1st and 100Nov. 11, 2010
By Matt Larsen
Sports writer Matt Larsen talks about each Big 12 South team, getting 100 words per squad in a weekly installment
Daniel Cernero | Photo Editor
Robert Griffin III
The Bears (7-3, 4-2) experienced being unseated from the No. 1 spot in the Big 12 South last week in a 55-28 loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
Robert Griffin III was off for the second consecutive week, throwing for 267 yards and no touchdowns (by air or by foot), and the difference between the win a week before in Austin and a loss in Stillwater rests on the defense's inability to keep OSU out of the end zone like they did to the Longhorns.
The Bears hope Griffin is just homesick as they host a rejuvenated No. 22 A&M Saturday, and they must win out for any chance at a Big 12 championship.
The Sooners (7-2, 3-2) said goodbye to their BCS championship dreams last Saturday with a 33-19 loss in Aggieland.
It came down to the offense's inability to finish crucial drives with touchdowns while Texas A&M found ways to punch it in.
The red zone offense and defense will need to show more resilience if the Sooners want to be playing in the Big 12 championship.
They now must notch road wins against Baylor and Oklahoma State to close the season while not getting surprised by Texas Tech this week at home.
The Cowboys (8-1, 4-1) now have the driver's seat and everything to lose after snatching the top spot in the Big 12 South from the Bears in a 55-28 win. Brandon Weeden set a school passing record with 435 yards and three touchdowns while his usual accomplices, running back Kendall Hunter and receiver Justin Blackmon each had two scores.
After catching the Bears' offense spinning its wheels, Oklahoma State now must avoid falling into an offensive rut of its own against Texas and Kansas before defending its spot atop the South and home turf against Oklahoma in the final week.
The Longhorns' (4-5, 2-4) offensive woes followed them up to Manhattan as they lost their third straight, falling 39-14 to Kansas State last Saturday.
Moving the ball is not the problem, though, as the offense outgained its opponents in every game this year. The problem is a -12 turnover ratio fattened by Garrett Gilbert's five interceptions this last week.
Posting more total offense in every game also shines light on a defense that still leads the conference, allowing 267 yards a game.
The Longhorns will need the defense to start scoring, too, if they want to salvage a 6-6 record.
With an unprecedented midseason turnaround crowned by a 33-19 upset of Oklahoma last Saturday, the Aggies (6-3, 3-2) find themselves a long shot in the mix of possible Big 12 South champs.
As quickly as the Texas offense shrank to a -12 turnover ratio, A&M soared out of the Big 12 basement on the wings of quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns against the Sooners but the Aggie defense, led by a 19-tackle performance from linebacker Michael Hodges, posted critical goal line stands.
They still face tests from two more potent offenses in Baylor and Nebraska, though.
With a defensive performance outside itself, the Red Raiders (5-4, 3-4) surprised Missouri 24-17 in Lubbock. The defense, ranked last in the Big 12, held the Tiger offense to 95 yards through the air and no passing touchdowns while Tech quarterbacks Taylor Potts and Stephen Sheffield combined for 287 yards and three touchdowns. Assuming they win their last two against non-conference opponents, the Red Raiders could look back on this eye-catching upset as the very win that earned them a bowl invite. As for this week, they will be the underdog against an angry and needy Oklahoma squad.