Is Big 12 too good for own good?
DALLAS (AP) -- These days, the Big 12 simply replaces one top-ranked team with another.
Sounds great, unless you're the coach of the No. 1 team that lost to its biggest rival and now must prepare for the latest in a series of nationally ranked opponents.
Bob Stoops said Monday the conference is the best it's been in his nine years at Oklahoma. That was probably easy to say after his Sooners fell to fourth with a 45-35 loss to Texas, the new No. 1, and will play host to No. 16 Kansas on Saturday.
"Is that a good thing? I wish it wasn't," Stoops said of the league's strength. "For our sake, you wish there weren't as many (good teams). But I guess for the league, yeah, that's a good thing."
The Big 12 has become a football league of halves -- half the teams are ranked, and the conference fills nearly half of the top 10 nationally. Missouri fell eight spots to 11th with an upset loss to Oklahoma State, but that's OK. The Cowboys jumped into the top 10 at No. 8. Texas Tech is seventh.
Coaches give the credit to the quarterbacks and offenses, which make the national rankings for stats look a little like the polls. Five of the top 11 offenses and six of the top 10 quarterbacks nationally come from the Big 12.
"When you have that and you throw in some good defense, you see what we are seeing," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said. "I've always said I'm very proud to be a part of this league, and it's certainly showing from a national standpoint to be very strong."
Colorado coach Dan Hawkins says the league's best "should be in the NFC West." He's already had to play two of them, losing at home to Texas in a game the Longhorns controlled from the start and falling at Kansas in a more competitive game last weekend.
Iowa State nearly knocked off Kansas two weeks ago, letting a 20-0 lead slip away in a 35-33 loss. The Cyclones followed that with a 38-10 loss at Baylor, and they have Oklahoma State and Missouri looming later in the season.
"It's at a whole new level," Iowa State coach Gene Chizik said. "It's a blessing for college football. It's my curse that I'm trying to build a program at Iowa State."
As for the question of Big 12 teams knocking each other out of the national championship hunt, coaches agreed it was a little early to worry about it.
"In my position this is the best conference in college football right now and somebody would have to give me a compelling case to show me different," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "As far as who's getting to the national championship game, that's the furthest thing from my mind."
The Longhorns best illustrate the problem of anyone getting ahead of themselves. Had Missouri finished one spot higher in this week's rankings, Texas could have been in line to face four consecutive top 10 opponents.
"I don't even think we're in a position with the schedule we've got to start worrying about the end," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said it wasn't unusual for him to be focused on the offensive game plan and not watching the game while his defense was on the field in last week's upset of Missouri, as television footage showed.
Gundy says he's always been more focused on the offensive game plan. He says it was noticeable because of the spacious sidelines at Missouri's Faurot Field, as opposed to the cramped quarters at Oklahoma State's Boone Pickens Stadium.
"When we play at home, getting away from the action is about 3 feet -- to the wall -- and I'm kind of right there," Gundy said. "I guess because I had to go over there to sit on that trunk where we script our next series on offense, it became more visible."
Baylor coach Art Briles said his Bears "are past that" when it comes to creating a winning mind-set. Their latest step in that direction was Saturday's victory against Iowa State.
When talk turned to the league's strength, Briles made it clear where he wants the program to go.
"Instead of being a looker, we need to be looked at," Briles said. "It certainly gives us motivation to have somebody shake our hands instead of having to knock at the door."
Texas took two of the three player of the week awards with quarterback Colt McCoy (offense) and receiver/kick returner Jordan Shipley (special teams). The winner on defense was Oklahoma State linebacker Andre Sexton.
McCoy was 28-of-35 passing for 277 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions in Texas' 45-35 victory against Oklahoma. Shipley caught 11 passes for 112 yards and a score and had a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, the longest ever for the Longhorns against the Sooners.
Sexton had 13 tackles and an interception that he returned 39 yards.