I have officially reached wet dream status with this Kansas football season. And on another note, had I commenced drinking even 1 hour earlier than I did Saturday, I may not have made it through the game alive as my heart and lungs were cruelly overworked – I don't know how Tim Riggins does it! It's funny; I keep getting asked basically the same two questions about this Kansas team: 1) Can they make the BCS and 2) Did anyone see this coming? I have always stood firm on the latter as I think any committed fan knew they had the potential and the schedule to start this season just as they have. However, I was not entirely sold on the former until rather recently, but now I am not so sure it's that unrealistic.
First things first, Kansas must win the North division. This is looking increasingly more probable. In addition to controlling their own destiny, they also have the advantage of Missouri having already lost and owning tiebreakers over the only other possible North contenders, CU and KSU. Want it to sink in how much of a reality winning the North is – no matter what any other team does, if Kansas wins only its remaining home games (Arrowhead included), it is the North champion. Now, obviously we all hope that doesn't happen as that would greatly lessen the big bowl resume they are currently compiling. With that said, if Kansas goes 10-2 and earns a shot against OU for the outright Big 12 Championship and a BCS bowl, I won't be bringing out the pitchforks. With that, let's move on to the Big 12 Recap and as has become customary, I will rank each team as I view their chances of winning the division. (Note: I still owe you a KU/CU post-mortem, so don't worry – it's coming.)
1. Kansas (7-0, 2-0) Won @ CU 19-14. This was easily the worst game of the season for the offense and yet when they had to they came up with a 94 yard touchdown drive that gave them a cushion that would prove more than sufficient. Even more importantly, the defense completely shut down Hugh Charles and the Buffalo rushing attack from start to finish. Just like in Manhattan, this was game that last year's team would have lost. If the Hawks can win the next one in College Station, things could get pretty crazy. Hot Toddy! (Remaining: @A&M, Neb, @OSU, ISU, MU in KC)
2. Missouri (6-1, 2-1) Won v. Tech 41-10. I am very impressed. With the Kansas game starting during halftime of this one, I was unable to see most of the damage as it was only 17-10 MU at half with an INT return being the difference. I'm not sure if it was something Missouri specifically did or if Tech was just a product of poor competition, but causing Harrell to throw 4 INTs when he had only thrown 3 all year is good stuff. They also control their own destiny, but cannot afford any more slip-ups – is Gary Pinkel up to the challenge? (Remaining: ISU, @CU, A&M, @KSu=U, KU in KC)
3. Kansas St.(4-3, 2-2) Lost @ OSU 41-39. Despite the remaining schedule, I don't think they will contend any longer. I didn't actually see this game, but from what I know, it was pretty crumbling, especially since Josh and Jordy dominated (404 yds passing, 176 receiving, 3TDs apiece) and took the lead with 1:10 left. But KSU has trouble winning when they lose the special teams battle, and they definitely did by allowing a 98 yard TD return and then allowing one back to the 42 to set up the game losing FG. (Remaining: BU, @ISU, @NU, MU, Fresno St.)
4. Colorado (4-4, 2-2) Lost v. KU 19-14. I said last week that a loss here would effectively eliminate the Buffs. The only way that doesn't prove true is if KU starts losing a lot as they own the tiebreaker. I don't think that will happen, but I definitely think Colorado's defense can keep them in each of their last four – whether their offense can push them over the hump or not is another story. (Remaining: @Tech, MU, @ISU, NU)
5. Nebraska (4-4, 1-3) Lost v. A&M 36-14. I must say, I have never been so appreciative of Nebraska. Due to their COMPLETE inability to stop a running game, Coach Fran ran his quarterback 36 times (albeit for 167 yards). Even though Nebraska cannot tackle a human, he has to be a bit sore even if he tripped all 36 times. I know McGee is good with his feet, but if A&M really has the conference's best 2 back combo in Goodson and Lane, I can't imagine why they wouldn't have used them more than 23 times combined and let their quarterback get beat up all day. But then again, I can't figure out why a guy making 2 mil annually sold a dozen illegal subscriptions to his newsletter for $1200 a pop. (Remaining: @UT, @KU, KSU, @CU) I told you a few weeks ago they might not win again…
6. Iowa State (1-7, 0-4) Lost v. OU 17-7. By far their most impressive outcome this year. I know they beat Iowa, but neither team even reached the end zone in that one. I have always said that I can't see this team winning a Big 12 game – I'm not sure anyone was prepared for a world in which this squad beats this OU team. That said, I'm becoming less impressed with OU as the weeks go by. (Remaining: @MU, KSU, CU, @KU)
1. Oklahoma (7-1, 3-1) Won @ ISU 17-7. We need to start accepting the fact that OU is not the runaway favorite to represent the Big 12 in the BCS. Their most impressive win thus far is a 10 pointer against Missouri, in Norman, that they trailed going in to the 4th quarter. Maybe Missouri is a top 10 team, but a dominant team wins that one easier and flattens the current semblance of a team from Ames. They very well could be the best, but I'm not entirely convinced that Colorado game was as much of an anomaly as it's being made out to be. (Remaining: A&M, BU, @Tech, OSU)
2. Texas (6-2, 2-2) Won v. Baylor 31-7. Trust me, I do not think, "they're back" as everyone else seems to. However, after Tech was dismantled in Columbia, I have lost my faith in them. And since I never really had any faith in either A&M or OSU, I will put Texas here by default. I reserve the right to rescind this as soon as they again forget they have the best athletes in the conference. (Remaining: NU, @OSU, Tech, @A&M)
3. Texas A&M (6-2, 3-1) Won @NU 36-14. Remember when this would have been a big deal and scared the next opponent? I actually think OSU is in better shape, but since A&M already beat them, I'll give them the edge for now. They have an excellent running game with 2 good backs and a QB than racked up 167 yards, but I think they will need to use the air in order to beat Kansas next week. Unless they can keep the Kansas offense off the field for 2/3 of the game, they have such a putrid defense that I don't think they can score with Kansas. And if they don't win this one, they may not win again. (Remaining: KU, @OU, @MU, UT) – Ouch!
4. Oklahoma St. (5-3, 3-1) Won v. KSU 41-39. I do think they are in much better shape than A&M, but I refuse to rank them accordingly with identical conference marks and A&M holding the tiebreaker. However, they have the athletes and the talent to make some noise the rest of the way if they can eventually slow a competent offense. (Remaining: UT, KU, @BU, @OU)
5. Texas Tech (6-2, 2-2) Lost @ MU 41-10. Well I guess we can quit wondering if they really were that improved on defense. Only putting up 10 on that Missouri defense is absolutely mind-boggling though. They will face a better defense this week against Colorado – but a much worse offense as well. If they have any hope of contending, they have to dominate in this one. (Remaining: CU, @BU, @UT, OU)
6. Baylor (3-5, 0-4) Lost v. UT 31-10. Game was closer than the score indicates, but who really cares? (Remaining: @KSU, Tech, @OU, OSU)