Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big 12 Mid-Season Awards

Best Offensive Player: (tie) Graham Harrell - Tech, Michael Crabtree - Tech
Chase Daniel has had a great year, but these two are so far ahead of everyone else, I could not choose just one. I'm doubting that either can continue at exactly their current pace against Big 12 competition, but in lieu of recent years, I'm not so sure each won't be breaking a slew of records. The stats really say everything in this case, so here they are. Graham Harrell (7 games): 258/347 (74%) for 3151 yards and 31 touchdowns. You can have Colt Brennan, I'm taking Harrell. Michael Crabtree (7 games): 78 receptions for 1248 yards and 17 touchdowns. To steal a comparison, take a look at 1st round draft prospect Limas Sweed's career (3+ years) stats: 124 receptions for 1915 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Best Defensive Player: Jordon Dizon – CU
This is always one of the toughest awards to give out. Unless you watch every game a team plays, it is very difficult to pick out the most valuable player on a defense, because stats usually do not tell the whole story. I am especially hesitant on this one after KSU ran all over Colorado, but I'm thinking it would have been a lot worse had Dizon not been on the field. Needless to say, this one could change when it's all said and done, but he has 89 tackles (most in the conference) and 3 sacks through 7 games in a conference that has yet to display a stand-out defensive unit/ player. (Side note: I would love to give this award to Aqib Talib because of how much he means to the Kansas defense, but can't for these reasons: 1) He only has 6 pass breakups, 3 of them INTs (then again, he is rarely thrown at), 2) Jordy Nelson burned him, and 3) As great as he is, I'm not sure he is any more valuable to Kansas defensively than James McClinton.

Best Surprise: Kansas Jayhawks
To steal a line, if someone had told you before the season that Kansas would be ranked ahead of USC in the first BCS standings, you would have punched them in the brain. The Fighting Manginos have a lot to prove, but at this point, they are the best surprise in a season full of them. I know there are still a lot of doubters, but statistics aside, I like to remind them of how important confidence is to a college athlete and right now, Kansas is bursting at the seems with it. Hot Toddy!

Best Disappointment: Nebraska Cornhuskers
Everyone has already heard the bad news, so I am going to focus on the good. The Nebraska football team probably had its best day of the year yesterday as Callahan's ace in the hole, AD Steve Pederson, was gladly shown the door. I'm not exactly sure what the buyout figure is on Callahan's contract, but if the Bugeaters don't win out, I think that figure may become slightly more accessible. I have no idea how interested he is, but I would also suggest that the 'Brasky faithful come up with enough money to lure Tom Osborne back into the pit as their new AD. He wanted to be their governor, why not the AD instead? I know which position I would choose if given the option. ***Edited after*** Nebraska has hired Tom Osborne as interim-AD. On a similar note, ""I know in my heart of hearts I'm doing an excellent job, a good job," Callahan said.

Best Team: (tie) Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas Jayhawks
I run the risk of some homer criticism here and if you feel that way, I cannot blame you. In fact, we will have a much clearer picture after this Saturday when Kansas attempts to emerge victorious where Oklahoma could not. From what we know right now, it's hard to definitively say that Oklahoma has been better than Kansas this year. Oklahoma has the better win of the two, in defeating Missouri last week in Norman. However, they were not exactly stellar in doing so, turning it over twice and allowing 418 yards, while only accumulating 384. Kansas, on the other hand, won in a hostile Manhattan environment against a team fresh off dominating UT in Austin, something OU was unable to do a week later in Dallas.

Look, I'm not trying to say Kansas is as good as Oklahoma. However, to this point in the season, they have been. Their overall schedule has been weaker, but they have handled each game exactly as they should have. Part of what makes up a good team is not taking plays (or games) off and Kansas has yet to do this, whereas Oklahoma did it enough that it allowed Colorado to score 20 unanswered points and beat them.

Worst Team: Iowa State Cyclones
Through 7 games they have beaten...Iowa, and that’s it. Amongst their 6 losses are heartbreakers to: Kent. St., Northern Iowa, Toledo and Nebraska. I cannot imagine them winning a conference game.

Needs Recognition but Doesn't Have a Category: Big 12 North
There are still five or six conference games left for this to either continue or be squashed, but the balance of power has clearly resided in the North thus far. I anticipate them being on relatively level ground the rest of the season. Unfortunately, Nebraska and Iowa State probably won't win the rest of the year, but then again, neither should Baylor. It will be interesting to see how the 9 functional teams do against each other and if all 9 can make it to bowl games.

Stay tuned for a KU/CU preview and a look at this week's Big 12 match-ups.

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