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Big 12 Links and Reflections

It was, to say the least, an interesting week in the Big 12.  We learned more about some teams (Oklahoma's going to be just fine, Colorado is who we thought they were) and, somehow, less about others (what the hell do we actually know about Kansas right now?  Nebraska?).  Below, we'll walk through each game, starting with some links.

Kansas 28, Georgia Tech 25

I watched most of this game, and I was continuously unsure what to think of it.  Kansas' Justin Springer looked great, Daymond Patterson had great balance, and Jordan Webb was poised and often effective.  Plus, as others have pointed out, if anybody knows how to slow down the option, it should be Turner Gill.  But ... if Josh Nesbitt had been able to throw an even remotely accurate pass for more than one drive, and if the Yellow Jackets hadn't been occasionally lazy in their tackling (Patterson is clearly hard to bring down, but the Tech defenders often seemed like they were just trying to push him to the ground instead of wrapping him up ... and his balance allowed him to stay on his feet and move forward), then Tech probably would have won by 10-14 points.

Coulda, woulda, shoulda, of course.  But while this was a wonderful win for the Jayhawks -- and despite Tech's own occasional ineptitude, they deserved this win and should be very happy about it -- I don't know what to think about them moving forward.  I think I'll just take the lazy way out and say I'll save any conclusions until after Friday night's game at Southern Miss.  Win that one, in a road environment on a Friday night, and I'll go back to believing this could be a 6-6 or 7-5 team (remember, their Big 12 schedule could not be easier).  Lose, and I'll begin to think that this is going to be a 3-9 "building" year.

Oklahoma 47, Florida State 17

First things first: RATTERREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (2:10 or so of the video below)


I didn't think this was a lesson people needed to learn yet again, but for those who haven't learned the first 50 times ... don't piss off a Bob Stoops team.  Granted, he'll try to play the disrespect card no matter what, but when he actually has real ammo to use in that regard (in this case, it was the multitude of analysts who decided Florida State's epic win over Samford was enough cause to pick them to end OU's endless home winning streak), the result is usually a painful one for visitors to Owen Field.  Oklahoma's offense was sharp the whole game, and the defense poked and prodded Florida State with increasing effectiveness.  This was the prototypical "You only think you have a chance in this game, but before you know it, we're going to be up 34-7" Stoopsian performance.  Next up for Oklahoma: a visit from the tricky Air Force Falcons.

Nebraska 38, Idaho 17

Not a lot of links for this one (for some reason, my Lincoln Journal-Star RSS feed has crapped out, I guess, and I only now realized it).

One of my favorite Tweets of the weekend came from the Idaho Statesman's Nick Jezierny:

and so much for the "no cheering in the pressbox" memo ... Helu goes 58 yards on first play after pick. Extra point makes it 17-0 Nebraska

I can only imagine what it would be like to watch a game from the "neutral" press box at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Here's another game that left me a bit stumped.  It wasn't as close as the score suggests -- it was 31-3 at halftime -- but despite 360 rushing yards, Nebraska only scored three offensive touchdowns.  Their two pick sixes in the second quarter gave them distance, and maybe they'd have scored more in the second half if they actually needed to, but I still wonder what will happen when Nebraska faces a real defense.  Taylor Martinez clearly can get moving on the ground; in his first two career games, he's racked up 284 rushing yards and five touchdowns.  But his 106 passing yards and one interception didn't significantly impress me, and I don't think we've truly gotten a chance to get to know his passing ability yet.

Three of Nebraska's four games are at Washington, at Kansas State, and at home against Texas.  One long road trip, one super-hostile environment, and one really fast defense.  Martinez is quite possibly going to become a hellacious quarterback at some point in his career, but freshmen still typically suffer through growing pains.  I'll be rather surprised if NU doesn't lose to either Washington or K-State, to be honest (probably not both), and the NU defense is going to have to come up huge if the Huskers are to have a chance against Texas (it's certainly possible that they will).  Really interesting game between the Huskers and Huskies this weekend.

Oklahoma State 41, Troy 38

Oklahoma State and Troy scored a combined 14 times ... which is quite impressive considering they also combined to turn the ball over 9 times.  They also combined for as many penalties (21) as incompletions.  An odd, odd game.  As the Tulsa World put it, OSU flirted with their "past" (in the last five years, they lost to Houston twice and Troy once) but still managed to put the game away when it counted.  And despite the whopping point total, OSU's defense came through in the end.  Here are Troy's final nine drives: Punt, Punt, Punt, FG (off a 23-yard, interception-aided drive), Fumble, Fumble, Fumble, Touchdown, Fumble.  When your opponent scores 10 points in nine drives, you usually win.

Despite the turnovers, Kendall Hunter (157 rushing yards) and Justin Blackmon (132 receiving yards) both had nice days for the 'Pokes.


California 52, Colorado 7

Heading into this game, I wasn't sure how good Cal actually was, but I did know one thing for certain: their biggest strength (speed) is Colorado's biggest weakness.  Sure enough, that was the difference on Saturday.  Colorado held the Golden Bears' running game in check for the most part, but Kevin Riley was very successful in the passing game, and two killer turnovers (a 41-yard pick six as the second quarter expired, and an 82-yard fumble return as the game expired) gave Cal the big plays to put this one out of reach.  They only outgained Colorado by 117 yards, but their defense was just too fast.  They forced five turnovers and held Colorado to under 240 yards.  Rodney Stewart averaged 2.7 yards per carry, and Tyler Hansen averaged 4.9 yards per pass.  They just don't have the horses.

Iowa 35, Iowa State 7

Honestly, I think if you had made me predict a final score for this one, I'd have said either 35-3 or 35-7.  In other words, this one played out quite predictably.  Iowa outgained the Cyclones, 479-275, and forced three turnovers.  The Cyclones scored with 1:51 left to break up the shutout.  I still think ISU is a decent team, but ... well, Iowa's a really good team.  Really Good > Decent.  Easy win.

(Behold the brilliance of this analysis.)

Texas 34, Wyoming 7

For the second straight season, Dave Christensen's Wyoming Cowboys held a second-quarter lead over Texas.  Ironic, considering Mizzou's recent early-game troubles with the 'Horns.  Texas eventually put this one away, with Cody Johnson (thunder) and Fozzy Whittaker (lightning) combining for 108 yards on 16 carries and freshman receiver Mike Davis coming through for 104 yards on seven catches.  It seems the 'Horns are still figuring out what they have on offense, but ... well, we know they've got the athletes, and they'll probably put things together eventually.  They've got a very interesting trip to Lubbock coming up this weekend, however.

Baylor 34, Buffalo 6

With the Waco Trib moving to a pay structure, I have no RSS feeds set up for Baylor.  It's probably inexcusable that I don't at least have a Google News "Robert Griffin III" search on the feed or something.

Anyway, I don't think you're missing much with only one link here.  This was an easy one.  Hot Tub Griffin III continued to prove that he is a better passer than the "dual-threat QB" label suggests.  He completed 20 of 35 passes for 297 yards and rushed for two short touchdowns.  Kendall Wright continues to prove that he will terrorize secondaries that don't have elite speed -- he had five catches for 128 yards.

Texas A&M 48, Louisiana Tech 16

I mentioned yesterday that it's sometimes easy to look uninspiring while killing a lesser opponent.  Texas A&M did just that on Saturday, it appears, at least for a while.  Heading into the final play of the first half, A&M led just 14-10.  But Uzoma Nwachukwu caught a 44-yard heave as time expired, and by the time Dustin Harris returned a punt for a touchdown late in the third quarter, A&M led 38-16.  In the end, ATM's stat line was just fine -- Jerrod Johnson threw for 349 yards and 4 touchdowns, Christine Michael rushed for 107 yards, Jeff Fuller caught 10 passes for 160 yards, La Tech gained just 270 yards -- but it took them a while to get going.  Their first three drives were MFG, Fumble, Punt.

Texas Tech 52, New Mexico 17

You get the feeling that Rocky Long knew when it was time to dump his stock as New Mexico head coach.  The Lobos won nine games in 2007, but when they fell to 4-8 in 2008, he resigned unexpectedly.  Mike Locksley took over ... and has gone just 1-13.  1-13!  Their 35-point loss to Tech was actually a 37-point improvement over their opening-week 72-0 loss at Oregon.  In 14 games under Locksley, UNM has lost six times by 30 points or more.  Is Locksley in over his head, or did Long leave him a completely barren cupboard?

As for Tech ... they were fine.  They scored 31 points in their first six possession and cruised.  Taylor Potts completed 65% of his passes at 8.6 yards per pass, and they looked just fine even though Baron Batch has been one of the more disappointing players in the conference thus far.  In two games, the player voted Most Likely to Thrive Under His New Coach has 84 yards on 25 carries.  Then again, that could be as much the fault of the offensive line as anything else.  Either way, it's hard to see it getting better this weekend against Texas.  If Tech wins, it will be with defense and passing, I'm thinking.

Kansas State 48, Missouri State 24

Daniel Thomas scored on a 45-yard run less than four minutes into the game, and it was academic from there.  SMS pretended to make it a game when they scored on a fluky 66-yard touchdown pass late in the first half.  That cut KSU's lead to 20-7, but the Wildcats responded with a touchdown with :23 left and took a 27-7 lead into halftime.  Granted, it was SMS, but Carson Coffman looked great.  He completed 69% of his passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns (Brodrick Smith caught 6 for 99), and combined with Thomas' easy 137 rushing yards, KSU had more than enough offense to coast in this one.  If there is a red flag, it's that SMS managed to gain 447 yards.  But most of it (261 yards) came in their last four drives, likely against KSU's scrubs, so it probably doesn't mean much.