Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here’s a look at my Big 12 grade book for last week’s games.
Oklahoma: A-plus: Landry Jones broke the school record for touchdown passes and the defense notched its second-straight shutout in an impressive victory over Tulsa. The line is blocking better and Sam Bradford got another week of rest. Whether he plays in two weeks against Miami remains to be seen, but Jones and the offense will go into that game with some confidence after this performance.
Iowa State:A: Solid performance as Austen Arnaud showed resiliency bouncing back from his struggles of the previous week. The defense stymied Kent State throughout, forcing nine punts and denying them on 11 of their 12 third-down plays. It’s a nice building block to come out of Paul Rhoads’ first road game. He’s already been able to accomplish something that Gene Chizik never did at Iowa State.
Colorado: A: A simple defensive plan led to a shutout for a Buffaloes defense that had been gashed for 54 points against Toledo and was allowing an average of 500 yards per game before their victory over Wyoming. The offense showed some growth, too, with the strong running of Rodney Stewart keying the victory.
Missouri:A-minus: Blaine Gabbert bounced back from a struggling second performance to engineer a strong effort against Furman that featured six-straight scoring possession in the first half. The defense did allow 305 passing yards to the FCS Paladins and must improve for better success this week against Nevada and Colin Kaepernick. The game against the Wolf Pack should be the Tigers’ best non-conference challenge.
Kansas:A-minus: Slow start by the defense as they allowed a touchdown on Duke’s first possession and then cruised from there. The offense persevered despite Jake Sharp’s injury, although the running wasn’t quite as dominant as in the first two games. The Jayhawks need to show continued growth as they face Southern Mississippi this week.
Texas: B: Another slow first-half start featured a pedestrian effort by Colt McCoy with more interceptions than touchdown passes for the first time since his sophomore season. The defense showed a fearsome pass rush and Sergio Kindle finally got his first sack at a huge time. If the Longhorns could put two halves together, they might really be fearsome.
Texas A&M:B: The Aggies’ offense again was productive, likely owing more to the level of competition against Utah State than anything else. But the fast-paced attack has been strong so far and is something to build on heading into conference play. The defense will be another story and needs to prepare for its matchup with Ryan Mallett and Arkansas in two weeks.
Oklahoma State:B-minus: Zac Robinson had his best game of the season passing, as he targeted Dez Bryant early in the game and got him involved. The offensive line continues to be a concern as far as continuity. A big strength last season, it must improve to enable the Cowboys to fulfill those lofty offensive promises. And the defense limped home with its second-straight struggling performance, enabling Rice to pass for 301 yards and score three second-half touchdowns in a 41-24 triumph.
Nebraska:C-plus: It probably isn’t much consolation to Bo Pelini now, but the Cornhuskers outplayed Virginia Tech. Roy Helu Jr.’s running is a strong weapon, but the offense needed more consistency in the red zone. And the defense was good enough to beat the Hokies except for two plays – which unfortunately were the two plays that they needed to finish off in order to win.
Texas Tech: C: The Red Raiders played better than they typically do in Austin, but still didn’t have enough to win. Taylor Potts showed grittiness to go along with his 430 passing yards. And the defense wasn’t bad either – especially considering how undermanned it was at defensive end and safety. Problems with late turnovers and critical penalties eventually led to the loss. And they can’t afford to wallow in the disappointment with a tough game looming at underrated Houston.
Baylor: D: When Robert Griffin struggles, it usually means the Bears will have trouble. And that was case last week against Connecticut when Griffin accounted for a career-low 139 total yards. More troublesome was a supposedly rejuvenated run defense that yielded a pair of 100-yard backs for the first time since playing the Huskies last season. Throw in a couple of critical fumbles and it was a good indicator that the Bears’ bowl hopes aren’t quite as bright as we might have suspected.
Kansas State: D:Same old stuff happened again this week as the Wildcats’ offense struggled and their special teams weren’t very special again. UCLA confounded the Wildcats by clamping down on Daniel Thomas and forcing Carson Coffman to beat them with his arm. Coffman wasn’t able to do it as he directed them for only one touchdown and struggled with six sacks. The defense played better, but it’s clear the Wildcats need better across-the-board play offensively in order to be competitive in the Big 12.