A weekly report on the weekend of Big 12 football.
BIG XII SOUTH
Idle: Oklahoma State Cowboys (3-0), Oklahoma Sooners (3-0)
- Texas 52 Rice 10 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
The Longhorns outgained Rice 600-318 for their third straight comfortable non-conference victory over a non-BCS opponent. If Texas still doesn't have a definititve answer to the tailback situation, wideout Jordan Shipley is off to the kind of start Texas fans had hoped might be in him. The senior arrived in Austin in 2004 with high expectations after a legendary high school career, but has battled a series of injuries which have prevented him from producing at the level his biggest supporters insist is in his game. Shipley certainly was that player Saturday, racking up 155 receiving yards on just 5 catches, including 2 touchdowns, putting on a show with the ball in open space. If Shipley stays healthy, and if he can do in conference play what he's been doing in the early going... Texas will have an answer to one of its most important questions heading into the season. Two big ifs, but the early signs are encouraging.
Defensively, Will Muschamp's charges aren't dominating anyone statistically, but they're keeping points off of the board. To whatever extent that's a part of a plan, I like it. Texas has been consistently killed by big plays the last few years and big plays are the path of least resistance to points. Making teams sustain drives to score is essential.
Connecticut 31 Baylor 28 [Box / Recap]
So, so close. Playing on the road for the first time this season, Robert Griffin and Baylor outgained the Huskies 377-350 and led 28-24 until UCONN's game-winning drive in the contest's final minutes. For his part, Baylor's true freshman quarterback was solid, completing 14 of 25 passes for 208 yards and 3 touchdowns, 0 interceptions, while adding 81 46 yards on the ground on 23 rushes.
Credit to Randy Edsall and UCONN for keying on Griffin, taking away big plays in the running game. Ultimately, the final quarter came down to field position and special teams, which the Huskies managed perfectly. Following Griffin's 19-yard scoring strike to put Baylor ahead, Connecticut went three and out, but got a huge boost from their punter, who rocketed a 55-yarder that pinned Baylor on its own 7. Baylor managed just 2 yards on 3 plays before meekly punting 35 yards to their own 44, then compounding the problem with a 15-yard fair catch interference penalty. Connecticut took over at the Bears' 29 and scored the game winner 5 plays later.
Miami 41 Texas A&M 23 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
The Aggies struck first on a 62-yard pass to Mike Goodsen, but the Hurricanes hit back with 41 of the game's next 44 points to rout Texas A&M in College Station. Aggie fans seem content to take the long view for now (not that they have much choice at the moment), citing positive improvements missing from the team in the first two games:
For the first time I can remember after a loss, I left the stadium feeling better about the team than when I walked into it. We have a good future on the horizon. We just have to be patient and keep supporting the team while they mature and we get the right talent in place.
If it's fun for Texas fans to watch the Mike Sherman era open so poorly, A&M fans do have every right to feel grateful Stephen McGee has been put down so Jerrod Johnson can begin the rebuilding process. The sophomore QB completed 19 of his 32 passes for 275 yards, 3 touchdowns and 1 INT. Elsewhere, though Mike Goodsen getting just 12 carries in the game is felonious, A&M was down so big, so quickly that they were forced to the air to try to catch up.
Texas Tech 56 Massachusetts 14 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
You know, I'd forgotten Massachusetts had an athletics program; I think Marcus Camby is the last Minuteman athlete who I could name without doing any research. Of course, this makes them an ideal candidate to pop up on Texas Tech's non-conference schedule, which has become Bill Snyder bad in recent years.
Tech fans don't care, and probably shouldn't. Ranked in the Top 10, they're already on pollsters' radar screens and will open Big 12 play in two Saturdays ranked 4-0 and coming off their first bye week since 2004, ready to try to get over the elusive Big 12 South hump in Mike Leach's ninth season on the job. As for this week's performance, Seth at Double T Nation was impressed with just about everyone--the running backs in particular:
How about that, 179 yards on the day rushing. I never thought I'd see the day that Mike Leach and the Texas Tech offense would run the ball as much as they are this year, and it's an absolute joy to watch. This makes the team so much more difficult to defend.
Seth's right, and with Shannon Woods (who I love) seemingly all the way out of the doghouse, the Red Raiders will challenge every team they face this year with one of the nation's most fearsome offenses.
BIG XII NORTH
Idle: Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-0)
UNLV 34 Iowa State 31 (OT) [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
The Cyclones lost their 13th straight game on the road. Does anyone care about this team? No? Good. Onward.
Louisville 38 Kansas State 29 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
We knew the Wildcats' defense looked bad on paper, but Saturday we saw it in practice, to the tune of 577 Louisville yards in an embarrassing road loss on national television. It's not so much that losing to Louisville was particularly egregious, but the way Ron Prince's team stunk up Papa Johns stadium was brutal to watch. The offense had its moments, but was erratic overall, while K-State's defensive effort was astonishingly inept.
The loss has unleashed among KSU fans a fury of frustration lurking just beneath the surface. Take a look at the top few posts at Bring On The Cats: That's the sign of an exasperated fanbase. Scary for Wildcats enthusiasts--this year's Big 12 all but guarantees there's more pain to come.
Missouri 42 Buffalo 21 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
Though Buffalo kept this one close through the midpoint of the 3rd quarter, Missouri was in charge throughout this game, more than doubling Buffalo in yards gained (590-286) and picked up 29 first downs to the Bulls' 18. Chase Daniel was amazing, Jeremy Maclin was great, etc, etc, etc. What we all want to know about is the defense: Is it good enough to win not just the Big 12 North, but a national title? I think the offense is so strong that it's without question one of the central questions in the 2008 national title narrative.
The Tigers will spend their upcoming Saturday off watching Nebraska-Virginia Tech in preparation for their conference opener in Lincoln on October 4th.
Kansas 38 Sam Houston State 14 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
The Jayhawks' season storyline would look so different if they had pulled out last week's game in Tampa. As is, the flaws stand out and I'm left thinking this defense is exploitable, the running game is too meager to allow the Jayhawks to win shootouts in the Big 12, and I see at least three, likely four, losses on the conference schedule.
Colorado 17 West Virginia 14 (OT) [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
Is this the game that helps establish Dan Hawkins' arrival in Boulder or Bill Stewart's demise in Morgantown? I suspect the latter, but it's an important win for the Buffs nonetheless. More important for Colorado will be how they play in Jacksonville on Saturday at Florida State. At least one CU fan is calling it a "bigger game for Colorado than the Texas" game opening conference play on October 4th. Maybe, maybe not, but Texas fans can and should expect a raucous crowd in Boulder, especially if the Buffs win on the road this weekend.
WEEK 4 AWARDS
BEST WIN: COLORADO, OVER WEST VIRGINIA After Kansas fell just short in Tampa, this was one the Big 12 North needed. If Nebraska can handle Virginia Tech and the Buffs can take one from FSU in Jacksonville, the stage will be set nicely for what may be the most interesting Big 12 season in the conference's history.
WORST LOSS: KANSAS STATE, TO LOUISVILLE All the hopes of a corner being turned came crashing down to Earth. Ron Prince, welcome to the hot seat.
TOP PERFORMER, OFFENSE (TEAM): TEXAS Yes, it was Rice, but 600 yards is 600 yards. Colt McCoy has been absolutely phenomenal. Credit, too, to our offensive line, which is a center away (time for Burnette?) from being special.
BUM STEER, OFFENSE (TEAM): KANSAS The Jayhawks managed just 3.4 yards per rush against Sam Houston State? Really? The pressure on Todd Reesing this year is enormous.
TOP PERFORMER, OFFENSE (INDIVIDUAL): COLT MCCOY, TEXAS He's been the MVP of the team, if not the conference. Congratulations to Texas' new career touchdown record holder.
BUM STEER, OFFENSE (INDIVIDUAL): OFFENSIVE LINE, KANSAS Again.
PB'S POWER RANKINGS
Last week's rank in parentheses.
1. Oklahoma (1) -TCU visits Norman representing Oklahoma's first opponent with a solid defense. If the Sooners tee off again... yikes.
2. Missouri (2) - Chase Daniel gets the biggest headlines, but Maclin greases the wheels. I'd give him the Heisman.
3. Texas (3) - Trap game for Texas against the Pigs? Let's hope not, because the most brutal five-game stretch of Mack Brown's career awaits after Saturday.
4. Texas Tech (4) - The Red Raiders finish the soft non-con schedule 4-0 and get their first bye week since 2004. They could very easily be 8-0 when Texas travels to Lubbock on November 1st.
5. Oklahoma State (5) - If they're going to be anything more than their usual good offense-no defense selves, we'll find out 10/11 at Missouri.
6. Nebraska (6) -The Huskers get the national spotlight Saturday night with Virginia Tech coming to town. A big game for Bo Pelini before Missouri comes to town.
7. Colorado (10) -The Buffs politely remind the nation that Boulder remains one of the toughest road wins for opponents in college football. Longhorns fans take note.
8. Kansas (7) - No running game = no shot in the Big 12 this season.
9. Baylor (9) - The Bears might be receiving national attention if they'd stolen the upset in Connecticut Saturday. As is, they'll continue to quietly build behind super-freshman Robert Griffin. [swoon]
10. Kansas State (9) - Ron Prince must be incredibly frustrating to have as a head coach of your favorite team.
11. Texas A&M (11) - Beergut has a new blog! That's the best I can say for the Aggies right now. Okay, that and Jerrod Johnson is a nice player. McGee's injury is the best thing to happen to the Agros in '08.
12. Iowa State (12) - 13 straight road losses for the Cyclones. A winless conference schedule awaits.