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John E. Hoover: Outside of OU/OSU, Big 12 football begins challenging week on a downward trend

John E. Hoover: Outside of OU/OSU, Big 12 football begins challenging week on a downward trend

Texas’ Tom Herman said his players need to embrace the idea that losing stinks and is unacceptable. He also gave cold meals to losing players in team competitions this preseason. Clearly, Herman isn’t happy about Saturday’s 51-41 loss to Maryland.

That was fun, huh?

Well, not for Texas. And certainly not for Baylor.

But those two opening day embarrassments aside, the Big 12 Conference encountered relatively little resistance on Saturday.

That changes today, and carries over to next week.

The bottom line: starting Sunday, upcoming games could determine whether the Big 12 Conference is going to be strongly considered for a spot in the College Football Playoffs come December.

Sunday night’s game between No. 22 West Virginia and No. 21 Virginia Tech is easily the league’s marquee matchup of Week 1. The other nine games this week were little more than tune-ups — or were supposed to be.

Among ranked Big 12 teams, No. 10 Oklahoma State routed a rebuilding Tulsa squad on Thursday night 59-24, and then on Saturday, No. 7 Oklahoma crushed UTEP 56-7 and No. 20 Kansas State routed Central Arkansas 55-19.

No. 23 Texas somehow flopped in Tom Herman’s debut, losing 51-41 at home to Maryland (6-7 last year), raising the question of whether the last 5-7 years in Austin have been the result of poor coaching or a culture that’s just rotted from the inside.

The other five Big 12 teams played FCS opponents, but only four of those — Texas Tech, TCU, Kansas and Iowa State — walked away with comfortable victories.

The fifth, Baylor, lost 48-45 to Liberty, a program transitioning next year to FBS. Matt Rhule has a bigger cleanup job in Waco than he thought.

That’s a home loss to a middling Big Ten team by the league’s flagship and most profitable program, and a home loss to an FCS opponent by a recent two-time Big 12 champ. It’s just another black eye for a conference struggling to gain a foothold on the wall of national perception. Image is everything when it comes to selecting playoff teams — the selection committee thinks it is choosing the four best and/or most deserving teams, but there will always be debate — and outside of impressive victories by OU and OSU, the Big 12’s image is not trending upward.

Now, however, things get serious for the Big 12.

Following Sunday night’s Tech/WVU clash, No. 7 Oklahoma visits No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday, TCU (No. 26 in last week’s Associated Press Top 25) visits Arkansas in Fayetteville, and Iowa State hosts Iowa and its impressive Week 1 defense in Ames.

Other potential pitfalls loom: OSU is on the road Friday night at South Alabama, which put up a spirited fight at Ole Miss before falling 47-27; Kansas hosts Central Michigan, which needed three OTs to beat FCS Rhode Island; and West Virginia has a short week to prepare for East Carolina, who lost 34-14 to defending FCS champ James Madison.

K-State hosts Charlotte, while Texas hosts San Jose State, and Baylor hosts UTSA.

Surely Texas and Baylor can’t screw this up, too. Can they?

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Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “Further Review with Hoover & Rew” and can be heard every weekday on The Franchise in Tulsa from noon to 3 p.m. with co-host Lauren Rew. In Oklahoma City, catch him Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings at 10:25 and every Friday afternoon at 4:05. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.

Columns

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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