Big 12 has perfect week, at least on scoreboard
It was a perfect Week 1 for the retooled Big 12, at least as far as the scoreboard goes. All the league's members, including newcomers TCU and West Virginia, got off to winning starts.
How they got there varied widely, and in some cases left more questions than answers.
Oklahoma scuffled its way to a 24-7 victory at UTEP, but the fourth-ranked Sooners were tied at halftime. No. 22 Kansas State needed a late scoring binge to separate from stubborn Missouri State, which briefly tied the game with a field goal early in the third quarter.
Iowa State trailed Tulsa in the second quarter, Kansas had trouble putting away South Dakota State until late in the game, and No. 15 Texas was underwhelming in a defeat of Wyoming.
Sooners coach Bob Stoops believes it can all be traced back to one thing: parity.
"I mean, it's been talked about for a long time now," Stoops said. "There's more and more good players that go around to everybody, and since they changed the rules that one team can't get 140 guys — you can only get so many — there's guys everywhere. And it'll remain that way."
Stoops is referring to the scholarship restrictions imposed by the NCAA to prevent heavyweights from recruiting players simply to keep them off the rosters of their rivals.
There were no limits on scholarships until the early 1970s, and for much of the decade the limit was 105. It's been trimmed twice since then to the present limit of 85, so players that the Sooners might have stocked up on during the heyday of Barry Switzer are going places such as UTEP, where they are guaranteed a scholarship and have a better chance to see the field.
The result is more talented teams from the middle-tier of college football.
Programs that were once the punching bags of the big boys — think Boise State — have a better chance of becoming legitimate powers, and all of those early season blowouts that became a hallmark of the non-conference portion of the schedule have become a rarity.
"Every time someone has a close game, they say, 'Oh, they overlooked them,'" said Stoops, whose team beat Air Force by a field goal in 2010. "That's not always the case."
The trickle-down of talent extends beyond divisions, too.
Schools such as South Dakota State that play in the Football Championship Subdivision are getting recruits that two decades ago would have been backups at a power school such as Nebraska, and the result are more scores like this: Youngstown State 31, Pittsburgh 17.
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