After One Week, Big 12 Looks Both Very Good And Very Bad

Sunday, September 2nd 2007, 7:07 pm
By: News On 6

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) _ In an age of instant gratification, it's easy to spot what fate has in store for the Big 12 this year.

Baylor and Iowa State will stink. Oklahoma State will disappoint. Texas will bewail Mack Brown's big raise. Kansas State will fail, but nobly.

Nebraska and Texas A&M will be pretty darn good. Missouri will tease its fans but eventually come up short and Oklahoma and Kansas will meet in the conference championship game on Dec. 1 with the NCAA single-season scoring record on the line.

That's the way it all stacks up for now, at least. The first full weekend of college football Big 12-style included expected routs, unexpected blowouts and a couple of dreary repeats of past failures.

And if the ball had bounced just a tiny bit differently at the end, Appalachian State-Michigan might not have been the day's only monumental upset.

But cornerback Brandon Foster recovered the onside kick with 56 seconds to play and No. 4 Texas kept hope alive for a national championship with a shaky 21-13 victory over 39-point underdog Arkansas State.

How lucky were the Longhorns?

The Indians recovered the onside kick. But they had to re-kick because of a penalty.

In Austin this week, a lot of people will be looking themselves in the mirror.

``Maybe with such a high ranking the guys started walking around with their noses in the air,'' said defensive tackle Derek Lokey. ``Maybe we're not as good as we thought we were.''

Brown, who received a rich contract extension last week, is certain to have his team's attention in practice, especially since fans of this week's visitor to Royal-Memorial Stadium were chanting, ``We want Texas!''

That's what they were saying at No. 22 TCU as the final seconds ticked away in a 27-0 victory over Baylor. The Horned Frogs were without standout defensive end Tommy Blake. But they still had no trouble stretching Baylor's record against ranked teams to 2-35 since 1996. It was also the first time in 17 years the Bears were shut out in a season opener.

``It's really frustrating. I thought we were further along than that. We didn't execute well enough to win,'' said coach Guy Morriss, a TCU alumnus.

Also wondering if they were overrated _ but not wondering as hard as Texas _ is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys' offense, thought to be improved, was shut out in the second half while losing at No. 13 Georgia 35-14. Down only 21-14 at the half, the Cowboys from then on generated only 117 pointless yards.

``We're not ready for the big time,'' coach Mike Gundy said.

Said offensive coordinator Larry Fedora, ``Tonight, we wouldn't have beaten many teams the way we played on offense.''

For deceptive scores, try No. 18 Auburn 23, Kansas State 13.

The Wildcats were poised to seize an enormous upset until Brandon Cox's touchdown pass with 2:01 left put Auburn in the lead. Antonio Coleman's return of a fumble in the final seconds then made it look deceptively respectable for the Tigers.

``You go on the road, it's like a heavyweight fight,'' said coach Ron Prince, who almost silenced critics of his toughened non-conference schedule. ``You've got to knock the champ out. You can't try to go win on decision.''

Things look encouraging on several other Big 12 fronts. Texas A&M's Stephen McGee rushed for 112 yards and passed for 121 in a 38-7 rout of Montana State, Nebraska rushed for 413 yards and had 625 yards altogether while blasting Nevada 52-10, and Colorado got by Colorado State 31-28 in overtime.

Missouri almost gave it away, but held on at the end for a 40-34 victory over Illinois in a game that will be remembered for Cornelius Brown. The team captain returned a second-quarter fumble 100 yards for a touchdown and then intercepted an Illinois pass on the goal line with 51 seconds to play. Brown also had another fumble recovery that set up another TD.

Oklahoma and Kansas, in the meantime, totaled 131 points between them and had smashing debuts by key people. Kansas sophomore Todd Reesing was nearly flawless in his debut as starting quarterback. He threw for four touchdowns in a 20 of 29 night for 261 yards while clubbing defending Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan 52-7.

At Oklahoma, freshman DeMarco Murray became the first Sooner to score five touchdowns in his debut and redshirt freshman Sam Bradford threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns in his first start as the No. 8 Sooners beat North Texas 79-10.

``It's definitely good to come out for your first start, play good, play consistent and be comfortable out there,'' said Bradford. ``If I had come out and played poorly, I might not have had as much confidence going into next week.''