Sooners Soar; Longhorns Sink
One certain Saturday in Dallas has a way of completely altering the landscape of the Big 12. And maybe more. So it goes again, after Oklahoma beat Texas 28–20 in the 105th edition of the Red River Rivalry.
The Sooners left the Cotton Bowl soaring in spirit, believing that last season’s five-loss debacle is behind them in their quest to rejoin the nation’s elite.
Meanwhile, the bad news — and results — keep coming for Texas. Taking shots from UCLA in an ugly home loss is one thing. But losing to dreaded Oklahoma, and losing their grip on the Big 12 South, and losing their place in the Top 25 for the first time in 10 years? That hurts.
And not only that — the Longhorns will have to stew on it all for a while, with an open week on deck.
“I wish we didn’t have the bye week,” said Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson. “I want to get out there right now.”
The Sooners breeze into their bye week, sitting 5–0 and facing a remaining schedule that doesn’t feature another Top 25 team until the season-ending Bedlam showdown with Oklahoma State.
Their win in the Cotton Bowl wasn’t flawless, with some unnecessarily tense moments late. Still, these wins are to be coveted, no matter how they’re claimed.
“That’s what you want,” said OU coach Bob Stoops. “To be criticized for winning. We’re back to Oklahoma football.”
Oklahoma State 38, Texas A&M 35
Oklahoma 28, Texas 20
Colorado 29, Georgia 27
Baylor 55, Kansas 7
Iowa State 52, Texas Tech 38
Pegged for a rebuilding year, Oklahoma State is making this look like more of a transition year. And a smooth transition at that.
The Cowboys, improving to 4–0, won a wild one in Stillwater, outlasting Texas A&M in a matchup made out as a measuring stick for both teams. In the end, the Pokes measured up against a team predicted by some to challenge in the Big 12 South.
“It’s big,” said OSU linebacker James Thomas, who had a 63-yard fumble return for a touchdown. “It gives us confidence and it was a great emotional win for us as well.”
Each team blew 14-point leads, before OSU cashed in a fifth takeaway of Aggies quarterback Jerrod Johnson to set up the game-winning field goal. Dan Bailey booted a 40-yard field goal as time expired to deliver the win.
Role reversal seemed to be the theme in Ames. Usually conservative Iowa State scored 52 points — the most ever by the Cyclones in a Big 12 game — getting a career-high four touchdown passes from Austen Arnaud to win a shootout over Texas Tech.
“I think it was just one of those nights,” Arnaud said. “We felt like we could take some shots downfield and we did and made the most of those opportunities. In the past, we haven’t.
“Pitch and catch is basically what it ended up being.”
While the Red Raiders might be used to wild-scoring affairs, this was all new for the Cyclones, who hadn’t scored so much in a conference game in 38 years.
Still, winning wasn’t easy. After bolting to a 24–0 lead, Tech rallied to tie it on the way to a fourth quarter that featured a combined 42 points. The Cyclones led 45–38 with 2:05 remaining, when Jeremy Reeves returned an onside kick attempt 42 yards for a clinching touchdown.
The talk around Waco — probably too much talk — has been about what Baylor must do to get back in a bowl game, ending an absence that extends prior to the creation of the Big 12. Well, talk is picking up after the Bears’ rout of Kansas.
In what was billed as a must-win, Baylor won big behind quarterback Robert Griffin III, who did it all in a record-setting day for the Bears. Baylor finished with school records for total yards (678), points in a Big 12 game (55) and largest margin of victory (48) in a conference outing. Griffin III’s 94-yard touchdown pass to Josh Gordon is a school record for the longest play.
“It was fun for the players, our fans, Baylor University and it was a much-needed victory,” said Bears coach Art Briles.
Buffs Hanging Tough
Don’t write Dan Hawkins’ farewell speech just yet. The Buffaloes are showing signs of life.
Colorado extended Georgia’s struggles, holding on for a 29–27 win that came with a large contingent from the 1990 national title team looking on.
The Buffs may not be ready to create any current title talk, not yet, but at least the talk isn’t the doom and gloom that has followed the program under Hawkins’ watch.
“There’s a saying that the pride and tradition of the Buffaloes won’t be entrusted to the weak,” Colorado linebacker Jon Major told reporters after the game.
Don’t look now, but the Buffs are 3–1 and own a reasonable home schedule for conference play.
Player of the Week
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor.Known affectionately as RG3, the Bears sophomore set a school record with 444 total yards in Baylor’s rout of Kansas. He also threw for a career-best 380 yards and tied career highs with three touchdown passes, 26 completions and 36 pass attempts. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 64 yards on eight carries, including a touchdown.
Game of the Week: Nebraska at Kansas State.Don’t crown the Huskers in the North just yet, not until they’ve navigated successfully through Manhattan. This is throwback stuff, going back to the days of the Big Eight, only with the Wildcats much improved. Nebraska runs the option again, and the ’Cats pound Daniel Thomas in their own ground game, while passes are flying throughout the rest of the Big 12. The winner takes a major step forward in the North.
On the Spot:Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech.Since arriving in Lubbock, Tuberville has talked tough, even taking some jabs at Mike Leach’s regime. Well, it’s time for Tuberville’s team to get tough, at 0–2 in the league and heading into a scary matchup with Baylor’s RG3 in the Cotton Bowl.
In the Spotlight: Taylor Martinez, QB, Nebraska.The Husker freshman has been dynamic for the most part, but looked like a rookie his last time out against South Dakota State. Don’t think K-State coach Bill Snyder won’t have a plan that forces Martinez to hit some throws — not to mention the fact that the Wildcats have the best athletes the freshman has faced so far.
Dan Hawkins, Colorado.OK, so Georgia isn’t Georgia, not the same Georgia, anyway. Still, the Bulldogs had A.J. Green back. And they’re still stocked with top talent. And for a change during Hawkins’ reign, the Buffs showed some talent, too. And played big in a big game. Looking ahead, CU could win as many as eight games and find itself in a solid bowl game. And keeping Hawkins, who for now has removed himself from the hot seat.
Longhorn playmakers. For all the premium-picked talent making up all those touted recruiting classes, Texas sure lacks guys who can make a play on offense. At running back and wide receiver and tight end and even quarterback, the Horns just don’t scare anyone the way they should.
By the Numbers
2100-yard rushers for Iowa State against Texas Tech, with Alexander Robinson (103) and Shontrelle Johnson (104) both cracking the century mark.
8Consecutive Big 12 losses by Kansas.
106Offensive plays run by Texas A&M — in a loss.