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What we learned in the Big 12: Week 9

10/26/2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

1. That maybe Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin could struggle to make the All-Big 12 team this season. Before the season started, Crabtree and Maclin were mortal locks on most All-Big 12 teams as the two wide receivers. But as good as their seasons have been, both players need big finishes to cement their first-team status. The idea might not be as far-fetched as you might think, considering the play of Jordan Shipley and Dez Bryant this season. Shipley has come up with his biggest games when the Longhorns have needed them. And Bryant is simply one of the most productive players at his position in college football.

2. Want to know how wacky the offensive binges have been in the Big 12 this season? Consider that Oklahoma has been gashed for 111 points in the last three games. It's the worst three-game stretch in terms of points allowed since the Sooners allowed 150 points under John Blake in 1997. But as bad as those struggles have been, the Sooners have won two of those games and came pretty close to winning the third. It probably won't make Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables feel any better, but it's just indicative of how football is being played in the Big 12 these days.

3. Please, no more punch lines about Mike Gundy anymore. This guy can coach. His Oklahoma State team might have had a coming-out party on the national stage yesterday in Austin. It gave the Longhorns everything they wanted for 60 minutes. There's no way the Cowboys should be dropped out of the top 10 after the loss -- at least by anybody who really watched the game in detail. And with only eight senior starters, including the expected return of Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter and Bryant, OSU will be loaded next season.

4. For all the big numbers that Colt McCoy and the Texas offense rang up against Oklahoma State, the Texas defense was the story of the tight victory. A critical fourth-quarter stand and fourth-down stop wrapped up the victory and added to the legend of Will Muschamp. That memory is nice but won't last long. The Longhorns' defense will face its biggest challenge of the season next week in Lubbock against Texas Tech.

5. Colorado was the victim of the schedule Saturday, taking an inexperienced quarterback and banged-up offensive line into a Tiger's lair at Missouri. And it didn't help that the Tigers had been humiliated last week at Texas, were reeling after a two-game losing streak and wanted to take it out on somebody. The result was a 58-0 blowout that ranks as the low point of Dan Hawkins' coaching tenure at Colorado. But even with those struggles, I'm betting that Hawkins and Colorado fans will long remember how Gary Pinkel reinserted his first-string defense back into the game in the final minutes to get a late stop that preserved the shutout.