Big 12: what we learned 8
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here's what we learned in the Big 12 on Saturday:
1. Impressive victories by Texas over Missouri and Oklahoma over Kansas indicate that the South has shot past the North in terms of relative strength this season. The South has already claimed a 7-1 lead, buoyed by the two victories on Saturday over the two top North contenders by an average of 19.5 points per game. And the only North win this season remains Kansas State's triumph over lowly Texas A&M last week.
2. The best sign in Texas' victory over Missouri for Longhorn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was the ease that the Longhorns were able to generate pressure with a three- or four-man rush -- just like in the second half against Oklahoma last week. That should bode well for the Longhorns in the next two weeks when Texas' young secondary will be tested by Dez Bryant and Michael Crabtree, the Big 12's best two receivers.
3. Pulling freshman quarterback Tyler Hansen's redshirt with six games left in the season was a dicey move by Colorado coach Dan Hawkins. Putting Hansen into the lineup ahead of his son, quarterback Cody Hawkins, could have been a tough one around his kitchen table. But the move was correct, as evidenced by Colorado's comeback victory over Kansas State. The Colorado coach knew his sputtering team needed an offensive boost and realized that Hansen's running abilities would give the Buffaloes the best chance to be successful against Kansas State's leaky defense. The result was a victory Saturday that resuscitated the Buffs' bowl hopes.
4. Chase Daniel's Heisman hopes are likely dead after he struggled through a difficult performance against Texas. With the national attention focused on Austin, Missouri fell into an early 35-0 deficit that will resonate with voters. And this statistic best indicates how bad a night it was for Daniel, whose offense didn't have a three-and-out during the first five games of the season. Texas forced three-and-outs the first four times that Missouri had the ball Saturday night.
5. The best reason for Oklahoma State's confidence heading into next week's showdown against Texas is their increased defensive pass rush after some early struggles. OSU defensive coordinator Tim Beckman has cooked up a new formation that has helped generate half of the Cowboys' sacks in the last two weeks. Beckman has inserted defensive end Derek Burton at nose guard, flanked by two other defensive ends around him. And backup middle linebacker Donald Booker has alternated as a stand-up end or a blitzing middle linebacker for increased pass-rushing traction. The unit's work will be vital in trying to keep Texas QB Colt McCoy from feeling comfortable in the pocket in next week's South Division showdown of BCS challengers. And Oklahoma State might need something special, considering the Cowboys have lost 10 straight games in Austin with their most recent victory coming in 1944.