The Big 12 Is Back

By Carolyn Braff - September 09, 2007


The Big 12's quest to prove that it is still as good as its members claim was foiled in Week 1 when Texas, the conference's preseason posterchild, barely eeked out a 21-13 win over Arkansas State. Oklahoma certainly put up some numbers in its 79-10 thrashing of North Texas, but for the most part, the conference had a bunch of forgettable performances. Fast-forward to Week 2 and with the exception of Nebraska's uninspired 20-17 just-win at Wake Forest, the big guns in the Big 12 are back.

Oklahoma is the real story of the conference, as validated by the AP moving the Sooners up to No. 3 in their Sept. 9 poll. Redshirt freshman Sam Bradford has embraced the starting quarterback position and this week, his big numbers mean something. Oklahoma squashed Miami 51-13, running right through a respectable Hurricane defense that had received top billing under the tutelage of defensive-coordinator-turned-head-coach Randy Shannon.

Bradford threw a record-tying five touchdown passes in the effort and completed 19 of his 25 pass attempts for 205 yards, notching two wins in as many career starts. Rushing duties were split between DeMarco Murray, Allen Patrick and Chris Brown and Bradford spread out pass-catching duties among eight different receivers. Seven different guys got touches in the first eight plays, catching Miami flat-footed from the get-go.

"It wasn't scripted, but it just happened," head coach Bob Stoops said of spreading the ball around so much so early. "We like to use all of the field and all of our players. It's never been our style just to go to one guy - that's just not the way we do things. We like the defense to have to deal with everyone. We feel good about all of our quality players at every position. We don't feel like we have to go to only one guy. We are looking to spread the ball around and to take what is there."

And take they did, as the Sooners never trailed in the contest, and barely ever sweated, but they did let Miami stay in the game longer than they should have, coughing up two fumbles that the Canes were eager to recover. Erase those turnovers and this team may very well be unstoppable.

Down in Austin, it took the No. 6 Longhorns a little longer than expected - as in, until the second half - but they quieted the naysayers throughout the Lone Star State and beyond, topping No. 19 TCU 34-13 in a game many people thought would go the Horned Frogs' way. It didn't look so good after that first half, when babyface McCoy threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown. But it was hard not to forgive the sophomore QB when he led his team to victory, highlighted by his willingness to jump into a 23-yard scramble early in the fourth quarter (note to coaching staff - teach Colt how to slide) to set up the go-ahead score.

The Longhorns' defense, which seemed to forget to show up in its first game of the season, was stellar against TCU, holding the inter-state rivals to 251 total yards, picking off two interceptions and recovering three fumbles. Quite possibly the best statistic of the weekend: TCU had 17 total yards and no first downs in the third quarter of play.

McCoy finished the evening 25-of-38 for 239 yards and it looks like Texas found some answers to its questionable run game: Jamaal Chrales ran 22 times for 134 yards and a touchdown, averaging 6.1 yards per carry against one of the stoutest defenses in the country. TCU had not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 21 games before Saturday afternoon, and given the sorry state of Texas' run game last season, that is certainly something for these Longhorns to hang their 10-gallon hats on. On the receiving end, Nate Jones caught eight passes for 91 yards and a TD to lead the seven different pass-catches McCoy found on the day.

"I thought last week was good for us because we needed to grow up a little bit and realize that college football is hard," head coach Mac Brown said. "And tonight was even better for us because we had to handle adversity and we saw that we can. We saw that we played together as a team in that second half so well. I didn't see bad body language, I didn't see kids with their heads down, and that's key in my estimation to being a good football team."

Texas aged like a fine wine from Week 1 to Week 2, adding some balance to its offense and shoring up that defense. Now that Texas looks like it's ready to roll, the Oct. 6 Red River Shootout should have more implications than just determining the winner of the Big 12 South. If both teams keep up this pace, whoever takes the game in Dallas might find itself fighting for a national title in January.

Look out, SEC - the Big 12 is back.

Posted by Carolyn Braff at 02:43 PM on September 09, 2007
Comments (2)

Comments

Doesn't anyone notice the OU defense?!! Was not their goal line stand for 7 plays against Miami and the total of only 139 total yards allowed worth even a slight mention? And I believe someone once said "Defense wins ball games." If so, OU is going to win some ball games this season!

The quote is actually "Offense wins games, defense wins championships."

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