Old Big 12 rivalries hit new sites

Sep 30, 2009 - 9:57 PM By JEFF LATZKE AP Sports Writer

OKLAHOMA CITY(AP) -- When Texas A&M faces Arkansas at the Dallas Cowboys' new stadium this week, it will renew an old Southwest Conference rivalry that had gone dormant for nearly two decades.

Iowa State and Kansas State? They are simply meeting in the middle to play their Big 12 opener at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

As nearly half of the Big 12 takes the week off, much of the focus will be on the two games being played at neutral sites and what kind of splash they make.

The conference has its marquee neutral-site game each October when Oklahoma and Texas play in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Missouri has had an annual series with Illinois in St. Louis in recent years, and agreed with rival Kansas to move the Border Showdown to Arrowhead.

Oklahoma State and Texas Tech have also discussed moving their game to a neutral site.

"I know that our game with Oklahoma is a great game and it's something that a lot of the fans look forward to," Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday when asked about Texas A&M and Arkansas moving in on Red River Rivalry territory. "The really good thing: It's kind of like a bowl game at midseason. I would think that this one would be the same way."

The Aggies and Razorbacks have agreed to play the Southwest Classic the next 10 seasons in Dallas. They'll be meeting for the first time overall since 1991, when Arkansas moved to the Southeastern Conference. Before that, the teams had met every year since 1934.

The renewal of the rivalry gives the Aggies, who play closer to Houston, a chance to edge into Texas' other big market.

"Since we got here, we've made a big effort to be stronger in Metroplex up there and in the Dallas area, and I think we've proven that with our recruiting commitments," A&M coach Mike Sherman said. "I think it gives our players a chance to go back to that area - we have quite a few players from that area now, and are also recruiting some players from that area currently who are committed to us.

"It gives us a chance to have a presence up there, but it also gives Arkansas a chance as well."

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder admitted he had reservations about playing the Cyclones at Arrowhead, the site of the Wildcats' last Big 12 title - an upset of top-ranked Oklahoma in 2003. The North Division rivals have met 91 times, but never before on a neutral field.

"We've had great games in Arrowhead and have always enjoyed the experience. Personally, I like to play our non-conference games in Manhattan, Kan.," he said. "I think the more opportunities that we have to bring Kansas state fans into the community enhances the well-being of this community. ... You kind of have mixed emotions about it."


REESING'S CONDUCT: Although it didn't prove costly, quarterback Todd Reesing was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the second quarter of Kansas' 35-28 win against Southern Miss last week.

The penalty put the Jayhawks in a first-and-25 situation in a tie game, and they went for it on fourth-and-2 to extend the drive.

Coach Mark Mangino said Reesing wasn't trying to taunt the Golden Eagles, although it was perceived that way.

"When he makes a play, he drops the ball from his hip to the ground," Mangino said. "He doesn't throw it or anything. He just drops the ball. You can see that repeatedly on any highlights of him. Well, he jumped up and dropped the ball and it fell on the player, and the official told me that he dropped the ball on his face, which he thought was intentional.

"I'm not disputing anything, but I talked to Todd and he said that was not the case. But the call was made. I could see where an official would make that call that had not seen Todd play before."


PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Brandon Banks of Kansas State was named the Big 12's special teams player of the week after matching an NCAA record with two kickoff returns for touchdowns in the same game.

Banks had a 91-yard return for a score in the first quarter and 92-yarder to open the second half in the Wildcats' 49-7 win against Tennessee Tech on Saturday.

Texas safety Earl Thomas won the defensive honor after he intercepted two passes in the Longhorns' 64-7 victory over UTEP.

Iowa State running back Alexander Robinson and Missouri receiver Danario Alexander shared the offensive award. Robinson ran for 127 yards and scored three touchdowns against Army, and Alexander had nine catches for a career-high 170 yards and two touchdowns against Nevada.


C-U ANY TIME: Colorado continues its wacky non-conference schedule with a Thursday night game at West Virginia. "We're playing a weekly schedule: This will be a Thursday, Friday, Saturday and a Sunday for us now, so I think the following week, we'll go on Wednesday," coach Dan Hawkins joked. The Buffaloes also finish the season with a Thursday night game at Oklahoma State, followed by the annual rivalry game against Nebraska the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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