Conference play starts in the Big 12

Friday, September 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DALLAS (AP) -- Now the games will count for real in the Big 12.

The last Saturday in September brings the start of conference play, with a full slate of six Big 12 games.

Just five of the league's teams made it through the non-conference part of the schedule without a loss, and only four are ranked in the Top 25. None of the league openers involve two ranked teams or two undefeated teams.

Top-ranked Nebraska (3-0), the defending Big 12 champion, opens at home against Missouri (1-2). No. 5 Kansas State (4-0) plays at Colorado (0-3); No. 13 Texas (2-1) is home against Oklahoma State (2-1); and No. 14 Oklahoma (3-0) is home against Kansas (2-1).

In other games Saturday, Texas Tech (4-0) plays at Texas A&M (2-1); and Baylor (2-1) is home against Iowa State (3-0) plays in a matchup of the league's perennial last-place teams.

Nebraska has beaten Missouri 21 straight times, and won the 10 games in the 1990s by an average margin of 34 points. Maybe the Tigers, who were off last weekend, can take advantage of the first-ever night game in the 93-game series that dates back to 1892.

The Huskers lead the nation in rushing with 370 yards per game, and have won 99 straight games with rushing for 300-plus yards. But they can do more than run, having tied a school record with five TD passes in last week's 42-13 victory over Iowa.

Missouri, playing its third straight ranked team, is 1-24 against Top 25 teams in coach Larry Smith's seven seasons.

Colorado, which had a preseason No. 24 ranking, has lost its three games to ranked teams by a combined 10 points. Kansas State has three straight wins against Colorado, its longest winning streak in the 55-game series.

Oklahoma State and Texas are playing in a conference opener for the fourth time, but the first time in the Big 12. The Cowboys and Longhorns played their Southwestern Conference openers against each other in 1916, 1918 and 1922.

Kansas, which is 0-12 in Big 12 road games under fourth-year coach Terry Allen, has to go to Oklahoma. The 12 road losses by the Jayhawks under Allen are by an average margin of 24 points, with only one by less than 10 points.

Baylor, which has lost 13 straight conference games, and Iowa State have a combined 7-57 Big 12 record in the league's first four seasons. Neither team has ever won more than one Big 12 game in the same season, both going 1-7 every year except for Baylor's 0-8 record last season.

Texas Tech and Texas A&M play in the only Big 12 opener in which both teams are coming off open dates. Mike Leach is the first Tech coach to win his first four games since Dell Morgan started 5-0 in 1941. A&M, just 1-3 against the Red Raiders since the Big 12 began, hasn't lost at home since Tech won 13-10 at Kyle Field in 1996.