Texas A&M, after an 0-2 start, is back in the Big 12 South mix.
Well, look who’s joined the Big 12 South race. Oklahoma State? Nope, the Cowboys have been there all along. Texas A&M.
That’s right, the left-for-dead Aggies, 0–2 in conference play a month ago now find themselves in the thick of things, with Saturday’s 42–30 win at Baylor their fourth straight.
It wasn’t always easy in Waco — A&M trailed 30–14 late in the second quarter — but Cyrus Gray’s running and a defense that pitched a second-half shutout against the explosive Bears sparked a turnaround that led to the first four-game winning streak of the Mike Sherman era.
“We have fighters on this team,” said Aggies quarterback Ryan Tannehill, “who will do anything to win.”
Suddenly, A&M is doing it. Gray ran for a career-high 137 yards and four touchdowns, including two as the Aggies were swinging momentum in the third quarter. Tannehill remained unbeaten since taking over the starting quarterback duties from Jerrod Johnson. And the defense is showing teeth, although they were late developing against the Bears. Still, they came up with plays when needed, including a key fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter.
Now the Aggies are 4–2 in the conference, trailing Oklahoma State by one game in the South with two games to play.
A&M will need some help to carry out its Big 12 title plans. The closing schedule is rugged, with Nebraska visiting College Station before the Aggies make a trip to archrival Texas after that.
Then there’s Oklahoma State, which has the one-game lead and a tiebreaking win over the Aggies, not to mention Oklahoma, which is tied with A&M.
Still, there’s hope. And that’s something that seemed to be vanishing but a few weeks ago.
Texas A&M 42, Baylor 30
Nebraska 20, Kansas 3
Missouri 38, Kansas State 28
Colorado 34, Iowa State 14
Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 7
Oklahoma State 33, Texas 16
Oklahoma State’s surprising season continues along an historical path, as the Cowboys keep clearing markers from their past. OSU maintained frontrunner status in the Big 12 South with its rout of Texas — the program’s first win in Austin since 1944.
“We were due,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “Oklahoma State was due for this win. There was a lot of talk about now winning here … and they’ve had our number for a while.”
Now the Cowboys are applying expiration dates to irritating series trends. Before marking off the road win at Texas from their checklist, OSU had already won at Texas Tech for the first time since 1944 and at Kansas State for the first time since 1988.
A week of turmoil, complete with the canning of coach Dan Hawkins, followed Colorado’s collapse at Kansas. So the Buffaloes’ convincing 34–14 beating of Iowa State was nothing short of stunning.
Hawkins watched from a stadium balcony, while his son Cody Hawkins passed for 266 yards and three touchdowns to direct the win and longtime CU assistant Brian Cabral won in his debut as a head coach.
“I cannot be more proud of our players,” said an emotional Cabral. “I cannot be more proud of our coaches. They had it in them. They have a heart of gold. They never looked back.
“And they’re looking forward.”
The Cyclones, 5–6, arrived with plenty to play for, needing one win to become bowl-eligible. They left still needing one and facing a season finale at home against Missouri without senior quarterback Austen Arnaud, who suffered what was likely a season-ending knee injury in the loss to the Buffs.
For once, the news was better on the sideline of Colorado, which won its first Big 12 game of the season.
“We had all this frustration and stress and took it out today,” linebacker B.J. Beatty told reporters after the game. “I love Coach Hawk, and I always will. He gave me every opportunity I’ve had up here, but we were definitely trying to make a statement of what he’s done for us.”
Loud and clear.
Buffs running back Rodney Stewart ran a career-high 35 times for 123 yards, cracking the 1,000-yard mark for the season. The defense piled up eight sacks and two turnovers, one a fumble returned for a touchdown.
Player of the Week: Ryan Broyles, WR, Oklahoma. Spurring OU’s rout of Texas Tech, Broyles produced eight receptions for 119 yards and three touchdowns, breaking or tying five school records in the process: career receptions (229), single season receptions (94), career TD receptions (32), 100-yard games in a season (8) and 100-yard games in a career (15). Broyles is the seventh receiver in Big 12 history to record over 3,000 yards receiving.
Game of the Week: Nebraska at Texas A&M. The resurgent Aggies need a win to stay in the South race, while the Huskers take to the road with an opportunity to clinch the North. Nebraska’s Blackshirts aren’t up to the standard of the school’s great defensive units and will be tested significantly at Kyle Field.
On the Spot: Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin is a fabulous player and Exhibit A for why Baylor is in the midst of a program turnaround. But it’s time for the Bears quarterback to put together a complete game against a quality opponent, this time Oklahoma.
In the Spotlight: Jerome Tiller, QB, Iowa State. The classy Arnaud’s regular season is done, so the Cyclones now turn to Tiller to help steer them to bowl eligibility. Tiller has played in significant moments and is 1–1 as a starter, with last year’s impressive win at Nebraska on his resumé.
Mike Sherman, coach, Texas A&M. Sherman’s line graph showed a steep decline a month ago, but now features an abrupt and serious upswing. He’s got the fan base energized with a four-game winning streak that has the Aggies in the thick of the South Division race. And he did it boldly, benching the school’s all-time total offense leader (Jerrod Johnson) for a part-time wide receiver/quarterback in Ryan Tannehill.
Baylor boasting. Griffin talked about the Bears being the team to beat in the South just a few weeks ago. Since then, they’ve been just that: a beaten team. Back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have removed some of the shine from the Bears’ breakout season. Now they get Oklahoma, which has struggled on the road, yet could light up Baylor’s shaky defense.
By the Numbers
30 Consecutive games with a reception by A&M’s Jeff Fuller, a school record.
45 Seasons Nebraska has won at least nine games (including this one); 39 have come since 1970.
3,391 Passing yards by OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden, a school record.