Archive for Saturday, October 5, 2002

First week of Big 12 features big games

October 5, 2002

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— The Big 12 season is finally here.

After just five league games in six weeks, there will be that many today as the conference race makes an unofficial start.

The biggest games feature No. 2 Texas playing host to Oklahoma State and No. 3 Oklahoma at Missouri. Should the Longhorns and Sooners win, then the hype will begin for their matchup at the Cotton Bowl next Saturday.

"Oklahoma State is a better team than any we've played at this point," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "Our guys will not have any trouble focusing on Oklahoma State."

Other marquee games include an early North showdown between reigning champion Colorado, which is off to a rocky start, and No. 13 Kansas State, which has emerged as a division front-runner; and No. 23 Texas A&M rekindling a rivalry with Texas Tech that's turned ugly in recent years.

Possibly the most interesting game is the one in Waco between Baylor and Kansas. Someone has to win, which will guarantee at least one of them won't go winless in league play. The Bears have lost 29 straight conference games, while the Jayhawks won only one Big 12 game last season.

Nebraska will try to workout its kinks against Division I-AA McNeese State, while No. 15 Iowa State is idle. The Cyclones already are off to a 2-0 start in the limited league action thus far with victories against Kansas and Nebraska.

Missouri and Oklahoma State would love to stun their rivals and ruin next weekend's big game. The Tigers (3-1) are hoping their strong start will continue against the Sooners (4-0).

"This is a great opportunity," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "Playing this type of personnel is going to tell us a lot about our football team."

Oklahoma State (2-2) is going into a stretch of four straight games against top foes. After Texas (4-0), they play Kansas State, Nebraska and Texas A&M.

Despite a bad September that included losses on and off the field, Colorado (2-2) starts with a clean slate in conference play. The Buffs need to get their act together quickly to maintain their champion status. The Wildcats (4-0) certainly will provide a staunch test.

"It's going to be real physical, fast-on-fast, big-on-big," CU defensive tackle Brandon Dabdoub said. "It's going to be a real fun game."

The bad blood between the Aggies (3-1) and Red Raiders (3-2) was rekindled last year in Lubbock, Texas, when Tech won 12-0.

Fans tore down the goal posts at Jones Stadium and rammed it into a crowd of A&M fans, sending fists flying and tempers flaring.

In case anyone thought it was behind them, the Aggies media guide for this season featured a look back at last year's game that called Tech fans "even uglier than the barren stretch of dirt some West Texans call a city," and that "even in victory (Tech fans) looked like classless clowns."

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