Northern Showdown

Mizzou's win over OU sets up a Big 12 North showdown next week.

Mizzou's win over OU sets up a Big 12 North showdown next week.

And Then There Was One… Surprise!

The Big 12’s countdown of unbeaten teams was due some shrinkage Saturday, with two — Oklahoma and Missouri — squaring off and Oklahoma State putting its perfect mark against Nebraska. By late Saturday night, only one remained standing: Surprise! The Tigers.

Just weeks ago, Mizzou seemed in disarray, following a preseason that delivered multiple off-the-field issues that peaked when team captain Derrick Washington faced sexual assault allegations and was kicked off the team. But there the Tigers were Saturday night, staring down odds and a rocky recent history with the Sooners, having lost every matchup with Bob Stoops on the other sideline, some embarrassingly with the stakes just as high, winning. And winning convincingly.

It created a watershed moment for the program, coach Gary Pinkel and a group of players given little chance to end two decades of failure against the Sooners.

“It’s a historic night, a great win, obviously,” Pinkel said.

The Sooners had rallied to take a 21–20 lead in the final minutes of the third quarter. But Mizzou answered with three straight scoring drives, two touchdowns and a field goal, to surge ahead 36–21 and never look back.

Blaine Gabbert was superb, completing 30-of-42 passes for 308 yards and a touchdown, and the Tigers running game produced 178 yards .

Defensively, Mizzou frustrated the Sooners, picked off Landry Jones twice and won the second half. The Tigers knocked OU from the No. 1 spot in the BCS Standings and leaped into national title contention themselves, ascending to No. 8 in the BCS.

“I will not stop smiling,” said Tigers wide receiver Jerrell Jackson. “I may smile for a few days. It feels good.”

A few days is all. Next up: at Nebraska, Saturday.

Iowa State 28, Texas 21
Texas Tech 27, Colorado 24
Texas A&M 45, Kansas 10
Baylor 47, Kansas State 42
Nebraska 51, Oklahoma State 41
Missouri 36, Oklahoma 27

Bear-ly, Good Enough
Floyd Casey Stadium, often dead by this time of year, rocks with joy in 2010. Baylor is bowl eligible, with a bid but a formality for the first time since 1994, after the Bears beat Kansas State 47–42 and, get this, cracked the rankings and emerged in first place in the Big 12 South. Big weekend.

“I must have had hundreds of fans come up to me after the game and say, ‘Thank y’all for this,’” Bears safety Byron Landor said. “it means a lot to us to see them happy. I know there have been some dog years here.

“They’d give away free tickets and people still wouldn’t want to come. But we did a good job of battling, and we bonded together at the end and got the win.”

And much more.

As usual, it was quarterback Robert Griffin III leading the way, throwing for a school-record 404 yards and a personal-best four touchdowns. Running back Jay Finley romped for another school record, 250 rushing yards, and added two TDs on the ground.

“My smile says it all,” said Griffin. “It’s a big moment for the university and our football team.”

No Defense
Nebraska’s Blackshirts? Oklahoma State’s Young Guns? Neither got very involved, as defense stepped aside for wild and wicked offense in Stillwater. The offenses combined for 1,035 yards and multiple season highlights. And the Huskers prevailed on the arm, not the legs, of quarterback Taylor Martinez.

Known previously as an option engineer, Martinez completed 23-of-35 passes for 323 yards and five touchdowns. Martinez had thrown just three TD passes in Nebraska’s first six games.

“Taylor Martinez grew up today,” Huskers offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said afterward.

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Athlon takes a look at Week 8 in the Big 12. Mizzou, Nebraska set up a big showdown next week with wins while Iowa State stuns Texas.

Austin City Limits
Things are getting testy in Austin. Iowa State, coming off back-to-back lopsided losses, beat Texas for the first time, well, ever. And the Cyclones beat a ranked team on the road for the first time since 1990.

And deep in the heart of Texas, it wasn’t going over well, with the loss column now at three through seven games.

“You’re asking me to wave a wand and fix it,” an angry Horns coach Mack Brown said after the game. “I’m fighting my guts out, trying to turn this around.”

For the Cyclones, who showed up strong despite all the recent hits, they claimed their own turnaround.

“You get beat and you get beat and you say enough is enough,” running back Jeff Woody said. “We are done with losing, we are sick of it.

“I’m on a high. Just thinking the words, ‘We beat Texas!’ It’s unbelievable.”

Player of the Week
Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor. Griffin is the very definition of a program changer, that one recruit who can alter a team’s path. And he continues to do that in Waco. With elusive bowl eligibility within grasp, Griffin produced his best game yet as a Bear, throwing for a school-record 404 yards with four touchdowns.

Coming Up

Game of the Week: Missouri at Nebraska. No room for revelry at Mizzou, with the Huskers on tap in a showdown for North supremacy — and more. The Tigers move more prominently into the BCS Championship chase with a win.

On the Spot: Carl Pelini, defensive coordinator, Nebraska. OK, so the Huskers seem to be fine on offense. But the defense needs work. Mizzou may not have the explosiveness of Oklahoma State, but they’re balanced and more than capable.

In the Spotlight: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri. With his superb effort on the big stage against Oklahoma, Gabbert made a case for All-Big 12 quarterback in a league that has revealed many quality candidates. He’s been overlooked through much of this season. Now he’s in position to do great things.

Stock Rising
Ryan Tannehill, QB/WR, Texas A&M. A former prep quarterback who has played mostly wideout in his first three years at A&M, Tannehill relieved starter Jerrod Johnson and threw for three touchdowns to spark the Aggies’ rout. Tannehill completed 12-of-16 passes for 155 yards and also ran for a touchdown. Now, how much does he play at QB the rest of the way?

Stock Falling
Garrett Gilbert, QB, Texas. After playing admirably in place of the injured Colt McCoy in the national title game, Gilbert returned this season amid much hype and anticipation. But the transition has been anything but smooth. And while the Longhorns lack playmakers at running back and wide receiver, Gilbert’s poor decisions aren’t helping.

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