A weekly report on the weekend of Big 12 football.
BIG XII SOUTH
Idle: Texas Longhorns (2-0), Texas A&M Aggies (1-1)
Oklahoma 55 Washington 14 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
Are there any Sam Bradford doubters left? Certainly for 2008, with this supporting cast, there shouldn't be. The sophomore completed 18 of his 21 passes Saturday for 304 yards and 5 more touchdowns, giving him 12 on the season, against just 2 interceptions. He's leading the nation in completion percentage (79.0), is second in passer rating (214.4), and hasn't been sacked yet this season. Not that the Sooners are one dimensional: Oklahoma's averaging 217 yards per game on the ground, as well. Add it all up and you get 7.0 yards per play on offense so far this year. Gaudy? Oh, yes, but we have to note that the Sooners haven't faced anything resembling a real defense yet. They will this week when TCU comes to Norman. The Horned Frogs are second nationally in total defense through three games--all wins (at New Mexico, versus Stephen F Austin, vs Stanford). Something's gotta give.
Baylor 45 Washington St 17 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
PB's favorite non-Longhorn player Robert Griffin exploded Friday night in Waco, leading Baylor to a blowout win and scooping up Big 12 Player of the Week honors in the process. The numbers? Could have come from another #10:
11 rushes, 217 yards, 19.7 per attempt, 2 TDs
7-15 passing, 129 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
I could gush again about how much I love Griffin, but in this case I'll let the video do the talking:
Oklahoma State 57 Missouri State 13 [Box / Recap]
Two rushers averaging 9+ yards per carry last week apparently wasn't enough for Oklahoma State, as they upped that to three rushers who averaged over 10 yards per carry this Saturday. Keith Toston (11 carries, 148 yards, 1 TD), Beau Johnson (13-138, 2), and Kendall Hunter (11-132, 2) combined to anchor a Cowpoke rushing attack which amassed 492 yards rushing on just 56 carries for an eye-popping 8.0 yards per carry.
"But... but... it was Missouri State!" I can hear you object. Remain skeptical all you like, but consider this before you totally waive off the accomplishment.
Texas Tech 43 SMU 7 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
A week after an ugly night in Reno, Graham Harrell delivered the kind of performance we've come to expect (31-48, 418 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INT) in helping lead the Red Raiders to an easy win over the visiting Ponies. Nice as that was for Tech fans to see, the silly passing numbers aren't nearly important as Mike Leach's commitment to the running game, which was exceptionally productive on Saturday to the tune of 194 yards on 27 carries (6.7 per attempt). Texas Tech's offense is always tricky to defend, but it's truly nightmarish to defend when the running game is grooving. Last season the Red Raiders managed an atrocious 3.1 yards per carry rushing; as their offense became one dimensional, they began to struggle. Though the running game was productive in the early going last year as well, it's so far, so good in 2008.
BIG XII NORTH
Idle: Kansas State Wildcats (2-0), Colorado Buffaloes (2-0)
Iowa 17 Iowa State 5 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
This game was tied 3-3 heading into the 4th quarter before Iowa put away the Cyclones on an 81-yard punt return for a score by Andy Brodell, who Texas fans may remember from not so long ago. This game was as ugly as its box score indicates, with 5 interceptions lowlighting the offensive struggles. Iowa State simply couldn't run the football effectively, allowing Iowa to force Austen Arnaud into a role as sole gamemaker for which he's not yet ready.
Nebraska 38 New Mexico State 7 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
553 yards of total offense on 8.1 yards per play isn't anything to sniffle at--even against a lowly opponent like NMSU. Huskers quarterback Joe Ganz ran for a score, passed for another, and even hauled in a touchdown reception as Nebraska for the third time this season handled comfortably an inferior team.
Missouri 69 Nevada 17 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
Missouri yawns at Nebraska's numbers. Deservedly so: 651 yards of total offense at 10.0 yards per play is just obscene. Jeremy Maclin is the key, of course, and he was in full bloom on Saturday, scoring on strikes of 80, 49, and 14 yards as part of his 239 all purpose yards. There's not much to say about Missouri right now, and won't be until three weeks from now when they open conference play at Nebraska; the Tigers get Buffalo at home this Saturday before enjoying their bye week.
South Florida 37 Kansas 34 [Box / Recap / Blog Coverage]
What. A. Game. Though the Jayhawks certainly have nothing to hang their heads about, the loss must be especially disheartening insofar as it revealed weaknesses which are likely to hamstring them throughout Big 12 play. Most damning, Kansas was beat soundly at the line of scrimmage on offense. The Jayhawks can't get any push to create running room, nor are they great in pass protection, which puts an enormous amount of pressure on quarterback Todd Reesing. Damn did he try--and nearly succeed--in doing it all himself, but it's too much to ask. Without improvement from the offensive line and the emergence of a running game, Kansas is going to find itself on the wrong end of several shootouts like Friday's this season.
WEEK 3 AWARDS
BEST WIN: BAYLOR, OVER WASHINGTON STATE My boy Robert Griffin proved he could dominate a cupcake two weeks ago, and this week he took care of the bottom of the BCS barrel. Baby steps, sure, but they sure are impressive. Art Briles is going to have himself a fine football team in 2010.
WORST LOSS: IOWA STATE Obviously.
TOP PERFORMER, OFFENSE (TEAM): MISSOURI Do the Tigers have the nation's best offense? So long as Jeremy Maclin is out there, I think it's a pretty easy argument to make. Defending the Tigers is outrageous because of what Maclin can do: Leaving him in man coverage begs for disaster, but committing safety help opens up Missouri's formidable running game. By the way, starting October 11th, Texas faces Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech, in order. Will Muschamp will earn his paycheck.
BUM STEER, OFFENSE (TEAM): IOWA STATE I'm not sure what we'd do without Iowa State; the rest of the Big 12 was on fire this Saturday. This conference is the best offensive group in the country by a wide, wide margin.
TOP PERFORMER, OFFENSE (INDIVIDUAL): JEREMY MACLIN, MISSOURI I was asked this summer by In The Bleachers to pick the national title game participants and I went with Florida against Missouri. The choice of the Tigers was 100% about Maclin.
BUM STEER, OFFENSE (INDIVIDUAL): OFFENSIVE LINE, KANSAS It's too bad for Todd Reesing, who impresses the hell out of me--equal parts talented, smart, and gutty--but his offensive line just isn't very good this year. That hurts the pass protection but, more importantly, makes Kansas one dimensional without any ability to rush the ball.
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) - The defense remains a (big) concern, but this offense is the nuts.
3. Texas (3) - The schedule went from Scary to Absurd with the postponement. After Rice this week, Texas will play vs Arkansas, at Colorado, vs OU in Dallas, vs Missouri, vs Oklahoma State, at Texas Tech.
4. Texas Tech (4) - The Red Raiders are playing B+ football right now--good enough to cruise through their soft non-conference schedule, but not good enough to make any noise in the Big 12. Harrell needs to be much crisper than he has been thus far.
5. Oklahoma State (5) - We know this team can steamroll bad defenses. We don't know anything else yet.
6. Nebraska (7) - Nebraska has quietly put together three solid wins over mediocre opponents. They'll rest a week, then find out where they stand with a three-game stretch versus Virginia Tech, vs Missouri, and at Texas Tech.
7. Kansas (6) - Close, but no cigar. There's a lot to like, but Kansas' deficiencies are too problematic for them to make another run in the Big 12.
8. Kansas State (8) - A real run this year requires Josh Freeman to play as well against real opponents as he has through two games against cupcakes.
9. Baylor (10) - RO-BERT GRI-FFIN! [clap clap clap-clap-clap]
10. Colorado (9) - The more I look at this team, the more I think they're closer to a 4-win team than 8.
11. Texas A&M (11) - Beergut has a new blog! That's the best I can say for the Aggies right now.
12. Iowa State (12) - You have to win the Corn Bowl, Gene. You just have to.