Around the Big 12: A wild week of upsets

Welcome back to Around the Big 12, where we look back on the week that was for the other members of UCF’s new conference. After the Knights opened their season with a 56-6 win over Kent State on Thursday night at the Bounce House, the rest of the Big 12 was in action throughout the weekend. 

Let’s see how everyone fared as the 2023 season got fully underway. 

UCF-Related Notes:

-The conference opponents on the Knights’ 2023 schedule went a combined 6-3 in Week 1. 

-The teams that UCF will see at home in 2023 went 2-2 over the weekend. 

-UCF’s 50-point margin of victory over Kent State was the third-largest in the conference this weekend, with only Oklahoma’s (73 points over Arkansas State) and Cincinnati’s (53 points over Eastern Kentucky) being bigger. 

-The new Big 12 teams — UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU — combined to go 4-0 and outscored their opponents 153-33. 

Kansas 48, Missouri State 17

The Jayhawks (1-0) were without star quarterback Jalon Daniels on Friday night, and it showed early on. Missouri State got out to a 10-7 lead early in the second quarter and even when Kansas pulled ahead again, Lance Leipold’s team only held a 17-10 advantage at halftime. But the Jayhawks outscored the Bears 31-7 in the second half to secure a comfortable win at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. 

Kansas put up 521 yards even without Daniels. Leading the way in his place was backup Jason Bean, who completed 22 of his 28 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns while running five times for 41 yards. Running back Devin Neal totaled 94 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries to go with three catches for 25 yards and another score. 

Up Next: vs. Illinois (1-0) — Friday 9/8

Colorado 45, No. 17 TCU 42

In what will be a conference matchup in 2024 and beyond, TCU (0-1) hosted Colorado for an absolute classic. Deion Sanders’ debut as the Buffaloes’ head coach turned out to be a successful one, which handed Sonny Dykes his first regular season loss as TCU’s head coach. Colorado got as big of a lead as 24-14 early in the third quarter before the Horned Frogs turned it around and scored 14 straight to make it 28-24. But after some back-and-forth chaos in the fourth quarter, it was a 46-yard touchdown pass from Shedeur Sanders to Dylan Edwards with 4:25 to go that secured the upset for the Buffaloes. 

TCU running back Emani Bailey ran 14 times for 164 yards while Alabama transfer Trey Sanders ran for three touchdowns, but the day was ultimately about the Sanders family. Shedeur Sanders threw for 510 yards and four touchdowns on 38-of-47 passing, Shilo Sanders racked up a team-high 10 tackles and Deion Sanders got his first victory as Colorado’s head coach. Coming off a national title game loss in January, it was a rough 2023 debut for the Horned Frogs on Saturday afternoon. 

Up Next: vs. Nicholls (0-1) — Saturday 9/9

No. 20 Oklahoma 73, Arkansas State 0

This one wasn’t even fair. After a frustrating 2022 season, it’s almost as if Oklahoma (1-0) had a point to get across in Saturday’s season opener. The Sooners were up 28-0 by the end of the first quarter and 45-0 at halftime before their backups continued to pour it on in the second half. A 21-point third quarter made it 66-0, then one more touchdown in the fourth quarter made it a 73-0 win. It was Oklahoma’s largest margin of victory in a season opener since 1917. 

Former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel only needed to play the first half, yet he finished with more than 300 passing yards. He was 19-of-22 for 308 yards and two touchdowns, plus he added a touchdown on the ground. His backup, Jackson Arnold, finished 11-of-11 for 114 yards and two scores — one through the air and one on the ground. Gavin Freeman was a force, returning a punt 82 yards for a touchdown in addition to catching a touchdown later in the game. 

Up Next: vs. SMU (1-0) — Saturday 9/9

Iowa State 30, Northern Iowa 9

The Cyclones (1-0) cruised in this one, going up 23-0 by halftime before ending the third quarter with a 30-3 lead. A 58-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jeremiah Cooper got things started before quarterback Rocco Becht accounted for three scores (two passing, one rushing). A late touchdown and failed two-point conversion attempt by Northern Iowa brought it closer, but this one was never in doubt for Iowa State.

Becht was efficient on the day, completing 10 of his 13 passes for 113 yards and two scores to pair with his rushing touchdown. The Cyclones’ ground game totaled 134 yards on 27 attempts (5.0 yards per carry), while the defense forced two turnovers. The Panthers actually outgained Iowa State 279-250, but never really threatened to win the game. 

Up Next: vs. Iowa (1-0) — Saturday 9/9

No. 11 Texas 37, Rice 10

The preseason Big 12 favorites actually went down 3-0 against Rice early on, but they scored 37 straight after that on their way to an easy 37-10 victory. The Longhorns (1-0) struggled to find the end zone in the first half of the game, though, with a first-quarter touchdown from Quinn Ewers to Jonathon Brooks from 37 yards out being their lone touchdown before halftime. Field goals of 27, 46 and 49 yards by Bert Auburn made it a 16-3 halftime lead before Ewers posted three-second half touchdowns. 

On the day, Ewers was 19-of-30 for 260 yards and three touchdowns, plus he ran for another score. Xavier Worthy caught seven passes for 90 yards, while Brooks, Ja’Tavion Sanders and Adonai Mitchell all had receiving touchdowns. Texas won the turnover battle 3-0 and outgained the Owls 458-176. 

Up Next: at No. 3 Alabama (1-0) — Saturday 9/9

Cincinnati 66, Eastern Kentucky 13

A new era began for Cincinnati (1-0) on Saturday at Nippert Stadium, and it wasn’t just because the program was debuting in the Big 12 like UCF, Houston and BYU were. It’s because the Bearcats are now under the direction of former Louisville head coach Scott Satterfield after Luke Fickell left for Wisconsin this offseason. It was a great start to the Satterfield Era, as Cincinnati went up 35-0 before going on to win 66-13 over Eastern Kentucky. 

Emory Jones, the former Florida and Arizona State quarterback, played lights-out on his way to a 345-yard, five-touchdown day on 19-of-23 passing. He also ran nine times for 26 yards and another touchdown. Running back Corey Kiner totaled 105 yards on 13 rushing attempts, while Xzavier Henderson caught seven passes for 149 yards and a score. The Bearcat defense forced three turnovers in what was a dominant win. 

Up Next: at Pitt (1-0) — Saturday 9/9

No. 16 Kansas State 45, Southeast Missouri State 0

The defending Big 12 champions got their title defense underway with a 45-0 thrashing of Southeast Missouri State. Quarterback Will Howard got the fireworks started with a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jadon Jackson in the first quarter, which began a 35-point first half. The Wildcats (1-0) added on a field goal in the third quarter and a touchdown in the fourth to open the season 1-0. 

Howard threw for 297 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 18-of-26 passing, plus he ran for another touchdown. DJ Giddens ran for 128 yards on 15 carries and Treshaun Ward added 56 rushing yards and a touchdown, plus K-State had two receivers lost 100-yard games. RJ Garcia (119 yards and a touchdown on five catches) and Ben Sinnott (100 yards on five catches) starred in the passing game for the Wildcats. 

Up Next: vs. Troy (1-0)

Texas State 42, Baylor 31

The biggest blemish on the Big 12’s opening weekend was Baylor (0-1) dropping a home game to Texas State, and it was a game in which the Bears were simply outplayed. The Bobcats got out to a 21-6 lead early in the second quarter and led 28-13 at halftime. Every time Baylor looked to get back in the game, Texas State responded and kept the hosts at an arm’s length. That ultimately led to a big 42-31 for former UCF assistant coach GJ Kinne and his Bobcats. It marked the first-ever victory for Texas State over a Power Five program, and it came at Baylor’s expense. 

Blake Shapen threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns on 21-of-31 passing, while Drake Dabney led all receivers with six catches for 101 yards and two scores. Baylor outgained Texas State 524-441, but the Bears just never really overcame their early deficit and it led to a disheartening loss for Dave Aranda and his squad. 

Up Next: vs. No 12 Utah (1-0) — Saturday 9/9 

Houston 17, UTSA 14

Houston (1-0) got a tough draw in its first game as a Big 12 program, having to host a solid UTSA team. The Cougars were able to hold off the Roadrunners in the end, though, as a 10-7 halftime lead turned into a 17-7 advantage that the visitors couldn’t erase. A touchdown with 5:42 to go in the fourth quarter cut Houston’s lead to three, but Dana Holgorsen’s offense held the ball the rest of the way to secure the win. 

Texas Tech transfer Donovan Smith threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-34 passing, with Samuel Brown being his favorite target to the tune of six catches for 106 yards. The Cougars were especially strong on defense, intercepting UTSA quarterback Frank Harris three times. 

Up Next: at Rice (0-1) — Saturday 9/9

Oklahoma State 27, Central Arkansas 13

Unlike Baylor and Texas Tech, the Cowboys (1-0) avoided an upset in their opener. That doesn’t mean their victory over Central Arkansas was pretty by any means. Oklahoma State got out to a 13-0 lead before halftime, but the Bears cut it to 13-7 with 4:37 left in the third quarter. Back-to-back Cowboy touchdowns in the fourth quarter put the game out of reach, though, as another Central Arkansas touchdown did nothing more than make the score look a little closer. 

Oklahoma State played three different quarterbacks, though none of them really established themselves as a clear-cut favorite. Garret Rangel completed 10 of his 15 passes for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Gunnar Gundy went 7-of-9 for 106 yards. Alan Bowman threw for 80 yards on 13-of-24 passing to round out the quarterback room. 

Up Next: at Arizona State (1-0) — Saturday 9/9

No. 7 Penn State 38, West Virginia 15

West Virginia (0-1) never really got off the ground in Saturday night’s loss in front of 110,747 at Penn State’s Beaver Stadium. The Mountaineers were locked in a 7-7 tie after an early second-quarter touchdown, but the Nittany Lions scored 25 straight from there. After West Virginia cut the deficit down to 16 with 3:34 to go, Penn State scored another touchdown with six seconds left to finish off a 23-point win. 

Mountaineers quarterback Garrett Greene was a non-factor through the air, throwing for just 162 yards on 16-of-27 passing. But he was a playmaker on the ground, running for 71 yards and a touchdown on 15 rush attempts. CJ Donaldson Jr. ran 18 times for 81 yards and a touchdown as well. 

Up Next: vs. Duquesne (1-0) — Saturday 9/9

Wyoming 35, Texas Tech 33 (2 OT)

Texas Tech (0-1) was the final of three Big 12 teams to fall victim to an upset, with the Red Raiders losing a two-overtime thriller at Wyoming. Things were actually going well for Texas Tech early, as the team got out to a 17-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. But Wyoming came storming back with 20 straight points to take a lead early in the fourth. The Red Raiders eventually forced overtime, but after a failed two-point conversion in the second overtime, the Cowboys came back with a fourth-down touchdown and successful two-point try to win the game. 

Tyler Shough completed 31 of his 47 pass attempts for 338 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the loss. He also ran for 36 yards on 15 carries. Jerand Bradley, Jayden York and Myles Price all caught touchdowns, and but the Red Raiders struggled to run the ball and held possession for just 25:58 to Wyoming’s 34:02. 

Up Next: vs. No. 13 Oregon (1-0) — Saturday 9/9

BYU 14, Sam Houston 0

It was less than impressive, but BYU (1-0) made the four new Big 12 newcomers 4-0 in their 2023 debuts. It was an unconvincing 14-0 win over Sam Houston that featured an early touchdown in the first quarter and another score to open the fourth. There wasn’t a whole lot of offense to go around, as BYU had the edge in total yards 257-185. 

Kedon Slovis completed 20 of his 33 passes for 145 yards, but it was his five-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that got the scoring going. But the points stopped there until early in the final period, when Slovis punched the ball in from one yard out to extend the Cougars’ lead to 14-0. The BYU defense tallied three interceptions in the shutout win. 

Up Next: vs. Southern Utah (0-1) — Saturday 9/9

About Bailey Adams 204 Articles
Bailey Adams is a senior writer covering UCF Football and Baseball for Knight Sports Now. You can follow him on Twitter at @BaileyJAdams22.