Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big XII Power Rankings

In what has been a crazy season thus far (#2 South Florida), the Big XII has not spared themselves from the festivities. The Big XII North has staged a slight resurgance this season, and this coming with absolutely no help from the Cornhuskers. We have just gotten into the teeth of the Big XII Conference schedule, so there is plenty of time for the world to get back on its axis. Though that may not happen and South Florida will play Hawaii for the National Title game with Kansas playing Texas Tech for the Big XII Title.

On to the rankings...

Top Teir
#4 Oklahoma (6-1) (2-1) - W - 41-31 vs. #11 Missouri
- The Sooners have steadied the ship with wins over Texas and Missouri. They are back to playing solid championship football and are in the mix for a National Championship as well as the Big XII Title. The defense has looked susecptible over the past two weeks, and with a freshman quarterback it is possible for an off week.

#15 Kansas (6-0) (2-0) - W - 58-10 vs. Baylor
- The only unbeaten team left in the Big XII, Kansas silenced some critics with a solid win on the road against Kansas State. Other than that game, they have just been rolling through weak teams. If they are still standing from their next three (at A&M, vs. Neb, at OSU) then they could be a darkhorse for the National Title and staring a BCS bowl right in the face. Though I think if I wanted to have a successful season, I would schedule four really bad non-conference opponents and avoid having to play Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech in conference.

#15 Missouri (5-1) (1-1) - L - 41-31 at #6 Oklahoma
- The defense finally let the Tigers down as the offense couldn't match the 41 points that Oklahoma put on the board. Missouri will need to figure out ways to stop opposing offenses if they want to remain in the Big XII chase. This week Texas Tech comes to town and Missouri will have to find some way to slow down Graham Harrell (3100 yards, 31 TDs). If Missouri can keep Texas Tech to under 40 points, they should be able to win the game and reestablish themselves as the favorite in the Big XII North. Should they lose, they could be entering their traditional late season tail spin.

#22 Texas Tech (6-1) (2-1) - W - 35-7 vs. Texas A&M
- A convincing win for Texas Tech puts them atop the Big XII South with, well, everyone else. But if the defense can continue to perform, and by perform hold teams to under 35 points, then their offense will take care of the rest. Graham Harrell is putting up silly numbers and it appears that no one can cover Michael Crabtree (1200 yards, 17 TDs). The offense is performing as well as it ever has, but if the defense can even play mediocre, this becomes a very scary team. The question is whether A&M is struggling that much right now, or whether they have signs of life on the defense. Chase Daniel and Missouri will answer that question for us this weekend. Tech needs this game as Texas and Oklahoma still loom large on the schedule.

The Middle Teir
#19 Texas (5-2) (1-2) - W - 56-3 at Iowa State
- Some would say that Texas should remain in the top tier, citing their overall talent and the way they have played the last two weeks. But, Texas is effectively out of the Big XII race, unless Oklahoma finds away to lose two more games. Texas winning out is not even a lock, as Texas Tech and Oklahoma State boast wide open passing attacks that will put a strain on the Texas defense. But Texas still has time before they have to worry about that as they first face the woeful Baylor Bears and the trainwreck that is the Cornhuskers.

#25 Kansas State (4-2) (2-1) - W - 47-20 vs. Colorado
- Kansas rebounded nicely from their loss to Kansas by putting an impressive game together against Colorado. This is by far the best performance by the Kansas State offense, and the Wildcats continue to impress by the way they play. They are a well coached team, and appear to have an effective game plan each week that they execute well. They still might not have the talent to win the Big XII, but they are a tough matchup and will definetely be in the running for the Big XII North for years to come.

Oklahoma State (4-3) (2-1) - W - 45-14 at Nebraska
- The Cowboys appear to be all the way back from their disasterous start to the 2007 season. They are a long way from that train wreck of a football team, and a long way from what now appears to be preposterous pre-season Heisman predictions for backup quarterback Bobby Reid. But Bobby Reid is a wonderful young man and we wish him the best (Breathe, Mike Gundy, breathe). Quarterback Zac Robinson is much more stable under center and Oklahoma State has their swagger back. This teams holds their destiny in their hands as they have beaten Texas Tech and will face Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma the rest of the way. It is a daunting task and will probably be too much, but they will beat some people.

Texas A&M (5-2) (2-1) - L - 35-7 at Texas Tech
- Texas A&M has lots of problems and are short on answers. What makes it worse, is that no one is sure what the problems exactly are since the end of the Insider Newsletter. The Aggies appear to be unable to regain what once was a powerful offense, and has become one dimensional, and even that dimension hasn't been very good. Texas A&M travels to Nebraska this weekend in a game they need to salvage their season. If they cannot win against Big Red, it will be time to sound the alarms, as the Aggies end their season with four straight ranked opponents (Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Texas). Things could get awfully bad, awfully fast for the Aggies.

The Bottom Tier
Nebraska (4-3) (1-2) - L - 45-14 vs. Oklahoma State
- Things continue to go downhill for Nebraska. Nebraska doesn't give up 40 points at home. They have done that 3 times this season (USC, Ball State, Oklahoma State). Sam Keller hasn't lived up to any expectations, and the program has not regained the status that they had hoped in year four of the Bill Calahan experiment. But the problems have been solved, as Nebraska fired their Athletic Director this week. Obviously he is the reason their defense can't stop anyone. Nebraska is out of the running in the Big XII North. At this point they just want to avoid a losing season and embarrasing themselves any worse than they did against Oklahoma State.

Colorado (4-3) (2-1) - L - 47-20 at Kansas State
- Colorado has made great strides from last season, and the Oklahoma win, is something that Dan Hawkins will be able to build his program with. However, they won't be sneaking up on anyone the rest of the season, and that's unfortunate with Kansas, Texas Tech, and Missouri up next for the Buffaloes. They have exceeded all expectations for this season, and Hawkins won't let them settle the rest of the way. But they still are a year or two away from competing for the Big XII crown.

Baylor (3-4) (0-3) - L - 58-10 at #20 Kansas
- The Bears appear to have peaked last season, as they are back in the cellar of the Big XII South. They are not very good on offense and defense, and they showed it last week with a thumping at the hands of Kansas. Baylor doesn't play Iowa State, so they will need to upset somebody if they want to avoid an 0-8 Big XII campaign. The Bears seem to be trapped in a vicious cycle of hiring a new coach, peaking in year four, falling apart in year five, and starting over with a new coach. I'm not saying Guy Morriss, is fired at the end of the year, but you'd have to wonder if the Bears go (3-9) (0-8). It all just seems to similar to the experience of their last head coach.

Iowa State (1-6) (0-3) - L - 56-3 vs. #22 Texas
- Iowa State is bad. I wasn't sure just how bad they were until I watched them play this weekend. They are terrible. I'm not sure that Rice looked as bad as Iowa State did. What makes matters worse is Iowa State is the least penalized team in the Big XII. That means they don't make mistakes. They are just bad. I would be shocked if they win another game all season. Their only remaining game against an unranked opponent is a home tilt with Colorado. Hope you know what you got yourself into Mr. Chizik.

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