Longhorns remain No. 1 in Big 12 power rankings

September, 21, 2009
9/21/09
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


Here’s a look at my Big 12 power rankings after the games on Saturday.

1. Texas: The Longhorns slumbered through the first half again, but had enough left to put away pesky Texas Tech. The defense made stops when it needed to, forcing two critical fourth-quarter turnovers. And Jordan Shipley had his way with the Red Raiders’ special teams for the second straight season.

2. Oklahoma: Now who was that Bradford guy? Landry Jones set a school record with six TD passes and he’s made Ryan Broyles the nation’s most explosive receiver over the past two weeks. The Sooners notched six quarterback sacks against Tulsa as they have posted back-to-back shutouts for the first time since 1987. And they have a week off to get Sam Bradford healthy to get ready for the huge game at Miami.

3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys put aside the disappointment of their Houston loss with a strong offensive effort against Rice -- even without Kendall Hunter. Zac Robinson played better than he has all season with more consistency in running the offense. But the offensive line’s play -- an expected team strength -- remains a concern.

4. Kansas: Is it a sign of the times for the Jayhawks? They beat Duke by 28 points, gained nearly 500 yards, committed no turnovers, notched five sacks, returned an interception for a touchdown and still weren’t overly impressed with their effort. They’ll face their toughest effort to date against Southern Mississippi, and they might have to do it without top running back Jake Sharp.

5. Missouri: No hangover after the closer-than-expected victory over Bowling Green as the Tigers thrashed Furman, giving the Paladins their worst loss to a BCS team in 14 seasons. Gary Pinkel gave opponents a couple of gadget plays to keep them occupied in game preparations for the rest of the season. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert got the offense back on track by scoring on six straight possessions. But the Nevada game appears to be similar to the road games that the Tigers used to struggle with before Chase Daniel arrived. Will they revert to their old ways on national television against the Wolf Pack?

6. Nebraska: Losing like the Cornhuskers did at Virginia Tech has to be devastating for Bo Pelini, whose abiding interest has always been defense. Having Tyrod Taylor -- a quarterback that Pelini wanted to force him to beat him with his arm -- defeat him with two clutch passes has to be especially galling. Roy Helu Jr. ran like the Big 12’s best back, but the Cornhuskers lost this game because of mistakes and their inability to convert in the red zone.

7. Texas Tech: Taylor Potts showed some moxie as he kept the Red Raiders close, but penalties and two critical fourth-quarter turnovers were the reason why Tech lost at Texas. It was a tough first conference game and the Red Raiders can’t linger on the loss as they face a hungry and nationally ranked Houston team on national television Saturday night. It won’t be easy.

8. Texas A&M: Four touchdowns on four touches turned Uzoma “EZ” Nwachukwu into a fantasy dream player and a key addition for the Aggies -- particularly with Jeff Fuller’s leg injury likely to keep him out for several weeks. That loss likely means that Ryan Tannehill will be a receiver rather than a quarterback for the foreseeable future. Von Miller produced three more sacks, but the Aggies need a lot of help on defense after being gashed for 30 points by Utah State. UAB will be an even bigger challenge this week, and high-powered Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett looms the following week.

9. Baylor: Maybe the Bears started believing their press clippings, or Connecticut just beat them across both lines. The Huskies did a nice job of neutralizing Robert Griffin, holding Baylor to 88 yards in the first half. And they beat the Bears up inside, producing 235 rushing yards as they dominated in the trenches. This game might haunt Baylor once the bowl season rolls around.

10. Iowa State: Breaking the nation’s longest road losing streak was particularly sweet for Paul Rhoads, as he accomplished something that Gene Chizik could never do for the Cyclones on his first try at a road win. Austen Arnaud bounced back strongly from his struggles against Iowa, and Alexander Robinson remains the Big 12’s most underrated running back. The Cyclones got a boost against an injury-ravaged Kent State’s offense, but the Cyclones still allowed them to convert only one of 12 third-down plays. Suddenly, a 4-1 start seems possible with winnable games approaching against Army and Kansas State.

11. Colorado: A players’ only meeting apparently unified the Buffaloes and got them to forget about their miserable start. The Buffaloes’ maligned defense finally stepped up, forcing five consecutive three-and-outs to start the game and limiting Wyoming to 230 yards in an emphatic 24-0 victory. The offense proved there’s more than Darrell Scott as Rodney "Speedy" Stewart emerged to rush for 127 yards to spark the Buffaloes’ first win.

12. Kansas State: The Wildcats had a chance to challenge against UCLA, but were again done in by special-teams errors and a sputtering offense that couldn’t get Daniel Thomas untracked and allowed six sacks. Kansas State had six drives inside UCLA territory but produced only nine points. Even more worrisome was the Wildcats’ struggles containing UCLA’s rushing game -- not a good sign heading into conference play.

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BIG 12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12