Big 12: Nate Allen

Things we learned about the Big 12 this weekend

September, 14, 2008
9/14/08
2:07
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It was inevitable that the Big 12 would lose some nonconference games again after last weekend's history-making sweep. So this weekend's results weren't really that astounding.

The conference could have gotten a bump if Kansas QB Todd Reesing had hooked up with Ray Brown late in the South Florida game. The pass, instead, was intercepted by USF's Nate Allen and provided the window that the Bulls needed for a game-winning field goal on the final play of the game.

Iowa State's loss at Iowa really wasn't that surprising. The Cyclones struggled against a tougher-than-advertised Iowa defense. And special-teams breakdowns in field goals and kick coverage bit them again as coach Gene Chizik still is looking for his first career road victory.

But other than that, the Big 12 looked strong. After three weeks, the conference has a combined 28-4 record with three of the defeats coming against foes from BCS conferences.

Here's a look at a few specific things we learned over the weekend.

1. The lack of a running game finally caught up with Kansas -- For as well as Reesing played -- save for that one fateful play -- the Jayhawks would have been much better off with at least a semblance of a token running attack. Kansas produced 61 yards rushing against Florida and is averaging 105 yards rushing per game to rank 101st nationally. The Jayhawks won't be able to beat many Big 12 foes without balancing the offense a little and taking some of the pressure from Reesing.

2. The biggest loser this week was Texas -- Hurricane Ike's postponement has put the Longhorns in a tough scheduling bind. Instead of having a week off before a tough Big 12 start that will include games against Colorado, Oklahoma and Missouri, the Longhorns now will have Arkansas thrown on top of it. I bet coach Mack Brown liked it better the old way. And it probably didn't make him feel any better that there wasn't a drop of rain in Austin on Saturday.

3. Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford is progressing nicely, thank you -- Want to know the best way to judge that? He makes everything look so easy that throwing five touchdown passes and running another one -- a performance for the ages in the Sooner annals -- almost seems routine. Oklahoma delivered a 41-point beating to Washington that was the Huskies' worst home defeat since 1929. Bradford's handling of the Sooners' no-huddle offensive attack has been superb. That improvement, on top of the Sooners' other offensive and defensive weapons, have placed them as a legitimate BCS title game threat.

4. Forget about Michael Crabtree, Josh Smith, Josh Freeman or Jeremy Maclin -- The most exciting player in the Big 12 is Baylor QB Robert Griffin. His record-setting performance against Washington State -- even if it was against a jet-lagged Cougar defense -- was a memorable one. And sorry, Big 12 defensive coordinators, but he'll only be getting better with more experience.

5. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has to be smiling as he reviews his game film today -- Pelini finally saw the Cornhuskers play with the hard edge that he craves in their systematic dismantling of New Mexico State. For the first time this season, the Huskers ran the ball with authority, piling up 330 yards. And the Nebraska secondary had its best game of the season, too. New Mexico State QB Chase Holbrook, a career 70 percent completion percentage passer coming into the game, was 15-for-30 for 142 yards and two interceptions. The Cornhuskers are looking good heading into their nonconference finale against Virginia Tech in two weeks.

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