|Still more big games left in Big 12|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 05 November 2008 14:55|
Texas Tech's milestone victory at home over then-No. 1 Texas with one second remaining was only the latest in a string of big games, particularly in the South division, with implications not only on the conference standings but national polls.
``Big games, the number of teams in the top 10, it makes it very difficult as a coach,'' Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy said during the weekly Big 12 coaches conference call. ``But I'm sure as a fan, it's a lot of fun.''
Gundy and his No. 8 Cowboys (8-1) go to Lubbock this week to take on the Red Raiders (9-0), who shot to second in The Associated Press poll after the 500th victory in program history Saturday night. The win was the first for Tech over a top-ranked team.
Add in No. 5 Texas and No. 6 Oklahoma, both 8-1, and the Big 12 South has four teams with a combined record of 33-3 ranked in the top eight of the AP poll and top nine of the latest Bowl Championship Series standings. North co-leader Missouri (7-2) is No. 13 in the AP poll, 14th in the BCS.
, I do think that nationally football is more fun for fans than ever before,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said. ``It is like we are in constant playoffs now every day. ... But it changes so much, and everybody gets so high and so low. But you've got to wait until the end.''
The last-second loss ended a brutal stretch of games for Texas, following impressive wins over Oklahoma, Missouri and Oklahoma State.
After Oklahoma State, Texas Tech has to go to Oklahoma. And there is the regular season-ending grudge match between the Sooners and Cowboys that could have much more than in-state bragging rights on the line.
``It's just incredibly competitive, particularly in our conference and especially in this division,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ``Each week you have to be prepared, and you've got to keep fighting through the rest of it.''
Beside Texas' monthlong bonanza of big games, there have also already been key matchups between Tech and Kansas; Oklahoma State and Missouri; and Kansas and Oklahoma. The South teams won each of those.
Missouri fell out of the national title chase with consecutive losses to Oklahoma State and Texas, but can still get back in the Big 12 championship game for the second year in a row.
Kansas (6-3), tied with Missouri atop the North standings, suffered back-to-back losses Oklahoma and Texas Tech. The Jayhawks still have to play Texas.
though it won't be a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup like last year, could be playing for the North Division title in their regular season finale Nov. 29 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Big 12 championship game is there a week later.
``It's all going to sort itself out,'' Mizzou coach Gary Pinkel said. ``Certainly, I have great pride being a member of this conference and I don't think there's a question about it this year, without question we're the strongest conference in the country.''
SWARMING CONCERNS: Even before the final second had run off the clock, Texas Tech fans were pouring out of the stands and onto the field to celebrate the Red Raiders' upset victory of then-No. 1 Texas.
The field had to be cleared twice after the go-ahead touchdown, and Tech was given two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The Red Raiders then kicked off from their own 7 before the game ended Saturday night and the fans swarmed the field again.
``I think that the Big 12 and the NCAA should do something for the security and safety of those kids and coaches after games like that. It's really dangerous,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said. ``We talk about security all the time. We limit the number of people on the sideline. Right after the game, we let everybody ... run on the field and push coaches and players.''
. But he worries about opposing teams trying to get off the field through chaotic celebrations.
``We're going to have a real sad situation and real tragedy at some point,'' he said. ``I really think we're headed for a tragedy if some of this isn't stopped.''
LEACH'S LATE NIGHT: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach didn't get off the field until about 1 a.m. in the aftermath of the victory over Texas. It was another four or five hours after that before he went to sleep.
One thing he didn't do during that time was watch a replay of the game.
``I knew I was going to do that the next day,'' Leach said.
Now the Red Raiders have another nationally televised top-10 Saturday night showdown at home. Will they be able to put the Texas victory behind them and focus on Oklahoma State?
``We've done a pretty good job this year just trying to keep everybody in perspective, and we have the mental discipline to do that,'' Leach said. ``We don't really have a pile of special activities, but it's been a point of emphasis on coaches and players. It seems like everybody is taking it pretty seriously.''
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell and safety Daniel Charbonnet earned Big 12 player of the week honors, while Iowa State kick returner Leonard Johnson was the special teams player of the week.
as to pass Colt Brennan for third place on the NCAA career passing list (14,303 yards). Charbonnet returned an interception 18 yards for a touchdown, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.
Johnson set an NCAA record with 319 kickoff return yards against Oklahoma State. The true freshman had nine returns, including 72- and 73-yarders.