Time To Answer Big 12 Questions In Final Month Of Season

Monday, October 29th 2007, 7:48 pm
By: News On 6

Missouri has been to three bowls the past four years, and goes into the final month of this season already eligible for another postseason game.

So are the ninth-ranked Tigers (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) ready to finally have a strong finish in the regular season and do more than play in a bowl? How about the Big 12 championship game?

``You talk about winning at a high level. Until you do, it doesn't mean a whole lot,'' coach Gary Pinkel said Monday on the Big 12 coaches conference call. ``It's an exciting position to be in. Now can you do it? Time will tell.''

That is just one of many questions that will be answered on the field in the final month of the Big 12's regular season.

_ Can No. 8 Kansas, 8-0 for the first time since 1909, keep winning? If the Jayhawks do, can Missouri keep pace and create a winner-take-the-North scenario in their regular season finale Nov. 24?

_ Will the South title be determined in another game on the last day of the regular season north of the Red River between fifth-ranked Oklahoma and Oklahoma State? Or will No. 14 Texas or Texas A&M still be able to make a championship run?

November letdowns _ 1-2 records in each of the last three Novembers _ have sidetracked Missouri's shot at bigger things.

``Can you take the next step, be in it at the end, the very last game, win a (North) title, get in the championship game? We can talk about it all we want, I don't know,'' Pinkel said. ``That's the beauty of football. You have to go out and do it.''

Missouri plays Saturday at Colorado, then has games left against Texas A&M and Kansas State before the potential title showdown against Kansas.

The Jayhawks begin their final stretch at home against Nebraska, which has won 37 of the last 38 meetings in the series but lost two years ago in Lawrence. Plus, the Cornhuskers are suffering through their first four-game losing streak since 1961.

``There are so many different things historically about this program, not played well against this team, having done this, haven't done that,'' Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. ``There has been a century of inconsistency here. We're trying to get that righted.''

South co-leaders Oklahoma (7-1, 3-1) and Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-1) are coming off bye weeks. If the Sooners beat Texas A&M and the Cowboys win over Texas on Saturday, the Oklahoma teams will share a two-game division lead with two games left before their instate rivalry finale.


LATERAL LESSON: NEVER STOP: Even the Big 12 coaches were talking about the game-ending 15-lateral play Trinity College pulled off after a completed pass to win its game.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Colorado's Dan Hawkins both used ``awesome'' to describe what they saw.

``It was a really spectacular play,'' Texas Tech coach Mike Leach said.

So is there a lesson for Big 12 teams from the finish by Trinity, an NCAA Division III team from San Antonio?

``Absolutely. You have to play to the final gun,'' Stoops said. ``You just can't believe what actually happened. That shows you anything can happen.''

Seven different Trinity players touched the ball before the touchdown was scored 62 seconds after the ball was snapped. There were three times as many laterals as California had on the 1982 game-winning kickoff return against Stanford when the band came on the field.

Texas coach Mack Brown has seen only part of the Trinity highlight, but planned to show it to his players and remind them, ``Don't think the game is over until it's over.''

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said he hadn't yet seen the play.

``Well, I'm sure the way things work nowadays, not that I'll get to see it, but somebody will put it on YouTube, right?,'' quipped Gundy, whose ``I'm a man'' postgame rant in September has been viewed more than 1 million times on the file-sharing Web site.

Yes, coach, people have shared the Trinity video as well.


JUST JOKING: Back in August before practice had even started, Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione was joking about Oklahoma and the Sooners' then-unsettled quarterback situation.

``That may be the only question mark they have, other than what jobs they are going to work this year,'' Franchione said during a preseason meeting at the Touchdown Club of Houston. ``That is a joke, I couldn't resist.''

That referred to Sooners starting quarterback Rhett Bomar and another player getting kicked off the team in 2006 for getting paid for work they didn't do at a car dealership.

``That was a lighthearted comment with a bunch of Aggies in the room,'' Franchione said this week. ``I have great respect for Oklahoma.''

The comments have come back to light because the Aggies play at Oklahoma this week. But Sooners coach Bob Stoops didn't plan to remind his players of what was said.

``We don't need to do that,'' Stoops said.

``I don't think Oklahoma needs that,'' Franchione said. ``They've got a lot to play for other than that.''


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Texas running back Jamaal Charles and kicker Ryan Bailey are Big 12 players of the week, along with Colorado cornerback Terrence Wheatley.

Charles ran for a career-best 290 yards and three touchdowns, with 216 yards and all three scores coming in the fourth quarter of the 28-25 win over Nebraska. Bailey kicked three field goals and an extra point.

Wheatley was the first Colorado player in 25 years with three interceptions in a game.


EXTRA POINTS: Nebraska starting QB Sam Keller will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury sustained Saturday at Texas. ``He's a good kid, a classy individual and has been a real leader during some troubled times this season,'' coach Bill Callahan said. ... Texas Tech QB Graham Harrell has consecutive four-interception games after being picked off only three times the first seven games. Coach Mike Leach said Harrell has handled the adversity ``pretty well.''