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Big 12 football: League unbeaten in opening week of season

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- The Big 12 Conference emerged from college football's opening weekend as the only undefeated Football Bowl Subdivision conference.

The Big 12 went 9-0 with every school but idle TCU winning by between 14 and 84 points.

"I believe we were the only Big 12 team that was an underdog and a big part of that was the schedule," Iowa State Coach Paul Rhoads said. "We played a very, very good Tulsa football team we believe will contend for the Conference USA championship, so to face adversity and fight through it and come out with a win by 15 points, we're excited about our start."

The Cyclones beat the Golden Hurricane 38-23, but trailed 16-7. The average Big 12 score was 48.6-15.2 with Oklahoma State (84), West Virginia (69), Baylor (59) and Kansas State (51) above the average. The Mountaineers (34) were the only team to allow more than 24 points.

The league lived up to its reputations.

The nine offenses averaged 78 snaps and 520 yards. The Big 12 was 27-3 in non-conference play in the 2011 regular season and then 6-2 in bowl games.

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OKLAHOMA STATE'S point total was the highest ever by a Big 12 team. The Cowboys, who shut out lowly Football Championship Subdivision opponent Savannah State, were 62-point favorites, but had that covered in the middle of the third quarter.

Cowboys Coach Mike Gundy said the Tigers were "about the 17th" team his school called to schedule a game. Savannah State made $385,000 for allowing 682 yards of offense and managing 139.

Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt was 11-for-11 for 128 yards in his first start, but he played three drives and was pulled before the end of the first quarter, when Oklahoma State led 35-0.

"On paper, he played well," Gundy said. "Everyone knows he was 11-for-11, but he handled the tempo of the offense. He wasn't presented a lot of different scenarios, but his decision-making was good. He wasn't in a tight situation. He didn't see a third-and-long or a fourth-and-short, but I'd say he handled it fine."

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OKLAHOMA ENDED up with a trickier test to start with after rearranging the schedule and opponents to accommodate the Big 12's new members. The Sooners ended up traveling to Texas-El Paso and won 24-7.

"We play (FCS) Florida A&M this week and we have Notre Dame coming up, so we didn't really have any options," Coach Bob Stoops said. "Our only other option was a small school to come in here and play, whether it was a (FCS) or whatnot, and we chose not to do that.

"We've been very aware of our strength of schedule and we want to be very prepared the whole season. We couldn't get another (FBS) team to come in here and play, so we thought this was the best option."

The No. 4-ranked Sooners were 30-point favorites, but had a punt and field goal blocked, fumbled three times, gave UTEP three first downs by penalty and only took control when the Miners failed on a fake punt in its own territory the fourth quarter.

The Sooners are the Big 12's preseason favorite and Stoops said he learned a little from last season, when his team was No. 16 in the preseason poll and finished 10-3, which included a 6-3 record in conference play and a 3-2 mark against ranked teams.

"Last year we beat Tulsa 47-14 at home and that didn't seem to work out the rest of the season," Stoops said.

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SIX BIG 12 teams were ranked in the preseason polls - Oklahoma, WVU, Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU and Kansas State - and Baylor received votes in both polls.

The Bears might make it into the top 25 when it comes out today. They crushed Southern Methodist, 59-24, in their first game without Heisman Trophy quarterback Robert Griffin III and four other offensive players who were drafted into the NFL.

Baylor now has 40 or more points in five straight games and 500 or more yards in eight straight games.

"There are a bunch of doubters out there," Coach Art Briles said. "These guys have pride and confidence and like to show that they can play. It's about us showing what we can do and that we have a chance to be a pretty good football team."

Baylor looked questionable in only one regard. The Bears wore black uniforms in the triple-digit heat.

"We kind of made that decision back in the spring, probably in February, when we knew we were going to get those uniforms," Briles said. "It was just a new deal and we weren't going to go into the game and all of a sudden it's 100 degrees and we back off what we wanted to do. We had our plan and we stuck with it and I thought it gave us a nice look."

Contact sportswriter Mike Casazza at mikec@dailymail.com or 304-319-1142. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/wvu.


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