Big 12 football off to tragic start amid Iowa St, K-State upsets

Two bad upsets was not a good look for the Big 12 football conference to get the 2020 season off and running in non-con play.

It was a really putrid start for some of the programs out of the Big 12 football conference in Week 1. Multiple upsets in the first round of games on Sep. 12, the Big 12’s opener to the 2020 season, shed a poor light on the conference early on. There wasn’t really a game that looked to be a real upset threat around the Big 12 at this point during the non-conference week of action.

To start it off, the Louisiana Ragin-Cajuns dominated the No. 23 ranked Iowa State Cyclones most of the way. Louisiana came up with the victory in the end by the final score of 31-14. It was hard to imagine the Clones putting up such a poor offensive effort in their season opener against a Group of Five opponent.

About the only positive for the Iowa State offense was sophomore running back Breece Hall, who amassed just over 100 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground. He had one of only two touchdowns on the day for Iowa State. Junior star quarterback Brock Purdy did not have his best game.

On 35 passing attempts in this game, Purdy completed 16 for just 145 yards, no passing touchdowns, one interception, and 35 rushing yards on seven tries. The other Iowa State touchdown did not come from Purdy, but by way of backup running back Kene Nwangwu.

This was clearly one of the worst starts that Purdy had in his run with Iowa State so far. There was only one Iowa State receiver that even amassed more than 40 receiving yards against Louisiana.

A long 78-yard touchdown catch for Louisiana wide receiver Peter LeBlanc was one of the highlighting plays of the day. Louisiana also had an incredible day on special teams, with one punt and kick return each for touchdowns.

Moreover, the other tragic performance from a Big 12 team this weekend, at least so far on Sep. 12, came courtesy of second-year head coach Chris Klieman and the Kansas State Wildcats. Kansas State was just over a 14-point favorite in their opener against the Arkansas State Red Wolves, out of the Sun Belt.

Arkansas State did have a warm-up game, last weekend against the stout Memphis Tigers. But that also gave one game of up to date film for Kansas State to prepare for the Red Wolves this afternoon.

The Kansas State defense couldn’t do much to stop either of the two Arkansas State quarterbacks. Logan Bonner and Layne Hatcher combined for more than 260 passing yards, four passing touchdowns, and just one interception. Arkansas State also came back from down two touchdowns at one point to come up with the four-point victory in the end.

This wasn’t for lack of trying from senior Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson. While the Kansas State ground game couldn’t get much of anything going on this day, Thompson did complete 17 of his 29 passing attempts for 259 yards, two passing touchdowns, and no interceptions.

Usually this Kansas State defense is up to the task enough to take care of business against a decent Group of Five opponent if Thompson plays mistake free football with no turnovers and two passing touchdowns. But that wasn’t the case today.

Kansas State was held to just over two yards per carry by the Red Wolves. They tallied up 91 rushing yards as a team, on 39 attempts, with one score from each of their top two running backs. That is not good enough for this offense to thrive against any decent FBS opponent.

The only Big 12 team with an afternoon kickoff that got off to a decent start was the West Virginia Mountaineers. While West Virginia had a pretty easy opponent in FCS Eastern Kentucky, they got the 46-point mauling at home this weekend even though they were dealing with more than 10 suspended players.

For the night slate, the Texas football program has one of the highlighting games, in their opener at home against the UTEP Miners out of Conference-USA. Texas kicks off against UTEP at 7 p.m. CT. The Oklahoma Sooners also have a home contest against FCS Missouri State at 6 p.m. CT.

Three of the Big 12 teams that were supposed to play this weekend had to be pushed back. The first game delayed was the TCU Horned Frogs hosting the SMU Mustangs, which was supposed to take place on Sep. 11. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane also had a delayed game due to lack of practices against the Oklahoma State Cowboys. And then there was an abundance of positive tests for the novel coronavirus for the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, so their game against the Baylor Bears had to be pushed too.