Big 12 enters conference play after strong preseason


Behind the top rushing game in the country, Oklahoma State cracked the Top 25 for the first time this season. Only four Big 12 Conference teams are not receiving at least a few votes in the Associated Press Top-25 poll. Six teams are in the top 25, including Oklahoma, which moved to No. 1 after a tumultuous week in which top-five teams USC, Georgia and Florida lost.

Missouri (4-0) AP Rank: 4th 
Last week: Bye   
This week: at Nebraska
Coach Gary Pinkel: “We understand that it’s the first game in the Big 12. We’re excited about playing it. We’re excited about getting in league play. We’re playing a team that’s very well-coached, that’s disciplined.”

Nebraska (3-1) AP Rank: receiving votes (RV)
Last week: Lost to Virginia Tech 35-30
This week: vs. Missouri
Coach Bo Pelini: “We have to learn from what happened and learn from our mistakes [at Virginia Tech], because there were a lot of things that we need to get corrected, but it’s time to move on.”

Kansas State (3-1) AP Rank: not ranked (NR)
Last week: Defeated Louisiana-Lafayette 45-37  
This week: vs. Texas Tech
Coach Ron Prince: “It has been a while since we have had a conference opener at home. If you go back and look at K-State, a lot of our openers have been road games. It nice to be able to open at home where we have been able to enjoy some success, and we would like to be able to build on that.”

Colorado (3-1) AP Rank: RV
Last week: Lost to Florida State 39-21
This week: vs. Texas
Coach Dan Hawkins: “Clearly I think we can extenuate other things and get into that same name. I haven’t really worried a whole lot about what happened in the past between CU and Texas. I think we’re dealing with the here and now, and what we have, and what they have.”

Iowa State (2-2) AP Rank: NR
Last week: Bye
This week: vs. Kansas 
Coach Gene Chizik: “We are here for the journey at Iowa State, and I am so excited that we have to do this against the best.”

Kansas (3-1) AP Rank: 16th
Last week: Bye
This week: at Iowa State
Coach Mark Mangino: “They [Iowa State] have a lot of veteran guys on the offensive line returning, which should be a strong suit for them. Iowa State will be ready to play just like we will this Saturday.”

Texas Tech (4-0) AP Rank 7th
Last week: Bye
This week: at Kansas State
Coach Mike Leach: “We haven’t had [a bye week] since 2004, and I think everyone was kind of shocked when we found that out. We have to manage it well and get better as a team. We need to take advantage of the practice opportunities, and get ready to go on the field at Kansas State.”

Oklahoma (4-0) AP Rank: 1st
Last week: Defeated TCU 35-10
This week: at Baylor
Coach Bob Stoops: “I think it is an old story by now. When you look through the years, in every league and every conference, you see upsets when teams come out and they are not ready to play or are not at their best. It has happened to everyone. It has happened to us here and every team out there. I think it’s obvious to everyone that you really have to be on top of your game to give yourself a chance to go out there and win.”

Oklahoma St. (4-0) AP Rank: 21st
Last week: Defeated Troy 55-24
This week: vs. Texas A&M
Coach Mike Gundy: “I still say you’re going to find out how good you are as the season goes on. It’s very important you stay healthy, guys stay fresh, the mental aspect of the team and their chemistry and how they care about each other is more important than most people realize.”

Texas (4-0) AP Rank: 5th
Last week: Defeated Arkansas 55-10
This week: at Colorado
Coach Mack Brown: “Colorado has only had one loss and they were down 24-0 to Oklahoma and upset them last year on this same weekend in Boulder. They are doing a good job. They have good players and they are well coached. I think it’s a good test for us this weekend.”

Baylor (2-2) AP Rank: NR
Last week: Bye
This week: vs. Oklahoma
Coach Art Briles: “What we are going to do is play hard for 60 minutes, play well for 60 minutes and win a football game in 60 minutes. Their rankings and all of that is going to be hyped up without us getting involved in all of that.”

Texas A&M (2-2) AP Rank: NR
Last week: Defeated Army 21-17
This week: vs. at Oklahoma State
Coach Mike Sherman: “We are measured collectively as a team. Some positions may be a little stronger than others, have a little more depth than others, but we’re not measured individually. We’re measured collectively. And we expect to win.”