Things to watch for in the Big 12 Conference in Week 2:
GAME OF THE WEEK
No. 11 Texas at No. 3 Alabama. This is the only game this week matching Top 25 teams from Power Five leagues. With the Longhorns already favored to win the Big 12 title in their farewell season, a road win for coach Steve Sarkisian over his former boss Nick Saban and the Tide would certainly ignite talk about the College Football Playoff. Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers got off to a hot start against the Crimson Tide last season. He already had 134 yards passing and the Horns were first-and-goal in the closing seconds of the first quarter when he took a hard hit that knocked him out of the game, and three more after that, with a sprained clavicle. Ewers threw for 260 yards and three TDs in a season-opening 37-10 win over Rice.
The only other time the Longhorns went to Tuscaloosa to play was 121 years ago, and Will Reichard's field goal with 10 seconds left last year in Austin gave Alabama a 20-19 victory in the first on-campus matchup between the traditional powers in 100 years. That was the first time they had played since the Crimson Tide beat Texas in the national championship game at the end of the 2009 season. The meetings certainly will be more frequent when Texas joins the Southeastern Conference next year.
Texas Tech quarterback Tyler Shough against 13th-ranked Oregon. Shough spent three seasons in the Ducks program, and was their starter when they won the Pac-12 championship game during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. He threw for 1,559 yards and 13 touchdowns while starting all seven games that season before transferring to Texas Tech. Shough (pronounced ‘shuck’) is now only the fifth Red Raiders quarterback since 1980 to start in three consecutive season openers after 338 yards passing and three touchdowns last week in an overtime loss at Wyoming. He was limited to nine starts (8-1 record) the past two seasons, missing significant time both years because of an injured left (non-throwing) shoulder.
Cincinnati quarterback Emory Jones, who previously started games for Florida and Arizona State, accounted for a school-record seven touchdowns in his debut for the Bearcats. The 66-13 win over Eastern Kentucky was their first game since joining the Big 12. Jones threw for 345 yards with five touchdowns and ran for two more scores. He had more TD passes than incompletions (four). The Bearcats on Saturday play Pittsburgh for the first time since 2012, when they were in the Big East together.
MORE BIG 12 PREVIEWS
Two more Pac-12 teams that are moving to the Big 12 next year play future conference rivals Saturday, a week after Colorado pulled off a season-opening 45-42 shocker at TCU in coach Deion Sanders’ debut. In a game scheduled eight years ago between teams that have never played before, No. 12 Utah is at Baylor. Arizona State hosts Oklahoma State, a year after the Sun Devils lost at Stillwater in the first meeting between those schools since 1993.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
No. 15 Kansas State, No. 18 Oklahoma and Big 12 newcomer BYU all opened the season with shutout victories.
The three shutouts last weekend matched the Big 12 total for all of last season. .... Kansas plays under Friday night lights at home for the second week in a row. The Jayhawks host Illinois, which they last played in 1968. ... Iowa State, which hosts rival Iowa, has allowed fewer than 400 total yards in 16 consecutive games, the nation's longest streak. ... Houston will go for its eighth consecutive victory over Rice in a matchup of schools fewer than five miles apart.