The Big 12 round table tackles three topics as the calendar flips to October and the season heads into Week Five. Check out what Big 12 writers Sean Cordy, Garrett Kroeger and Wendell Barnhouse have to say this week.
- Is Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes the only Big 12 player worthy of Heisman Trophy consideration? Is he even worthy?
Sean: Entering the season, Samaje Perine and Baker Mayfield seemed to be the best shots. Now they’re completely out of the equation and leave just two options. Mahomes is the first and clear front-runner — he’s on pace for over 6,000 yards passing and 60 touchdowns. That’s assuming there’s a bowl bid to make 13 games. The only other one in line is Seth Russell, who really heated up against Oklahoma State to show he should be taken seriously at this point.
Garrett: Mahomes is clearly the best Heisman candidate the Big 12 has to offer. Preseason favorites such as Baker Mayfield have underperformed thus far. The Red Raiders’ signal caller is on pace to top 6,000 yards and 60 touchdowns for goodness sake. While those numbers are highly impressive, Mahomes will probably not even contend for the award because the Heisman is basically goes to the best player on the best team in the country. Playing for Texas Tech will hinder Mahomes’ chances to win the Heisman. In terms of statistics and ability, he should be a major candidate for the award.
Wendell: In 2008, this quarterback led the Big 12 in passing efficiency while throwing for 5,111 yards and 45 touchdowns with just nine interceptions. Graham Harrell played for Texas Tech, which finished the regular season with an 11-1 record. Harrell was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting. Mahomes will likely have numbers as dazzling as Harrell’s, but the Red Raiders aren’t coming close to the 2008 team’s record. If you want a dark horse Heisman contender, TCU’s Kenny Hill has the best chance. If the Frogs can win out and contend for a College Football Playoff berth, Hill will get plenty of attention and his numbers will also be eye-catching.
- Why isn’t West Virginia ranked? The Mountaineers are undefeated just like Baylor and have played tougher competition than the Bears.
Wendell: A couple of reasons. First, West Virginia had a solid season-opening victory over Missouri, shutting down a team that appears to have a potent offense. Unfortunately, that game was lost in Week One’s proliferation of big games. Last week’s BYU victory also was overshadowed by some other big national games. Plus, the 1-3 Cougars might not even reach a bowl game; beating BYU this season might not rank as an accomplishment. And finally, the Big 12’s struggles have devalued its national reputation with the voters.
Garrett: Right now, the Mountaineers are ranked No. 29 in the polls. So some of the national voters see West Virginia as a top-25 team. I see the Mountaineers as a top-25 team as well. Their wins –Missouri and BYU in particular – are solid. They completely dominated the Tigers – an SEC team – and finally showed they were as tough as a rugged BYU team. These wins are against better quality opponents than what some top-25 teams have faced – cough … Baylor and TCU … cough.
Sean: It’s funny to see that an FCS team is ranked above the Mountaineers right now, but that’s a testament to how great North Dakota State is. That said, a group of voters think the Mountaineers are a Top-25 team — they’re 29th right now. For me, it comes down to how one perceives close wins like the one over BYU. Does it show grit and depth, or that luck was involved? All Skyler Howard and crew have to do is raise the margin of victory; the largest was only 17 points over an FCS team.
- Of the newcomers thus far in the Big 12, who has been the most impressive?
Garrett: While quarterbacks Shane Buechele and Kenny Hill get the most love as the most impressive Big 12 newcomers, for me the most impressive have been two Cyclones: quarterback Jacob Park and wide receiver DeShaunte Jones. Over the years, Iowa State’s quarterback play has been subpar at best, but in the three games Park has played, he has been impressive. He possesses a Big 12-caliber arm, something that has been missing from ISU signal callers the past several seasons, and the ability to break a big run. Jones has shown ISU fans that he can become a great playmaker for the Cyclones for years to come. He is only a freshman this season.
Wendell: With only a “25 percent of the season” sample size, I’ve got to go with Texas freshman quarterback Shane Buechele. Ask me next week and I might change my mind if he winds up with three interceptions and the Longhorns lose at Oklahoma State.
Consider the circumstances: High-profile program, fans desperate for competent quarterback play, coach on the hot seat because of inept offense, your first snap against Notre Dame is the first snap of your collegiate career. I think Buechele has lived up to the expectations and acquitted himself nicely.
Sean: TCU’s Kenny Hill, especially his mobility, has been impressive, but he’s struggled to steer clear of mistakes in the passing game. For me, it’s a toss-up between two running backs: Baylor’s JaMycal Hasty and West Virginia’s Justin Crawford. Hasty has come in and challenged two great Baylor running backs for playing time and averages close to seven yards a carry. Crawford has been more than a great companion for WVU. He has a great blend of power and agility that’s propelled him to the fourth-most yards per game in the conference.