By Steven Lassan
Post-Week 1 Big 12 Power Rankings
1. Oklahoma – The Sooners opened up their quest for a national title with an impressive showing against Tulsa. Oklahoma rolled up 663 total yards against the Golden Hurricane, including 375 passing yards from quarterback Landry Jones. The Sooner defense also delivered, limiting a high-powered Tulsa offense to just 14 points. The rushing attack got a big performance from Dominique Whaley and Brennan Clay. Even though offenses tend to struggle early in the year, the Sooners looked to be in midseason form. This matchup was Oklahoma’s only opportunity for a tune-up before playing Florida State in Week 3.
2. Texas A&M – The potential move to the SEC has dominated College Station this month, but it certainly didn’t show up with the players on the field on Sunday night. The Aggies turned in a dominating 46-14 win over SMU. The offense collected 458 total yards, which included a stellar game from running backs Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael. Gray posted 131 yards and two scores, while Michael showed no rust from a broken leg, rushing for 85 yards and two scores on 14 attempts. The Aggies struggled early in the game to contain SMU’s passing attack, but did not allow a point in the second half and the Mustangs finished with 347 total yards. With a bye week coming up, you can bet the focus is shifting back to conference realignment.
3. Oklahoma State – Different offensive coordinator, same results. With Dana Holgorsen off to West Virginia, the Cowboys want to keep a similar scheme in place. Coach Mike Gundy hired Todd Monken from the NFL to call the plays and so far, the Cowboys appear to be in good shape. Quarterback Brandon Weeden did toss three picks in Saturday’s win over UL Lafayette – two of which were returned for touchdowns by the Ragin’ Cajuns. Joseph Randle showed he is a capable replacement for Kendall Hunter at running back, posting 129 yards and two scores on 22 attempts. The Big 12 will get a better look at Oklahoma State next week, as the Cowboys host Arizona on Thursday night.
4. Texas –After a disappointing 2010 campaign, Texas is starting 2011 off on the right path. The Longhorns had a solid victory over Rice in Week 1, which should be a good confidence builder as Big 12 play approaches. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert was the source of a lot of criticism last year, but performed well in the opener. The junior completed 13 of 23 passes for 239 yards and one score. The Longhorns looked in midseason form on defense, limiting Rice to only nine points and forced two turnovers. Texas will host BYU next Saturday.
5. Baylor – After an embarrassing performance against TCU last year, Baylor was out for revenge this time around. The Bears made a statement on Friday night, gashing the Horned Frogs for 564 yards and 50 points. Quarterback Robert Griffin also threw his hat into the early Heisman ring, throwing for 359 yards and five touchdowns. The Bears didn’t show a ton of improvement on defense, but they did force a key turnover to seal the victory in the fourth quarter. With Stephen F. Austin and Rice coming up, expect Baylor to be 3-0 before Big 12 play starts.
6. Missouri – With a new quarterback stepping into the starting lineup, it’s going to take some time for the Missouri offense to hit on all cylinders. James Franklin made his first start under center against Miami on Saturday, completing 17 of 26 passes for 129 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 72 yards and one score on the ground. Franklin and the Missouri offense will have to perform better this week, as the Tigers hit the road for a date against Arizona State. The defense suffered some key injuries against the RedHawks, as defensive end Jacquies Smith and linebacker Will Ebner are out against the Sun Devils.
7. Texas Tech –The Red Raiders started slow, but finished with a blowout win over Texas State. New Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege shook off some early rust and threw for 326 yards and three scores. The rushing attack is expected to be a bigger part of the offense in 2011, and Eric Stephens rushed for 118 yards and two scores against the Bobcats. The Red Raiders still have some issues to work out on defense, as the new 4-2-5 alignment will take some time for the players to adapt in game situations. The Red Raiders have a bye this Saturday, before taking on New Mexico and Nevada to close out September.
8. Iowa State – Just like Kansas State, the Cyclones required some last-minute heroics to beat a FCS school. New quarterback Steele Jantz took a while to get settled into the game, but scored a one-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining to give Iowa State the victory. Jantz finished with 187 yards passing, but tossed three interceptions. The junior college transfer also rushed for 75 yards and two scores. The Cyclones needed to win the opener to have any shot at making a bowl game, especially with a difficult schedule ahead. Iowa State takes on rival Iowa this Saturday.
9. Kansas State –There’s not many positives to take away from Kansas State’s Week 1 effort. The Wildcats required a late touchdown to beat Eastern Kentucky - a middle of the pack FCS team last year. The offense entered the year with question marks and didn’t answer much on Saturday night. Quarterback Collin Klein finished with a modest statline, throwing for 128 yards and one touchdown. He also added 54 yards on the ground. Running back Bryce Brown’s debut was a bust. The Tennessee transfer rushed only three times for 15 yards, while catching one pass for three yards. The offense also turned the ball over five times. The good news for Kansas State is an upcoming bye week and a matchup against Kent State on Sept. 17 to help workout the kinks.
10. Kansas – One positive for Jayhawk fans – the 2011 opener wasn’t anything like last season. After losing to North Dakota State in last year’s opener, the Jayhawks weren’t about to let the same thing happen this season. Kansas easily handled McNeese State on Saturday, getting the second year of the Turner Gill era off to a good start. Quarterback Jordan Webb was efficient, completing 7 of 10 passes for 146 yards and three scores. Running back James Sims led the way on the ground, posting 104 yards and one score on 19 attempts. Kansas will get a tough test in Week 2, as they host Northern Illinois, one of the top teams in the MAC this year.