top five in rushing. The matchup is not good for a depleted Houston defense. The Black Knights will play Navy this weekend, a conference foe of the Cougars who has had a terrible season. Army vs Navy will be the only college football game this weekend, where you can get a sneak peak of what to expect if you haven’t seen the Black Knights play all season. Plus, the uniforms for this game are always pretty cool.

King vs Milton

Houston comes into this bowl game with their heads hung low after what most consider to be a disappointing season. Injuries, most notably those to D’Eriq King and Ed Oliver, sidetracked the Cougars from heading into the AAC Championship game after Memphis blew them out in Week 13. King and UCF QB McKenzie Milton were both nominated for AAC Offensive Player of the Year, of which Milton took home for a second straight season. Milton humbly gave King an honorable mention by saying, “Shout out to D’Eriq King who is just as, if not, more deserving of this honor. Promise we’ll both be back better than ever!” King played only 11 games, where he reached 50 total touchdowns, 14 of which came from the ground, threw for 2,982 passing yards, and rushed for 674 yards.

Ed Oliver Denies Bowl Game

The All-American defensive tackle Ed Oliver decided to sit out his final bowl game to begin preparing for the NFL draft. He announced his decision via twitter where he thanked the University of Houston, the coaching staff, and his teammates. He finished by saying, “To all the fans, thank you for your relentless support. Forever I will be a Coog!” Oliver’s decision came about a week after he publicly announced that he will be playing in whatever bowl UH was assigned, even after he had to be benched for tweaking his knee in Week 13 vs Memphis. He missed four games this season after suffering from an uncalled chop block against Navy. In his three years in Houston, Oliver accounted for 193 total total tackles, 54 of which were tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 14 passes defended, six forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, and one blocked kick. He was the first underclassmen to win the Outland Trophy in 2017, which is awarded to the best college interior lineman. This season, Oliver won AAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Coaching Changes/Extensions

Houston still doesn’t have a defensive coordinator. Mark D’Onofrio was fired after the Memphis game for managing one of the worst defenses in college football, and also one of the worst defenses in the history of the program. The UH defense allowed a total of 412 points, being the fifth most allowed points in a season in school history, while also allowing 5,862 total yards. It seems like Houston is in no rush in finding a replacement.

Kendal Briles accepted a contract extension from UH after interviewing with Texas State for the head coaching job vacancy. He was also widely considered for a SEC offensive coordinator position of which was not disclosed by sources. The new three-year deal is worth $2.1 million, making Briles one of the highest paid assistants in the nation. Offensive line coach Randy Clements also enjoyed a new three-year extension. Consider both a package deal. The Houston offense averaged 46.4 points per game, rushed for 2991 yards, and passed for 3611 yards, making it one of the best offenses in the nation.

AAC Bowl Matchups

Armed Forces Bowl- Houston vs Army

Military Bowl- Cincinnati vs Virginia Tech

Gasparilla Bowl- USF vs Marshall

Birmingham Bowl- Memphis vs Wake Forest

Independence Bowl- Temple vs Duke

Cure Bowl- Tulane vs Louisiana Lafayette

Most Notable AAC Bowl Matchup

Fiesta Bowl- UCF vs LSU

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