The week in Big XII football.
Texas 45 Oklahoma 35 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
Texas' 45 points tied for the most ever scored by the Longhorns in the series, matching the 2005 national title winning squad. And the last time Texas defeated a #1 ranked team in the regular season? That would be 1963, when the 'Horns took down Oklahoma 28-7 en route to Darrell Royal's first national title. Time to celebrate? No! But... still, you might be as surprised as I was to discover that 10 of the 20 teams ranked in the top two of the initial BCS standings went on to play in the Title Game:
YEAR BCS WEEK 1 BCS TITLE GAME 2007 (1) Ohio State, (2) South Florida (1) Ohio State, (2) LSU 2006 (1) Ohio State, (2) USC (1) Ohio State, (2) Florida 2005 (1) USC, (2) Texas (1) USC, (2) Texas 2004 (1) USC, (2) Miami (1) USC, (2) Oklahoma 2003 (1) Oklahoma, (2) Miami (1) Oklahoma, (2) LSU 2002 (1) Oklahoma, (2) Miami (1) Miami, (2) Ohio State 2001 (1) Oklahoma, (2) Nebraska (1) Miami, (2) Nebraska 2000 (1) Nebraska, (2) Oklahoma (1) Oklahoma, (2) Florida State 1999 (1) Florida State, (2) Penn State (1) Florida State, (2) Virginia Tech 1998 (1) UCLA, (2) Ohio State (1) Tennessee, (2) Florida State
Still, Longhorns fans would be wise to keep things in perspective: We're still a week away from the release of the first BCS Standings, with an exceptionally dangerous Missouri team coming to Austin Saturday night. Win that one and Texas fans can start to evaluate the odds of making the national title game. Until then, Texas is just the latest team with a big red "#1" target on its back. The Tigers will come gunning.
Oklahoma State 28 Missouri 23 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
The difference in this game was Missouri's inability to run the football: Though they entered the game averaging nearly 5.9 yards per carry, the Tigers (after adjusting for sacks) managed just 81 yards rushing on 16 carries. Consider that Chase Daniel picked up 63 of those yards on 5 rushes and Mizzou's rushers picked up just 18 yards on 11 attempts. In that regard the Tigers have simply proven themselves to be the North Division's version of Texas Tech when Mike Leach forgets (or is unable to establish) the running game: Without a credible rushing presence, Daniel took to the air 52 freaking times, and though he completed 39 of those attempts for 390 yards, 3 of his completions went to the wrong team.
Contrast that with Oklahoma State, which saw its theretofore unstoppable rushing game nearly halved in production (4.7 yards per attempt), but hammered away nonetheless, amassing 200 yards on 42 attempts. If Missouri did a nice job of keeping the Cowboys from running wild, Mike Gundy's commitment to the rush paid off most impressively: Kendall Hunter broke one long (68 yards) for a score, and OSU's final two scores came off beautiful play action pass plays that freed WR Damian Davis wide open or in single coverage where he could use his 6-5 height to go get the ball.
I was a bit surprised watching the game by how impressive Mike Gundy's game plan was. He coached a near-perfect game.
At first glance, one would be hard pressed to tell from the box score what the hell happened in Lubbock: The Red Raiders ran the ball well (23 attempts, 137 yards, 6.0 ypc) and passed the ball well (20-25, 284 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT), totaling 48 offensive plays for 421 yards, at 8.8 yards per play. And yet they only managed 31 points in regulation? How in the hell did... Wait. 48 offensive plays?
In one of the most bizarre statistical games in recent memory, Texas Tech utterly blitzkrieged the Nebraska defense when they had the ball, but the Red Raiders defense simply could not get the Cornhuskers off the field. Nebraska ran 80 plays to Tech's 48, possessing the football for an astounding 40:12 to TTU's 19:48. And so it was that a regulation period featuring 3 punts and 0 turnovers wound up a box score oddity, with Nebraska scoring on each of its final three drives to get the game to overtime, which Tech sealed on an interception.
The only intelligent thing Bob Davie said all night during the Missouri-OSU broadcast was that "Baylor freshman Robert Griffin is going to be a star." Even there, though, he slightly missed the mark: Griffin already is a star. The phenom completed 21 of his 24 pass attempts Saturday for 278 yards, including 2 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. Just... awesome. Even with A&M's putrid play, the Big XII South is the best division in college football, thanks in part to Baylor's relevance behind Robert Griffin.
The Jayhawks still can't rush the football with any consistency, but Todd Reesing continues to do his superhero act while the underrated defense forces teams to sustain drives. We'll see if this team deserves any consideration beyond "Challenger To Missouri In The North" when they travel to Norman this Saturday.
Ladies and gentlemen... The Mike Sherman Era! On the bright side, Jerrod Johnson had a 400+ yard day passing the ball (adjust 150 yards for KSU), so that's nice to see if you're a Fightin' Farmer, but... yeah--it's grim. They should hire Beergut, which would at the very least liven up the press conferences.
Good news foor KSU fans: Freeman can still light up foul defenses. The 'Cats still desperately need a defense, though.
WEEK 7 AWARDS
BEST WIN: TEXAS, OVER OKLAHOMA Oklahoma State's win was arguably more shocking, but it's Texas which sits at #1 in the polls after their victory, so the nod here goes to the Longhorns.
WORST LOSS: MISSOURI, TO OKLAHOMA STATE Part of the Tigers' schedule advantage lay in their drawing OSU at home. Whoops.
TOP PERFORMER, OFFENSE (TEAM): NEBRASKA If the Cornhuskers don't chew up 8 minutes with each offensive drive, Tech scores 50+ points. What an oddity.
BUM STEER, OFFENSE (TEAM): IOWA STATE The Big XII North is, relatively speaking, pretty sad compared to the big, bad South.
TOP PERFORMER, OFFENSE (INDIVIDUAL): JORDAN SHIPLEY, TEXAS Kudos to Greg Davis and Ship for moving Texas' shifty wide receiver to the tight end spot where he could work the soft belly in the middle of the OU defense. That kickoff return was awful purty, as well.
BUM STEER, OFFENSE (INDIVIDUAL): CODY HAWKINS, COLORADO 8-22 for 90 yards, with 2 picks? Really? Dad probably wants to hate son. This is problematic.
PB'S POWER RANKINGS
Last ranking in parentheses.
1. Texas (3) - The scary thing about Texas is how much better this team is going to be in mid-November than it is now, in mid-October.
2. Oklahoma (1) - They're overrated on both lines, but the offense is good enough to run the table from here out...
3. Oklahoma State (5) - Mike Gundy was impressive on Saturday night. I had no idea.
4. Texas Tech (4) - So... what's your upside, Tech? We haven't seen it, yet.
5. Missouri (2) - Tony Temple is badly missed.
6. Kansas (8) - I'll reserve further judgment until I see how they play in Norman on Saturday.
7. Nebraska (6) - For a transition year, it's an interesting little team.
8. Baylor (9) - RO-BERT GRI-FFIN! [clap clap clap-clap-clap]
9. Kansas State (10) - They can thrash teams with no defense, but we've seen little beyond that.
10. Colorado (7) - Yikes. This team's going to struggle to be competitive with almost everyone else in the conference.
11. Texas A&M (11) - Texas A&M: The New Baylor!
12. Iowa State (12) - Q: How do you recruit to Ames, Iowa? A: Wait, no. Another question: Gene, why did you take this job?