The Huskers have begun their final Big 12 campaign.
Huskers Begin Farewell Tour With A Bang
Nebraska opened its farewell tour of the conference with no trace of sentimentality or fondness for those who have shared the brotherhood of the Big 12.
Never mind, either, that the Cornhuskers’ relationship with Kansas State dates back to the old Big Eight, well before what they perceived as a Texas takeover.
The Huskers, in their final scheduled trip to Manhattan and the opener to their final Big 12 season, ripped the Wildcats 48–13 in what had been an anticipated matchup of unbeatens.
Next up: Texas, which will be welcomed to Lincoln with much disdain, due to contempt Nebraskans feel has been preferential treatment poured upon the Longhorns by the league, as well as that final second — added second — loss to Texas in last year’s Big 12 title game.
“We are a motivated football team,” said Nebraska coach Bo Pelini. “We have goals but that (final Big 12 season) is part of it.
“We are going to play all of these teams in the Big 12 for one last time. There’s probably motivation on both sides.”
The Huskers looked plenty motivated against K-State, romping to a big early lead behind quarterback Taylor Martinez and their rugged defense. Nebraska ran for 451 yards, while the Wildcats mustered just 315 in total offense.
Now comes a clash with Texas that has been circled on the schedule since last December, when the Huskers thought they’d upset the Horns for the Big 12 championship, only to see officials put :01 on the clock, just enough time for UT’s Ryan Bailey to boot through the game-winning field goal.
Since then, Nebraska has also made a run for the Big Ten for 2011. And amid the planned departure, ill feelings concerning Texas’ exalted status in the Big 12 have leaked out of Lincoln, although Pelini is mum on all that this week.
“I don’t get caught up in all the personal reasons,” Pelini said Monday. “I have nothing against Texas. I have nothing against their fans. What happened in the offseason, you can only control what you can control. It’s just something that happened.
“What the motivation is, how our fans feel about it… hopefully our fans want to win every football game. This is the next one. I know one thing; they’ve got a heck of a program, a well coached team with a lot of talent.”
Nebraska 48, Kansas State 13
Oklahoma State 54, Louisiana-Lafayette 28
Utah 68, Iowa State 27
Missouri 26, Colorado 0
Arkansas 24, Texas A&M 17
Texas Tech 45, Baylor 38
Red Raiders Regroup
Texas Tech seemed to be reeling, coming off a road loss at Iowa State and standing 0–2 at the bottom of the Big 12 South, with a motivated Baylor bunch waiting next.
But the Red Raiders rediscovered themselves — their old selves — winning a wild one in the Cotton Bowl to shake their slumping ways.
Taylor Potts passed for 462 yards and four touchdowns, helping Tech to a 45–28 lead midway through the third quarter. Then it was hold-on time, as the Bears rallied.
“All week I was telling the guys this was a must win,” said Red Raiders running back Barron Batch, who rushed for 97 yards. “I haven’t lost three straight games since high school.
“When you play in the Big 12 and start losing, other teams smell the blood in the water. This was a defining point in our season.”
Baylor was hoping for a defining point in its Big 12 existence, still seeking its first winning season and bowl bid under the conference banner.
Robert Griffin III threw for 384 yards and two scores and put a pass in the hands of wide receiver Kendall Wright in the end zone, but Wright couldn’t hold on.
“We had a lot of missed opportunities,” Griffin said.
Still, many opportunities were made, as the teams combined for 39 plays of 10 yards or longer.
For the third straight year, Tech beat Baylor by seven points.
Missouri’s defense has rarely led discussions in recent years, with quarterbacks Brad Smith and Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert lighting up scoreboards.
Unless, of course, the Tigers are taking on Colorado.
Then the defense takes over.
Mizzou secured its first shutout since 2008 — yes, against the Buffaloes. And while this one wasn’t as bad as the 58–0 wipeout that year, the Tigers 26–0 shutdown of Colorado Saturday was impressive yet.
That’s because the Tigers leaned on their defense this time, with Gabbert and Co. struggling to get untracked. Mizzou dominated with defense and special teams, winning its fifth straight in the series by a combined count of 203–40.
The Buffs have been outscored 86–3 in the first halves of the past three meetings.
Before bearing down on Big 12 play the rest of the way, Texas A&M and Iowa State strayed outside the conference one last time.
The Aggies lost to Arkansas, while the Cyclones were clobbered by Utah, missing out on potential statement wins for the conference.
Oklahoma State avoided further shame, needing to rally before finally blowing past Louisiana-Lafayette.
Players of the Week
Taylor Martinez, QB, and Lavonte David, LB, Nebraska. A Husker sweep, as Nebraska dominated both sides of the ball in its rout of K-State. Martinez accounted for 369 yards, running for a Husker quarterback rushing record with 241 yards and four touchdowns. David totaled 16 tackles, including 10 unassisted stops, with a sack among two tackles for losses. It was David’s third time to post double-digit tackles and second straight game with 16 or more.
Game of the Week: Texas at Nebraska.
The game loses a bit of its appeal with the Longhorns coming in with back-to-back losses, but the subplots alone are enough to tune in. The Huskers still seek confirmation as a national title contender. And they’ll find out if their new option offense works against a decent defense. Texas seeks new life.
On the Spot: Missouri. The Tigers have quietly gone about their 5–0 start, winning yes, but notching no notable skins. Now’s the time, with a trip to A&M, where the Aggies have lost two straight, but are ever dangerous on offense.
In the Spotlight: Will Muschamp, defensive coordinator, Texas. Muschamp is considered one of the brightest defensive minds in America. And his work at Texas has been superb. Yet this year’s job, with a lot of youngsters on defense and limited help from a scuffling offense, remains a work in progress. And now he’s got to find a way to deal with Nebraska’s Martinez and the option.
Dan Bailey, K, Oklahoma State. First, Bailey kicked the game-winner against A&M as time expired. Then he followed that up with four field goals and 18 total points in OSU’s win at Lafayette, booting a pair of career-best field goals from 52 yards. Bailey is now 11-for-11 on field goals for the season and has scored 65 points.
Jerrod Johnson, QB, Texas A&M. The guy was the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year pick in the preseason. But after a solid start, he’s been shaky of late, throwing nine interceptions in the past three games, two of them losses.
By the Numbers
0 Touchdowns allowed by Missouri in the third quarter this season.
5 Consecutive games with a touchdown reception by OSU’s Justin Blackmon.
1,142 Combined yards of offense in the Texas Tech-Baylor game.