Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thoughts on the Rest of the Big 12

I appear to be a day behind this week. Oh well. I'll blame it on the bye week.

Once again, ranked in order of those who have proven the most, not necessarily a “power poll” in the typical sense of the word.

1. Oklahoma

Odds are, this isn’t going to change any time soon. The Sooners have at least a little bit of a test this week, with Sam Bradford’s first true road game (needless to say, a few Sooner fans made the trip to Tulsa last weekend). Lucky for him, it will be in just about the least-hostile place imagineable, Boulder. The CU defense is good, but really all OU will need to do is score 20 to feel comfortable. Being that they’re averaging about 86 points per game, they should be able to pull that off.

Crimson and Cream Machine has a quick CU scouting report.

2. Kansas

Eventually KU will have to prove something against a living, breathing team, but so far doing exactly what is expected of you still garners a #2 spot in the rankings.

Rock Chalk Talk has a boatload of links and thoughts.

3. Texas

The fact that they pummeled a Rice team that was already 0-2 against the Big 12 (including an absolute whooping at the hands of Baylor), the fact that the ‘Horns dominated the Owls was not much of a surprise. However, they looked good, and they got one more week removed from their weak showings against Arkansas State and Central Florida, so I’ll stick them at #3.

Burnt Orange Nation thinks about K-State and (in particular) Ron Prince way too much for anybody's health.

4. Missouri

They still haven’t proven if their defense is Kansas-level mediocre or Tech/Nebraska-level bad. That distinguishing line could make the difference in the North division this year. We’ll see soon enough.

I’ll use this space as an opportunity to link to Big Head’s fun review of ESPN/ABC announcing crews.

5. Texas Tech

They lost to OSU, and I’m sticking them above both ATM and OSU? Weird, huh? Actually, five games into the season, we know exactly what we’re going to get from Tech the rest of the way. If you make a few stupid mistakes on offense, their offense is good enough that you’ll find yourself down 17 in a matter of seconds. If you control the ball and manage to get to Graham Harrell a couple times, you’ll probably beat them. Spots #6-10 on this list are full of nothing but unknowns and uncertainty, and the fact that you know what level of quality you’re going to get from Tech puts them at #5. For now.

According to Double T Nation, it looks like one of the first acts for new Defensive Coordinator Ruffin McNeill was to tear off a redshirt. Really, not a bad idea, especially since the Raiders get a tune up against NW’ern State this week.

6. Texas A&M

Well...Jorvorskie Lane could carry the ball 45 times for 250 yards and 6 TD’s against Baylor this Saturday...or last week’s nationally televised egg-laying could linger for a very long time. I have no idea what to expect from ATM from here on out, but we’ll tell a lot from their first half effort against Baylor.

7. Nebraska

I won’t even begin to pretend that Nebraska won’t gain 400+ yards of offense against us on October 6. I’ll just mention that if the NU defense puts up another effort like they did at home to the Ball State Fighting Whitlocks, Mizzou will put up 800+. I doubt the Blackshirts are quite as bad as they looked last Saturday—Bo Ruud still makes a big play at the precise second you start wondering if he’s the most overrated defender in the history of the Big 12, Ndamukong Suh is lining up to be a 2nd-team All Big 12 DT (behind Texas’ two DT’s), and...well, that’s all the platitudes I can give at the moment. But I still say I doubt they’re as bad as they let on. The ISU game will say a lot. ISU isn’t completely dead weight—they still have Todd Blythe—but an even mediocre defense should hold them to less than 300 yards.

Corn Blight over at Corn Nation quotes Steve Octavien and Richard Nixon in an attempt to convince himself that the defense has found a leader. I’m not 100% sure he’s wrong—only about 95%. Fact is, after years of following the Pittsburgh Pirates and a Quin Snyder-coached basketball team, I’ve read all about a “lack of energy and motivation in guys” before. Simply identifying and acknowledging it doesn’t make it go away.

8. Kansas State

I still have no faith in Josh Freeman or the ‘Cat O-line, but the defense will keep them in games. The fact that they seem to have a defense of any kind puts them above quite a few teams in the conference...problem is, the fact that they don’t have a potent offense drops them right back down. I still think they beat KU next weekend, though...though that opinion could change if they lay a big egg in Austin.

Bring On the Cats has a nice set of KSU-related links.

9. Oklahoma State

They’ll always be a great team at home, and they still have a ton of potential on the offensive side of the ball. However, no other WR has stepped up opposite Adarius Bowman, and until someone does, they won’t reach their potential. And to say their defense still has a long way to go is an understatement. That said, I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I liked Brandon Pettigrew, and man did he show why on that TD reception. That Tech safety (Garcia, I think) got juked out of his jock by a dude at least 50 pounds bigger than him...that’s gotta sting.

10. Colorado

Dominated most facets of the game against a MAC team that is a shadow of its former (i.e. Roethlisberger) self. This was a KU-type game—they really didn’t prove much, but they did exactly what they were supposed to do and looked good in the process. Can’t really ask for more than that, right?

I still don’t see how they gain more than 200 yards against OU’s defense, though. Time to prove something, Cody Hawkins-Nolte. has its own OU-CU preview...and OU shouldn't even bother showing up because CU is 8-2-1 all-time on 9/29. It's as good as in the bag.

11. Baylor

A 3-game winning streak will give you confidence no matter who those three wins came against, and that streak, combined with the fact that ATM might (or might not) be in turmoil at the moment, gives the Bears their best upset chance of the year. It probably won’t happen, and I can’t make myself actually predict it, but I keep dropping just enough hints that I can say “I told you so!” if it does.

BearMeat presents: Fear, Loathing and Football In The Savage Heart of the University at Buffalo.

12. Iowa State

You do figure ISU will overachieve some Saturday during conference season, and they might scrounge up a win somewhere (most likely candidates: home games against CU and KSU late in the year). However, that win probably won’t come in Lincoln, no matter how bad the Huskers looked last week. And as I mentioned in the Roundtable yesterday...the fact that they blew a 2-TD lead against Toledo last week without the Toledo offense seeing the field is quite impressive.

Clone Chronicles hands out the grades.