• BIG 12 IN DOWN YEAR — What in the world is happening to Big 12 football?
Generally regarded as the second-best of the Power 5 conferences, the Big 12 has sagged to 15-11 in non-conference games and only two of its 10 members are undefeated after just three games.
In fact, the Pac-12, Big 10 and ACC are probably all held in higher regard than the Big 12 as just Baylor and West Virginia are undefeated, with the Bears having played nobody while the Mountaineers could suffer their first loss this weekend against BYU.
The Big 12 has relied on high-powered offenses for its past success. While the teams are still putting up a lot of points, the defenses are almost laughable. Texas Tech gave up 68 points to Arizona State, Texas was blistered for half-a-hundy by Cal and KU’s defense will be the worst of all the Power 5 Conference teams when all is said and done as its opponents might gash it for 70 points a clip once conference play starts.
Oklahoma, the flagship program, isn’t even .500. In the Sooners’ defense, they have lost to Top 10 teams Houston and Ohio State. Houston, of course, is on the short list when the Big 12 finally expands to 12 teams while Ohio State is a national championship contender.
In a word, the defenses are terrible. Big 12 coaches have focused so much for recruiting players for spread offenses that they have neglected the defensive side. While it’s fun for the fans to watch teams go up and down the field as though they were operating against air, the pinball numbers mean little nationally.
At least the Big 12 games should be entertaining, 4-hour-plus affairs. The scores will probably resemble those during the basketball season.
• NO AWARD FOR CROUCH — Apparently it’s who you play, not how you play, when it comes to awards.
McPherson College’s Ed Crouch put on a simply astounding performance on Saturday in the Bulldogs’ 27-20 win over Southwestern, their first since the 2014 season as they were 0-10 last year.
Crouch ran for 148 yards and threw for 209 and four touchdowns.
But when the KCAC Offensive Player of the Week award came out on Monday, Crouch came away empty.
The honor went to Sterling College’s Cedrick Phillips, who himself was terrific on Saturday. His performance, though, came in a shocking 43-12 upset of Kansas Wesleyan, which came into the game ranked No. 10 in the country.
Phillips’ numbers were good, though not quite as good as Crouch’s. He ran for 129 yards, though 85 of those came on one run. He threw for 203 yards and totaled four touchdowns.
Not only was Phillips the KCAC’s Offensive Player of the Week, today he was named NAIA National Player of the Week.
Crouch will certainly get more chances as he’s a rare talent. I’m sure when Bethel College’s coaching staff broke down film in preparing for Saturday’s game with the Bulldogs, a lot of jaws were dropped.
• ROYALS BACK UP — The Kansas City Royals are baseball’s Dow Jones team.
Up, down, up, down — that’s the Royals’ story this season.
After losing their first five games of an eight-game homestand — four straight to the sub-.500 Oakland A’s — the Royals finished strong by taking their last three games against the Chicago White Sox.
While there’s still barely a pulse, the Royals have played the last three games with a relaxed attitude. They pounded the White Sox the last two games, slugging five homers in the process. Maybe we’re in the midst of seeing the Royals reel off another long winning streak which will at least keep their fans’ interest as we head into the final two weeks.
The Royals are 77-73 with 12 games left to play, half of them against the division-leading Cleveland Indians. There’s also three with Detroit and three with Minnesota.
The Royals have hammered the teams in their division this year as they are now 42-22 against the AL Central.
Barring a miracle, the Royals will miss the World Series for the first time since 2013. At least they’ve given a spirited defense of their title, even with all the devastating injuries they’ve had.