Sunday, October 2, 2011
What we learned in the Big 12: Week 5
By David Ubben
Here's what I saw on an eventful week of football across the Big 12.
Arthur Brown's fourth-quarter interception was huge for Kansas State.
It's time to start taking Kansas State seriously. This is not an elite defense, but it's a very, very good one led by a guy who will finish the season as one of the Big 12's best playmakers: Arthur Brown. I've been aboard the Arthur Brown bandwagon for awhile now, eschewing the Big 12 media's pick of Bryce Brown as the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and voting for Arthur. Check my fearless predictions, too. He's getting it done, and made the biggest play of Kansas State's season on Saturday, intercepting Robert Griffin III for the first time this season. Brown's speed totally changes this defense, which showed an ability to stop the run on Saturday after giving up 3,008 rushing yards last year. Safety Tysyn Hartman said it best last week in regard to Brown: "He really moves at a different speed than everybody else. ... Once he gets you wrapped up, I mean, you’re going down."
Texas A&M may have a very big problem. I was willing to dismiss last week as one off quarter in an otherwise stellar early start to the season. But after another second-half meltdown and another shocking loss, how do you not question the mental toughness of an experienced Texas A&M team with solid senior leadership? "I never felt it was out of our hands. I was consistently getting my guys together and telling them, 'Hey, we're not letting this one go,'" said quarterback Ryan Tannehill. It did, though, and the Texas A&M offense and defense both had plenty of chances to prevent it. That's got to be troubling. Ultimately, we'll learn what this team is made of as conference play progresses, but the past two weeks have been perplexing. Texas A&M still is that good, but it's disappeared when huge games have been on the line.
Oklahoma and Texas are gearing up for what should be a classic. Oklahoma has looked like the team we thought it was, even as Alabama and LSU have been more impressive early this season. Texas has been about as good as we could expect after last year's struggles and an offense stocked with freshmen. But next week, it's the Sooners with everything to lose and Texas with everything to prove. I can't wait. I can smell the corny dogs already. Granted, that might be because I live upwind of the fairgrounds, which opened on Friday.
This loss will cost Baylor late in the season. Baylor just has to win games like this if it wants to be taken seriously as a top-15 team or a Big 12 contender. The Bears still look like an eight- or nine-win team to me, but with a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, you have to win. Great teams don't lose those leads or lose those games. Baylor was a sneaky upset of one of the Big 12's best teams away from an unbelievable 10-win season. Now?
Iowa State's bubble has burst. I was a little more sold on Kansas State than I was on Iowa State, but you can't escape the fact that the Cyclones could just as easily be 0-3. To me, Texas feels like it will finish as a fringe top-20 team, but Iowa State looked like it was playing completely out of its league. The upside for K-State was greater than Iowa State, but the Cyclones didn't leave much to be encouraged about. They have to get better. Elsewhere on Saturday night: UConn lost to Western Michigan at home 38-31.