Upsets plague Big 12 teams

Tuesday, September 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:28 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

After the Big 12 Conference teams opened the season 10-2, only seven teams earned wins in the second week.

Losses included Fresno State routing Kansas State and Missouri falling at Troy on Thursday.

BCS conference teams falling to small conference teams happens with regularity and the Big 12 coaches said Monday during the their teleconference that the level of competition is closing between the BCS and non-BCS conferences.

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said the Wildcats learned first-hand the past two seasons not to take small conference teams too lightly.

“We’ve seen that in the last 48 hours,” Snyder said. “Non-BCS conferences have reputations for developing really good football teams. We found Fresno State to be a very talented team and last year we lost to Marshall.”

Marshall nearly upset another major school Saturday when the Thundering Herd lost to No. 9 Ohio State 24-21. Fresno State beat Washington in the first week of the season.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who coached at mid-major Toledo before moving to the Tigers, said the upsets occur because of players raising their game.

“You go in and it’s your shot, you are generally an underdog and you never got recruited by those guys,” Pinkel said. “The players, I know my players did, will play at a level they’ve never played at, because this is their shot.”

While Big 12 schools did not recruit many small school players, better players are falling through the cracks because of scholarship limitations. Schools are allowed to offer only 85 scholarships and the NCAA has changed rules on partial qualifiers.

These limits mean better players end up playing for schools like Fresno State, Troy and Marshall.

While Snyder said there are better players, he wonders if most small schools could hold up against a difficult conference schedule.

“The question that gets asked is they only play these opponents once, if you put them in a BCS Conference, how would they hold up?” Snyder said. “Fresno State, I believe, could come into the Big 12 and do that.”

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach also said a tough conference schedule could limit the success of the mid-majors. The Red Raiders were defeated by New Mexico 27-24.

“They can get up for a specific opponent when they do it,” he said. “It could be hard if they had more games like that down the road.”

Colorado has not been upset this season, but coach Gary Barnett said those games mean nothing for the conference race.

“Those games give you a wake-up call, that’s all,” Barnett said. “They just make you realize you’re not as good as you’ve been reading in the paper.”

WOEFUL OFFENSE: After Colorado totaled only 125 yards of offense in a 20-12 win against Washington State, coach Gary Barnett said the Buffaloes have much improving to do, since that is not the offensive output he is looking for.

“I don’t go to sleep at night and dream of getting 115 yards of offense,” Barnett said. “That’s a nightmare.

“The 2-0 record is only a relief, since we haven’t went in and kicked somebody’s fanny.”

WEEKLY AWARDS: Cedric Benson became the second Longhorn to earn Big 12 Player of the Week honors in two weeks, when he was named the conference’s top offensive player. Benson ran for 188 yards and two touchdowns in Texas’ 22-20 win at Arkansas.

Colorado’s Alex Ligon earned Defensive Player of the Week honors after making three sacks and four tackles for a loss against Washington State.

Antonio Perkins of Oklahoma and Darrent Williams of Oklahoma State earned co-special team honors after returning punts for touchdowns.

Perkins’ 41-yard touchdown was his eighth career punt return score, tying an NCAA record set by Texas Tech’s Wes Walker, from 2000-2003.

Williams had a 59-yard return touchdown and had another long return erased by a penalty.

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