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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Here are five things we learned about Big 12 teams on Saturday.
1. Texas A&M's 18-14 loss to Arkansas State was the worst possible start for new A&M coach Mike Sherman. The debacle was even more galling than merely the program's first home opening-game loss in 21 years -- particularly to a Sun Belt team that finished 5-7 last season and had never beaten a Big 12 team in 15 tries. The Aggies missed two field goals, allowed four sacks, committed four turnovers and the defense was gashed for 280 yards rushing. Even worse, A&M turtle-backed in the second half, squandering a 14-3 lead by failing to score on its final eight possessions.
2. Gary Pinkel is no doubt happy this morning that he played Illinois sooner than later. The thought of playing a tough team without injured WR/PR Jeremy Maclin might have been too much for the Missouri coach to think about. The Tigers have three cakewalks approaching before their Oct. 4 conference opener against Nebraska. Look for Pinkel to show extreme care in how Maclin returns. Their national title hopes could be riding on it.
3. Kansas might miss leading 2007 rusher Brandon McAnderson more than coach Mark Mangino ever thought. The heralded replacement tandem of Jocques Crawford and Jake Sharp managed a mere 61 yards on 20 carries -- an average of barely 3 yards a carry.
4. All the ballyhoo about new Texas Tech coordinator Ruffin McNeill's transformation of the Red Raiders defense over the offseason might have been a tad overstated. After falling into an early hole, the unheralded Football Championship Series-affiliated Eastern Washington Eagles played the Red Raiders closely over the final three quarters in Tech's unappealing 49-24 triumph. Tech allowed 355 passing yards. And the Red Raiders' school-record 18 penalties in the game is clearly a matter of concern as well.
5. Bo Pelini still has his work cut out in fixing Nebraska's defense. The Cornhuskers had their moments early, but late breakdowns allowed Western Michigan two plays of at least 50 yards and three 80-yard drives that will have Pelini hopping when he watches the game film of his team's 47-24 victory. But he will be happier about his defense's big-play production -- especially four sacks and two turnovers that were in such short supply last season.