Friday, December 23, 2011
The Big 12's big surprises, Part II
We took a look on Thursday at the first few big surprises in the Big 12, and it's time for a few more before we decide the big one.
1. Oklahoma won't finish in the Big 12's top three. The Sooners entered the season as the preseason No. 1 and earned 41 of 43 first-place votes in the Big 12. This was supposed to be the big year for Oklahoma, but upsets and injuries dropped it to 9-3 and a fourth-place finish in the Big 12, via a loss to Baylor that gave the Bears the tiebreaker. Ryan Broyles missed the final three games with a torn ACL, and leading rusher Dominique Whaley missed most of the past four games with a fractured ankle. The Sooners lost two of their final three regular-season games and fell to the Insight Bowl.
2. Despite losing Dana Holgorsen, Oklahoma State's offense will be more productive. Holgorsen revitalized the Cowboys' offense, helping them set a school record with 10 regular-season wins and a share of the Big 12 South. Then he left for West Virginia. Enter Todd Monken. The results? A Big 12 title and 11 regular-season wins, along with more total offense and more points. Who knew?
3. Garrett Gilbert's junior season will last less than two games. Texas stuck with Gilbert for all 12 games of the 5-7 season in 2010, but he floundered in rather spectacular fashion in just his second start of 2011. He was 2-of-8 for eight yards and two interceptions before being benched for Case McCoy and David Ash. The Longhorns rallied to beat BYU that night, and less than a month later, Gilbert underwent shoulder surgery and announced his plans to transfer. He plans to play at SMU next year.
4. You're never out of it at halftime against Texas A&M. The Aggies looked so good so often, especially in the first half against eventual Big 12 champion Oklahoma State. They led 20-3 before losing the lead in the next quarter, and it would only become the first of six losses in which the Aggies led by double digits. Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas State and Texas all erased big leads to beat the Aggies, who finished 6-6.
5. Texas Tech ends college football's longest home winning streak -- then doesn't win again. After suffering close losses to Kansas State and Texas A&M, Texas Tech upset Oklahoma as 28-point underdogs, ending Oklahoma's 39-game home winning streak that dated back to 2005 and became the first Big 12 team to win in Norman since 2001. A week later, though, the Red Raiders were whacked, 41-7, by Iowa State and didn't win a game the rest of the year. Which was more surprising? Both were jaw-droppers. As a result, Texas Tech endured its first losing season in 18 years.