Victories by Colorado, K-State show gap may be closing Print
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Wednesday, 03 October 2007 13:48
NCAAF Headline News

 HOUSTON (AP) -Did Colorado's win over Oklahoma and Kansas State's upset of Texas signal a shift in power from the Big 12 South to the North?
It's still too early to judge.
``A lot of things go in cycles,'' Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. ``There are a lot of great coaches and a lot of great teams in both divisions. That enhances our league, but let it play out and we'll see how it unfolds.''
Five Big 12 teams are ranked - No. 10 Oklahoma (4-1, 0-1), No. 19 Texas (4-1, 0-1), No. 17 Missouri (4-0), No. 24 Kansas State (3-1, 1-0) and No. 25 Nebraska (4-1, 1-0).
Colorado was among the other teams receiving votes. Even perennial Big 12 doormat Kansas, off to a 4-0 start, got some votes this week.
``The last couple of days, everybody's talking about the North,'' Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. ``I'm going to take a wait-and-see attitude and see how it plays out. Everybody in the Big 12 is capable of winning on any given day against anybody.''
Oklahoma or Texas has played in three of the past four national championship games and a team from the South has won seven of the last 11 Big 12 championship games. Kansas State won the last one for the North, in 2003.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said the notion that the South was always superior was overblown because of the success of the Sooners and Longhorns. Thanks to better recruiting, better talent nationwide and other factors, Gundy said all the major conferences are as balanced as ever.
``Not only from the North to the South, but across the country, there's more parity,'' Gundy said. ``We have good coaches in the South and the North. There's always going to be the opportunity that if you don't play sound, you give up plays, you turn it over, that you could lose a game.''
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PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM: Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said quarterback Sam Bradford isn't the man to blame for Saturday's loss in Colorado.
After putting up gaudy numbers in the Sooners' first four games, Bradford finished 8-for-19 for 112 yards with two interceptions in Boulder. Stoops counted four dropped passes and complained that Oklahoma's entire offense was out of sync late in the game.
``It's not just Sam, it's the players around him,'' Stoops said. ``It's the plays called, it's the situations we put them in, all of it together. It's the same reason when he's played well - it's the players around him and how the offense is executed.
``He wasn't far off in that game and there are a lot of guys around him who didn't play as well as they needed to play.''
The Sooners play Texas on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
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SHORT AND SWEET: Kansas State's longest pass play in Austin on Saturday covered only 20 yards, but coach Ron Prince doesn't care if the Wildcats ever dazzle opponents with deep throws.
``We're going to try to do whatever it is we think we can do to move the ball,'' Prince said. ``In my opinion, where we are in our development right now, I'm much more focused on defense and special teams than I am on trying to prove any kind of a point offensively.''
The Wildcats excelled in both of those areas against Texas, returning a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns. They also didn't commit a turnover, while forcing four by the Longhorns and returning an interception for another score.
Kansas State scored first and never trailed, which eliminated the need to try any risky, down-the-field plays, Prince said.
``Because we were able to play with a lead the entire game, we could play a certain way,'' Prince said. ``Because we got some of the plays on defense and in the kicking game that we got, we really didn't have to do some other things we might've had to do in some other games.''
The Wildcats host Kansas on Saturday.
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FIRST IMPRESSION: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach liked what he saw from his defense a week after Lyle Setencich stepped down as the coordinator. Assistant head coach Ruffin McNeill took over the unit and the Red Raiders allowed only 118 yards in a 75-7 romp over Northwestern State.
``The thing that was clear was the excitement and enthusiasm of the players and the coaches, and really the spirit of the group,'' Leach said. ``That was very important, those guys going out there, playing with emotion, being excited to play.''
The Red Raiders gave up 610 yards in a 49-45 loss to Oklahoma State the previous week. Leach said he needs a few more games to measure how much the defense is improving under McNeill.
Texas Tech faces Iowa State on Saturday.
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M last week. It was the highest single-game tackle total for a Bear since 2003.
 

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