What we learned in the Big 12: Week 11
November, 14, 2010
By David Ubben | ESPN.com
Texas A&M is clearly a new team. You can look at this one any way you want, but Texas A&M wouldn't have made that comeback earlier in the year. The Aggies rallied from 16 down to score the game's final 28 points and beat Baylor, 42-30. They did it with a punishing running game from Cyrus Gray and a dominating defense for the second half. There are so many other factors outside of him, but it's hard to not point at quarterback Ryan Tannehill as a big reason for the rise, too. And quietly, Texas A&M has moved to 2-0 with Tannehill in televised games, where former starter Jerrod Johnson infamously struggled. That might not mean anything inside the locker room, but plenty of people have seen the Aggies pull off a pair of impressive wins in consecutive weeks now.
Brett Davis/US PresswireCyrus Gray had 28 carries for 137 yards and four touchdowns in Texas A&M's win over Baylor.
So is Colorado. You've seen plenty of teams pack it in after a coach is fired, but Colorado did the exact opposite on Saturday, beating an Iowa State team in Boulder with a bowl berth on the line. The defense played well, everyone on offense had a good game, and you have to wonder what practice had been like the last week to get produce one of the Buffaloes best performances of the season. Brian Cabral, a 20-year coaching veteran who has been at Colorado since 1989, probably doesn't have a great shot to get the full-time job after the season. But his stock definitely has to have risen after coaching Colorado to its first conference win of the year.
Without Taylor Martinez at full strength, Nebraska's offense looks very average. We saw it last week, when the Huskers had to intercept a pass in overtime to beat Iowa State, but without a suffocating performance from the Blackshirts, Saturday's game against Kansas might have come down to a few key plays in the fourth quarter. The Huskers eased Martinez, who says he's nearing 100 percent, back into the game, but he wasn't running with the frequency he usually does. Without that consistent threat, Nebraska's offense doesn't look much different from a year ago, when its defense was much better but the team still lost four games. Kansas is improving, but the Jayhawks still gave up 59 points to Kansas State this year and 45 to Colorado in just over three quarters last week. Nebraska managed to score just 20.
Sometimes, college football just isn't fair. You won't hear anyone in the league have anything negative to say about Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud or Oklahoma defensive tackle Adrian Taylor. But both saw their seasons and careers come to painful ends. Arnaud suffered a knee injury and will be forced to watch his team play for its bowl lives next week on Senior Day in Ames. That's a heartbreaking end to a career for Arnaud, who is in his third year as the Cyclones' starting quarterback. Rhoads lauded Arnaud all offseason as his team's most improved player and hardest worker, and he's the squad's unquestioned leader. Taylor, meanwhile, battled back from a horrific dislocated ankle in Oklahoma's bowl game last year, fighting through the season without being 100 percent. Now, his career is over with a torn achilles tendon in his opposite foot. No player wants to be carted off the field during his final game, especially his final game on his home field. "It crushes you with what he's invested in this program with everything he's gone through,” defensive coordinator Brent Venables told reporters after the game. “He's given us a lot more than we've given him. His legacy will be incredibly strong here."
Missouri figured out its offensive issues. Maybe it was playing on the road, but last week's loss to Texas Tech was one of the more curious results in the Big 12 season. Especially when you consider Blaine Gabbert's horrific day, completing 12 of 30 passes for 95 yards. Nebraska was clearly a better team than Missouri in its win, but Missouri's offense looked like its old self for most of Saturday's win over Kansas State. The Tigers added a few new wrinkles on Saturday, but the basic pass-and-catch execution that was absent in Lubbock last week was there this week. Missouri is all but out of the Big 12 North race, but they'd improve their bowl destination with wins at Iowa State and against Kansas in Kansas City to close the season.