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Archive for Monday, October 27, 2008

Big 12 Perspective: League puts up big points

October 27, 2008

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On a day where scoreboards were lit up across the nation, it only seemed fitting that the Big 12 would lead the way.

Texas Tech hung 63 points on Kansas, which entered play as a two-point favorite and lost by 42 points. Oklahoma scored 55 points at Kansas State - in the first half - in a 58-35 victory, and Missouri blasted Colorado, 58-0. Not to be left out, the league's last two winless teams in conference play, Texas A&M and Iowa State, combined for nearly 1,100 yards of total offense in a 49-35 victory for the Aggies.

The only Big 12 team to win by scoring under 30 points was No. 1 Texas, which held off No. 9 Oklahoma State, 28-24, to set up this week's "Game of the Century," a showdown with the sixth-rated Red Raiders next weekend in Lubbock.

The South rises again

The Big 12 season is at its midway point, and it's the same old story. Four teams from the South division are ranked in the top 10, led by the top-ranked Longhorns. The North has just one ranked team, No. 14 Missouri, after Kansas got bumped from the rankings.

The fight for the South's spot in the Big 12 title game promises to be a dogfight down the stretch, starting next week in Lubbock. Missouri, despite a 2-2 record in conference play that would put the Tigers fifth in the South, appears to be the best of a shaky North lot.

But Missouri coach Gary Pinkel was impressed by how his team bounced back from a big loss at Texas last week.

"That was our best focus as far as preparation and everything the entire year. That was better than anything we've done this year, and it would be wise if we do the same thing next week," Pinkel said.

Field day for field generals

The Big 12's reputation as a quarterback-driven league was on display Saturday.

All six conference games featured at least one quarterback who threw for 300 yards, and marks were shattered from Ames to Manhattan.

Kansas State's Josh Freeman tossed for a career-high 478 yards and three TDs - against three picks - in a losing effort. Texas A&M's Jerrod Johnson threw a career-high four touchdown passes and set an Aggies record for accuracy with more than 30 attempts by completing 79.5 of his passes against Iowa State.

Texas Tech's Graham Harrell moved past former N.C. State star Philip Rivers for fourth place on the all-time career passing yardage list with 386 yards, and he tossed at least five TD passes for the ninth time.

Heisman Trophy frontrunner Colt McCoy was his usual self, despite some turnover issues, in a showdown with the Cowboys. He threw for 391 yards and two TDs and running for a key fourth-quarter score to help the Longhorns stay unbeaten.

"I've never seen anything like this. He's just absolutely amazing with his accuracy and toughness. He's running the ball well and he's leading this team well," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

Ganz's off day

Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz passed for more than 300 yards for the third straight week, yet he and coach Bo Pelini said he was a bit off in the Cornhuskers' 32-20 win against Baylor.

Ganz completed 32-of-46 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions. It was his seventh 300-yard passing game in 11 career starts.

"It's tough to be your best every week. That's something you strive for, but you are going to find yourself in games like this," Ganz said.

Nebraska trailed, 20-17, at half. Ganz threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Hill to finish the Huskers' second series, and he completed 16 of his first 22 passes for 102 yards.

"I think he started slow and finished well," Pelini said. "He wasn't as sharp as he has been early in the game, but still made some good plays. He's been playing at a high, high level. He was just a little off in the first half and I thought he picked it up and really played exceptional in the second half."

Ganz threw touchdown passes of nine and 53 yards to Nate Swift to break open the game.

"Second half, we came out with great intensity and great focus," Ganz said. "Both sides of the ball came out and played well. The defense played great in the second half and we were just able to execute."

Ganz has completed 95-of-127 passes in the past three games (74.8 percent), and he's increased his career passing yards to 3,860.

He's within 140 yards of becoming the fifth player in Nebraska history with 4,000 yards.

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