Well, look who’s joined the Big 12 South race. Oklahoma State? Nope, the Cowboys have been there all along. Texas A&M.
That’s right, the left-for-dead Aggies, 0–2 in conference play a month ago now find themselves in the thick of things, with Saturday’s 42–30 win at Baylor their fourth straight.
It wasn’t always easy in Waco — A&M trailed 30–14 late in the second quarter — but Cyrus Gray’s running and a defense that pitched a second-half shutout against the explosive Bears sparked a turnaround that led to the first four-game winning streak of the Mike Sherman era.
“We have fighters on this team,” said Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill, “who will do anything to win.”
Suddenly, A&M is doing it. Gray ran for a career-high 137 yards and four touchdowns, including two as the Aggies were swinging momentum in the third quarter. Tannehill remained unbeaten since taking over the starting quarterback duties from Jerrod Johnson. And the defense is showing teeth, although they were late developing against the Bears. Still, they came up with plays when needed, including a key fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter.
Now the Aggies are 4–2 in the conference, trailing Oklahoma State by one game in the South with two games to play.
A&M will need some help to carry out its Big 12 title plans. The closing schedule is rugged, with Nebraska visiting College Station before the Aggies make a trip to archrival Texas after that.
Then there’s Oklahoma State, which has the one-game lead and a tiebreaking win over the Aggies, not to mention Oklahoma, which is tied with A&M.
Still, there’s hope. And that’s something that seemed to be vanishing but a few weeks ago.
Texas A&M 42, Baylor 30
Nebraska 20, Kansas 3
Missouri 38, Kansas State 28
Colorado 34, Iowa State 14
Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 7
Oklahoma State 33, Texas 16
Oklahoma State’s surprising season continues along an historical path, as the Cowboys keep clearing markers from their past. OSU maintained frontrunner status in the Big 12 South with its rout of Texas — the program’s first win in Austin since 1944.
“We were due,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “Oklahoma State was due for this win. There was a lot of talk about now winning here … and they’ve had our number for a while.”
Now the Cowboys are applying expiration dates to irritating series trends. Before marking off the road win at Texas from their checklist, OSU had already won at Texas Tech for the first time since 1944 and at Kansas State for the first time since 1988.
A week of turmoil, complete with the canning of coach Dan Hawkins, followed Colorado’s collapse at Kansas. So the Buffaloes’ convincing 34–14 beating of Iowa State was nothing short of stunning.
Hawkins watched from a stadium balcony, while his son Cody Hawkins passed for 266 yards and three touchdowns to direct the win and longtime CU assistant Brian Cabral won in his debut as a head coach.
“I cannot be more proud of our players,” said an emotional Cabral. “I cannot be more proud of our coaches. They had it in them. They have a heart of gold. They never looked back.
“And they’re looking forward.”
The Cyclones, 5–6, arrived with plenty to play for, needing one win to become bowl-eligible. They left still needing one and facing a season finale at home against Missouri without senior quarterback Austen Arnaud, who suffered what was likely a season-ending knee injury in the loss to the Buffs.
For once, the news was better on the sideline of Colorado, which won its first Big 12 game of the season.
“We had all this frustration and stress and took it out today,” linebacker B.J. Beatty told reporters after the game. “I love Coach Hawk, and I always will. He gave me every opportunity I’ve had up here, but we were definitely trying to make a statement of what he’s done for us.”
Loud and clear.
Buffs running back Rodney Stewart ran a career-high 35 times for 123 yards, cracking the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The defense piled up eight sacks and two turnovers, one a fumble returned for a touchdown.
Player of the Week: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma. Spurring OU’s rout of Texas Tech, Broyles produced eight receptions for 119 yards and three touchdowns, breaking or tying five school records in the process: career receptions (229), single season receptions (94), career TD receptions (32), 100-yard games in a season (8) and 100-yard games in a career (15). Broyles is the seventh receiver in Big 12 history to record over 3,000 yards receiving.
Game of the Week: Nebraska at Texas A&M. The resurgent Aggies need a win to stay in the South race, while the Huskers take to the road with an opportunity to clinch the North. Nebraska’s Blackshirts aren’t up to the standard of the school’s great defensive units and will be tested significantly at Kyle Field.
On the Spot: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin is a fabulous player and Exhibit A for why Baylor is in the midst of a program turnaround. But it’s time for the Bears quarterback to put together a complete game against a quality opponent, this time Oklahoma.
In the Spotlight: Jerome Tiller, QB, Iowa State. The classy Arnaud’s regular season is done, so the Cyclones now turn to Tiller to help steer them to bowl eligibility. Tiller has played in significant moments and is 1–1 as a starter, with last year’s impressive win at Nebraska on his resumé.
Mike Sherman, coach, Texas A&M. Sherman’s line graph showed a steep decline a month ago, but now features an abrupt and serious upswing. He’s got the fan base energized with a four-game winning streak that has the Aggies in the thick of the South Division race. And he did it boldly, benching the school’s all-time total offense leader (Jerrod Johnson) for a part-time wide receiver/quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.
Baylor boasting. Griffin talked about the Bears being the team to beat in the South just a few weeks ago. Since then, they’ve been just that: a beaten team. Back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have removed some of the shine from the Bears’ breakout season. Now they get Oklahoma, which has struggled on the road, yet could light up Baylor’s shaky defense.
By the Numbers
30 Consecutive games with a reception by A&M’s Jeff Fuller, a school record.
45 Seasons Nebraska has won at least nine games (including this one); 39 have come since 1970.
3,391 Passing yards by OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden, a school record.
Kansas State (6-3, 3-3) at Missouri (7-2, 3-2), Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
The Tigers are trying to avoid a familiar funk — the extended losing streak. Mizzou, after jumping into BCS title game talk, has lost two straight and now get a Wildcats team riding into Columbia on the strength of a rousing win over Texas.
It was just a year ago that the Tigers started 4–0, only to drop three straight on their way to a disappointing finish. The flashbacks are obvious, particularly after they were shut out in the second half at Texas Tech. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert, the driving force during Mizzou’s 7–0 start, is now scuffling and needs to rebound to right the Tigers path to bigger, better bowl games.
K-State carries momentum and a quarterback quandary into the game. Collin Klein provided the spark against Texas in his first career start, using his speed and mobility to inject another element into the Wildcat run game, rushing for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Still, Carson Coffman, who sat against the Longhorns with an ankle sprain, remains in play in a decision that could go all the way to game time.
Iowa State (5-5, 3-3) at Colorado (3-6, 0-5), Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
The focus in Boulder has shifted away from the playing field and to speculation on who will be the team’s next coach, after Dan Hawkins was fired earlier this week. With the program heading to the brave new world of the Pac-10 Conference next fall, identifying and hiring the right successor is critical.
And yet, there is a game to be played as interim coach Brian Cabral tries to pull the Buffaloes — including starting quarterback Cody Hawkins, son of the fired coach — together.
On the heels of the program’s worst meltdown, a demoralizing loss that saw Kansas score 35 unanswered points to post an unlikely rally to victory, it won’t be easy. Still, Cody Hawkins says he remains committed as the Buffs try to end a five-game losing streak.
For Iowa State, it’s another chance to reach bowl eligibility, narrowly missing last week when a two-point try in overtime failed in a 31–30 loss to Nebraska. After a rough stretch of the schedule, the Cyclones have rebounded nicely, yet need this win to avoid a must-win situation in their season finale against Missouri.
OU’s recent road woes — a 6–6 record in its last 12 away from home — resurfaced a week ago in a loss at Texas A&M. The Sooners will surely enjoy returning to the comforts of home, where they own the nation’s longest current winning streak at 35 games.
The Sooners are a drastically different team at home, going beyond the winning. They’re more explosive on offense and dominant on defense. And they’ve won seven of eight meetings against Tech in Norman. Quarterback Landry Jones, too, is much better on Owen Field, and needs to be in what shapes up as a big game for both schools.
The Red Raiders, after posting perhaps their biggest win of the season — an upset of Missouri — possess rejuvenated bowl hopes. Tech’s defense shut down the Tigers over the final half and will need an even bigger effort to be competitive in Norman. Same for quarterback Taylor Potts, who came off the bench to lead three touchdown drives against Mizzou.
OU maintains South Division title hopes, but can’t afford any slipups before a likely showdown at Oklahoma State to close the regular season.
The Battle of the Brazos comes with a caveat: The loser is eliminated from the Big 12 South race.
Of course, neither figured to be a contender. Baylor has no such history of even flirting with first place. Three weeks ago, A&M stood 0–2 in conference play and seemed headed for major disappointment. Yet here they are, bidding to stay relevant deep into November.
All focus begins with the quarterbacks. Robert Griffin III is the face of Baylor’s rise, both in the conference and nationally. A&M’s three-game winning streak corresponds to the shift of Ryan Tannehill from wide receiver to behind center.
The Bears find themselves regrouping, after stumbling on the big stage a week ago, losing 55–28 at Oklahoma State. A&M enters after what may be the biggest win of coach Mike Sherman’s era, a 33–19 upset of Oklahoma.
A&M’s improving defense against Baylor’s Griffin-led offense produces the key matchup. Aggies linebacker Michal Hodges had 19 tackles against the Sooners and will have his radar directed at Griffin, as will sackmaster Von Miller.
Kansas (3-6, 1-4) at Nebraska (8-1, 4-1), Saturday, 6 p.m.
That was some celebration in Lawrence last week, at least for those who stuck around to witness the Jayhawks’ wild rally from a 45–17 hole to beat Colorado.
Back to reality, with the downtrodden Jayhawks going to Nebraska, where they’ve dropped 21 straight games. Back to Lincoln, too, for KU coach and former Nebraska star Turner Gill.
The Huskers’ latest standout quarterback, Taylor Martinez, is expected back after missing last week’s narrow win over Iowa State with an ankle injury. Nebraska occupies the driver’s seat in the Big 12 North and can move within a game of clinching by beating Kansas.
If KU has a chance, however fleeting, it comes with a suddenly sparkling running game. The Huskers have struggled to stop the run, ranking No. 73 nationally in rushing defense. And freshman running back James Sims may have enjoyed a breakout against Colorado, rushing for a career-best 123 yards and four touchdowns.
Oklahoma State (8-1, 4-1) at Texas (4-5, 2-4), Saturday, 7 p.m.
The Cowboys haven’t won in Austin in a long, long time — 1944 to be exact. But the Longhorns haven’t been this bad in a long, long time, either. And even if they weren’t, this might represent OSU’s best chance for a breakthrough in years. As it is, the Cowboys are actually favored on the road. And they’re decisive favorites.
The Cowboys’ unexpected rise to first place in the Big 12 South is built around their talented trio: quarterback Brandon Weeden, wideout Justin Blackmon and running back Kendall Hunter, any of whom could emerge as the player of the year in the league. OSU’s offense will be the most versatile and dangerous the Longhorns have seen and should be geeked after K-State gashed the Texas defense a week ago.
The pressure will be on a Texas offense that has struggled to find an identity all year long and now deals with talk of a possible change at quarterback, with sentiment for Case McCoy to get a shot in place of Garrett Gilbert, who has thrown a Big 12-high 14 interceptions.
Baylor (7-2, 4-1) at Oklahoma State (7-1, 3-1), Saturday, 11:30 a.m.
Welcome to the Big 12 Game of the Week. Seriously. Baylor and Oklahoma State, in November, for self-control of the South Division. Welcome to the Big 12’s brave new world, where Texas and Texas Tech occupy the cellar and Baylor talks titles, despite never even as much as qualifying for a bowl bid as a conference member.
The Cowboys are surprise contenders, too, after losing one of the strongest senior classes in school history and being pegged in the preseason for also-ran status in the South.
Yet here sit Baylor and Oklahoma State, poised for a breakthrough, squaring off in what figures to be an entertaining shootout in Stillwater. The Cowboys and Bears rank, respectively, No. 3 and 10 nationally in passing offense; No. 2 and 8 in total offense; and No. 3 and 23 in scoring offense.
Robert Griffin III’s dual-threat skills are a major concern for OSU, which struggled mightily containing Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez. As always, Griffin will be the key to Baylor’s chances in Stillwater, where the Bears haven’t won since 1939. Of course, this is shaping up as an historic year for Baylor.
After a one-game suspension over a DUI complaint, Justin Blackmon returns for the Cowboys. The nation’s leader in yards per game, he mixes with quarterback Brandon Weeden and running back Kendall Hunter to form an explosive trio.
Last one to 40 loses?
Colorado (3-5, 0-4) at Kansas (2-6, 0-4), Saturday, 1 p.m.
The Big 12 South features showdowns. This Big 12 North matchup gets to the lowdown — who’s the worst team in the conference? These are the last of the league’s winless.
The Jayhawks have been spiraling downward since midseason a year ago. And a coaching change to Turner Gill has provided no magic, yet. KU is losing league games by an average of 36.8 points and enters the weekend unsure of who will start at quarterback: Quinn Mecham, Jordan Webb or Kale Pick. All have started and struggled.
Colorado carries similar quarterback concerns into Lawrence, trying to rally — again — behind Cody Hawkins, who is filling in for the injured Tyler Hansen. Meanwhile, Dan Hawkins remains on one of the hottest coaching seats in the country.
At least the Buffs have been in games, losing tight fits to Baylor and Texas Tech. And there remains flickering hope of a bowl bid, with winnable games remaining, beginning with KU.
Nebraska (7-1, 3-1) at Iowa State (5-4, 3-2), Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
After posting back-to-back statement wins over Oklahoma State and Missouri, the Huskers find themselves in a dangerous spot on the road at suddenly surging Iowa State.
Trap game? Not likely. Not after the Cyclones pulled a major upset in Lincoln a year ago, claiming one of the greatest conquests in school history. Surely that game and this game will be in clear focus for the Huskers, who got good news mid-week when quarterback Taylor Martinez returned to practice and was deemed good to go Saturday.
Martinez missed the second half of the Missouri win with a sprained ankle, leaving running back Roy Helu Jr. to handle the starring role, which he did, going for a school-record 307 rushing yards.
The Huskers face an Iowa State team trying to sneak into the North Division race. The Cyclones shook off lopsided losses to Utah and Oklahoma to beat Texas and Kansas. And with games against the Huskers and Mizzou to play, ISU controls its own destiny in the division. The Cyclones plan to commit two defenders to Martinez, who presents a run-pass challenge they haven’t faced. Offensively, the Cyclones will try to exploit a Nebraska defense that ranks just 75th nationally against the run.
Ryan Tannehill has breathed new life into the Aggies — and this matchup. With the former wideout taking over for inconsistent Jerrod Johnson at quarterback, A&M has won back-to-back games for the first time since mid-September.
Tannehill’s passing and running sparked 45-point outbursts in wins over Kansas and Texas Tech. And in just a game and a half, he’s completed 48-of-66 passes for 604 yards and seven touchdowns.
While the Aggies still lag in the Big 12 South, there’s a definite buzz about the program with the Sooners heading for Kyle Field.
And the road hasn’t been easily navigated for the Sooners, who are just 19–14 away from home since 2006. This season, they’ve struggled at Cincinnati and in the Cotton Bowl against Texas and lost at Missouri, ending their unbeaten season and, in all likelihood, their BCS title hopes.
OU quarterback Landry Jones carries his own rocky road resume. A touchdown-throwing machine at home, Jones often scuffles on enemy ground. In the loss to Mizzou, he was 0-for-7 passing in the fourth quarter.
Texas (4-4, 2-3) at Kansas State (5-3, 2-3), Saturday, 7 p.m.
Texas heads out onto the road, which may just bring a big “phew” from the Longhorns. The Horns have stumbled, from playing for the BCS championship in January, to losing three straight home games in a season that has gone sideways. And the heat is on back home.
Consider this unthinkable scenario for a program that has been winning 10 games a season with regularity: A bowl bid is not at all certain. Beating K-State may be mandatory.
And the Wildcats are scrapping for bowl eligibility themselves.
Both squads enter on two-game losing streaks and struggling on offense. The Longhorns alarmingly lack playmakers for a team that annually rules the recruiting rankings. So there’s a lack of direction, too.
K-State, at least, knows to hitch up to standout running back Daniel Thomas, who ranks second in the Big 12 and eighth nationally in rushing, averaging 124.5 yards a game.
Mizzou’s loss at Nebraska delivered major disappointment for a program on the verge of a national breakthrough. How will the Tigers respond? Mizzou must maintain focus, with the North far from settled and promising bowl possibilities still in play. Sure, the Tigers need help to overtake the Huskers in the North. But it’s already been a crazy year in the Big 12, so there’s no need to ditch goals and dreams now.
And for quarterback Blaine Gabbert and a defense that still ranks among the nation’s elite, this game may be key.
Lubbock traditionally has been a difficult place to play, but the Red Raiders have already lost twice at home. They’ve been awful on defense and far from Mike Leach-like offensively.
Baylor’s rise in the Big 12 South and the national rankings and in the thoughts and minds of college football fans has found real traction with win over Texas.
Bowl eligible? Nice. Back in the rankings? Cool.
But big time? Not by virtue of wins over the likes of Buffalo and Kansas State and Colorado. The Bears lacked substance, with an ugly loss to TCU and another setback to Texas Tech on their resume.
Not anymore. Baylor beat the Longhorns, 30–22, for the first time since 1997 and won in Austin for the first time since 1991, securing the sort of statement win that had been missing. OK, so this isn’t your typical Texas team, a title contender carved from superb stock. The Longhorns, who have now lost three times at home, are clearly scrambling.
Still, it’s Texas, with all its four- and five-star recruits. And Mack Brown. In Austin.
And while the thought had been that outstanding quarterback Robert Griffin III was willing his team to wins, the win over the Longhorns revealed that the Baylor’s talent is improving across the board.
“It’s been a while since we’ve given our fans proof to believe,” Bears coach Art Briles said afterward.
“Our players are as resilient as any I’ve been around.
“What’s really helped is that we’ve gone down to the wire the last few weeks. We’re used to being in those situations and our guys believe good things are going to happen.”
After prevailing at Texas, Baylor isn’t just bowl-eligible; it is bowl bound. And at 4–1 in the Big 12 South, they lead the pack with several key games against the rest of the division coming up, including a visit to Oklahoma State this Saturday.
“Our goal has always been to win the South title,” Griffin said. “The tide has changed this year and we’re the team to beat.
“People say that Baylor can never beat this team and that team. Well, that Bear is gone.”
Oklahoma State 24, Kansas State 14
Iowa State 28, Kansas 16
Nebraska 31, Missouri 17
Texas A&M 45, Texas Tech 27
Baylor 30, Texas 22
Oklahoma 43, Colorado 10
Huskers Run Away
All the anticipation of Saturday’s North heavyweight title bout — Nebraska vs. Missouri — exited Lincoln after the Huskers delivered a staggering early blow, getting a 66-yard touchdown run from Roy Helu Jr. in the opening moments and bolting to a 24–0 first-quarter lead.
That’s the kind of day it was for Helu and the Huskers. And Mizzou, which was off to its best season start since 1960, lost for the 17th straight time on the road against a Top 25 team.
Helu enjoyed a memorable day, rushing for a school-record 307 yards and three long scoring runs. He had 228 yards on his first 10 carries, and tacked on touchdowns covering 73 and 53 yards.
“I can’t explain how much I feel for my linemen and fullback,” Helu said. “They deserve as much credit as I do.”
Adversity was stacking up on Oklahoma State, with its first loss to Nebraska followed by the one-game suspension of star wide receiver Justin Blackmon as the repercussion of an ill-advised trip to Dallas to watch former teammate Dez Bryant on Monday Night Football.
On top of that, the Cowboys were heading to Kansas State, where they hadn’t won since current coach Mike Gundy was handing off to Barry Sanders in 1988.
But the Pokes prevailed behind their defense and kicking game. They slowed K-State standout running back Daniel Thomas and picked off three second-half passes. And punter Quinn Sharp dropped four punts inside the Wildcat 10.
Overall, OSU out-rushed K-State 213 to 111, with Kendall Hunter running for 143 yards.
Player of the Week: Roy Helu Jr., Sr., Nebraska. Helu’s big day in a big win over Missouri broke Calvin Jones’ NU rushing record of 294 yards, set against Kansas in 1991. And it was much needed, with quarterback Taylor Martinez missing the second half with a bruised right leg. Late in the game, when the Tigers entertained faint hopes of a comeback, Helu kept moving the chains and the clock.
Game of the Week: Baylor at Oklahoma State. Two teams picked for way down in the South Division are way up, both in the Big 12 title hunt, as well as the Top 25. While strange things can happen, the Bears and Cowboys are squaring off in what amounts to an elimination bout within the conference.
On the Spot: Mack Brown, Texas. Don’t look now, but the Longhorns are a .500 team at 4–4 overall. They’ve lost three times at home (UCLA, Iowa State and Baylor) and seem to be in disarray, just one season after making the BCS title game. Brown remains the king of Texas, but there’s some work ahead in directing a rebound.
In the Spotlight: Ryan Tannehill, QB, Texas A&M. Better late than never, right? A former prep quarterback who spent three seasons at wideout, Tannehill has replaced Jerrod Johnson behind center and thrived. He passed for a school-record 449 yards and four touchdowns and led the Aggies to their most points in a league home game since 2005 in the win over Texas Tech.
Paul Rhoads, Iowa State. The second-year coach has crafted some benchmark wins in his short stay in Ames. His teams have shown character, too. Just two weeks ago, the Cyclones were reeling and seemingly bound for the bottom of the North Division, after surrendering 120 points in losses to Utah and Oklahoma. Now ISU is streaking, beating Texas and Kansas back-to-back and creeping within one win of bowl eligibility at 5–4. The closing schedule is rugged, with home games against Nebraska and Missouri and a trip to Colorado. Circle the visit to Boulder as the make-or-break game.
Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M. Johnson’s spiral has apparently flattened out, with Tannehill’s ascension in College Station. The two QBs had split time the week before, but it was Tannehill all the way in the win over Tech, while Johnson watched from the sideline. It’s been a freefall senior season for Johnson, the school’s career passing yards leader.
By the Numbers
4 Conference wins by Baylor, its most as a member of the Big 12.
34.5 Average distance of Nebraska’s 34 touchdowns from the line of scrimmage.
208 Yards receiving for Oklahoma’s Ryan Broyles, a school record.
Oklahoma State (6–1, 2–1) at Kansas State (5–2, 2–2), Saturday, 11 a.m.
Both teams are in bounce-back mode, with the Cowboys coming off their first loss and the Wildcats dropping two of their last three. In a major contrast of styles, whichever team can dictate the tempo likely wins.
K-State has flopped against high-powered offenses. Baylor set school records for passing and rushing against the Cats a week ago. And OSU’s attack may be better, with the trio of quarterback Brandon Weeden, running back Kendall Hunter and wideout Justin Blackmon all among the nation’s leaders.
Keep an eye on Blackmon’s status; he is facing a suspicion of DUI complaint and a possible team suspension.
The Cowboys’ defense carries concerns, too, having just surrendered 51 points to Nebraska. And OSU hasn’t yet faced a power running game like K-State will bring with Daniel Thomas. Can the Cowboys, who face a finesse offense every day in practice, man up?
A wild card to consider: The Cowboys rank No. 119 in kickoff coverage and have allowed three returns for touchdowns this season. The Wildcats are No. 1 in kickoff returns.
Kansas (2–5, 0–3) at Iowa State (4–4, 2–2), Saturday, 1 p.m.
Say this about the Cyclones: Even when they appear down, they don’t stay down.
Beaten up in back-to-back games by Utah and Oklahoma, Iowa State rallied with a stunning win at Texas in what initially sized up as a death march, but shaped up as a show of toughness. Just like they did a year ago in winning at Nebraska, the Cyclones brushed aside previous disappointments to post a benchmark victory.
And it restored Iowa State’s bowl hopes, which would get another boost with a win over the Jayhawks, who stumble into Ames on the bad momentum of three straight blowout defeats.
First-year KU coach Turner Gill may be looking to a third starting quarterback with Jordan Webb and Kale Pick both ineffective and, now, dealing with injuries. Quin Mecham, a junior college transfer, appears set to start against the Cyclones.
The Jayhawks, who own a five-game winning streak against ISU, have now lost 10 straight Big 12 games since beating the Cyclones last October.
Missouri (7–0, 3–0) at Nebraska (6–1, 2–1), Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Missouri’s takedown of Oklahoma, then BCS No. 1 and a constant thorn in the Tigers’ paws, registered as a massive mark in the program’s history. Could Saturday’s game at Nebraska be bigger?
On a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately scale, absolutely. Mizzou is the Big 12’s only remaining unbeaten and one of seven nationally, bidding for a place in the national title chase. And a win in Lincoln is required. And the matchup, the last scheduled meeting between longtime foes before the Huskers bolt for the Big Ten, carries that added edge. So, yes, this game is bigger. And it’s big on both sides.
The Huskers somewhat righted their course a week ago, knocking off previously unbeaten Oklahoma State. And they control their path in the North Division and potentially in the BCS bowl picture — if they can subdue Mizzou.
Husker quarterback Taylor Martinez enjoyed a breakout game against the Cowboys, answering critics by throwing for five touchdowns when his passing skills had been called into question. Still, defensive concerns remain after OSU gashed the Blackshirts on the ground and through the air, scoring 41 points in defeat.
The Tigers have the look of the Big 12’s most balanced team, with an evolving offense led by quarterback Blaine Gabbert and the nation’s No. 5 scoring defense, which allows just 13.1 points a game.
The Pirate is gone. So, too, for now is the passion and the intrigue for a rivalry that boiled over in recent years, flame-fed by former Tech coach Mike Leach.
Now, Mike Sherman’s A&M team scrambles for relevancy, and Tommy Tuberville’s first Tech team is bland in comparison to what used to take place on the West Texas plains.
At least there’s something at stake, with this game a potential swing game to the bowl hopes for both teams.
A&M’s quarterback position bears watching, now that Ryan Tannehill has moved from wide receiver to behind center and thrived, throwing for three touchdowns in last week’s win over Kansas. Jerrod Johnson won’t be forgotten, but he’ll apparently share the position going forward.
For the Red Raiders, offense, while not up to Leach-like standards, is not the issue. It’s a defense that has allowed 34.4 points a game in conference play — 10th-most in the Big 12.
Baylor (6–2, 3–1) at Texas (4–3, 2–2), Saturday, 6 p.m.
What does this game mean for Baylor? Everything.
Don’t look now, but the Bears are in the rankings and atop the Big 12 South. And for the first time in a long time, Baylor carries a significant shot at beating the Longhorns into Austin.
Texas has won 12 straight in the series and 16 of the last 17. So history hardly aligns with the Bears. This hurdle is as much mental as it is physical. Still, Baylor has hope, much of it tied to dynamic quarterback Robert Griffin III, who hails from the Austin area, was snubbed by the Longhorns and might figure he has something to prove beyond all he’s done to elevate his program. Think Longhorns fans wouldn’t like to see Griffin in burnt orange?
Who knows which Texas team will show up, even at home? The Horns lost to UCLA and Iowa State at home. They won at Nebraska, yet couldn’t carry the momentum, with the Cyclones sticking them in stunning fashion a week later.
Garrett Gilbert is struggling at quarterback, and there aren’t enough playmakers around him to make the offense respectable.
Clearly, the Longhorns are vulnerable. But are the Bears equipped to take advantage? Baylor’s best win came a week ago, against Kansas State. But in their one other appearance in a statement game, the Bears were hammered at TCU.
This one could be different. And it could result in a very different Big 12 South that includes Baylor as a contender.
Colorado (3–4, 0–3) at Oklahoma (6–1, 2–1), Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Adversity just keeps piling up for the Buffaloes. Colorado, winless in conference play on its farewell tour of the Big 12, took two major hits in a home loss to Texas Tech, losing starting quarterback Tyler Hansen to a ruptured spleen and linebacker and leading tackler Jon Major to a knee injury.
Beaten and bruised is no way to visit Oklahoma, where the Sooners figure to be hopping mad following their first loss at Missouri and where they seldom lose, owning the nation’s longest home winning streak at 34.
Former starter and oft-embattled Cody Hawkins will replace Hansen behind center. Hawkins does hold special memories in this series, engineering an upset of the Sooners in Boulder the last time the teams met in 2007.
OU quarterback Landry Jones looks to rebound from a rough outing at Missouri, where he didn’t complete a pass in the fourth quarter as the Tigers rallied to victory.
The Big 12’s countdown of unbeaten teams was due some shrinkage Saturday, with two — Oklahoma and Missouri — squaring off and Oklahoma State putting its perfect mark against Nebraska. By late Saturday night, only one remained standing: Surprise! The Tigers.
Just weeks ago, Mizzou seemed in disarray, following a preseason that delivered multiple off-the-field issues that peaked when team captain Derrick Washington faced sexual assault allegations and was kicked off the team. But there the Tigers were Saturday night, staring down odds and a rocky recent history with the Sooners, having lost every matchup with Bob Stoops on the other sideline, some embarrassingly with the stakes just as high, winning. And winning convincingly.
It created a watershed moment for the program, coach Gary Pinkel and a group of players given little chance to end two decades of failure against the Sooners.
“It’s a historic night, a great win, obviously,” Pinkel said.
The Sooners had rallied to take a 21–20 lead in the final minutes of the third quarter. But Mizzou answered with three straight scoring drives, two touchdowns and a field goal, to surge ahead 36–21 and never look back.
Blaine Gabbert was superb, completing 30-of-42 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown, and the Tigers running game produced 178 yards .
Defensively, Mizzou frustrated the Sooners, picked off Landry Jones twice and won the second half. The Tigers knocked OU from the No. 1 spot in the BCS Standings and leaped into national title contention themselves, ascending to No. 8 in the BCS.
“I will not stop smiling,” said Tigers wide receiver Jerrell Jackson. “I may smile for a few days. It feels good.”
A few days is all. Next up: at Nebraska, Saturday.
Iowa State 28, Texas 21
Texas Tech 27, Colorado 24
Texas A&M 45, Kansas 10
Baylor 47, Kansas State 42
Nebraska 51, Oklahoma State 41
Missouri 36, Oklahoma 27
Bear-ly, Good Enough
Floyd Casey Stadium, often dead by this time of year, rocks with joy in 2010. Baylor is bowl eligible, with a bid but a formality for the first time since 1994, after the Bears beat Kansas State 47–42 and, get this, cracked the rankings and emerged in first place in the Big 12 South. Big weekend.
“I must have had hundreds of fans come up to me after the game and say, ‘Thank y’all for this,’” Bears safety Byron Landor said. “it means a lot to us to see them happy. I know there have been some dog years here.
“They’d give away free tickets and people still wouldn’t want to come. But we did a good job of battling, and we bonded together at the end and got the win.”
And much more.
As usual, it was quarterback Robert Griffin III leading the way, throwing for a school-record 404 yards and a personal-best four touchdowns. Running back Jay Finley romped for another school record, 250 rushing yards, and added two TDs on the ground.
“My smile says it all,” said Griffin. “It’s a big moment for the university and our football team.”
Nebraska’s Blackshirts? Oklahoma State’s Young Guns? Neither got very involved, as defense stepped aside for wild and wicked offense in Stillwater. The offenses combined for 1,035 yards and multiple season highlights. And the Huskers prevailed on the arm, not the legs, of quarterback Taylor Martinez.
Known previously as an option engineer, Martinez completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns. Martinez had thrown just three TD passes in Nebraska’s first six games.
“Taylor Martinez grew up today,” Huskers offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said afterward.
Robinson led Iowa State to an upset in Austin.
Austin City Limits
Things are getting testy in Austin. Iowa State, coming off back-to-back lopsided losses, beat Texas for the first time, well, ever. And the Cyclones beat a ranked team on the road for the first time since 1990.
And deep in the heart of Texas, it wasn’t going over well, with the loss column now at three through seven games.
“You’re asking me to wave a wand and fix it,” an angry Horns coach Mack Brown said after the game. “I’m fighting my guts out, trying to turn this around.”
For the Cyclones, who showed up strong despite all the recent hits, they claimed their own turnaround.
“You get beat and you get beat and you say enough is enough,” running back Jeff Woody said. “We are done with losing, we are sick of it.
“I’m on a high. Just thinking the words, ‘We beat Texas!’ It’s unbelievable.”
Player of the Week
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin is the very definition of a program changer, that one recruit who can alter a team’s path. And he continues to do that in Waco. With elusive bowl eligibility within grasp, Griffin produced his best game yet as a Bear, throwing for a school-record 404 yards with four touchdowns.
Game of the Week: Missouri at Nebraska. No room for revelry at Mizzou, with the Huskers on tap in a showdown for North supremacy — and more. The Tigers move more prominently into the BCS Championship chase with a win.
On the Spot: Carl Pelini, defensive coordinator, Nebraska. OK, so the Huskers seem to be fine on offense. But the defense needs work. Mizzou may not have the explosiveness of Oklahoma State, but they’re balanced and more than capable.
In the Spotlight: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. With his superb effort on the big stage against Oklahoma, Gabbert made a case for All-Big 12 quarterback in a league that has revealed many quality candidates. He’s been overlooked through much of this season. Now he’s in position to do great things.
Ryan Tannehill, QB/WR, Texas A&M. A former prep quarterback who has played mostly wideout in his first three years at A&M, Tannehill relieved starter Jerrod Johnson and threw for three touchdowns to spark the Aggies’ rout. Tannehill completed 12-of-16 passes for 155 yards and also ran for a touchdown. Now, how much does he play at QB the rest of the way?
Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas. After playing admirably in place of the injured Colt McCoy in the national title game, Gilbert returned this season amid much hype and anticipation. But the transition has been anything but smooth. And while the Longhorns lack playmakers at running back and wide receiver, Gilbert’s poor decisions aren’t helping.
Martinez needs to rebound this week against Oklahoma State.
Iowa State at Texas, Saturday, 11 a.m.
Texas believes it got its swagger back in last week’s rugged upset of Nebraska. Now it’s time to strut it.
The Longhorns, following a three-game stretch that has included losses to UCLA and Oklahoma and the emotional road win over the Huskers, return home to face a reeling Cyclones squad that has surrendered 120 points the past two weeks.
Texas, hoping to climb back into the South Division race, added a wrinkle to its struggling offense at Nebraska with quarterback Garrett Gilbert running some option — effectively. The Longhorns will be looking to build on that success, needing to get more playmakers involved.
For the Cyclones, this is the next step in a gauntlet that has included games against national powerhouses Utah and Oklahoma. Talent-wise, Iowa State just can’t match up.
Nebraska at Oklahoma State, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Few figured the Cowboys to be the unbeaten one when these teams met in Stillwater. Yet Oklahoma State continues to be among the surprise squads in the Big 12, entering at 6–0 overall and 2–0 in conference play.
Nebraska, meanwhile, finds itself in a need-to-win, if not must-win situation concerning its North championship hopes, coming off a home loss to Texas.
This is a clash of style and cultures. The Cowboys like to spread it and throw it, while mixing in enough of the running game with Kendall Hunter and Joseph Randle to create explosive balance.
The old-school Huskers prefer to pound the running game, with tailbacks Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead and quarterback Taylor Martinez the focus. The mentality of Martinez could be in question, after he was benched in the third quarter of the Texas loss and seemed to pout on the sideline.
Nebraska carries history and tradition into the matchup and owns a decided series advantage. But the “new money” Cowboys have won three of the last four.
The key matchup: OSU’s passing tandem of quarterback Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, both among the nation’s leaders, against a Huskers secondary led by projected first-round draft pick Prince Amukamara.
Kansas State at Baylor, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Baylor, at 5–2, can sniff bowl eligibility for the first time in the history of the Big 12. According to oddsmakers, the Bears are favored to achieve that against the Wildcats. Not that it’ll be easy. Baylor has never reached six wins as a member of the Big 12.
Kansas State, an ugly night against Nebraska aside, seeks the same bowl-eligible status at 5–1. The Wildcats will challenge Baylor’s defense with a steady dose of Daniel Thomas off tackle, testing how far the Bears have truly come. And ’Cats quarterback Carson Coffman is coming off one of his best games, accounting for five TDs in a 59–7 rout of archrival Kansas.
For the Bears, the storyline is the same as always: Robert Griffin III. Baylor’s electric quarterback has lifted the program to this point and is capable of taking it further — perhaps this week, if he can replicate the way Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez carved up K-State in the run game.
Texas Tech at Colorado, Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
The Red Raiders and Buffaloes have their eyes on possible bowl bids, if they can just get eligible. This game looms large for both teams, with each entering at 3–3 overall.
Tech and Colorado have endured similarly uneven seasons, marked by encouraging wins and distressing losses. It was more of the latter for both a week ago, with the Red Raiders falling at home to Oklahoma State and the Buffs losing at Baylor. That’s put an added emphasis on this matchup.
Tech, which has never won at Folsom Field, hopes to get quarterback Taylor Potts back on track after a rough outing against the Cowboys. He threw for just 226 yards and a score, modest numbers for Potts.
The Buffs continue to seek balance, with mixed results. They may need more from quarterback Tyler Hansen through the air, if Potts gets it going again for the Red Raiders.
Texas A&M at Kansas, Saturday, 6 p.m.
Both teams are skidding. Combined, they’re 0–4 in the conference and occupying the basements of their respective divisions in the Big 12. One, for at least a week, gets a reprieve.
The Aggies never figured to be in this spot, but have slumped as quarterback Jerrod Johnson has slumped. The preseason pick for Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Johnson has been mostly offensive of late, in a bad way. He’s turned the ball over at an alarming rate and in last week’s loss to Missouri failed to produce altogether. The Aggies fan base even wondered if Johnson should be benched. A&M needs Johnson — the good Johnson — so that isn’t likely, yet.
Kansas’ problems are more far-reaching, yet also include shaky quarterback play. The Jayhawks biggest issues have come on defense, where they’ve allowed an average of 57 points in conference play.
Oklahoma at Missouri, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Once again these two meet in a Big 12 showdown. For once, the Tigers would like to show up. The Sooners have won seven straight in the series and 19 of the past 20 meetings. And lately, the stakes have been high, with the last two clashes in the Big 12 title game — both OU romps. Still, there’s reason for optimism this time, with Mizzou bringing a different asset into the game: a stout defense. The Tigers are allowing just 10.8 points per game, ranking second nationally in scoring defense. That includes a shutout of Colorado and a 30–9 win at Texas A&M to open league play.
The Tigers’ offense is high-charged, as usual, behind quarterback Blaine Gabbert and wideout T.J. Moe forming a dynamic combination.
As far as the spotlight, it’s homecoming in Columbia, ESPN GameDay is on hand, and at No. 11, the Tigers occupy their highest point ever in the BCS Standings. Furthermore, Mizzou is seeking its first 7–0 start since 1960.
On the other side, the Sooners are No. 1 in the BCS, trying to navigate one of the tougher road trips on a hopeful run to a title game berth. OU will attack Missouri’s improved defense with a balanced attack. Landry Jones-to-Ryan Broyles rates among the nation’s most productive connections. And running back DeMarco Murray is the school’s all-time touchdown leader, quite a feat at a tradition-steeped school like Oklahoma.
Mizzou, Texas and Oklahoma State picked up huge wins.
An earthquake struck not far from Owen Field in Norman last week, a rare quake for the state of Oklahoma that shook buildings across campus. The rest of the Big 12 — and other parts of the nation — were shaken over the weekend, sending aftershocks back to Norman, where the Sooners were left standing as the No. 1-ranked team when the 2010 BCS Standings made their debut Sunday.
It was a wild weekend in the Big 12, where Nebraska lost to Texas — again; Oklahoma State won at Texas Tech for the first time in 66 years; Missouri thumped Texas A&M to establish itself as a North Division contender, if not the favorite; and Baylor took a road victory at Colorado to move within one win of securing bowl eligibility for the first time as a Big 12 member.
Oh, and Oklahoma rolled Iowa State 52–0, ascending to the top of the BCS Standings when No. 1 Ohio State fell at Wisconsin, one of three top 10 teams to stumble.
Fittingly, with Alabama and Ohio State losing road games as No. 1s the past two weeks, the Sooners now hit the road for under-the-radar Mizzou.
“I understand that the announcement of the poll makes for good conversation among media and fans, but two games into our conference season, it’s too early for us to give it any attention,” said Sooners coach Bob Stoops.
“At this point, it just speaks to the quality of the schedule we’ve played, and while I appreciate the caliber of those teams, our focus has to be on the games we have remaining. We’re not talking or thinking about anything but playing Missouri.”
Kansas State 59, Kansas 7
Oklahoma State 34, Texas Tech 17
Oklahoma 52, Iowa State 0
Missouri 30, Texas A&M 9
Texas 20, Nebraska 13
Baylor 31, Colorado 25
Fond Farewell – For Texas
After beating up on Kansas State a week earlier, the Cornhuskers hinted at a farewell tour that involved some personal feelings, none stronger than major dislike for Texas.
The Longhorns, who have owned the Huskers in the Big 12, beat Nebraska with a final-moments field goal when :01 was added to clock after time had seemingly expired, setting off a controversy. And, as we now know, Nebraska has never embraced its conference alliance with Texas.
So the setup seemed tilted in the Huskers’ favor when the two met for the final scheduled time, in Lincoln, with Nebraska streaking and the Longhorns riding a two-game losing streak.
Instead, Texas exposed flaws unseen in a soft early schedule by the Huskers, bottling up formerly fab freshman quarterback Taylor Martinez and knocking Nebraska from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“Losing to anyone is not a good feeling,” Husker defensive end Cameron Meredith told reporters, “but especially Texas.”
The Longhorns will surely be sad to see Nebraska go. In the Big 12, Texas has won nine of 10 meetings.
Hear The Roar
Missouri’s 5–0 start barely created a ripple throughout the Big 12. Saturday’s convincing rout of Texas A&M, at Kyle Field, moving the Tigers to 6–0, sounded an alarm.
“It’s us against the world,” said Mizzou quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who threw three touchdowns against the Aggies. “We have to go out there and execute every week, because apparently we’re not getting any credit thus far.”
The Tigers’ defense, a major concern a year ago, held A&M scoreless through the first 42 minutes. The win sets Mizzou up for a major showdown, with Oklahoma visiting Columbia Saturday.
And before leaving College Station, the Tigers were focused on the Sooners. “Preparation for the Sooners starts) on the way back,” Gabbert said. “On the way back, on the plane, we have to start thinking about Oklahoma, because they are a great football team.
“Just watch game film. We have it on our cell phones. We have to get an extra edge on those guys.”
Oklahoma State’s roster is so loaded with youth, few Cowboys had even been to Lubbock for a game. Still, the media made sure a history lesson was in order before the team’s trip to Texas Tech, where OSU hadn’t won since 1944.
Time to rewrite that story line, not to mention previous takes on this being a rebuilding season for the Cowboys.
After Saturday’s impressive start-to-finish win at Tech, OSU is now 6–0.
“It was a big win,” said Cowboys quarterback Brandon Weeden. “There was not a whole lot of talk about a 66-year streak that we had the chance (to break), that was not on our mind, but looking back that is a pretty big feat.
“We have had some very good football teams come in here and we were fortunate enough to get the win. It’s a big accomplishment for this team — 6–0 and we’re excited to be there.”
Coaches prefer talking about the next game. Always the next game. Finally, for Baylor, it’s about the next win.
Holding off a late rally attempt by Colorado, the Bears improved to 5–2, putting them within one win of the program’s first bowl while in the Big 12. Next up: Kansas State, in Waco, for homecoming.
“It would be a great win for us,” said senior safety Bryan Landor. “We know what the situation is. We know that this puts us at 5–2. We are going home and we’re going to have a lot of alumni at the game, so many fans that are supporting Baylor.
“There is no better way to get it than at homecoming.”
Player of the Week
Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State. The guy just won’t slow down. The nation’s leading receiver and scorer, Blackmon hauled in 10 receptions for a career-high 207 yards and a score in the Cowboys’ win in Lubbock. The touchdown, a 62-yard catch and run, was a dazzling play that helped cement OSU’s first win in Lubbock in 66 years.
Game of the Week: Oklahoma at Missouri. No keeping the Tigers quiet now. Not after their dominant effort in College Station. Not with the Sooners set to invade Columbia in a clash of two of the nation’s remaining 10 undefeated teams. Kickoff goes off prime time at 7 p.m.
On the Spot:
Mike Sherman, coach, Texas A&M. The Aggies were supposed to be better. Seemed to be better. But after starting 3–0, A&M has lost three straight and sits 0–2 in the Big 12. And the coach who was supposed to right the Aggies finds his seat getting hotter.
In the Spotlight:
Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska. After a rousing career start, Martinez faces adversity for the first time, coming off a struggling performance that saw him benched against Texas. Any bounce-back won’t be easy at Oklahoma State.
DeMarco Murray, RB, Oklahoma. Murray’s stock has always been high, but injuries have plagued his career. This season has been different, with Murray running with power and speed. In the rout of the Cyclones, he scored three touchdowns, pushing his career total to 58 — one better than Steve Owens’ previous school record of 57.
Turner Gill, coach, Kansas. Gill didn’t inherit much when he took over in Lawrence. So he deserves some rope in his debut season. It may be a short leash now, with losses becoming embarrassing. And ugly losses to the cross-state rival won’t help.
By The Numbers
3 Unbeaten teams remaining from the Big 12 — Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri.
200 A magic number of sorts for Texas under Mack Brown, as the Longhorns are 67–0 in the Brown era when they rush for 200 or more yards, as they did against Nebraska.
231.6 K-State quarterback Carson Coffman’s passer efficiency rating against Kansas, the highest for a Wildcat signal caller in five years.
Bo Pelini has his team in the hunt for a national title.
Huskers Begin Farewell Tour With A Bang
Nebraska opened its farewell tour of the conference with no trace of sentimentality or fondness for those who have shared the brotherhood of the Big 12.
Never mind, either, that the Cornhuskers’ relationship with Kansas State dates back to the old Big Eight, well before what they perceived as a Texas takeover.
The Huskers, in their final scheduled trip to Manhattan and the opener to their final Big 12 season, ripped the Wildcats 48–13 in what had been an anticipated matchup of unbeatens.
Next up: Texas, which will be welcomed to Lincoln with much disdain, due to contempt Nebraskans feel has been preferential treatment poured upon the Longhorns by the league, as well as that final second — added second — loss to Texas in last year’s Big 12 title game.
“We are a motivated football team,” said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. “We have goals but that (final Big 12 season) is part of it.
“We are going to play all of these teams in the Big 12 for one last time. There’s probably motivation on both sides.”
The Huskers looked plenty motivated against K-State, romping to a big early lead behind quarterback Taylor Martinez and their rugged defense. Nebraska ran for 451 yards, while the Wildcats mustered just 315 in total offense.
Now comes a clash with Texas that has been circled on the schedule since last December, when the Huskers thought they’d upset the Horns for the Big 12 championship, only to see officials put :01 on the clock, just enough time for UT’s Ryan Bailey to boot through the game-winning field goal.
Since then, Nebraska has also made a run for the Big Ten for 2011. And amid the planned departure, ill feelings concerning Texas’ exalted status in the Big 12 have leaked out of Lincoln, although Pelini is mum on all that this week.
“I don’t get caught up in all the personal reasons,” Pelini said Monday. “I have nothing against Texas. I have nothing against their fans. What happened in the offseason, you can only control what you can control. It’s just something that happened.
“What the motivation is, how our fans feel about it… hopefully our fans want to win every football game. This is the next one. I know one thing; they’ve got a heck of a program, a well coached team with a lot of talent.”
Nebraska 48, Kansas State 13
Oklahoma State 54, Louisiana-Lafayette 28
Utah 68, Iowa State 27
Missouri 26, Colorado 0
Arkansas 24, Texas A&M 17
Texas Tech 45, Baylor 38
Red Raiders Regroup
Texas Tech seemed to be reeling, coming off a road loss at Iowa State and standing 0–2 at the bottom of the Big 12 South, with a motivated Baylor bunch waiting next.
But the Red Raiders rediscovered themselves — their old selves — winning a wild one in the Cotton Bowl to shake their slumping ways.
Taylor Potts passed for 462 yards and four touchdowns, helping Tech to a 45–28 lead midway through the third quarter. Then it was hold-on time, as the Bears rallied.
“All week I was telling the guys this was a must win,” said Red Raiders running back Barron Batch, who rushed for 97 yards. “I haven’t lost three straight games since high school.
“When you play in the Big 12 and start losing, other teams smell the blood in the water. This was a defining point in our season.”
Baylor was hoping for a defining point in its Big 12 existence, still seeking its first winning season and bowl bid under the conference banner.
Robert Griffin III threw for 384 yards and two scores and put a pass in the hands of wide receiver Kendall Wright in the end zone, but Wright couldn’t hold on.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities,” Griffin said.
Still, many opportunities were made, as the teams combined for 39 plays of 10 yards or longer.
For the third straight year, Tech beat Baylor by seven points.
Missouri’s defense has rarely led discussions in recent years, with quarterbacks Brad Smith and Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert lighting up scoreboards.
Unless, of course, the Tigers are taking on Colorado.
Then the defense takes over.
Mizzou secured its first shutout since 2008 — yes, against the Buffaloes. And while this one wasn’t as bad as the 58–0 wipeout that year, the Tigers 26–0 shutdown of Colorado Saturday was impressive yet.
That’s because the Tigers leaned on their defense this time, with Gabbert and Co. struggling to get untracked. Mizzou dominated with defense and special teams, winning its fifth straight in the series by a combined count of 203–40.
The Buffs have been outscored 86–3 in the first halves of the past three meetings.
Before bearing down on Big 12 play the rest of the way, Texas A&M and Iowa State strayed outside the conference one last time.
The Aggies lost to Arkansas, while the Cyclones were clobbered by Utah, missing out on potential statement wins for the conference.
Oklahoma State avoided further shame, needing to rally before finally blowing past Louisiana-Lafayette.
Players of the Week
Taylor Martinez, QB, and Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska. A Husker sweep, as Nebraska dominated both sides of the ball in its rout of K-State. Martinez accounted for 369 yards, running for a Husker quarterback rushing record with 241 yards and four touchdowns. David totaled 16 tackles, including 10 unassisted stops, with a sack among two tackles for losses. It was David’s third time to post double-digit tackles and second straight game with 16 or more.
Game of the Week: Texas at Nebraska.
The game loses a bit of its appeal with the Longhorns coming in with back-to-back losses, but the subplots alone are enough to tune in. The Huskers still seek confirmation as a national title contender. And they’ll find out if their new option offense works against a decent defense. Texas seeks new life.
On the Spot: Missouri. The Tigers have quietly gone about their 5–0 start, winning yes, but notching no notable skins. Now’s the time, with a trip to A&M, where the Aggies have lost two straight, but are ever dangerous on offense.
In the Spotlight: Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator, Texas. Muschamp is considered one of the brightest defensive minds in America. And his work at Texas has been superb. Yet this year’s job, with a lot of youngsters on defense and limited help from a scuffling offense, remains a work in progress. And now he’s got to find a way to deal with Nebraska’s Martinez and the option.
Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma State. First, Bailey kicked the game-winner against A&M as time expired. Then he followed that up with four field goals and 18 total points in OSU’s win at Lafayette, booting a pair of career-best field goals from 52 yards. Bailey is now 11-for-11 on field goals for the season and has scored 65 points.
Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M. The guy was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year pick in the preseason. But after a solid start, he’s been shaky of late, throwing nine interceptions in the past three games, two of them losses.
By the Numbers
0 Touchdowns allowed by Missouri in the third quarter this season.
5 Consecutive games with a touchdown reception by OSU’s Justin Blackmon.
1,142 Combined yards of offense in the Texas Tech-Baylor game.