Bedlam went bust after just one week of Big 12 play.
Or at least it was bent, bruised and in one case, beaten.
Some luster was lost on the Nov. 4 matchup of Oklahoma teams, which so many expected to decide the Big 12 regular-season title and feature the two qualifiers for the revived Big 12 championship game in December.
TCU, a program adept at bouncing back from disappointing seasons, derailed expectations by stunning Oklahoma State 44-31. As for Oklahoma, the Sooners held on, and remain No. 3 after outlasting Baylor 49-41.
The Horned Frogs remained undefeated and vaulted to No. 9 in the rankings. Baylor remained winless, but served notice it will not be a pushover under first-year coach Matt Rhule.
“Everybody is doing what they’re supposed to do,’’ TCU’s Gary Patterson said Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “Every week is going to be a war.’’
Should we push back the titanic clash so many want to project for the Big 12 to Nov. 11 when TCU visits Oklahoma? Or, just sit back and beware of upsets?
Parity is not what the league necessarily wants. That works against positioning for the College Football Playoff.
But then, Oklahoma still has not lost and possesses the nation’s longest winning streak, 14 games. The Sooners have won 17 straight Big 12 games, threatening the record of consecutive league wins (21) set by Kansas State from 1997-99.
Yet the Sooners looked vulnerable at Baylor. Sophomore Zach Smith, a quarterback who was not chosen as the Bears’ starter coming out of preseason camp, was a 36 percent passer who went 33 of 50 against OU for 463 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Rhule, however, refused to cite the loss as a turning point — something Baylor needs on a larger scale following the sexual assault scandal that rocked the program and the university.
“I know there’s a lot of guys on defense who are walking around, they’re pretty angry right now,’’ Rhule said. “I’m sort of an incrementalist. I think of things getting slightly better, week in, week out. …
“We’ve gotten better in a lot of areas. We need to take one more step this week (at Kansas State), but what I will say is (the OU loss) was hopefully a turning point for a lot of people outside the program and for our fans.’’
Not that Baylor’s performance changes much in terms of the preparations K-State coach Bill Snyder is conducting. Especially with the Wildcats getting a bye week to sort through reasons for a disappointing 14-7 loss at Vanderbilt.
“Everybody’s capable, so consequently every week is going to be a challenge,’’ Snyder said of the Big 12. “This past weekend was the perfect example. Not surprising by any stretch of the imagination, but everybody understands it’s a complex conference.’’
At least they better after the earliest results.
Among others, Texas Tech carries an undefeated record into Big 12 play, an opener at home against the irritable Cowboys. West Virginia showed off a diverse attack while withstanding two one-possession comebacks by Kansas. Also, a prime-time game Thursday pits Texas and Iowa State in a clash that will shape outlooks for those teams.
Losses, of course, do not play well in the CFP landscape. Especially since the Big 12 has qualified just one team in three years for the playoffs.
That deficiency projects the Big 12 as a weak conference nationally.
The unpredictability, however, makes for intriguing matchups, which could begin to incorporate more ball control like Snyder has used at K-State.
TCU moved the chains 32 times and played keep-away for 39 minutes while leading the final 44 minutes at Oklahoma State.
Of course, that was just one game, one outcome, within a round-robin grind conducted into late November.
“If our group can’t figure out they’ve got eight tough ballgames left,’’ said Patterson, “I’ll be surprised.’’
Contact Kevin Haskin at firstname.lastname@example.org or @KevinHaskin on Twitter.