Sunday, September 18, 2011
What we learned in the Big 12: Week 3
By David Ubben
A look back on a heck of a weekend and a solid one for the Big 12:
Oklahoma is a validated national title contender, if not the favorite. Anybody think Florida State isn't legit? I didn't think so. The Seminoles went toe-to-toe with the Sooners and looked the part of a top-10 team at least. The Sooners, though, made plays late to win by double digits on the road against the No. 5 team in the country. This after its own double-digit lead was erased. That's what champions do. It was one of the most physical Big 12 games of the season, but the Sooners got the job done in Tallahassee. Very impressive.
Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis had plenty to celebrate in his season debut -- a convincing win at No. 5 Florida State.
The Big 12 is playing good football about everywhere. It was against poor competition, sure. But dominance is dominance. You couldn't ask the Big 12 teams playing also-rans on Saturday to do much more, if anything. Baylor, Missouri and Kansas State all pitched shutouts and won by a combined score of 154-0. Texas Tech took care of business on the road against New Mexico with a 59-13 win that might not have been even that close, and Texas A&M won handily, 37-7, over Idaho. No lack of focus or playing down to competition on any of those fields. Nicely done.
Hold the phone on Kansas. Kansas showed plenty of hope with a blowout win over McNeese State and a comeback win over Northern Illinois, but the Jayhawks put together one of the worst defensive showings I've ever seen in a 66-24 embarrassment against Georgia Tech. The Yellowjackets ran for a 95-yard score untouched on their first offensive play, and finished with 604 yards rushing. The Yellowjackets 12.1 yards per carry on the game broke an NCAA record. Kansas gave up the first 42 points of the second half after trailing 24-17 at halftime. Kansas won't face another option offense like Tech this year, but still. The Jayhawks shut it down last year. Basic defensive principles seemed to be lost. In a cruel twist of fate, Kansas' defense broke a school record with the 604 rushing yards allowed, breaking Nebraska's record of 567 yards against the Jayhawks in 1983. The quarterback on that team was Kansas coach Turner Gill.
Mother Nature is extremely rude and inconvenient. Oklahoma State and Tulsa were delayed three hours on what was already scheduled to be a 10 p.m. ET start. Kickoff didn't go up until after midnight local time, officially making it a Sunday game. It didn't hold off much. The storm subsided and gave way to a rather one-sided affair in favor of the Cowboys.
Texas is a whole lot better than it was last year. BYU got blasted by Utah on Saturday night, but Texas wasn't going on the road and beating teams by three touchdowns last year. The Longhorns consistently moved the ball against UCLA, and played tough, solid defense. That's how the Longhorns will have to move the ball. Case McCoy is looking like a playmaker early in his career, while Malcolm Brown and Jaxon Shipley may be building toward superstar careers. Texas is a young team, and it'll get better very fast. The Longhorns aren't there yet, and still look far from a Big 12 contender, but there's no question that the youth and coaching changes have Texas moving in the right direction.