Big 12 opening week has Oklahoma hosting Holgorsen return
By STEPHEN HAWKINS AP Sports Writer
Some things to watch in the Big 12 Conference during the opening weekend of the league’s 24th season:
GAME OF THE WEEK
Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma, on Sunday night. After Dana Holgorsen left West Virginia for a school outside the Power Five, his first game as Houston’s coach is back in the Big 12. Oklahoma has won the last four Big 12 titles and been to the College Football Playoff three times. The Sooners were coming off their first CFP appearance when they lost 33-23 to Houston in the 2016 season opener. Oklahoma’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks the past two seasons were both former transfers. The starter now is graduate transfer Jalen Hurts after he was part of three national championship games, and one title, at Alabama. Houston senior quarterback D’Eriq King accounted for 51 touchdowns in 11 games last year before a knee injury. Holgorsen was at WVU for eight seasons, going 0-7 vs. the Sooners after the Mountaineers went from the Big East to the Big 12.
The young Texas secondary vs. Louisiana Tech QB J’Mar Smith and WR Adrian Hardy, a Texas native who led C-USA with 75 catches for 1,145 yards as a sophomore last year. Smith has thrown for 6,134 yards and 31 TDs the past two seasons. An early test for the Longhorns, with sophomores listed at four of the five secondary spots. The two expected starting cornerbacks have a combined two previous starts, though Caden Sterns was an All-Big 12 safety when starting 13 games as a freshman last season.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
The Big 12 will play 10 of its 30 non-conference games against Power Five teams, the highest percentage of such games for one of the major conferences. The only one this week is Oklahoma State at Pac-12 team Oregon State on Friday night. … The Big 12’s four new head coaches, the most ever in one season, all debut with home games Saturday against FCS teams. They are Les Miles at Kansas; Chris Klieman at Kansas State; Matt Wells at Texas Tech and Neal Brown at West Virginia. … Oklahoma has won 13 consecutive home openers. … Iowa State’s 16 wins since the start of 2017 match the most in a two-season span in school history. The last time had been 2001-02.
TCU opens against SWAC team Arkansas-Pine Bluff, which has won only seven games combined the past four years. The Horned Frogs play an FCS team in their home opener for the eighth year in a row. They won the last seven by an average margin of 43 points, and outscored three other SWAC teams by a combined 167-7.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Baylor WRs Denzel Mims and Chris Platt. The speedy Platt, who had five receiving TDs in four games last year before a season-ending knee injury, is back after the NCAA granted a sixth season of eligibility. Mims has had eight receiving TDs each of the past two seasons, with 1,087 yards receiving in 2017 and 794 last year.
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