Sunday, September 12, 2010
What we learned in the Big 12: Week 2
By David Ubben
What a weekend of football. What it lacked in drama, it made up in head-spinning results. Here's what we know after it all shook out.
1. The new guy got 'em coached up. I don't know anyone who really thought Kansas could beat Georgia Tech. I'm sure there were a couple people outside of the Kansas locker room -- but not far outside. While I didn't think they could win, I thought they had a chance to keep it close. Now? I have no idea what to make of Kansas. Is this a bowl team? Was this a one-time thing? Was Georgia Tech really the No. 15 team in America? Those -- and countless others questions -- will be answered in the next 10 games. But you have to give Turner Gill this: He now has plenty of people paying attention to Kansas football.
A week after losing to North Dakota State, Kansas was celebrating an upset of No. 15 Georgia Tech.
2. Colorado probably won't be leaving the Big 12 until after the 2011 season. This story got buried during game day, but Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott spoke to reporters at Saturday's Cal-Colorado game and said he wasn't optimistic the Buffaloes could roam westward until 2012. "The chances are worse than 50-50," Scott said. "I don't know how to rank it beyond that. At this stage, we're planning for them to come in 2012." We had heard that from Colorado late last month, but Scott's comments serve as confirmation from the other side. That would be a scheduling headache for both sides, with an 11-team Pac-10 and an 11-team Big 12 trying to figure out how to make 2011 work. I'm glad I don't have to be involved in those scheduling decisions. For Colorado, the announcements distracted from their embarrassing 52-7 beatdown in Berkeley.
3. Week 1 wins lose a little sheen. Kansas State and Oklahoma State were among the two most impressive teams after last week's game. This week, however, Troy had three chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter in the Cowboys' 41-38 win. Although on attempt came after quarterback Brandon Weeden fumbled a snap while trying to run out the clock. Kansas State's win over UCLA isn't as impressive as Stanford shut out the Bruins 35-0 in Los Angeles. Oklahoma State's problems were self-inflicted, but Dana Holgorsen is clearly working out the kinks like he thought he'd have to. The Cowboys had five turnovers and 12 penalties. "I don't remember being in a game where we made so many mistakes and still found a way to win," OSU coach Mike Gundy said. "I'm not sure we could have done that three years ago." That's a pretty good way of spinning a pretty bad performance, but he's probably right. Oklahoma State is making progress, especially in a supposed rebuilding year.
4. Oklahoma is pretty good. The way some talked about Oklahoma the past week, you'd have thought the Sooners lost to an FCS team. But the Sooners' inept defensive backs made plays on Christian Ponder all day, and let the Heisman candidate torch them for 113 yards on 11-of-28 passing with a pair of interceptions. Meanwhile, the overrated, passive Landry Jones barely managed to top 320 yards in the first half and threw just three touchdown passes before halftime. Ten of his 40 passes were also incomplete, a side effect of his terrible decision making. Oklahoma's reign as one of the top teams in the Big 12 is clearly nearing its end.
5. We should get used to watching Taylor Martinez run for touchdowns. Last week's 46-yarder against actually awful Western Kentucky was no fluke. He broke another big play this week with a 67-yard touchdown to put Nebraska up 10-0 in the second quarter -- and added another with a 20-yard score in the third. That gives the redshirt freshman five touchdowns and 284 yards rushing in two games. He has yet to throw a touchdown, but if Martinez proves himself to be competent in the passing game, he'll stay on the field and give Nebraska the big-play threat it lacked all last season. Those legs may decide how the Big 12 shakes out in conference play. His 106 yards on 12-of-17 passing were efficient but won't impress anyone. If he continues at this pace, he may overtake Robert Griffin (who quietly threw for a career high 297 yards in an impressive 34-6 win over Buffalo) as the conference's best running threat at quarterback.