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Sunday, October 5, 2008
What we learned in the Big 12 on Saturday


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are a few revelations we learned in the Big 12 on Saturday

1. Baylor tackle Jason Smith and Nebraska coach Bo Pelini probably should learn something about talking smack before facing top-five teams. Smith intimated that Baylor could upset No. 1 Oklahoma and Pelini openly talked about shutting out Missouri. So what happened? Oklahoma scored four touchdowns in the first quarter en route to a 49-17 win over Baylor. And Missouri scored within a minute to set the tone for a 52-17 victory over Nebraska that was the Cornhuskers' worst home loss defeat since 1955. Maybe Smith and Pelini will think before they speak next time around.

2. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel had a better course of action, waiting until after the game before delivering a stinging retort directed at the Nebraska program. Daniel claimed he had been spit on by Nebraska players before the game and disrespected by the Cornhuskers all week leading up to the game. Daniel exacted his payback after the game started. It certainly delivered the impetus for one of the biggest victories in Missouri history and another low moment for a Nebraska program that has groveled through a bunch of them in the last two seasons. And Daneil's post-game comments likely didn't win Daniel many friends across the Cornhusker state, either.

3. Mike Leach needs to learn that it's not a sign of weakness to use a punter on fourth down on his side of the field. Texas Tech again was burned when Leach went for it on fourth down and failed, setting up an easy Kansas State touchdown drive, allowing the Wildcats to tie the game. Leach's team can overcome those gambles against teams like Nevada and Kansas State. But they likely won't be able to do it against one of the Big 12 powers and live to tell about it.


4. Welcome back Jake Sharp and Mike Rivera. The duo of defrocked Kansas players were among the major reasons the Jayhawks were able to escape Iowa State with a dramatic comeback victory. Both have resided in Coach Mark Mangino's doghouse earlier this season, losing their starting positions. But both had huge games to help spark the comeback. Sharp finished with 186 total yards against Iowa State after getting one carry in the first half. And Rivera rebounded to provide seven tackles to lead a defensive turnaround that helped the Jayhawks overcome a 20-0 halftime deficit. Such play from veteran players isn't surprising and is one of the major reasons that the Jayhawks won their fifth-straight conference road game. Before that, Kansas had won six conference road games in the 11-season history of the Big 12.

5. Oklahoma State's defense stole the show Saturday night against Texas A&M. The Cowboys' offense rightfully gets most of the publicity around the Cowboy program. But OSU's defense was the major reason why OSU claimed a 56-28 triumph over the Aggies. The Cowboys provided five turnovers and three three-and-out series in the first half alone against A&M. It won't always be that easy for the Cowboys, but that kind of defensive performance could propel them into a role as a challenger for their first Big 12 South Division title.