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Southern domination

Big 12 North Division has struggled this season
Tuesday, October 26, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:09 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 17, 2008

This difference isn’t hard to spot. It is clear at first glance at the Big 12 Conference standings.

The disparity between the North and South divisions can be seen at the top. In the South, No. 2 Oklahoma and No. 16 Texas A&M lead with 4-0 records. In the North, nobody has a record above .500. Missouri and Nebraska lead with 2-2 records.

Plain and simple, the South has dominated the North this year. Of the four interdivisional matchups Saturday, the South won three of them and has an 11-3 record against the North this season.

Explanation for the disparity, though, is a little harder to come by. The Big 12’s coaches discussed it Monday during the weekly conference call.

“It’s hard to point out why,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. “I’m not sure there is a scientific reason for it to be quite honest with you, just things go in cycles.”

Baylor is the only team from the South with losses to North teams. Iowa State defeated the Bears 26-25 on Saturday. Missouri and Nebraska also beat them.

Colorado took Texas A&M to overtime before losing 29-26 on Saturday and is 0-2 against the South. Colorado coach Gary Barnett said this year’s disparity highlights the inherent advantages the South schools possess.

“I don’t think there’s any question that the traditions of those programs are such that it pays off,” Barnett said. “We all go to Texas to recruit. The resources and facilities are second to none in the country, so they have all that.”

Barnett also said the coaching change at Nebraska contributed to the North’s difficulties competing with the South.

“Every once in a while, you’re going to have a bump in the road,” he said.

Even though some critics have said this shows the Big 12 is in a down year, Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said it indicates an increased level of parity, and many of the North’s losses could easily have been wins.

“I think some of those ball games could have gone either way,” Snyder said. “I just relate back to what I always say. I think that from top to bottom, the Big 12 Conference, regardless of which division you happen to be in, it’s probably as fine a conference you can find. I think it’s always going to be competitive.”

Snyder cited Missouri’s 3-point loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday as an example.

NOT A VICTIM: Mangino said he didn’t fault Oklahoma for scoring late in a blowout against Kansas on Saturday to better its ratings in the Bowl Championship Series standings.

“I chalk it up to, ‘Why’d we let them do it?’” Mangino said. “‘Let’s knock it down in the end zone. Let’s sack the quarterback. Let’s do something.’ This is the world we live in. These are the rules. This is the way it goes.

“You got to do what you’ve got to do for your program…It’s no big deal to me.”

When the first BCS standings were released, the Sooners were third behind Miami despite being ranked second in the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls.

Leading 34-10 on Saturday, the Sooners continued to run their offense with their starters, and quarterback Jason White hit Mark Bradley for a touchdown with 35 seconds left on a third-and-goal.

To explain his actions, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops recited an analogy that Texas Tech coach Mike Leach used last week when asked about continuing to throw the ball in a 70-10 romp against Nebraska.

“He said, ‘In basketball when they’re up big, they don’t start shooting air balls,’” Stoops said. “‘In golf, they don’t start shanking drives or missing putts on purpose.’ So, there’s 85,000 people there watching you to play. As long as it’s within reason, and you’re not running trick plays and doing things that are unnecessary.

“You don’t ever want to humiliate or embarrass anybody at all, and I don’t think in either of those situations that was the case.”

Stoops’ decision against Kansas yielded benefits. The Sooners jumped Miami into second in the BCS standings released Monday. Against Texas Tech earlier in the season, Stoops decided not to score a late touchdown, and then thought it hurt his ranking in the BCS.

The Sooners (7-0, 4-0) likely won’t have a great chance to run up points this week, though. They travel to rival Oklahoma State, ranked No. 20, in Stillwater, Okla., in the game of the week. ESPN’s preview show College Gameday will broadcast Saturday morning in Stillwater.

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Texas quarterback Vince Young responded to a mediocre showing Oct. 16 against Missouri to earn the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week award this week.

Young, a sophomore, accounted for 300 total yards and five touchdowns in the Longhorns’ 51-21 win at Texas Tech. Young’s four rushing touchdowns established a school record for touchdowns in a game by a quarterback.

“That’s the best Vince has played this year,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. “He’s very deserving of the award.”

Iowa State’s Brandon Brown won Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the Cyclones’ 26-25 victory against Baylor. Brown, a senior linebacker, had a game-high 13 tackles, forced a fumble and had two sacks.

Five field goals, including the winner in overtime, netted Texas A&M’s Todd Pegram the Special Teams Player of the Week award. Pegram, who also made kicks of 34, 25, 23 and 20 yards, sent the game against Colorado into overtime with his 20-yard field goal. The No. 16 Aggies won 29-26.


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