Monday, September 8, 2008

Big XII Banter (and more!)

As expected, the Big XII had its first ever 12-0 week in its twelve year history. And in doing so, they accomplished virtually nothing. Perhaps if the ratio of FCS:BCS opponents wasn't 4:1 I'd be a bit more impressed with this feat. However, opponents aside, games are games and we were able to learn a bit more about each team(rank in parentheses).

First, for the good…

Iowa State (12): That's right, I'm leading off with the Cyclones. A year after losing to Kent State (23-14), ISU avenged the loss with a 48-28 win. That's two straight games of 40+ points for Gene Chizik's team. But while they've easily handled two awful opponents, they have now allowed more yards than they've gained. Something tells me their success is going to be short-lived.

Baylor (11): In keeping with the bottom of the league, some kudos go to Baylor and Robert Griffin for doing exactly what every Big XII team should do to Northwestern St., by destroying them in every aspect of the game. Something tells me Baylor is going to enjoy Robert Griffin (love those socks).

Methzou (2): More likely, they should probably go in the expected column as nothing I saw shocked me from Saturday. But any time your starting QB completes 94% of his passes (16-17) and throws 3 TDs (but a trick play, really?!?) and doesn't see the second half, you earned the good nod. Really have to wonder about them pulling Blaine Gabbert's redshirt against SEMO, though, especially if you saw how awful Dalton looked on TV last week.

Now, for the bad…

Texas A&M (10): Are you kidding me? They probably deserve to be ranked last at this point, but I'm just not ready to believe they're worse than Baylor or ISU. But they play them both on the road, so it just may end up that way. For the second straight week A&M was handled by an awful opponent (NM: 370 to 236 in total yards), but this time New Mexico couldn't hold onto the ball, turning it over 4 times and letting the Aggies sneak out with a win. As of right now, I'm pretty sure they'll beat Army but I can't find another win on the schedule.

Nebraska (9): I wondered how long the optimism would last in Lincoln, and as of right now, I think most Huskers have to be bracing for the Methzou game (and possibly even VT). For those that only saw the final margin, this was a 14-12 game into the 4th quarter, turning on a kick return TD. And yes, Nebraska was out-gained (353-315) by the same San Jose State team that could barely move the ball on UC Davis a week prior.

Colorado (8): Perhaps Eastern Washington is not as bad as they seem; they did give Tech more than they wanted just a week earlier. But any time you're trailing a FCS team from the Big Sky, at home by a touchdown with 3 minutes to play (21-7 at half), you're going in the bad column. Now, their marquee opponent comes to town, after a similarly embarrassing performance losing to ECU 24-3.

And finally, for the expected…

Oklahoma (1): The back seven of that defense is as much of a concern as ever. But after only being sacked 12 times last year, Sam Bradford has not even been breathed on so far this go round. As a result, he again dissected the Bearcats by going 29-38 for 395 yards and 5 TDs (he did throw 2 picks though). Meanwhile, neither DeMarco Murray nor Chris Brown even broke a sweat, combining for 151 yards on 30 carries and 2 TDs.

Texas (3): In getting out-gained by UTEP, you have to wonder if Greg Davis is back to '07 form after a startlingly good performance in week 1. Despite his ineptness, Texas still went into a very hostile environment (I guess these two didn't get the memo) and won handily. As mediocre as Arkansas has looked so far, Texas will need to be better to win next week.

Kansas (4): The lack of a consistent running game is an enormous concern. But in a conference that seems to be doing next to nothing on the defensive side, you have to take notice of a shutout, especially against a team that put up 22 on Miss. St. the week prior. Todd Reesing was as good as ever, but without some help on the ground they could have trouble in Tampa on Friday.

Texas Tech (5): Speaking of defensive performance, it's become so bad in Lubbock that when Tech allows 488 yards and 10 trips inside their 30 to a mediocre (at best) Nevada team, it's called a "dominating performance." True, credit is deserved for holding the Wolfpack to 19 points. But when a middle of the road WAC team is a first down away from hanging half-a-thou in the yardage column, "dominating" is not the word that immediately comes to mind. Let's just say that I remain unconvinced.

Oklahoma State (6): Apparently that offense hasn't lost a step, falling just short of the 700 mark. Dez Bryant had 9 catches for 236 yards and 3 TDs. And then he took a punt 71 yards for another score. Jealous of Bryant's fun, Kendall Hunter ran 22 times for 210 yards and 2 scores of his own. But just as much of a story here was the return to their standard of defense. A week after dominating Wazzu on the road I said we needed to at least take notice of the defensive performance. After giving up nearly 500 yards and 37 points to Houston, at home, that need is no longer present (especially when you factor in that Wazzu went out and lost by 9 touchdowns this week).

KSU (7): Coming from someone with almost no confidence in Ron Prince it may surprise you to know that I'm thinking they just may upset Texas Tech to kick of the conference season. True, they shouldn't deserve much credit for this win since they should have been playing Fresno State, but it was still a beat-down. And more importantly, for KSU fans, Josh Freeman has yet to throw a pick. That has to be some kind of personal record, right?

So there you have it, a cumulative 12-0 record by the conference this week. A few schools have a bye this week, but even so I'm not nearly as confident in another undefeated week with some much tougher games on the slate:

Kansas @ South Florida
Texas v. Arkansas
Oklahoma @ Washington
Baylor v. Washington State (I really hope this isn't close, Baylor)
Iowa State @ Iowa

Admittedly, all of these are winnable. And the others not mentioned shouldn't be close. But it would say a lot more about the league to run this table as opposed to the one they just went through.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the video accompanying the picture to your right, please follow this link. How ESPN and/or FOX dropped the ball on showing this highlight nationally is beyond me. I really want to be Knowshon Moreno when I grow up.

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