MU football team benefits from bye as upsets shake up Big 12

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 | 12:05 a.m. CDT; updated 11:04 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Blessed with a bye week, Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel got to watch several games on television Saturday, when five of the top 10 teams lost.

The madness got to him.

“People saw Saturday. People always said to me, a lot of my friends, ‘I can’t believe you do this for a living. I can’t believe you coach for a living,’” he said during Monday’s press conference, getting laughs from the media. “Shoot, after Saturday, I was looking at myself in the mirror, saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re doing this for a living.’ It’s unbelievable.”

He and the Tigers will rejoin the craziness when they face Nebraska under the Faurot Field lights at 8:15 p.m. Saturday. But the media were still trying to work their way through the wreckage Monday and make sense of all of the results: Where do all of the Big 12 Conference teams stand? After the South Division dominated during the past five years, is the North more competitive this season?

During the coaches’ teleconference Monday, one reporter admitted he was clueless.

Jimmie Tramel, from the Tulsa World, asked Kansas coach Mark Mangino to help him formulate his Big 12 power rankings after all the upsets.

“Now, I’m completely lost,” Tramel said. “You wanna help me out?”

“Jimmie, I got my hands full coaching a football team,” Mangino said, with a laugh. “I’m not going to be much help to you, buddy.”

Even the two official polls have different opinions, jumbling teams around. The AP rankings list the teams in this order: Oklahoma (10), MU (17), Texas (19), Kansas State (24) and Nebraska (25). But the USA Today coaches’ poll has Texas (16) ahead of MU (17). Adding to the confusion, not only is Kansas State not ranked in the coaches’ poll, but Kansas also received more votes than the Wildcats (48 to 33). The Jayhawks received only three votes in the AP poll.

Games played this Saturday should settle some arguments. Along with the Nebraska-MU matchup, Kansas plays at Kansas State, and Oklahoma faces off against Texas in Dallas.

This weekend’s upsets also illustrated the potential fading of the South Division’s dominance. The North has been the weaker half in the past, going 28-62 against South opponents from 2002 to 2006. Kansas State was the only North team to win the Big 12 championship game during that span, beating Oklahoma 35-7 in 2003.

But like the once glamorized Britney Spears, the South has been acting weird and looking bad this year. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy made national news because of his performance, not his team’s, at his postgame press conference more than a week ago. Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione acted like a corrupt businessman by selling insider secrets to his boosters.

Then, mighty Texas lost to Kansas State and Oklahoma lost to Colorado on Saturday. Like the Rockies, the Buffaloes came back when they seemed finished. The Wildcats beat the Longhorns for the second consecutive time.

The two upsets were historic. Oklahoma and Texas both lost on the same day for the first time since Oct. 2, 1999. Neither team has lost consecutive conference games in years — Texas in 1999 and Oklahoma in 1998 — but one team will face that fate after their game Saturday.

ROSTER NOTES: Pinkel said wide receiver Danario Alexander will play against Nebraska. Alexander dislocated his wrist against Illinois.

Alexander is wearing a small cast to protect the injury, but Pinkel said it’s not noticeable on the practice field. The wide receiver is able to wear a glove over the cast, which makes his arm look “bionic,” Pinkel said.

Alexander didn’t lose his starting job to his backup, Jeremy Maclin, who performed well in Alexander’s place. Pinkel said the team now considers both players as starters.

n Cornerback Carl Gettis is listed ahead of Hardy Ricks on the team’s latest depth chart. Ricks started the first four games alongside Darnell Terrell.

n Backup right tackle Dain Wise is available again after straining his knee.

MOYE’S STATUS UNCERTAIN: Pinkel said he would review backup safety Gilbert Moye’s status this week after Moye left Columbia because of a death in the family. Moye was arrested by MU police on Wednesday on suspicion of third-degree assault. Defensive end John Stull is available to play against Nebraska after serving a one-game suspension against Illinois State because of his arrest on suspicion of assault.

TIME SET FOR OKLAHOMA GAME: Missouri will play at Oklahoma at 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 13, it was announced Monday. The game will be televised on the Fox Sports Network.

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