Around the Big 12: Oklahoma and Texas gaining control

Welcome back to Around the Big 12, where we take a look back on the week that was for the other members of UCF’s new conference. The Knights had their Big 12 home debut spoiled in Week 5 as they choked away a 35-7 second-half lead and lost to Baylor by a score of 36-35. What should’ve been a celebratory occasion that ended with UCF’s first-ever Big 12 win instead turned into one of the program’s worst days in recent memory. 

Of course, the rest of the Big 12 was in action over the weekend as well, and some of the league’s top contenders began to separate themselves early in conference play. So, let’s see how everyone fared in Week 5. 

UCF-Related Notes:

-The remaining conference opponents on the Knights’ 2023 schedule went a combined 3-3 in Week 5. 

-Including Kansas State and Baylor, UCF’s 2023 Big 12 opponents are a combined 26-17 this year. 

-The teams that UCF will see at home in the rest of 2023 went a combined 1-1 this week (with Oklahoma State on its bye week), making them 8-6 on the season. 

-The new Big 12 teams — UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU — went 1-3 this weekend, with the lone win being newcomer on newcomer as BYU beat Cincinnati. 

-With Kansas’ loss, there are two remaining undefeated teams in the Big 12: Texas and Oklahoma. 

-The Big 12 has two teams ranked in the AP Top 25 this week — Texas (No. 3) and Oklahoma (No. 12). 

-The Big 12 also has one future member ranked — Utah (No. 18).

-Kansas State (44), West Virginia (5) and Kansas (3) are the other Big 12 teams receiving votes in the AP Top 25. Future member Colorado (1) still received a Top 25 vote despite back-to-back losses. 

BYU 35, Cincinnati 27

One of the new four teams in the Big 12 was going to come out of Week 5 with its first conference win given the fact that these two matched up on Friday night. BYU got things started with a bang as Jakob Robinson intercepted an Emory Jones pass and returned it 42 yards for a pick-six. Cincinnati scored the next 10 points, but once the Cougars (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) grabbed the lead back, they never relinquished it on their way to a 35-27 win. It wasn’t really that close, either, as the Bearcats (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) scored a garbage time touchdown with 26 seconds to go. 

Kedon Slovis threw for two touchdowns and LJ Martin had two on the ground to lead the way for BYU, while Chase Roberts was the team’s leading receiver with six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. On Cincinnati’s side, it wasn’t always pretty for Jones despite the fact that he tossed three touchdowns and finished as the Bearcats’ leading rusher with 94 yards on 14 carries. Cincinnati held the ball for 35:01 in the game and finished 9-of-18 on third down, but two turnovers to BYU’s zero made a difference. 

Up Next for BYU: BYE WEEK

Up Next for Cincinnati: BYE WEEK

No. 3 Texas 40, No. 24 Kansas 14

Texas got a leg up going into this game as Kansas was missing starting quarterback Jalon Daniels. A 30-yard touchdown run by quarterback Quinn Ewers and a Bert Auburn field goal gave the Longhorns (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) an early 10-0 lead, but the Jayhawks (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) got within 13-7 by halftime. Out of the break, the two teams traded touchdowns before Texas scored the game’s final 20 points for a 40-14 blowout win. With the victory, the departing Longhorns did their part to set up an undefeated Red River Rivalry matchup with Oklahoma in Week 6 — the final one under the Big 12 banner. 

Ewers threw for 325 yards, a touchdown and an interception while rushing for 40 yards and two scores. Jonathon Brooks was the big playmaker for Texas, rushing for 218 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Adonai Mitchell was all over the place as well, catching 10 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown. Jason Bean struggled for the Jayhawks in Daniels’ absence as Kansas was outgained 661-260. 

Up Next for No. 3 Texas: vs. No. 12 Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) — Saturday 10/7

Up Next for Kansas: vs. UCF (3-2, 0-2 Big 12) — Saturday 10/7

Texas Tech 49, Houston 28

Like UCF and Cincinnati, Houston is still in search of its first Big 12 win after a frustrating loss to Texas Tech. The Cougars (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) were in it at halftime, trailing the Red Raiders (2-3, 1-1 Big 12) by a score of 35-28. But Dana Holgorsen’s offense was shut out in the second half while his defense allowed a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters to make it a 49-28 loss in Lubbock. 

Drae McCray had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for Texas Tech after Houston struck first in the opening quarter, then special teams struck again later on for the Red Raiders as Loic Fouonji returned a blocked punt for a score. The Red Raiders had two 100-yard rushers on the day, with Cam’Ron Valdez (six carries, 111 yards, one touchdown) and Tahj Brooks (21 Carrie’s for 101 yards and two scores) leading the way.  Houston quarterback Donovan Smith had quite the day, completing 30 of his 41 passes for 336 yards and four touchdowns while running for 58 yards on nine carries in the loss. 

Up Next for Texas Tech: at Baylor (2-3, 1-1 Big 12) — Saturday 10/7

Up Next for Houston: vs. West Virginia (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) — Thursday 10/5

No. 14 Oklahoma 50, Iowa State 20

There was no stopping Oklahoma on Saturday as it picked apart the Iowa State defense in a 30-point win. The Sooners (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) led 21-10 after one quarter before the Cyclones (2-3, 1-1 Big 12) scored 10 straight to open the second quarter. But once it was 21-20, Brent Venables’ team scored 19 straight points to close out the first half with a 40-20 lead. Oklahoma only scored 10 points in the second half, but that’s all the team needed as the defense shut out Iowa State over the final 39:06. 

Dillon Gabriel put up some big numbers for Oklahoma, throwing for 366 yards and three touchdowns while running for 37 yards and two more scores. Three different Sooner receivers caught touchdowns while special teams chipped in with a punt blocked for a safety and the defense came through with a pick-six. Iowa State quarterback Rocco Becht threw two interceptions as his team was outgained 523-352. 

Up Next for No. 12 Oklahoma: vs. No. 3 Texas (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) — Saturday 10/7

Up Next for Iowa State: vs. TCU (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) — Saturday 10/7

West Virginia 24, TCU 21

West Virginia’s impressive start to the season continued on Saturday night as it beat TCU for its fourth straight win since a Week 1 loss to Penn State. The Mountaineers (4-1, 2-0 Big 12) trailed the Horned Frogs (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) 21-14 at halftime, but the second half was all theirs. A Garrett Greene touchdown run tied the game at 21 in the third quarter before Michael Hayes connected on a 49-yard field goal with 9:31 to go in the fourth quarter for a 24-21 lead. TCU went on to have two two field goals blocked in the final five minutes as West Virginia held on. 

Greene didn’t have the best passing day for the Mountaineers, throwing for just 142 yards on 10-of-21 passing. But he did run for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries to lead the way for the offense anyway. After scoring 21 points in the first half, the TCU offense was shut out in the second half. The West Virginia defense forced four straight punts before the two missed field goals in the fourth quarter. 

Up Next for West Virginia: at Houston (2-3, 0-2 Big 12) — Thursday 10/5

Up Next for TCU: at Iowa State (2-3, 1-1 Big 12) — Saturday 10/7