What we learned in the Big 12 on Saturday

November, 16, 2008
11/16/08
11:53
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

1. The Texas Longhorns have come full circle this season. At the start of the season, nobody was talking about them. They rose during a dramatic run to No. 1 in the nation after a stunning victory over Oklahoma. They came one second from making history, nearly becoming the first team since 1943 to beat four straight teams ranked 12th or higher. And now, they are in serious danger of being overlooked in the national title hunt despite sustaining only one loss -- at the No. 2 team on a last-second breakdown. That's how excruciatingly small the margin of error is in football today. But Texas coach Mack Brown seems to have his accepted his fate. "If 35-7 against Kansas on the road isn't a good enough win for someone, we'll just go wherever they tell us to go," Brown said.

2. Baylor linebacker Joe Pawelek might be the most underrated player in the conference. It was fitting that Pawelek saved his best for Texas A&M on Saturday. Pawelek contributed seven tackles and two interceptions, including an end-zone pick. His unique talents in pass coverage are reminiscent of a player that any old-school Aggie fan could identify with -- Jack Pardee.

3. Can Colorado compete for the North title next season? The North should be wide open as Chase Daniel leaves Missouri, Joe Ganz departs from Nebraska and Josh Freeman likely could leave Kansas State. I've tended to think that Colorado was the team with the most returning pieces to have the best shot at winning. But with today's pinball-like scoring mentality in the conference, the Buffaloes need a more explosive passing offense. I don't think Cody Hawkins will cut it, meaning his father might face the tough choice of having to upgrade the position where his son is entrenched as a prime playmaker.

4. Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh is playing like the Big 12's best defensive player the last several weeks. And he's doing something that's extremely difficult by dominating from the defensive tackle position. Most defensive tackles tie up a couple of blockers and enable linebackers behind them to make plays. Suh is becoming such a force as the prime run-stopper for the Cornhuskers that he's leading his team in tackles. His development might be Bo Pelini's most striking transformation since he arrived.

5. Oklahoma State still has a lot to work on as its prepares for the "Bedlam Game" against Oklahoma. First, the Cowboys have to make sure that prime playmakers like Kendall Hunter and Brandon Pettigrew are healthy. And they also have to hope that their red-zone offense gets well in the next few days, too. Oklahoma State can't settle for field goals against the Sooners and expect to win in what should be a shootout in Stillwater.

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