MORGANTOWN - Not a lot of heads turned whenever the Big 12 coaches picked West Virginia to finish eighth in their preseason poll. After the Mountaineers 10-point loss to No. 2 Alabama Saturday, some might be changing their mind about how well the Mountaineers will fare this season, their third in the conference.
The same case could be made for Oklahoma State after the Cowboys' six-point loss to top-ranked Florida State. OSU was slated to finish fifth in the 10-team league.
''All these teams are better than people gave them credit for,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ''I'm very aware both (Oklahoma State and West Virginia) are very good teams with good football players on them.''
If there is one thing you can take away from WVU's and OSU's season-opening loss, it's the fact the Big 12 can play with any other conference in the nation.
''We are an excellent conference,'' Kansas State coach Bill Snyder noted. ''There is incredible strength in our conference.''
While Mountaineers coach Dana Holgorsen wasn't interested in talking about moral victories, he did note his team came away from the loss with confidence. The fourth-year coach said if West Virginia could build on the good and fix the bad, the loss could be viewed as a positive.
''We didn't play well in critical situations,'' Holgorsen said. ''Same thing happened last year. We've got to be able to get better at that and build on that. If we do, our confidence will continue to grow and the team will continue to improve.''
Speaking of confidence, Iowa State's has to be shattered.
The Cyclones jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but were shut out the rest of the way by FCS opponent North Dakota State in a 31-14 defeat.
After a loss like that, it's fair to question what conference teams will do to Iowa State. The answer won't be pretty.
Interestingly enough, this is the fifth consecutive year the Bison have posted a victory against an FBS opponent. They also beat Minnesota, 27-21, in 2007.
Ash's Future at Texas
Texas coach Charlie Strong announced Longhorns quarterback David Ash will not play against BYU this week. Ash, who missed a lot of time last season with concussion symptoms, is again experiencing more concussion-related symptoms after Texas' victory against North Texas.
''Anytime you have that number of concussions, you have to be concerned,'' Strong said. ''You're always concerned about a young man's health, and we would never jeopardize a young man's health just for this football team. Players' health is always first.''
No official word has been made as of yet if Ash will play again or if his career has come to an end.
As if losing your season opener to an FCS opponent wasn't bad enough, try losing your top receiver for the season.
That's what Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads is dealing with in Ames as he announced Quenton Bundrage suffered an ACL injury and his year is done.
In Waco, Baylor coach Art Briles is also dealing with injury problems as his Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Bryce Petty is day-to-day with two cracked bones in his spine.
Petty played only in the first half of the Bears' victory against SMU.
Tony Viola can be reached via email at: email@example.com