2011 Big 12 Report: Week Four

What did we learn last week?  There was a reason why the remaining Big 12 Conference members found a way to stay united.  The football is good, yes?  While the top two teams in our power ranking struggled at times, the Oklahoma contingent proved they have grit.  Both of their competitors were one or two defensive plays short of overcoming defeat.  Such are the weekly battles of conference play.  If you have been paying attention you will have noticed that the Big 12 has some pretty good football teams top to bottom.

The Big 12 leads the nation in non-conference win-loss record at 24-2 and one of those losses was by Missouri to a gutty ASU team who just throttled USC at home.  And the other loss was by Kansas to up-start Georgia Tech who is still undefeated at 4-0.

Through roughly the first quarter of the season, 70% of conference teams are undefeated.  That is 7 teams for those of you counting.  Next highest total is SEC and Big Ten conferences with 4 apiece.

The Big 12 are also an entertaining bunch with 7 of 10 teams in the top 30 of total offense and 4 teams in the top 30 of total scoring offense.

And folks are taking notice with 5 members ranked in the top 20 of both polls.  Heck, even ISU, KSU, and TT are receiving top 25 votes.

The bottom line is that Big 12 teams continue to find ways to win with mostly conference games remaining determining attrition.  

Is this the year the Big 12 will get over on the SEC?  Only time will tell as the top teams in that conference appear formidable.  And don't forget Nebraska and Wisconsin in the Big Ten.  We should get a good feel for the relative strength of the top drawer programs in those conferences this week as Nebraska faces Wisconsin in their first ever Big Ten game and Alabama travels to the swamp to take on the Florida Gators.  And maybe the best barometer of conference strength will be the one-loss teams of A&M and Arkansas meeting at Cowboys stadium.  I'm not discounting Stanford or Boise if they run the table but just don't see how they get the necessary support in the final Harris and Coaches polls for the top game.

The race toward New Orleans is in high gear as we enter week 5. 

Game of the Week

Oklahoma State

LAST WEEK:  The Cowboys traveled to College Station, dug themselves a 20-3 deficit by halftime, and then stormed back with 27 straight points to win 30-29.  The Okie State offense started slow and had several early dropped passes, but when they developed a rhythm they really shredded the Aggies in the second half, particularly on quick WR screens that picked up chunks of yardage since the Aggies failed to adjust.  If it wasn't for a hilarious self-caused fumble by Justin Blackmon as he was strolling in for an astonishing fourth straight unanswered touchdown, the Pokes probably win this game by double digits.  Defensively, I actually think they did okay in the first half as their offense struggled, except for allowing Tannehill to scamper off for a 65 yard touchdown, but coupled with the Aggies abandoning the run game, they were able to turn up the heat in the second half and rattle Tannehill into some turnovers.   

Some questionable decisions late in the game let A&M crawl back into it, but OSU had enough in them to hold off for the victory.  It's a huge win that starts off Big 12 play on the right foot.

THIS WEEK:  They have a much needed break this week before hosting Kansas, which will be a game where the Okie State offense seeks video game statistics.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  The game last weekend didn't make the Pokes look like world-beaters, but their offense is scary good when it gets on a roll and they have several weapons outside of Blackmon.  Also, pretty or not, it was a big road win in a tough venue and they deserve credit for that.  I honestly don't think this team will go undefeated before they meet Oklahoma, but they're off to a great start. - TheElusiveShadow

Texas A&M

LAST WEEK:  Ouch.  Like last year, a host of turnovers contributed in blowing a double digit lead, and it's a tough loss for the Aggies to swallow.  It's probably tougher when one thinks about the dubious decisions A&M made after halftime (namely, abandoning the run game a little too early).  The Aggie defense assuredly looked bad in the 2nd half, but in their defense, the offense left them out to dry with five straight drives that ended with either a turnover or a punt.  The defense was clearly gassed in the second half and was only saved by the aforementioned Blackmon brainfart from getting completely buried. 

The Aggie offense couldn't do anything right for about a quarter and a half, and while Weeden came into the game with six picks, it was Tannehill who threw three.  A&M abandoned a balanced attack and it really didn't work out for them.

THIS WEEK:  They don't have time to dwell on their disappointment, as they take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at Jerry World.  It's not a big a game as this last one because Arkansas got squished by Alabama and because it is not a conference game (not this year, at least), but it will be important for Texas A&M to rebound quickly if they want to make sure they're a prime candidate for an at-large BCS bid should they fail to win the conference title.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  I know it is popular to make sweeping conclusions based on this past game, but while it is obviously a pretty painful loss for Aggie fans, it will only be disastrous if the team lets this disappointment turn into a slide.  At the end of the day, it is a close loss against a top ten opponent early in the season, and they are still alive in pursuing the conference title and/or a BCS game.  That said, the way they lost the game and the weaknesses they showed should be disturbing for A&M fans, and it currently seems likely they will suffer one or two more losses this year. - TheElusiveShadow

Other Teams

Baylor

LAST WEEK:  Not sure how you describe this video game stat line other than call it sick.

Through three games: 69-81 (12 incompletions) with 13 TDs, 962 yards, and 0 interceptions.

How can you defend against this type of accuracy and scoring threat?  You have got to cover the whole field to do so.  And that sounds almost impossible if the early results are any indication.  Robert Griffin III is getting a lot of national attention as the leader of the Baylor Bears and his performance against the Rice Owls is another example of why.  Baylor scored early and often, racing to a 35-7 lead scoring on five straight possessions.  The final score of 56-31 wasn't even that close.  Griffin went 29 of 33 for 338 yards and another 51 on the ground. This Bear team is for real and should have the rest of the conference shaking in their boots.

THIS WEEK:  #15/#16 Baylor travels to Manhattan to take on Kansas State.  The Wildcats come into the game ranked #24 in rushing offense and will use that, along with the momentum of beating Miami on the road, as a time of possession weapon against the quick scoring Baylor squad which might be the only way to defeat this team.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  With the "cupcakes" out of the way, Baylor now advances into conference play.  We might not get a good read on their team for a few weeks yet but look for them to notch more wins and losses between now and the meat of their schedule.  Oh, and that Heisman trumpet will be blowing loud in Waco. - TXStampede

Iowa State

LAST WEEK:  Idle as they prepare for a home game against Texas.

THIS WEEK:  The political race for 2012 aside, the Iowa State Cyclones have a tremendous opportunity to make their case as a front runner in this year's Big 12 straw poll with a win against the visiting Texas Longhorns.  No more de facto whipping boy of the conference, Coach Rhoads has brought a real physical mindset to this team.  And this is exactly what should terrify any opponent.  The old adage "it's a four quarter game" holds true.  If they can keep themselves ahead of the chains, it could indeed be a very long evening for the Horns.  But it could also be tough sledding for the Clones if their defensive coordinator can't figure out that Cody Johnson is not our "third" quarterback.

Wally Burnham.avi (via gocyclonestrib)

 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  Will this week put another feather in the program's cap?  No Big 12 team will want any part of ISU if this happens.  This game has a sneaky shot at game of the week potential given the two undefeated will meet in a nationally televised affair on cable channel FX with a couple of pro's calling the game in Gus Johnson, Charles Davis, and Tim Brewster.  - TXStampede

Kansas

LAST WEEK:  Idle.

THIS WEEK:  The Red Raiders come to town riding high in the saddle on an undefeated record.  Granted they have not played anyone of note and barely notched a win last week but as I stated previously, KU will have a hard time notching a win in the Big 12 this season.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  Nothing changed here in the outlook.  No offense to RockChalk nation, but I am still holding to my prediction of zero conference wins. Basketball season can't get here fast enough for Jayhawk fan. - TXStampede

Kansas State

LAST WEEK:  I noted in an earlier report that K-State had a decent chance to be undefeated before Big 12 play, and after a goalline stand preserved a victory against the Hurricanes, they're there.  I'm still skeptical that they're actually all that good, but they're a scrappy team and they certainly deserved that one.  Hubert gashed the ‘Canes for 166 yards and the defense did just enough to win.

THIS WEEK:  The Wildcats host Baylor, and the game will test the legitimacy of their defense.  Their points-against average looks good because they played two early cupcakes, but they haven't seen an offense close to what Robert Griffin and the Bears are capable of.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  They're 3-0, but a losing Big 12 record seems likely.  Still, the non-con victories can give them enough to be bowl eligible.  One of the wins may come from Texas L. - TheElusiveShadow

Missouri

LAST WEEK:  I was afraid the Tigers were going to get walloped in Norman, but they played admirably tough and actually held an early lead.  Unfortunately, despite some gaudy box score statistics, they couldn't keep up with the Sooners and fell behind 31-14 by the third quarter, which all but ended whatever meager chances they had.  Two missed field goals would have otherwise made the game more interesting, but you can't really blame a kicker for missing on 52 yarders.

Mizzou's pass defense didn't help either, getting ripped to pieces en route to 448 yards for Landry Jones and 154 yards and three touchdowns for Ryan Broyles.  Not a recipe for success.

THIS WEEK:  Off.  They take on Kansas State the following week. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  As I've said before, Mizzou has a decent team, but it's just hard to see where all the wins will come from with a pretty difficult Big 12 schedule.  They'll beat Kansas, at least. - TheElusiveShadow

Oklahoma

LAST WEEK:  The Sooners had a bit tougher row to hoe against the Missouri Tigers on Saturday than they anticipated.  Coming off what at the time appeared to be a great road win against Florida State, Mizzou jumped out to an early 14-3 lead.  But starting in the 2nd period, OU rattled off 4 straight TD's to ice the game.  Final score was 38-28 but it was not as close as the score would indicate as the Jones led offense racked up a whopping 592 yards.

THIS WEEK:  #1/#2 Oklahoma will face the Ball State Cardinals at Gaylord Family Stadium.  The game will be televised on FSN-PPV //snicker//.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  In spite of the inconsistent play last week, Oklahoma is still the king of the heap in the Big 12 and deserving of their top billing.  I don't see anything in their way until Bedlam that could possibly derail yet again another conference championship. - TXStampede

Texas

LAST WEEK:  Idle.  Hopefully cooking up things for Oklahoma.

THIS WEEK:  The Longhorns travel to Ames to face a hard-working Iowa State team.  Going to Pasadena was technically a road game, but the stadium wasn't exactly rocking with Bruins fans.  It should be decidedly different this week, and it will be interesting to see how the young players handle it and what kind of improvements the coaches have made during the bye week.  The Cyclones aren't half-bad, but they're 3-0 by the skin of their teeth.  A competent showing by the Longhorns should net a win, but it's not a game the Horns can expect to sleepwalk through.

SEASON OUTLOOK:  It's game-by-game for this team.  Oklahoma is vulnerable but it remains to be seen if this Texas team will be ready enough to challenge the Sooners by the 8th.  We'll learn a lot about that this week.  It doesn't get much easier after OU with the Pokes coming to town. - TheElusiveShadow

Texas Tech

LAST WEEK:  Well, the chink in the undefeated armor was visible in Lubbock as Texas Tech rallied in the closing very last gasping seconds to eek out a one-point against a scrappy Nevada 35-34.  Tech quarterback Seth Doege found a way to pass for three touchdowns in the victory but the defensive performance was not a typical Tuberville version surrendering 562 total yards to the non-AQ Wolfpack squad.

THIS WEEK:  At Kansas. 

SEASON OUTLOOK:  So finally got to see the Raiders take on some adversity and better competition.  I thought last season was Tuberville's rebuilding year?  Entering conference play against a very confident KSU team spells trouble and I think it only gets worse from here on out.  Now with the data under my belt, Tech should be shooting for the Yankee Bowl as a goal.  - TXStampede

Players of the Week (courtesy of big12sports.com)

Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week
Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State, QB, Sr, Edmond, Okla.
Brandon Weeden set school single-game records for completions (47), attempts (60) and passing yards (438) in No. 7 Oklahoma State's comeback 30-29 win at No. 8 Texas A&M. Trailing 20-3 at the half, Weeden went 30-of-43 for 285 yards and two touchdowns in the final two periods. The Cowboys scored on five of their first six possessions in the second half with three touchdowns and two field goals. Another apparent touchdown was fumbled out of the end zone. Weeden was also named Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week. The win was OSU's first on the road against a top 10 team since 2008 at Missouri.  

Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week
Tre Walker, Kansas State, LB, So, Olathe, Kan.
Tre Walker made three consecutive tackles from Kansas State's two-yard line to help the Wildcats secure a 28-24 win at Miami (Fla.). His game-clinching stop was on fourth-and-goal with 45 seconds remaining in the contest. The sophomore linebacker recorded tackles on four of Miami's final seven plays from inside the Wildcats' 12-yard line. Walker finished the game with eight tackles and was honored by ESPN's College Football Final with a helmet sticker for his performance.

Upcoming Game of the Week:  #17 Texas (-7) at Iowa State (6:00 p.m. FX)

Ranking

Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Baylor
Texas A&M
Texas
Iowa State
Kansas State
Missouri
Texas Tech
Kansas

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