Big 12 Football: Breaking Down the Conference After Week 1 Play

Husker FanCorrespondent ISeptember 8, 2010

LINCOLN, NE - SEPTEMBER 04:  Taylor Matinez  #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers scores his first touchdown as a Cornhusker during the first half of  their game against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Memorial Stadium on September 4, 2010 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nebraska defeated Western Kentucky 49-10. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images

The Big 12 went a solid 11-1 in non-conference play in Week 1, but it was hardly a solid week as far as the conference is concerned.

Some ugly wins coupled with an embarrassing loss to an FCS opponent pretty much tell the story.  However, we should give each team their just due:

Iowa State

Solid win over a fairly decent Northern Illinois squad that has solid aspirations of winning the MAC this year.  Even with two interceptions thrown by third-year starting QB Austen Arnaud, the Cyclones were able to put away the Huskies in solid fashion.

Iowa State won 27-10 with a 10-play, 73-yard drive that answered a Husky drive that made it 17-10 well into the 4th quarter.

Next:  @ Iowa 

The Cyclones travel to Iowa City to face their in-state rival Hawkeyes in their annual Hawkeye State match-up.  (An interesting note, is that Iowa State holds a solid 7-5 win margin against their in-state rival over the last dozen years.)


Playing a cross-state rival in their newfound annual contest against Illinois was a bit ugly this time around.  Hampered more by mistakes and poor execution on both sides of the ball, the Tigers found themselves down 13-3 at half to the Fighting Zooksters.

After what was assuredly a solid chewing from the coaching staff at halftime, the Tigers regrouped to put the Illini away and win an ugly game 23-13.  

With Gabbert earning some more solid experience in a tight second half, the Tigers definitely found some leaks in their defensive front seven as they gave up 112 yards rushing to little-known Mikel Lashoure.

With all that said, the Tigers may have found that the talk about TJ Moe may be the real deal.  The little-known sophomore receiver proved to be as tough as advertised as he hauled in 13 catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Tiger fans also saw great glimpses of the talents that Michael Egnew, Wes Kemp, and Aldon Smith possess.  The real question is if the combination of Lawrence and Moore can make up for the loss of Derrick Washington?

Next:  McNeese State



Talk about a life lesson.  Turner Gill is trying to impart some pride amongst a team that just lost everything positive in football they ever had.

While KU players were getting drilled down by 'harsh' coach Mangino; they were winning.  At least more than their share.

Three years ago, this team was 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.  The highlight of Kansas football for the past...ever...outside of Gale Sayers.  

First game ever in the Gill regime is a loss to North Dakota State.   At Home.  An embarrassing loss any way that you look at it.

NEXT:  Georgia Tech


The Buffs were as surprising as anybody as they held a decent MWC team in Colorado State to three points in their own in-state rivalry.  This has long been a feisty tic in CU's side, much like Iowa State has been to Iowa.

Nobody was really surprised about the Buffs scoring 24 points, but the measly three that they gave up to Colorado State is impressive by any standard.  Especially when the points came on a meaningless fourth-quarter field goal.

Likely, the best news for Buffs fans is that Tyler Hansen played the entire game.  The gritty Hansen found fellow gritty competitor Scotty McKnight 6 times, including a touchdown.

The biggest concern for Buffs fans is the inability to line it up and run the ball at a Colorado State team that is far from big up front defensively. 

In the CSU front seven, only two guys go over 245 pounds, while the Buffs are to have one of the strongest and best Offensive Lines in the entire Big 12 with Miller, Givens, and Solder leading the way. 

When you can only manage 115 yards on 35 carries against CSU, what do you expect against your much assuredly tougher Big 12 competition?

UP NEXT:  @ California


Granted, it was the first time that the Texas Offensive Line has lined up with their knuckles in the dirt to try and run power football at someone. 

Simply put, it just wasn't impressive by any stretch of the imagination.

Trying to throw 250-pound RB Cody Johnson straight at Rice just didn't have any exciting results: 15 carries for 59 yards, including nine times in the first drive for 34 yards, including an 18-yard scamper.

In total, Texas ran the ball 49 times for 197 yards and averaged 4.3 yards per carry...against Rice.

Back in the day, if Texas were to run the ball 49 times against Rice, they would have rolled up 350+ yards rushing.  If not more.

The Longhorns move to a more physical, in your face, type running style didn't exactly scare anybody in Week 1...much less Rice.

It also isn't impressive that after a single drive in which a team threw their 'hammer' at Rice, he was completely gassed for the rest of the game and gasping for breath early in the first quarter.

Thankfully, Texas has a enough talent to overcome such blunders and easily beat a supremely over-matched Rice team, although it be much closer than many would have thought.

By the middle of the third quarter, the Rice starting QB didn't want any more action from the Texas defense and basically sat himself, faking an injury.  The only thing injured was his pride and unwillingness to take another hit. 

All told, Texas has some studs on defense that are young, mean, and nasty.  When the offense catches up, they'll be as scary as anybody in the country yet again.

Kansas State

Gotta respect Bill Snyder.  Basically, he has three players that would have a chance of starting at Texas:  Daniel Thomas, Brandon Harald, and Tysyn Hartman.  And I'm not sure that only Thomas would even make the 2-deep.

But somehow, he gets these kids to play together, and play with a purpose.

Playing against a more talented team from UCLA, Bill rode Thomas to a hard-earned victory over the Bruins.

Quite simply, he flat-out out-coached his counterpart.  Carson Coffman is a poor man's version of Cody Hawkins, and everybody in the stadium knew that Thomas would get the ball for at least half of the offensive sets. 

With equally poor QB's, he simply let his game-manager settle through some tough times as much as UCLA's Rick Neuheisel and crew tried to make Prince a game-changer.

In the end, Prince threw two costly interceptions, while Coffman was more able to hand off to Thomas and/or a host of others.

Impressive win for the 'Cats over a team that will win some games in the Pac 10.  And once again, Snyder displays his coaching talents against a team that is/and/or was better on paper.  They'll be tough out for anybody in 2010.


Taylor Martinez made his debut as the starting QB for the Huskers. 

The red-shirt freshman didn't disappoint. 

Rallying three TD runs and totalling 127 yards rushing, Martinez also tacked on 136 yards on 9 of 15 passing to rack up a total of 263 yards of total offense in a mere 6 drives of action.

Everything wasn't exactly smelling like roses in Husker land though, as the Blackshirts gave up some gashing runs to a team that has now lost 21 consecutive games. 

While 49-10 looks good, the defense has some things to work on..and then some.

NEXT:  Idaho

Oklahoma State

Maybe the most impressive team from week 1 was Oklahoma State.  With a newfound healthy Kendall Hunter, the Pokes were able to tack on 65 points against a BCS opponent.

While Washington State could well be the worst BCS team in the entire country, Okie State treated them like the lowly team that they are.

With his best Barry Sanders-esque mode in mind, Kendall Hunter was able to rack up 257 yards rushing on a mere 21 carries.  Included in that flurry were 4 TDs and a 66-yard romp.

Obviously, Hunter's re-introduction to the hearts of Pokes fans was lost in the 22 of 30 performance from new starting QB Brandon Weeden for 218 yards and 3 TD's passing himself.

No doubt the running of Hunter made that possible, but it was sharp in and of itself.

Not to get too excited, but OSU definitely started off with a bang. The real question is if this type of offensive production can continue into Big 12 play?

Not likely. 

But they'll get two more cream puffs to exude their offensive production against Troy and Tulsa before they have to play a defense with a pulse. 

NEXT:  Troy


31-24 against Utah State?  I know, pathetic, right?

However, Utah State has been getting better under the influence of the ex-Defensive Coordinator at Utah from 2004 to 2008.  You know, that defense that held Alabama in check in the Sugar Bowl all of two years ago? 

That coach is Gary Andersen.  Just last year they took Texas A&M to the wire as well, almost beat Fresno State, and beat Idaho in their season finale. 

They also returned 16 starters. Put it this way, I had a few on Utah State to cover this ridiculous line. 

Oklahoma was going to underrate these guys, just like Boise State in the past.  Even with the spectacular showing of DeMarco Murray, Oklahoma was honestly surprised by the athleticism of Utah State. 

They can play a little, and don't be surprised if they take down an undefeated Boise State on Dec. 4 on the road, either.

In the end, it was a scare, and maybe Oklahoma has gotten the point of not being surprised and taking care of business against an over-matched opponent early in the game. 

One also has to be concerned that Landry Jones completed less than half of his passes and threw 2 interceptions.  Yes, yet again, against Utah State.

Thankfully, DeMarco Murray was at his electric best in tallying 218 yards rushing and 2 TD's. 

If not?  Maybe they were looking ahead?

NEXT:  Florida State


Bears fans welcomed back the supreme talents of Robert Griffin in their contest with FCS Sam Houston State. 

The Bears got a solid win, were somewhat impressive, and gained some much-needed confidence with Griffin at the helm..

Griffin scored twice through the air and once on the ground in tallying 301 yards of total offense. 

But this was Sam Houston State.  Tougher roads to hoe than this one.  And when you need six wins against bowl-eligible opponents, this game was basically a scrimmage.

NEXT:  Buffalo

Texas A&M

They beat FCS school Stephen F. Austin easily and handily.  Not much here.  Move on.

Next: Louisiana Tech

Texas Tech

The last team in the Big 12 to play, really had to work for a win against June Jones and SMU.  Leading 35-14 in the third quarter, the Red Raiders let off the gas pedal a bit early.

After throwing three early interceptions, SMU sophomore QB Kyle Padron regrouped and led three second-half scores to make the game 35-27 late into the fourth quarter.

Getting his first win as a Big 12 coach had to feel good for Tommy Tuberville, especially in a game that he likely felt was well in hand.

Welcome to the Big 12, coach, and you have yet to play a single Big 12 team.

Fully expect this team to get better each and every week.

NEXT UP:  @ New Mexico



11-1 wasn't bad from the conference, but seriously, who was really in danger of losing?  Outside of a Hawk effort from CU to fold and lose to CSU, what game was really sketchy? 

North Dakota State? 

Week 2.  Bring it.


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