What we learned in the Big 12

September, 5, 2010
9/05/10
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1. The league's top defenses still have a lot to prove. Texas and Oklahoma were wholly unimpressive in their debuts, although Texas' mistakes weren't nearly as costly. Of the three supposedly elite defenses in the Big 12, Oklahoma looked the worst, giving up 341 yards and two touchdowns through the air to Utah State's Diondre Borel. Meanwhile, Nebraska gave up 179 yards on the ground to Western Kentucky in a performance coach Bo Pelini called "an absolute embarrassment." Texas wasn't gashed as badly against Rice, and gave up just 219 total yards, but the Longhorns' defensive backs missed a handful of big plays. All three have to get a lot better to equal either of their 2009 editions.

[+] EnlargeKendall Hunter
AP Photo/Brody SchmidtKendall Hunter found the end zone four times in Oklahoma State's win over Washington State.
2. The most impressive team in Week 1: Oklahoma State. Dana Holgorsen's Air Raid went nuts on Saturday night, racing all over the field at Boone Pickens Stadium for 544 yards and 65 points -- 38 in the first half. Kendall Hunter ran for four touchdowns and the Cowboys won the turnover battle 2-0. The Cowboys made fans a little nervous after letting Washington State inch to within 17-10 from an early 17-0 deficit, but Oklahoma State answered with the game's next five touchdowns to put the game ... uh ... out of reach.

3. He's baaa-aack. Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin once again showcased his big-play capability, rushing for a 30-yard touchdown and throwing for two more -- a 68-yarder to Brad Taylor and a 23-yarder to Terrance Williams. He completed 19 of 36 passes for 242 yards and ran for 59 yards on six carries, a 9.8 yard average.

4. Kansas? Well, the Jayhawks are just not very good. Hard to envision a worse start for Turner Gill at Kansas. At least Ole Miss' 49-48 loss to an FCS team in double overtime was fun to watch. The Jayhawks' 6-3 debacle had to be painful for fans watching at home and even more so for those in attendance. It's hard to find many positives from a mistake-laden performance at home against the Bison, who went 3-8 last season. I'll try: My preseason prediction of the Jayhawks as the Big 12's most improved team at season's end is looking pretty good. There's nowhere to go but up, but it's still hard to believe how far Kansas has fallen since a BCS bowl win in 2007. I got a few complaints after I pegged the Jayhawks at No. 12 in my preseason power rankings. I doubt I'll get any when they're right back there again on Tuesday morning. When Kansas suits up next weekend against No. 19 Georgia Tech, it will have been more than 11 months (Oct. 10, 2009 vs. Iowa State) since the program has recorded a win.

5. I was 100 percent wrong about Kendall Hunter. It's easy to forget how good a guy can be when he struggles as long as Hunter did last season. The ankle injury must have affected him longer and more than anyone thought. You heard all spring and preseason about how Holgorsen thought Hunter was even better than he had been told, and Hunter validated all of that on Saturday night. Dominant, unstoppable, whatever. Use all the hyperbolic terms you want. Kendall Hunter was all of them, topping 200 yards in the first half. He should have been higher on my top 25 list, and he should have been higher on my ranking of the Big 12's running backs. He's better than Alexander Robinson at Iowa State. He's better than Roy Helu at Nebraska. Neither is capable of putting on the show Hunter did on Saturday night. Oklahoma's DeMarco Murray and Kansas State's Daniel Thomas? We'll find out over the next three months. All three topped 200 yards in impressive debuts.

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