Five thoughts from Week 1 of Big 12 football

1. Disappointment abounds for the Big 12. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a bigger letdown for the Big 12 in nonconference play. The league went 26-4 a year ago, and all four losses came to bowl teams. In 2011, it was 27-3. The conference already has three losses on the opening weekend, including two losses to FCS teams. Mind you, Kansas hasn’t even played a game yet. Reigning Big 12 champ went down to FCS No. 1 North Dakota State and Iowa State lost to in-state foe Northern Iowa. West Virginia struggled against William and Mary, who went 2-9 in FCS a season ago. TCU hung around with LSU, but ultimately came up short and prevented the conference from making a statement on the national level. The Big 12 hurt its reputation quite a bit on Saturday with those two losses. Forget any talk challenging the SEC as college football’s best conference. The Big 12 doesn’t have a great case after Week 1 as the No. 2 league. It’s entirely possible that the conference just isn’t quite as good as some hope. It’s only been one week, but it didn’t show a lot of promise for the bottom half of the conference we’ve heard so much about this offseason.

2. Charles Sims is the real deal. West Virginia’s new running back was the preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, and he’s well on his way to winning the postseason award. WVU only played William and Mary, but there’s a decent chance the Mountaineers would have lost that game without the Houston transfer. He had his best move of the day on his first touchdown run, but he’s got truly outstanding feel for creases in the line, runs hard and avoids negative plays. WVU running backs coach JaJuan Seider says Sims will be the best RB in Morgantown since Steve Slaton. Noel Devine might disagree, but at the very least, Sims is a 1,000-yard back.

3. Baker Mayfield is the best story in the Big 12 in a long time. I call dibs on writing this screenplay. Mayfield started camp as a walk-on getting his only real reps in post-practice 7-on-7 with young, new players. He caught Kliff Kingsbury’s eye there and quickly earned reps with the No. 1 offense after impressing with the No. 2s. Kingsbury called 70 passes for him on Friday night and he answered by accounting for five touchdowns, and throwing for 413 yards. Incredible. Check out my story from Friday night for more on Mayfield and how he earned his teammates’ respect.

4. They’re playing some serious D in the Sooner State. Oklahoma State went to a neutral site and played a decent Mississippi State offense. Oklahoma hosted Louisiana-Monroe team that beat Arkansas and put 42 points on Baylor. They gave up a combined three points. Both defenses caught plenty of criticism a year ago, especially Oklahoma late in the season. It’ll get tougher for both teams, but you couldn’t ask for better debuts. New OSU coordinator Glenn Spencer’s unit forced two turnovers and the Sooners pitched a shutout. What more do you want?

5. The jury’s still out on plenty of new QBs.
Take Week 1 with a grain of salt. Players like Mayfield, Paul Millard and Bryce Petty excelled. Clint Trickett and Clint Chelf both struggled in the two drives they got before being benched. Jake Waters, Sam Richardson and Trevor Knight had a little bit of both. You’d be wise to wait before you crown any of these guys or kick any of them to the curb. Let’s see how they match up against more competition typical of what they’ll face in Big 12 play.