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 KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -For a conference that entered the season with so much hype, the Big 12 has had a rough couple of weeks.
Oklahoma was ranked third in the preseason, but lost to Brigham Young in its opener. Oklahoma State, with its highest ranking in 24 years, lost to Houston last week. Kansas State couldn't beat Louisiana-Lafayette on the road. Colorado can't beat anyone.
Does this mean the end of the Big 12's rise to the top of college football? Not quite yet, the coaches insist. It's still too early to tell.
``It's a long season, it's a 12-game season, it's a grind. I wouldn't judge the Big 12 the first couple of weeks,'' Kansas coach Mark Mangino said Monday during the Big 12 coaches' call.
``Sure, there's been some games where we've gotten beat where perhaps we were favored in the conference, but I think you've got to look at it at the end of the season and the whole body of work because this is a pretty darn good conference.''
before that - at the top, playing for national championships, with teams like Colorado or Kansas State occasionally putting together impressive seasons.
The conference's depth has improved over the past couple of years as most of its teams converted to wide-open offenses that no one can seem to stop. Kansas, Missouri and Texas Tech have each made national title bids and the rest of the teams have gotten better. At the least, the Big 12 is one of the deepest conferences in the country.
Expectations for this season were high. The conference had five teams in The Associated Press preseason poll, including three in the Top 10. Sending a team to the BCS championship game for the fifth time in seven years was considered realistic.
So what happens? Two losses to Mountain West Conference teams during the first weekend, then losses to Sun Belt and Mid-American schools last weekend. Granted, Toledo has seven wins over BCS schools the past nine years and BYU is no slouch, moving up to No. 7 in the latest poll.
And it's not like the Big 12 is alone when it comes to upsets. And the conference still has five teams in the Top 25, with Missouri just missing the final spot.
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CYCLONES ROAD WOES: Iowa State tackled one losing streak by beating North Dakota State in its season opener. Now it's time for the Cyclones to end their woes on the road.
Heading into Saturday's game at Kent State, Iowa State has the longest road losing streak in the country at 17 games - a stretch that dates to 2005. The Cyclones try not to think about it.
``The more we focus on it now as we encounter more road dates, the more it starts to become a distraction,'' Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said. ``If we can just manage the football game, eliminate mistakes and execute, we will eventually end this losing streak.''
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POTTS' START: Texas Tech quarterback Taylor Potts has made a seamless transition from Graham Harrell's backup to starter at Texas Tech.
The junior was named the Big 12 offensive player of the week Monday after throwing for 456 yards and seven touchdowns on 36 of 57 passing in a 55-10 win over Rice. Potts has 861 yards passing and nine TDs in two games, still a long way from breaking all those records Harrell set, but not a bad start.
``He's playing well and he's getting better every day,'' Red Raiders coach Mike Leach said. ``He threw for a bunch of yards in each game and he's getting sharper and sharper.''
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well, but I'm telling you there's going to be some sparks flying in this game,'' Texas coach Mack Brown on Saturday's home game against Texas Tech, a year after the Red Raiders beat the Longhorns in the final seconds.
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EXTRA POINTS: Coach Mike Gundy said starting tailback Kendall Hunter is doubtful for No. 16 Oklahoma State's game against Rice after injuring his right leg Saturday against Houston. ... RB Daniel Thomas is the first Kansas State player since Cornelius Davis in 1966 to have consecutive 100-yard rushing performances to start his career after rushing for 240 yards the first two games. ... Missouri LB Carl Gettis, a stalwart on Tigers' special teams, is out for the season with a torn ACL.

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