Nebraska, Kansas State, Oklahoma lead Big 12

Monday, October 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) _ Just two weeks into conference play, three teams already have separated themselves from the Big 12 pack.

No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 8 Oklahoma are the only teams with 2-0 league records. At best, only two can make it to 3-0 as the Wildcats play host to the Sooners this Saturday.

Then after a week off to catch its breath, Oklahoma welcomes Nebraska to Norman. The way things look now, the Sooners are the favorites to meet the Cornhuskers or Wildcats again in the Big 12 title game in December.

And if one of those three teams can make it that far without a loss, the Big 12 likely will have a team playing for the national championship.

Oklahoma asserted itself as the team to beat in the Big 12 South by destroying Texas 63-14 in one of the biggest blowouts in the long and storied history of their Red River rivalry.

Their first meeting as top 15 teams since 1984 was supposed to be close, but the Sooners quickly turned the game into a defining moment of their uprise under second-year coach Bob Stoops.

OU scored the first five times it had the ball and once when Texas did to lead 42-0, ensuring no repeat of last year, when a 17-0 lead faded into a 38-28 loss. The Sooners set a bundle of series and school records while breaking a three-year losing streak against the Longhorns. The loss knocked Texas from No. 11 to 25th.

``It feels so great,'' said offensive lineman Frank Romero, one of the players who ran along the stands slapping hands with fans, then joining teammates at the 20 for an impromptu group photo _ with the scoreboard behind them.

``This is why you play football. It's an awesome feeling. The kind of feeling that makes you want more of it. Of course, we're going to get our chance next week.''

Next up for the Sooners is a Kansas State squad also coming off a crushing victory over a longtime rival.

The Wildcats stomped Kansas 52-13, but it wasn't as emotional considering K-State had won the previous seven meetings and the Jayhawks were unranked.

The Cornhuskers got a scare from previously unbeaten Iowa State, but rallied for a 49-27 victory that returned them to the top of the poll. An unimpressive victory the previous week had dropped them to No. 2.

The most disappointing performance Saturday may have been by Texas A&M, which lost 26-19 at home to previously winless Colorado. It was the Aggies' first loss at Kyle Field since 1996.

Also Saturday, Texas Tech and Missouri improved to 1-1 in league play as the Red Raiders beat Baylor 28-0 and the Tigers beat Oklahoma State 24-10.

So we're only one-fourth of the way through conference play and already the slotting has begun.

In the North, there's no surprise that Kansas State and Nebraska are on top (the Wildcats listed first because they're 6-0 overall and the Huskers 5-0).

The stunners are the fact Iowa State (4-1) leads the pack of 1-1 teams and that while Colorado is in that mix, few expected the Buffaloes to be 1-4.

As for Kansas being 0-2, 2-3, here's how linebacker Dariss Lomax describes it: ``It's just embarrassing. This is a waste of time and a waste of talent. We have to get together.''

Oklahoma was everybody's dark-horse choice in the South, and the Sooners are more than living up to it. By averaging 47.8 points, they've proven that they don't miss former offensive coordinator Mike Leach.

Leach is now the head coach at Texas Tech, but it's defense that is leading the Red Raiders. They've allowed only 59 points in six games, two fewer than K-State, and have two shutouts in a season for the first time since 1970.

Tech, which has mostly played second-rate foes, will find out whether it's for real Saturday when the Cornhuskers come to Lubbock.

``Our style is an aggressive, attacking style,'' Tech defensive coordinator Greg McMackin said. ``We have those personalities on defense.''

Texas and A&M, the only teams that have ever won the South title, also are tied for second at 1-1, but both are in jeopardy of being on the brink of disaster.

The last time the Longhorns lost this badly, against UCLA in '97, they wound up 4-7. The Aggies have been struggling all season and are finding new ways to lose; special teams was a culprit Saturday.

``Those are problems that we haven't had,'' coach R.C. Slocum said. ``I'm surprised. And I'm disappointed.''

Baylor is holding down the South cellar as usual, currently joined by Oklahoma State.