Big 12 teams faced their stiffest test of the season over the weekend, and once again came through it with, should we say, guns a blazing, Horns a plenty and "booming" success.
Six conference schools took their acts on the road this weekend, always a difficult challenge for any team in any conference, and five came away with big early-season victories. Top-ranked Oklahoma had its moments, good and bad, in Tallahassee, but as championship teams are wont to do, the Sooners did what they had to when they had to do it and escaped one of the hardest places to play in college football with a huge 23-13 victory over fifth-ranked Florida State.
Said Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher after his team's loss to Oklahoma: "All great games come down to two or three plays. They made plays. We didn't."
UCLA was the team that started Texas on its fateful swoon a season ago, winning in Austin, but the Longhorns wouldn't allow a repeat performance this year, pounding the Bruins in the Rose Bowl to run Texas' record to 3-0 to start the 2011 season. There's a new McCoy, Colt's younger brother Chase, leading the Longhorns' offense, and on Saturday he threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns in his first career start as Texas quickly jumped out in front and rolled to a 49-20 over UCLA. Texas is 3-0 to begin the season for the fifth consecutive year.
Missouri and Kansas State scored early and often against their Week 3 home opponents. Kansas, on the other hand, had no defense for the second-half scoring onslaught of the Ramblin' Wreck of Georgia Tech, which successfully revenged its year-earlier loss to the Jayhawks with a 66-24 beatdown in Atlanta.
Sophomore tailback Henry Josey rambled for 263 yards rushing on 14 carries, averaging 18.8 yards every time he ran with the ball, all in the first half, as Missouri took out all of its frustrations on hapless Western Illinois, romping to a 69-0 victory. The point total matched the Tigers' all-time scoring record, set two times previously, and was Missouri's biggest victory margin in program history. The Mizzou offense rolled up 744 yards, another single-game first for the Tigers. In addition to the offensive display, the Missouri defense was in shutdown mode, holding Western Illinois to a single first down the entire game and just 44 yards of total offense.
It was also a perfect night in Manhattan, Kan., where Kansas State held its opponent, Kent State out of the Mid-American Conference, scoreless while ringing up 37 unanswered points of its own. It was the Wildcats' first shutout of a football foe since 2006. Quarterback Colin Klein ran for 139 yards, including two touchdowns, and passed for 74 more, accounting for 213 of K-State's 335 yards of offense. Much-ballyhooed transfer running back Bryce Brown did not play, suffering from what coach Bill Snyder described as a minor injury.
For a half Saturday, Kansas played fairly decently, especially playing away from home. The Jayhawks trailed Georgia Tech by a touchdown, 24-17, at the half. And that was as close as they would get. The Yellow Jackets steamrolled Kansas over the final 30 minutes, scoring on their first three possession of the second half en route to what turned out to be a rout. Georgia Tech outscored KU 42-0 in the second half before the Jayhawks punched in a meaningless score with just a little over two minutes to go in the game.
Iowa State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Baylor also posted wins over the weekend, giving the Big 12 a 9-1 record for the week and running up its overall win total against nonconference opponents this season to 23 against just two losses. In the nine wins recorded by Big 12 teams this weekend, the teams averaged 45 points while giving up 11.7 per game.
Oklahoma State and Tulsa waited out a severe weather delay of well over three hours at Tulsa Saturday night before the game finally got under way a little after midnight. The delay didn't seem to stall the two offenses, although it could be argued that the defenses of both teams fell asleep. Oklahoma State's high-powered offense outlasted its in-state rival 59-33 when the game finally ended at 3:35 a.m. Sunday. Oklahoma downed the same Hurricane team 47-14 in Week 1.
Weather was a factor in a couple of other games over the weekend. Baylor's game with Stephen F. Austin was stopped for 40 minutes in the second quarter because of rain and lightning and was eventually called, by agreement of the two coaches, at the end of three quarters. And Texas Tech's game at New Mexico was delayed twice for a total of an hour and a half for lightning.
Five Things We Learned From Last Week's Big 12 Games
- No team could have used a shot of confidence and a rebound game more after last week's action than Missouri, and the Tigers took full advantage of the opportunity. With a difficult road test coming up next week in Norman, Okla., where the No. 1 Sooners are unbeaten in five years, Missouri needed a good old dose of home cheering and a game in which the Tigers could flex their offensive and defensive muscles and show some dominance. And dominate they did. Missouri came out roaring and took no prisoners in flattening highly overmatched Western Illinois 69-0. As their reward, the Tigers get Oklahoma next.
- New quarterback at Texas Tech, no problem. The air is filled with footballs no matter who is the Red Raider quarterback, and high point totals are the result. This year's sorcerer under center for the Red Raiders is Seth Doege. All he did in his second career start for Texas Tech was set an NCAA record by completing 40 out of 44 passes (a 90.1 completion percentage) for 401 yards and two touchdowns in a 59-13 road win for the Red Raiders over New Mexico. Doege completed his first 15 passes Saturday, a school record.
- Quarterback Robert Griffin III at Baylor may have inserted his name in the Heisman Trophy race with another sensational performance in the Bears' second win of the year. In his first two games, RG3 has as many touchdown passes as he has incompletions, eight of both.
- Iowa State, believe it or not, is half way to bowl eligibility after knocking off Connecticut, last season's Big East champion, for the Cyclones' third straight win of 2011. The margin of victory in Iowa State's three wins is a combined total of nine points.
- It's still early in the season, but Kansas State's defense appears to be much improved, based on its performance in the first two games. The Wildcats have allowed only seven points total in opening wins over Eastern Kentucky and Kent State.