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Big 12 winners recognize room for improvement

Big 12 winners recognize room for improvement

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Except for Colorado and Baylor, all the Big 12 teams opened the season with victories.

That doesn't mean the winning coaches were any more satisfied than Dan Hawkins, whose Colorado debut was a loss to I-AA Montana State, or Guy Morris after Baylor missed a chance for a season-opening upset when it blew a halftime lead against No. 22 TCU.



SATURDAY'S BIG 12 GAMES

Mississippi at Missouri, 11:30 a.m.

Nicholls St. at Nebraska, 12:30 p.m.

Washington at Oklahoma, 2:30 p.m.

Colorado vs. Colo. St. at Denver, 4 p.m.

UL Monroe at Kansas, 6 p.m.

UL Lafayette at Texas A&M, 6 p.m.

UNLV at Iowa State, 6 p.m.

Northwestern State at Baylor, 6 p.m.

Okla. St. at Ark. St., 6 p.m., ESPNU

Florida Atl. at Kansas St., 6:10 p.m.

Ohio State at Texas, 7 p.m., ABC

Texas Tech at UTEP, 8 p.m.

Four of the seven Big 12 teams that won by more than 30 points did so against I-AA opponents. Other blowouts included defending national champion Texas overpowering a rebuilding North Texas team and Texas Tech beating SMU for the 10th straight time.

Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa State also won, but not as easily.

"We don't make any apologies at all for winning," new Kansas State coach Ron Prince said Monday. "We want to make sure to keep that the central issue, but we understand we have some work to do, particularly offensively."

The Wildcats won 24-23 only because I-AA Illinois State was stopped on a two-point conversion.

No. 10 Oklahoma had two fumbles and two interceptions, and needed both of Adrian Peterson's second-half touchdowns (4-yard run, 69-yard catch) to beat UAB 24-17.

"We won a game where we didn't play our best. We still have a lot we can improve on," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "Turnovers are an issue. We have to be able to protect the football better. ... Defensively, we've got a lot of room for improvement. In an area that we expect to be strong, we weren't."

Iowa State finally pulled out a victory over Toledo in the third overtime.

"We had to reach down and find a way to win it," Cyclones coach Dan McCarney said.

The old theory goes that teams make their most drastic improvement between the first and second games. That's this week for all the Big 12 teams since everybody plays again Saturday.

Nebraska won 49-10 over Louisiana Tech had at least 250 yards rushing and 250 yards passing in a game for the first time since 1996, the kind of balance third-year coach Bill Callahan has wanted since transforming them from a run-oriented team.

But like the rest of his coaching brethren, Callahan quickly reminded that there are a lot of games left and still found things that he didn't like.

"We had about four dropped balls, gave away the ball twice in the red zone and had five penalties," Callahan said. "There are number of things that need to be cleaned up."

Especially since Nebraska plays its third game at USC.

Hawkins said his Colorado team was disappointed, but that he wasn't rattled by the 19-10 loss to Montana State.

"It is part of the learning process," Hawkins said. "My general protocol, win, loss or draw, is you bury it on Sunday and move on Monday."


CLASSIC II?: The pivotal game for Texas on way to its national championship last season was an early 25-22 victory at Ohio State.

It's time for the rematch, Saturday night in Austin.

"If Ohio State won, I think they would have had a real good chance to play for the national championship as well," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "That's the risk-reward of two great teams playing like this early in the season."

Ohio State will be the first No. 1 team since SMU in 1950 to visit Austin.

"It was a classic last year," Brown said. "If both teams will play well this weekend, it should be a show on the national scene for everyone to enjoy."


QUOTABLE: "I think the new clock rules are stupid. It's interesting to me that we talk about football, football, football and we do all we can to have less football. TV wants shorter games so it fits. The tail's kind of wagging the dog on that deal." - Texas Tech coach Mike Leach.


EXTRA POINTS: Coach Gary Pinkel has a 30-30 record at Missouri after starting his sixth season with a victory. "I don't pay attention to that," Pinkel said. "I focus on the program and how to make ourselves better. Doing that will take care of those things." ... Canadian-born RB Jon Cornish had a career-high 140 yards on 13 carries in Kansas' season-opening victory. "He looked sharp," coach Mark Mangino said. "He took a while to get used to the tempo and the speed of the game. Last year, he really caught on at running back and has developed into a fine player for us" ... Baylor WR Trent Shelton caught a pass in his 34th straight game Sunday, tying Reggie Newhouse's school record.

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