Conference realignment has created – and will continue to create – a number of strange situations. One will occur at 6:30 p.m. Thursday when TCU travels to Lubbock to face Texas Tech in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams.
For the Horned Frogs, will be the first trip to West Texas since 1991 when both teams were members of the old Southwest Conference. This rivalry interrupted has been played three times since the formation of the Big 12 with the most recent last season in Fort Worth in TCU's first season in its new league home.
"I've only been there once," TCU head coach Gary Patterson said of his team's 70-35 loss in 2004. "I think they love the game in Lubbock. They're loud. When you go to Texas Tech, they have a high emotional level. You've got to be able to match that."
The game will be nationally televised by ESPN – the second appearance on the network for both teams. The Red Raiders (2-0) got the Kliff Kingsbury Era off to a winning start by winning the season opener against SMU while the Horned Frogs (1-1) lost a hard-fought 37-27 decision to LSU; both games were televised on the World Wide Leader In Sports.
"It's an incredible opportunity for two of the first three games to be on national television on ESPN," Kingsbury said. "It's a great opportunity to see where we're at against a great opponent. I'm not sure where we're at as a team, but I know they're really good."
It also gives the country another chance to see Texas Tech quarterback Baker Mayfield. The walk on freshman has been impressive in his first two starts. He's second in the country in total offense and third in passing yards. With Mayfield running the attack, the Red Raiders are averaging 51 points, 33 first downs and 85 plays per game.
"I didn't think he was a walk-on," Patterson said of Mayfield. "He was a guy that came to our camp. We thought he was a really good player, but for whatever reason we didn't pull the trigger. Obviously, we aren't very smart. I think Baker's done an incredible job these first two games. He's a winner. He comes from a terrific high school program and has done a great job at Texas Tech. We've got our hands full this week."
Patterson's quarterback situation changed with the injury to senior Casey Pachall. He suffered a broken left arm in last Saturday's game and is expected to be sidelined at least eight weeks. Sophomore Trevone Boykin, who replaced Pachall as the starter four games into last season, again takes over as the starter.
TCU lost a shootout a year ago at home to the Red Raiders, 56-53, in triple overtime. Lubbock has a reputation for being the location for memorable outcomes.
"I'd buy a ticket," Patterson said. "That's just the way this league is. Until that last second goes off the clock you just need to hold onto your hats. I don't know why someone wouldn't go to a game in the Big 12."
In the big picture, this will be the second of 45 Big 12 games this season. Oklahoma won its opener Saturday. Both TCU and Texas Tech want to join the Sooners.
"It's the first game in the Big 12," TCU All-American cornerback Jason Verrett said. "Make a statement. If we want to win the Big 12, we have to start 1-0 here. It's fun to go into somebody else's environment just to see how many people hate you and want you to lose. It's fun to play with a chip on your shoulder."
TCU at Texas Tech
Need to know: 6:30 p.m., Jones AT&T Stadium, ESPN.
Records: TCU 1-1, Texas Tech 2-0.
Scouting TCU: Sophomore Trevone Boykin, as he did last season, takes over at quarterback for senior Casey Pachall (broken arm). He'll be challenged to prove he can keep the passing game effective. The Horned Frogs' running game is solid and sophomore B.J. Catalon is emerging as star. Sophomore defensive end Devonte Fields returns to the starting lineup and the defense will be challenged to slow down Texas Tech's explosive, fast-paced attack.
Scouting Texas Tech: With walk on freshman Baker Mayfield playing like a veteran, the Red Raiders are averaging 453 yards passing per game. Texas Tech's offensive line needs to make sure he has time to throw and that will be a tough task against TCU's defensive front. The running game, averaging 145 yards per game, hasn't faced a defense like the Horned Frogs.
This and that: TCU's B.J. Catalon is averaging 38.6 yards per kickoff return. … Baker Mayfield has seven touchdown passes and hasn't thrown an interception in 90 pass attempts. … The last time TCU played in Lubbock (2004), Sonny Cumbie and Trey Haverty were Texas Tech players; now they're part of the Red Raiders coaching staff.
Failed Walk On To Walk On Kicker
A year ago, Matthew Wyman tried out as a walk on at Kansas. His kicking didn't impress the coaches and he spent his freshman year in Lawrence as a typical student. Usually, after one walk on attempt, most young men would move on.
Not Wyman, who is now KU's kicker. In the season opener, he made his only attempt, a 45-yarder, and was perfect on four PATs.
Wyman is from Bloomfield Hills, Mich. In high school he punted and attempted one field goal. He chose Kansas to walk on after attending the final Missouri-Kansas basketball game at Allen Fieldhouse. Wyman watched the football team struggle to convert any field goal try over 30 yards.
"There were some times when I would say, 'I could make that,'" he said.
Kansas coaches invited Wyman to try out again in spring practice. He did well enough to last into training camp.
"He was running the fourth kicker, then he was the third kicker, then he was second kicker, then he was first kicker, and he hasn't looked back," KU coach Charlie Weis said. "That wasn't a name anyone was asking about, and we weren't telling. All the kid did was clearly win the competition, and it wasn't really close."
Brother To Brother
Kansas State's Jack Cantale is off to a good start in his first season as the Wildcats' kicker. He's perfect on all nine extra point tries and last Saturday against Louisiana Lafayette made his first two field goal attempts. He replaced a three-year starter – his older brother Anthony.
"I've been compared to Anthony forever," Jack said. "In high school, he was the starting kicker for four years, and I followed him up my sophomore through senior year, so I'm used to it. We have a great relationship, so there's nothing to fear. It's fun for us.
"I watched my brother lose his job his first year here missing (a kick early in the season). My job is never safe, so I have to keep doing well."
Anthony Cantele finished his career with 229 total points, making 37 of 48 field goals and 118 of 120 PATs.
Texas quarterback David Ash hasn't practiced this week and is listed as questionable for Saturday's game with Ole Miss. UT coach Mack Brown said Ash, who suffered head and right shoulder injuries last Saturday, will be a game-time decision. If Ash can't play, Case McCoy will start and Tyrone Swoopes will serve as the backup.
This is a big week for the Knott family. Former Iowa State linebacker Jake Knott made the Philadelphia Eagles' roster as an undrafted free agent and helped the team to a season-opening victory over Washington. Luke Knott, a redshirt freshman with the Cyclones, is scheduled to make the first start of his career Saturday when Iowa State faces Iowa.
Saturday's game for the CyHawk Trophy between Iowa State and Iowa matches quarterbacks from the state of … Florida. The Cyclones' Sam Richardson is from Winter Park, a suburb of Orlando. The Hawkeyes' Jake Rudock, like Richardson a third-year sophomore, is from Weston, a suburb of Fort Lauderdale.
Texas Tech sophomore quarterback Michael Brewer hasn't practiced in a month because of a back injury. Coach Kliff Kingsbury said this week that it's "going to be an extended period of time before we feel like he'd be game ready. … I expect him to be throwing very soon."
In its 56-35 victory over UT-San Antonio, Oklahoma State had 11 offensive plays gain 20 or more yards. The Cowboys ran 75 plays against the Roadrunners, so 14.6 percent of their plays were considered "explosive" (20 or more yards).
Field position is a statistic that often goes overlooked. Oklahoma defeated West Virginia 16-7 last Saturday and the Sooners had a huge edge in field position. The Sooners' average starting position was its 36-yard line while the Mountaineers started their 14 drives on average from the 18-yard line.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis on his team's improving talent level:
"We have a lot more ceiling. There's some guys that aren't even playing yet that are going to end up being major factors here. There's a number of these guys, the new JUCO guys, that although they're not much playing much right now, we see the potential from them going from backups that are behind to frontline guys."
Oklahoma running back Brennan Clay on junior Blake Bell, who'll make the first start of his career Saturday against Tulsa:
"Blake will be fine. He's going to assume that role. Blake has been in that position before. He's always in the toughest position out there. He's always been in the game when it's on the line and he always comes out on top. So Blake is going to be a great guy for us this week. He's going to help lead this offense."
Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat:
"This is a player-led team. No matter who's coaching, we'll get this thing corrected. … We are not the same team we were last year. We are a different team."
Iowa State running back Jeff Woody, an Iowa native, on the possibility of the annual rivalry game with Iowa being dropped:
"We should not drop this game. Guaranteed. I'm vehemently against dropping this game. "There has to be bragging rights. If you're going to drop the football game, you've got to drop the basketball game. "Growing up in the state without an Iowa-Iowa State game every year would be the biggest letdown you possibly could have as a college football fan."
TCU coach Gary Patterson on Texas Tech:
"They're exciting and explosive. We've got to find a way to win by one point. In this league, you find a way to win; I don't care if it's 54 to 53 or three to two."