Friday, October 31, 2008

Big XII Picks: Week 5

Duty calls, so I’ll keep this one pretty short and sweet. To be honest, I’m really only interested in two of the games anyway, as I’m sure is the case with most everyone outside of Austin and Lubbock, who are only interested in one. Either way, here are the picks. After a horrendous Saturday last week, my numbers fell quite a bit, taking me to 18-6 TGS and 12-12 ATS. Trust me at your own peril.

Game of the Week

Texas (-3.5) @ Texas Tech: I keep wavering on this pick. For the first month plus of the season I assumed the Red Raiders would take this one. And in the meantime, they’ve only impressed me more. However, I just haven’t seen anything from Texas yet to make me pick against them. Which is weird in this “everybody loses at some point” era of college football, especially because they’re by no means invisible and definitely look to be suffering from some tired legs lately. Maybe it’s just out of spite, but I’m sticking with the Horns. Texas 41 Tech 37

Nebraska (+22) @ Oklahoma: Given the recent struggles – to put it lightly – of the Sooner defense, I think this line seems pretty high. Factor in the exceptional ball control offense Nebraska has developed and it really seems high. I’ll be really surprised if the Huskers can pull the upset, but I think they can keep it within three touchdowns. Oklahoma 38 Nebraska 27

Iowa State @ Oklahoma State (-30.5): I can’t say I love giving 31 points, but at this point, how can you not? ISU seems to have completely checked out ever since KU’s comeback. Meanwhile, hard as it is to believe, OSU looks like a legitimate top ten team. I always recommend staying away from spreads like this, if for no other reason than the unpredictability that comes from mop up duty, but gun to my head I’ll go with the Pokes. OSU 45 ISU 10

Colorado @ Texas A&M (-3.5): I had every intention of going with the Buffs here, but the Ags seem to have developed a competent offense. Not so much up in Colorado. And while they definitely have the advantage on D, it’s a lot easier to trust the team at home here. A&M 27 CU 20

Methzou (-20.5) @ Baylor: Robert Griffin may test the Tiger secondary, but no team scoring 20 points a game can be expected to hang with Methzou. Especially when that team is Baylor. MU 45 Baylor 17

KSU @ Kansas (-10.5): The game for the Governor’s Cup has taken on somewhat of a pillow fight mentality this year as neither defense has done much of anything lately. For perspective, the decidedly better of the two defenses has given up 108 points over the last two weeks. I’m not sure one word would adequately describe just how bad that is, but pathetic comes to mind. Among other things, the biggest advantage Kansas has in this one is on the ground. By no means do they need to grind out the game and run out of the I on a regular basis, but if they can pick up 5-6 a pop, they have no good excuse not to do so and thus: burn some clock, rest their defense, move the chains and open things up even more for Todd, Kerry and Dez. This should be the blueprint every week. But it really should be this week. Because if it’s not, we could see our first combined100 point game in the league this year. Call me crazy, but I’m going to trust the KU coaches to do the right thing. Kansas 38 KSU 24

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Rock Chalk Roundtable: Week 5

After somewhat dropping the ball this week, we are proud to present the Rock Chalk Roundtable, featuring denverjayhawk and KennyGregory from Rock Chalk Talk (where there's a great post on the rookie debuts of each Jayhawk -damn Mario!), dj from Hawk Digest, and myself. As always, your answers are welcomed, especially if they differ greatly. Everyone loves a debate.

1. In one word, describe how you felt after last week's game.

denverjayhawk: didn't really want one word did you...To explain this game was extremely frustrating because going in win or lose this felt like an opportunity to validate what we've all been thinking. To come out and get beat the way we did and feel so helpless to stop anything coming at us brought a lot of questions to my mind and while I have had a chance to calm down Saturday was concerning.

DJ: Disengaged -- mirroring the team. They just don't seem to be up for football this year.

KennyGregory: Depressing. I knew going into the game that this would likely define the 08 Football Jayhawks. If they pulled out a win, they were a very strong Big 12 North team with two "good" losses and a damned impressive win. Instead, we now realize that this simply isn't a top tier team. KU faces every single one of the best teams in the best conference in the country this year. And it will likely lose every single one of those games. We all knew that this team probably wasn't as good as last year's squad. But to have that fact slapped in your face on national television really sucked. I faded in and out in the fourth- did I really see Rob Stone interviewing some drunk kid on the Hill at one point?

Hiphopopotamus: Confused. Since no one else stuck with one word neither will I. I was confused why the coaches did so much moving around on D. I was confused why they weren't trying to control the clock (especially with the running game). And I was confused why Todd kept throwing it to the wrong team.

2. Was that the worst Kansas loss you can remember? If not, when and why?

denver: Absolutely, Sure we've been beaten bad before but I can't remember a time when the expectations were this high and the performance was this low.

DJ: Well, I can put it this way. It was the first game I've walked out of and I've been going since roughly 1991.

KG: No. Mizzou last year was worse. This game was embarassing, but there wasn't nearly as much on the line. If we could snap our fingers and make their major issues go away, the Jayhawks are still tied for first in the Big 12 North, and still control their destiny towards making a conference championship game that is in our backyard. On the other hand, just remember how heady the days were pre Thanksgiving. We were two wins away from the National Championship a season after not even making a bowl game. The team was straight out of Central Casting- a group of undersized, scrappy and smart players defying the odds in a Dream Season. It all came down to a battle royale with our most hated rival, and we came up two field goals and a stupid safety short. True, everything worked out for us in the end, but man was it depressing at the time.

HH: I think so. I'm by no means the senior authority on this one, but nothing else comes to mind. The game at Arrowhead was obviously awful, but at least we fought back and brought it to one score with a "chance" to win. Here, we had a chance to take a huge step on the public stage and were pushed down and pissed on for three straight hours. Just an awful game by every standard.

3. Speaking of disgraces, you've likely heard about the mouthing off that KSU has been doing. Your thoughts?

denver: When will they ever learn?...obviously I am a little more hesitant based on last weeks performance to declare this a win, but I've got to believe between the embarrassment of the Tech game and the complete lack of respect by those wearing purple Kansas will be ready to go.

DJ: Bold and daring. It hasn't really panned out the past two years. But, keep trying.

KG: What have they really got to lose? Sh*t talking serves two purposes- it fires your team up, and it throws the opposition off their game. Saturday's game will likely be another Big 12 shootout. If one of our young secondary members takes a bad angle to try to rip some guy's head off, it could be the difference. And if it backfires? You lose a game you were supposed to, and your coach you don't have much respect for gets fired in the offseason. Win-win. Frankly, I also think they're just excited at the opportunity to get the hell out of Manhattan for a day or two.

HH: Just stupid. We'll never know what effect it really has, and I'm all for a little arrogance/confidence. But this simply seems like they're trying to make this a rivalry game. From my perspective, when it's a real rivalry game, nothing needs to be said to get things heated up.

4. If you were in charge of this defense for one week, what would you do?

denver: Well one thing I would try to do is have some continuity...I am not a fan of all the shifting around we've had this year on the defensive side of the ball. Football is a sport of repetition and having that helps everyone perform better in my opinion. Secondly, I have no idea...seems like the personnel just isn't there yet, I don't know that there is some magical scheme we could be doing differently or that our coaches are fools I just think the spread offense is ahead of most defenses at this point. The only thing that has proven to work some of the time is pressure from the front four...we just don't have that yet.

DJ: I wouldn't let them wear dresses anymore. No seriously, I'd have them start putting on the foil. Ok, for real I'd blitz more on first down on the opponent side of the field. I'd double team the center against spread teams. He has to have a miserable day. Plus about 19 other things that are too lengthy to get into.

KG: "Hey guys, remember last year? When 9 of you played on a really good defensive unit? Let's do that again. Oh, and Corrigan Whateverthefuck, give me your helmet. You're cut."

HH: Bad question on my part, because I don't think the guy in charge of the defense is to blame. The constant switching of personnel has to stop. At this point, you know (or should know) who you best guys are and you just need to do whatever you can to put them in a position to succeed. As for a pass rush, I think we're still way too transparent. The opposing team ALWAYS knows when a blitz is coming and where it's coming from. This is more magnified because blitzing is the ONLY way we get pressure. I have no quick fix here, except that I would have liked to try Rivera as a speed rusher. At 250 he's much heavier than Keith and switches like this are much easier to make than moving a 5'7"receiver to corner the week you play the best passing team in the country.

5. What one thing do you want to see out of the Hawks this week?

denver: I want to see the passion back...a loss like last week can destroy a team's confidence...if we don't bounce back and play with passion, we won't win and the season could get ugly. My feeling is we will...they've probably been beating themselves up early this week and when K-State players/coaches start running their mouths too that is going to turn into anger and determination that will translate to the field.

DJ: Passion, fire, anger, hate, something, anything

KG: I could make the obvious choice and say a pass rush, but I would settle for competent work from the secondary. Let's just put up a bend but don't break defense, and get the offense rolling again. That would be enough to get a victory.

HH: I want to see the team we saw in Norman. Sure there were plenty of mistakes you'd love to have back, but they were all made being aggressive. I just want to see a team that's re-focused and ready to compete again.

6. Big XII picks: MU @ Baylor, NU @ OU, CU @ A&M, ISU @ OSU, UT @ Tech

Denver: Mizzou over Baylor
OU over Nebraska
CU over A&M
OSU over ISU
Tech over Tejas(Colt McCoy will probably have something to say about his but what can I say Tech impressed me)

DJ: MU upsets Baylor
OU over the Corn
A&M over CU
OSU over ISU
UT over Tech

I've actually got a couple of questions for discussion on this UT/Tech game for everyone.
1. If TT wins, how do you shake out the Top 5?
2. If UT runs the table, can you think of any champion that had ever proven more than this team had? Their schedule is absolutely rediculous. Would they be the greatest champion of the BCS era?

I think UT has greatness within them. They win in statement fashion.

HH: I'll find some time to get my picks in a separate piece, but I'm not feeling too many upsets this week – something like MU, OU, A&M (toughest game), OSU, UT. To answer your questions though, if Tech wins I think they have legitimate case for #1. I'm sure Alabama would get it though. I'm guessing something like: 1. Bama, 2. Tech, 3. PSU, 4. UT, 5. OU. However, a lot of this probably hinges on the Georgia/Florida game as well. And secondly, if UT runs the table, I do think you'd be hard pressed to find a more battle tested champion.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Happy Mullet Wednesday!

After my lengthy Big XII diatribe from earlier today I really have nothing more with any substance to offer you on this fine evening. But that is never an excuse not to wish you a very HAPPY MULLET WEDNESDAY! And given this week's opponent, you're entitled to a double dosage if you follow the link below. What can I say? I googled "manhattan, ks mullet" and this rotund citizen is what popped up. And frankly, it's not that hard to believe. However, neither is something along these lines. Which also came up.

Ruminations on the First Half of Big XII Play

My, how much we've learned in four short weeks. Think back to the first days of October:

- Oklahoma was the unquestioned national number 1
- Their only legitimate challenger in the conference was Methzou with an offense that couldn't be stopped
- Texas Tech's offense was struggling (by their standards)
- Oklahoma State was the same old Okie State with a lot of offense and no defense
- Texas was good, but not great
- Kansas was the tiniest misstep away from being an undefeated top 10 team
- And Nebraska was as bad or worse than a year ago

Now, as we get ready for November and the second half of the league seasons:

- No one is quite sure about Oklahoma. Their offense is pretty much exactly what we thought it was, but it has to be because their defense, primarily their back 7 (score one for KJ-IBT) has proven to be awful allowing nearly 40 points and 500 yards over the last three games.
- Methzou was hit hard with reality as they were beaten in Columbia by OSU and then humiliated in Austin. They're still the best in the north, but a legit challenger in the conference or country, they are not.
- Texas Tech's offense looks better than ever, but they'll face their first real defense this week. We'll see how they respond. (Note: Graham Harrell is a whiny bitch)
- OSU is not at all the same old Pokes. And honestly, I really don't know why. Their offensive balance is better than anyone else in the country, but that was expected. And though their defense never looks all that good, they keep holding high scoring offenses in check. I'll admit when I'm wrong; that is a good football team.
- Texas is now the unquestioned #1 team in the country and looks like the prohibitive favorite for the MNC.
- Kansas' defense has completely abandoned them (are we all ready to admit that I was right when I said d-line was a bigger concern than o-line?!?) and good as their offense is, it just can't keep up. They've fallen out of the rankings and are resorting to panic moves. If they don't right the ship quickly, they're at risk of letting the season slip away.
- And finally, the Bugeaters look semi-legitimate. They've identified their weaknesses (defense) and done everything in their power to hide them (read: efficient, ball control offense). Please follow suit, Mark Mangino.

So ya, a lot has changed. And while I think we have a pretty good handle on every team in the league (Tech may be the exception) right now, I'd bet on a few more surprises along the way. For now, here are your
KJ-IBT mid-season award winners.

Offensive MVP: Colt McCoy. And it's really not close. Others have similar stats, but no one is being asked to do nearly as much as Colt. He's also the only one without a legitimate running back. Lest we forget, not much was even expected from this offense and yet it's proving to be one of the best around.

Defensive MVP: Roddrick Muckelroy. This is a tough call, because no unit in the whole league has been all that good. And a big part of Muckelroy's success comes from the d-line he gets to play behind with Roy Miller commanding double teams and Orakpo (he of the 14 TFL, 9 sacks and a very legit choice) and Houston almost always winning their 1-on-1 off the edge. But Muckelroy is the clean up guy and in a conference with offenses like the ones he's playing against, tackling is as important as anything. He has 79; the next closest on UT is safety Blake Gideon, with 40. Muschamp asks a lot of Muckelroy and so far he's getting it done.

Coach: Mike Gundy. There's something I never thought I'd type. But really, the only other possible choice right now is Mack Brown. At a maximum, there are four teams meeting (or exceeding) their expectations: Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor and OSU. Mack is a very legitimate choice. Leach could be, but isn't yet, solely based on competition. Briles has Robert Griffin to thank and still has only won once in the league. Gundy, meanwhile, has turned a perennial underachiever into a legitimate top ten/BCS caliber team. A lot can change in a month, but he's the clear cut favorite right now.

Most underrated – offense: Kendall Hunter. This is kind of a cop out answer, because anyone who really follows Big XII football knows that Hunter is as important to their offense as anyone. But somehow you never really hear about him, even though he has nearly twice as many yards (1,116 -6.6 per- to 624 -5.0 per- for Murray) as the next closest back in the league. And really, he has shared a ton of carries with Toston (517 at 7.3 per). Baron Batch is also a very good answer here. And Jake Sharp could be, but even his own coach is underrating him.

Most underrated – defense: Roy Miller. I honestly have no idea here. With the offenses dominating like they are in this league, every good defensive performance seems to get pretty noticed. I went with Miller because of what he does for their defense, nearly always occupying two blockers. One of the biggest differentiations for Texas is their ability to make teams one dimensional (and capitalize). Roy Miller is as big a reason as any for that capability and yet you rarely hear his name called.

Biggest surprise: Oklahoma State. Tech will certainly have their chance to steal this award, but for now it's a no-brainer. You saw their talent the last couple of years, but there was never any reason to believe they'd put it together. But unless a Gundy implosion is on the horizon, there is no reason they can't be a BCS team.

Biggest disappointment: Colorado. This was everyone's chic pick to possibly contend for the north, with only their brutal schedule getting in the way. Instead, they look as helpless as ever. In a league dominated by offense, they're barely cracking double digits (10.5) and they're over 50 yards behind the next worst in total offense, only registering 263 per game. This team has actually regressed from the progress they made last year. Maybe Hawkins has a plan here, but we haven't seen it yet.

On that note, I'd like to leave you with a couple related links. The first comes from the Omaha World-herald in which Lee Barfknecht proposes realignment within the conference.

Big XII East: OU, OSU, MU, ISU, A&M, Baylor
Big XII West: UT, Tech, KU, KSU, CU, Nebraska

With this alignment, you would play a 5-2-1 format that allows you to play all five in your division, rotate 2 from the other and have one annual cross-division game a year to preserve an old rivalry. Personally, I think it is genius and I'd make it happen as soon as possible. (H/T goes to Tim Griffin for linking to this article and posting his reaction. However, his suggestion of an 11 game conference season is a bit much. I see his points, but it's just not feasible. It works in a 10 team league without a championship game (i.e the Pac 10), because they're still able to play three OOC games. Limiting that to one game is just taking things way too far.)

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Five Reasons Kansas Could Win

Stunningly, an SEC advocate is touting one of their own. Listen Gary, I know the SEC is home to a lot of teams with a lot of history and some insanely passionate fan bases. But it's also home to some truly awful football teams and some even worse offense. Matthew Stafford is a great quarterback and is a better pro prospect than Colt McCoy, but he absolutely would not be doing what Colt is doing with Texas' offense. If you need to look to his sports blogger speed, do that. If you need to look to his never completing 70% of his passes in a single game, do that. But whatever you do, don't go short changing what Colt McCoy and Texas are doing this year, which has been nothing short of phenomenal thus far.

1. The fear of a man with a football: It's no secret that the entire Wildcat defense is afraid of tackling. There's no other logical explanation for their defensive "efforts" this year, primarily against the run. This chart depicts these labors in futility. The last column shows their stats sans the games against North Texas & Montana State. Will it help us? Of course it will. How much it helps depends a lot on how we choose to attack this revolving door of a defense. Personally, I'd vote for something like a 55/45 split of running to passing. After my ranting and raving the last few weeks, I don't think I really need to explain why, especially against this "defense."

2. Special teams: I probably should have put this as a reason KSU could win, but on account of my oversight, I'll list it here instead. And no, I don't think KU is going to do anything on special teams to win. But really, as long as they only allow the same from KSU, that could be reason enough. KSU depends on plays/scores from their special teams to make up for their awful defense and inconsistent offense. Taking that away from them goes a long way towards beating them.

Will it help us? Confidence is low. I haven't seen anything to make me believe we'll allow a kick to be blocked, which is huge. But while coverage has been better lately, there are still plenty of holes, especially in punt coverage. And of course they're not at all opposed to fake punting either and given the holes in our defense, this offers up some cause for concern as well.

3. The bulletin board material: I don't care what players say (or don't say), crap like this has an effect. (Tangent: Deon Murphy is pretty dangerous, especially in the return game. But that’s about the only place he'd (possibly) see the field for KU given that he has a mere 23 catches on the year and 7 were in what could easily be called his only good game of the year.) Obviously stuff like this doesn't help on the field. But if the Hawks had not yet turned their attention to their purple neighbors, one would think they have now.

Will it help us? I think so. I'm sure Mangino recruited 3 or maybe even 4 of their players anyway, so I'm not sure what all that talk is about. And 90% of what they said was pretty irrelevant altogether. But for Kendall to say that KSU is better (laughable as that statement is to begin with) because "[they] have more heart" was probably where he crossed the line in the Jayhawk locker room. Obviously, no matter what happens Saturday, we'll never really know if this was a factor. What we do know is that this is apparently their Super Bowl (a countdown clock, really?) and so they're going to talk it up that way. Regardless of it will help them or not. Very intelligent.

4. Todd Reesing: I planned to rescind Todd's hold on this spit for his whole 3 picks in 4 passes display in the 3rd quarter. Though he had obviously made mistakes before that was the first time in his career I felt like he was actually hurting our chances to compete. He wasn't getting much help (obviously), but one of his best attributes is that he forgets the last play – good or bad- and he clearly wasn't doing that during the third quarter.

Will it help us? Yes. For one thing, he's still a great quarterback. The only difference is that he had one atrocious quarter. But more than that, I'm putting him here for his attitude. I mentioned yesterday that KU's mental state and general lack of confidence could be seen as a weakness right now. And I believe that. But if there's one thing Todd is, it's confident, so much so that it's infectious. When he lost that confidence last week, so did the team. Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm chalking that up to an anomaly and betting that he comes back the same, confident quarterback. If that happens, the team will follow.

5. Turnovers: This hasn't been a strong suit for the Hawks this year (-3). In fact, you could probably point to it as the single biggest difference between the last two years. There have been plenty of other ones, but we lost the TO battle exactly once last year (Arrowhead). This year, we've been on the wrong end four times and lost three of those games, with the only win in Ames. KU might be good enough to win this week without winning the turnover stat, but I don't want to find out.

Will it help us? Hard to say, but I'd like to think so. As bad as KU has been here, it's usually come in bunches. Of their 15 TOs, 9 have come in two games. Even more favorable, KSU is even worse in this capacity, at -7 on the season with 9 forced and 16 given away. Of the 9 they've forced, 4 came courtesy of Montana State. So it's pretty safe to say they aren't exactly a ball hawking defense (perhaps this goes back to their fear of men holding a football). Whatever the reason, this is a huge stat for most teams and even bigger for ones with defenses as bad as the two taking the field on Saturday.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Five Reasons Kansas Could Lose

Many accused me of falling in love with some drunken hyperbole over the weekend calling the loss the worst in Kansas history. By no means have I gone back and researched this claim, but I'm still standing behind it for the time being. Given the expectations and opportunity present that kind of a beating was beyond embarrassing. Suffice it to say, a loss of any kind this week would be similarly demoralizing.

1. Pass defense: Like last week, this is really the only thing that matters here. We know KU can stop the run, but KSU can't run the ball anyway. And given what happened both in Lawrence and Manhattan Saturday, I can't imagine anyone coming up with a logical reason the Wildcats should run the ball even once.

Will it hurt us? If it doesn't, I know nothing (and will be happy for it). Mangino and the Jayhawks have had J-Free's number in the past. But this is a (slightly) different J-Free and a (much) different Kansas defense (apparently). And since we know he can carve up bad defenses, there is really no reason to think he won't have some success this week as well.

2. Coaching: Obviously we have the coaching edge when it comes to Mangino v. Prince. But right now, the Big Man is in a funk and he's making things worse. His controlling, know-all personality is wreaking havoc on this defense and is running dangerously close to ruining a promising season.

Will it hurt us? Remains to be seen. It sure did on Saturday. As long as he's remaining somewhat accountable in-house, then I'll believe that things can get better before they get worse. If that's not the case and he's blaming everyone but himself, then I'm afraid we're in for more of the same.

3. Josh Freeman: This is pretty much the same as numero uno, but possible #1 draft picks deserve their own distinction. He's really only thrown the ball around twice this year and both times it's been extremely productive from a yardage and scoring standpoint. He threw 42 times for 313 yards and 3 TDs @ Louisville and he threw 51 times for 478 yards and 3 TDs v. Oklahoma. Extremely good production.

Will it hurt us? Yes, but we don't know how badly. As good as the stats above are they fail to mention that all five of his INTs have come in those games as well. In two games against KU he has 9 turnovers (6 INTs, 3 fumbles), so it's not like we haven't forced him into any mistakes before. On the other hand, we used to be semi-good at forcing turnovers, yet haven't really forced one in two straight games in which the defense was on the field for 175 plays (I know Tech fumbled late, but I choose not to give much credit for that. Factor in that shifty little fucker Banks and a KU defense that looks slower than ever could be in for some trouble.

4. Impatience: I'm going to get a little long winded here, so get ready. Each of the last two weeks, Kansas' offense has started off looking balanced, productive and plenty capable of beating their (very good) opponent. Unfortunately, during this same time their defense has looked outmatched and unable to stop the opposing offense with any consistency. For some reason unbeknownst to me, Kansas' coaching staff has decided that the best way to counter this dilemma is to force a shootout. If anyone is aware of a logical reason for this, I would love to hear it.

As Nebraska has proven lately (especially in Lubbock), the best way to hide a bad defense is to keep them off the field. They don't have a great running game, so they've had to become a very efficient passing offense while mixing in plenty of runs for honesty purposes. This led to only allowing Tech 31 points in regulation and to what could have easily been a win had Ganz not reverted to form. Kansas, has a great passing offense that can put up points in a hurry and has plenty of potential to be efficient. Surprising as it may seem after their first few games, they also have a very good running offense. There might not be a better combination for effectively utilizing ball control and also scoring touchdowns in the process. Yet for some reason, each of the last two weeks, they have done exactly the opposite when it made zero sense to do so. I could have forgiven the massive mistake in Norman (why anyone would think a one score game in the third quarter is pass-only time is beyond me) had they learned from their mistake. But then Saturday happened. In the first quarter Jake ran 8 times for 51 yards or 6.4 per carry. Todd was 9/10 for 98 yards (9.8/attempt) and 2 TDs and the game was tied 14-14. Quite obviously, the balance was working very well. The rest of the game, Jake had 5 more carries (for 29 more yards) and only in the 4th quarter did he again carry it twice on the same possession. And you know the rest of the story.

Will it hurt us? If it happens, absolutely it will. For one thing, the Wildcats can't tackle, which incidentally makes them one of the worst defenses in the nation against the run. 105th, giving up 200 yards and nearly 5 per carry, to be exact. Meanwhile, in the last two weeks, Jake has carried 25 times for 183 yards (7.32/carry). Yet Kansas is 0-2 in those two games. Todd is an incredible quarterback that can carry this team. He's done it a whole lot this year. But there's no reason for him to do so. And more importantly, KU doesn't have the offensive line or defensive ability to win these types of games against good teams. From here on out, balance is key.

5. Psychology: It's not like KSU is riding high, but it's no secret that they were much more competitive last week than were the Jayhawks. Given how successful this team had been the last two years, it's pretty safe to say that confidence is at an all time low. Factor in the appearance of a team that quit on themselves early on last week and this seems like a team that's pretty fragile right now.

Will it hurt us? Same as above – if it happens. There are two ways to respond to the ass kicking they took last week. 1) Is to come out scared and nervous, playing not to lose (in which case they might) or 2) Is to come out and do what Methzou did to Colorado. Every expectation they had was shattered in full display of the public over the last two weeks and so they took it out on Colorado by humiliating them beyond a shadow of a doubt. There's no reason Kansas can't do the same, but as of right now it's by no means a foregone conclusion and maybe not even all that likely.

Big XII RoundUp: Week Four

If there was even a hint of doubt about how forcefully the South reclaimed the conference, that is now gone. My thanks to Nebraska for pulling it together at the half and staving off Baylor, holding in tact any sliver of credibility the North is still holding onto within the league. For those interested, I went 4-2 TGS and 2-4 ATS. Ouch. That drops the season totals to 18-6 TGS and 12-12 ATS. Not good.

1. Texas (8-0, 4-0) – beat OSU 28-24: OSU's balance was a tough match-up for them (as it is for anyone), but once again they rose to the occasion. If they beat Tech this week, they should be allowed to play in the MNC even if they lose in Kansas City (which won't happen anyway). Up next: The Super Bowl according to Lubbock.

2. Oklahoma State (7-1, 3-1) – lost @ UT 28-24: OK, I give up. They're for real. I thought Texas would score more easily on them, but that defense just keeps on hitting. They've got two gimmies and two tough ones, but 11-1 is not out of the question. Remarkable. Up next: A visit from the Cyclones and this one could get ugly.

3. Texas Tech (8-0, 4-0) ass raped KU in Lawrence 63-21: And it wasn't that close. Look, we all know Tech isn't that much better than Kansas. But give them credit for coming out and exploiting every possible advantage to the point that Kansas gave up even before the half. Simply stunning: Up next: A visit from Texas, a team they haven't beaten in 6 years, but there's no time like the present.

4. Oklahoma (7-1, 3-1) – won @ KSU 58-35: And let J-Free throw for just shy of 500 yards in the process. Using nothing more than the Texas score we have to have them well above Methzou. But is there really any reason to think they could stop Methzou even once? I really don't think 9-3 is that unlikely and for a team with MNC aspirations, that's more than a little disappointing. Up next: A blast from the past with Nebraska visiting (and playing much better).

5. MU (6-2, 2-2) – humiliated CU 58-0: I expected something similar, but when it comes to fruition, you have to give credit where it's due. This team was never as elite as they thought they were, but they're still damn good. The recipe has always been to fluster Chase – when it happens, they lose, when it doesn't, they usually win. Clearly, the latter prevailed on Saturday. Up next: Their mid-season nap continues as they go down to Waco.

6. Kansas (5-3, 2-2) – demoralized by Tech 63-21: The one thing Mangino promised from the beginning is that his teams would never give up. That held true for six years + 7 games and came to a screeching halt on Saturday. Just an awful loss by every standard in which you judge a football team. Up next: A visit from J-Free and the Genie.

7. Nebraska (5-3, 2-2) – beat Baylor 32-20: Quite frankly, they have a (huge) case to be ahead of Kansas this week and that game in Lincoln is looking rather salty as well. But you can't put too much stock into one day and so I'm leaving them here for the time being. It may not last long, though. And that's now three straight games where they have absolutely controlled the clock to perfection**, which is how you hide a bad defense (please read this Mark Mangino!!!). Up next: a trip to Norman in which I would recommend sticking with the ball control offense.

** Their TOP in the last three games: 40:12 (@Tech), 37:11 (@ISU), 38:37 (Baylor).

8. Baylor (3-5, 1-3) – lost @ Nebraska 32-20: Unfortunately, they probably only have one more win on their schedule (MU, @ UT, A&M, @ Tech). That's not indicative of this team's (read: Robert Griffin) talent or ability. Disagree? Name a team below them on this list that you would take straight up against the Bears. That's what I thought. Up next: A visit from the Tigers.

9. Colorado (4-4, 1-3) – run off Faurot Field 58-0: I definitely saw this coming, but I thought that they could at least score once. As awful as this team has looked during every conference game so far (and really every game all season), they might have three wins left on their schedule (@ A&M, ISU, OSU, @ NU). More evidence of the dramatic tiers in the Big XII this year. Up next: A visit from the Sherminator.

10. KSU (4-4, 1-3) – lost v. OU 58-35: I'd say there was no shame in this loss. But they did give up 55 points in one half. There's a whole lot of shame in that. I didn't see the game, so I have no clue how OU played the second half, but on a day when KU gave up, I will give the Wildcats credit for coming out and limiting the humiliation in the second stanza. Credit J-Free for having a career day (hopefully he won't surpass it Saturday), but then there's also those picks he's known to throw as well. Up next: A quick trip over to the better part of the state.

11. Texas A&M (3-5, 1-3) – won the conference Toilet Bowl in Ames 49-35: They've actually developed a pretty decent passing offense down in College Station. But I still don't see them winning again, but with that said 2-2 is not entirely out of the question. Up next: a visit from Colorado.

12: Iowa State (2-6, 0-4) hosted and lost the Toilet Bowl 49-35: And so goes another season without a league win for the Cyclones. This team has never been good, but they've looked beyond awful ever since halftime of the KU game. You've got some work ahead of you, Gene. Up next: A trip to Boone Pickens Stadium. Yikes.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Texas Tech React

It's a little abridged, because all you really need to do is look at the box score. If you actually sat through any or all of it, then you definitely know what happened. Not much of anything I say will be all that original or unique.

The outcome was: stunning. Obviously I was plenty prepared for a loss, but anything even resembling what occurred yesterday was a complete shock to me. It sounds like hyperbole and maybe it is, but I honestly think it was the worst loss in Kansas history because of the expectations that came along with it (remember, they were actually favored).

Offensive MVP was: Jake Sharp. It seems like more than a coincidence to me that this offense has hummed along when he has gotten carries and stalled when we forget he’s on the roster. Yesterday was no different.

Defensive MVP was: idle. I’m not entirely sure the defense showed up yesterday.

Offensive LVP was: Todd Reesing. He looked as great as ever in the first quarter and did next to nothing the rest of the way. It was by no means entirely his fault, but three picks in four passes is what it is and it was gut wrenching to watch.

Defensive LVP was: Mark Mangino. Quite obviously the personnel is not there for a spread stopping defense. But why he has decided that switching guys out of position for the first time in the same week that they’re about to play the best passing team in the country is beyond me. Nicks and scratches aside, the only real change in either the offensive or defensive starting lineups last year was Thornton for Resby. Now he’s changing them every week. Players can’t get better that way. And they certainly can’t play on a Saturday in that way if they’re looking over their shoulder every time they make a mistake. I’m sure Clint will take the brunt of this publicly, but in house they know Mangino has been the problem.

The running game was: the only bright spot. It’s pretty obvious that this running game has developed very well and can be a perfect complement to the passing attack and possibly even carry the load at times. But for some reason Mangino and Warinner keep forgetting this at pretty crucial points in the game. After watching Tech’s first three drives, it was pretty apparent that they weren’t going to be stopped. Knowing that, wouldn’t it make sense to try and burn some clock, keep their offense off the field and let the defense rest/analyze as much as possible? Instead, we came out and went: pass (I), pass (I), sack, punt. Then, pass (C), run (first down), pass (C), sack (fumble).

The pass rush was: worse than ever. Though this was expected, it’s no less disappointing that it was so non-existent. Given that there was no pressure and we’ve rotated in Arist and Springer anyway, why not line up Rivera as a d-end and just let him speed rush through the wide splits or around the gigantic tackles? Given that they were trying Daymond Patterson at corner, it seems like just about any idea was in play. I think mine sounds a little more realistic anyway.

KSU fear factor is: 5 out of 10. Base line of 5. And I’m just going to leave it right there, either out of stupidity, stubbornness, both, or even something else entirely. I guess it should be higher than this considering that J-Free threw for nearly 500 yards yesterday and it’s not entirely evident that Kansas is capable of causing an incompletion.

Going into next week I feel: confused. I never expected any sort of dream season repeat, but I certainly thought this team was capable of playing with any team in country. And then they sort of proved me right a week ago when they went down, fought through some mistakes and played Oklahoma pretty tough in Norman. Then yesterday happened. They had a chance to take a huge step on a national stage. Instead, they shit the bed. And now, they’re 8 games in and they’re not even bowl eligible. And despite all that, they still control their own destiny as far as the league is concerned. The next two remain more than winnable and while the last two seem much less so, the games still have to be played and anything can happen. Rock Chalk!


I want to make a post. I really do. But I just have no clue what in the hell to say at this point. Combine that with another 18 hour drinking day (damn you 11:00 am games!) and this is as much as I can handle just yet. Stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy a much more pleasurable type of bent over...

Friday, October 24, 2008

When you say nothing at all...

Taken from College Gameday Kickoff on the four letter networks website:

4. Hypothetically speaking, how would you see a matchup of a top SEC defense versus a highly rated Big 12 offense playing out?

Davie: The Big 12 offense and the SEC defense are way ahead when compared with those of other conferences. It would be a great interconference weekend if these two conferences were to play each other, because I would love to see an SEC defense matched up against a Big 12 offense. Several top defenses exist in the SEC. Alabama and Florida are really good, and South Carolina, although it might be under the radar nationally, has a very good defense. And in the Big 12, you can say the same thing about a number of teams on offense.

Sometimes you read something once and it might make some sense, but it leaves you with a sour taste and you don't know why. So you have to go back and re-read it just to make sure you got absolutely everything out of it and then it dawns on you...that person just typed two paragraphs while failing to answer the question or providing any insight you could have acquired by just Googleing Big 12 offense or SEC defense and just reading the two line preview. Take a stand you twit. Why do people get paid for this drivel? Not that I really care who Bob (35 and 25 @ Notre Fucking Dame!) Davie thinks would win in an epic Big 12 Offense vs. SEC defense battle, but my heartiest fuck you goes out to you Bob for getting paid for this. Ty Willingham might provide more of an insight than you or have kept the 2000 Fiesta Bowl closer than a 5 score game, bitch.
****(bashes self in head with Lee Corso's head-in-a-jar)

rant over

Q&A Time: Texas Tech (part deux)

Craving even more knowledge of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, I sought out dedfischer. You can find his entertaining and informative Tech coverage over at Barking Carnival and The Tortilla Retort (here's his write-up on the KU defense). Even before this I felt like I owed half of my Tech knowledge to him; now it may be closer to three quarters. Thanks for the efforts.

1. Tech is 7-0 and on the list of no more than 8-10 teams that have a shot at the MNC. However, they could play well, not ever be upset and finish the regular season at 8-4. What were your expectations going in and what are they now?

I thought this was a 9-3 team coming in. Basically, they returned everyone from a 9-4 squad that was two plays away from being 11-2. The defense has 3 more guys this season making plays than it had last year in McKinner Dixon, Daniel Charbonnet and Brian Duncan playing his natural position of MLB. They could very well go 8-4, but when you figure in a healthy Batch coming off a redshirt season, I don't think we're any less than a 9-3 team with a better shot at 10-2. We'll need one of those two plays to beat Kansas.

2. Obviously the offense is as effective as ever. However, I don't think you've been running nearly enough. Do you agree? And also, do you think we should expect the same ratio here on out or has Leach been saving this in light of the next four games?

Leach is 28-3 since 2005 when his RBs receive 20+ touches, which includes a 5-0 record this season. Over the last 5, the Batch/Woods duo has accounted for an averaged 28 touches for 223 yards per game. During the Nebraska game, the RBs carried or caught the ball on 24 of our 48 plays. Given the way our OL is run blocking and with Batch running hard, I think we could run a little more, especially against A&M in the 1st half. But, overall, we've never seen Leach this committed to getting the RBs involved in the game. If we hit our average in the last 5 games, I would be happier than a pig in shit as this opens things up for the passing game and keeps the LBs and Safeties honest. We've outrushed our first 3 conference opponents for the first time since the Spike Dykes Era.

3. Baron Batch is someone I didn't now much about before this year and really enjoy watching. Has he been the biggest surprise for you? If not, who?

I think Brian Duncan's success after the move to MLB has been the biggest surprise to me, but Batch isn't far behind. If you've watched this Tech team play very much, you'll start to realize that he's the most dangerous weapon in this offense. If you can't stop Batch, it will be too easy for Harrell. You can take some preventative measures to keep Crabtree from getting the ball, but there's not much you can do about Batch except line up and try to contain him. He's been my offensive MVP to date.

4. While I'm hesitant to say Tech's defense has turned the proverbial corner, they are playing physically and do seem better than in year's past. Colby Whitlock, Brandon Williams and Brian Duncan seem to be the most valuable members from my limited perspective. Mind discussing them and any other important cogs?

I'm not going to say this is an elite or even good defense, but there's no doubt they're solid, especially on the DL. Tech is one of three teams (TX and OU) in the Big 12 that can get pressure on the QB without blitzing. That's a tremendous advantage in this league as it allows you to roll with dime personnel and play 7 on 4 in the secondary on obvious passing downs. In conference play, Roy Miller at Texas is the only guy I've seen playing at a higher level than Whitlock at DT. He was a freshman All American last season and a year in a college S&C program has benefitted him tremendously. Whitlock is holding up better to double teams this season, and Duncan has been the direct beneficiary at MLB. Duncan is not the fastest LB around, but he just doesn't make many mental errors. He typically plays the run like it's supposed to be played, inside-out, one step behind the ball carrier. You can tell Duncan is a film junkie as his diagnostic skills have come full circle from his freshman year at OLB. Williams is our best pure pass rusher. I would test him with the zone read even if it wasn't working well just to keep him honest. Williams has improved against the run this year, but bad habits still show up and you'll catch him too far upfield a couple of times a game. He's been a lot better at containment, though. The other guy to look out for is McKinner Dixon. He's got 5 sacks on the season with 3 of those coming from the 3 technique position in our dime package. Kansas will need to manage 1st and 2nd down very well throughout the game. Stay patient with the short stuff, as teams who get in 3rd and longs have not fared well against Tech when Williams, Whitlock, Dixon and Daniel Howard are on the field.

5. Keeping with the defense, I would expect them to come hard at the Jayhawks and try to out-physical them. Agreed? And more importantly, what kind of schemes do they like to run? Where would you attack them if you were Todd Reesing?

The key to this game for both defenses will be the same. The team that stops the run the best with a 5 man front against 4 wide sets will probably have a decided advantage from a coverage standpoint. Overall, I think Ruffin McNeill has done a good job with this unit. Not great, but good. The numbers seem to support that as well. My one bone to pick with this defensive staff is that since we're predominantly a staunch Cover 2 or Cover 4 zone team, we allow average QBs to get comfortable and execute easy plays. See Nebraska. As much pressure as we've been able to generate with our DL, you would think this would play into the hands of Cover 2 man under. Tech just isn't a very good zone team, and the big pass plays we've given up, have been in zone coverage. We go through stretches where we don't mix our coverages enough and allow teams to thrive on 4 to 8 yard passes hoping they commit a penalty or make a bad throw. Which doesn't work very well given the caliber of QBs in this conference. Tech has played approximately 3 quarters of Cover 2 man under against K-State and A&M. Tech won those quarters by a score of 44-2 and recorded 4 sacks. I'm pretty sure we'll start out with base 4-3 Cover 2 zone to begin the game. If Kansas is moving the ball (which I expect them to at this point), I think we might see some Cover 2 man under in the 2nd quarter to see if we can make Reesing hold onto the ball a little longer and sack him. With that being said, Reesing just needs to stay patient and not rush things. Take the short stuff and run some time off the clock. Use your legs for 3 or 4 yard gains versus incompletions or forced passes.

6. Speaking of our gunslinger, how do you guys feel about him? Where would you rank him in the Big XII pecking order?

I think Reesing's abilities lie in that he makes good decisions with the football. He typically knows when the run, knows when the throw it away and doesn't turn the ball over. This works real well for Mangino's philosophy. Talent wise, he might be the 8th ranked QB in this league, but from a decision making standpoint, I would rank him 5th overall.

7. Quick aside, were you pretty surprised that Vegas labeled you underdogs this week? I know I was.

I was a little surprised because I do think Tech has an advantage in the trenches. It doesn't surprise me that Vegas anticipates the public's lack of faith in Tech, and therefore, feel they need to favor Kansas in order to get even money.

8. Finish this sentence. Tech will win if...

Can stop the run on 1st down. We need to keep Kansas in 2nd and 7s or longer for most of the night. This will keep KU from running time off the clock, and the more possessions in the game, the less likely the Jayhawks can keep pace with the Tech offense. It will also allow us to go to our dime package and bring in Daniel Howard in lieu of Richard Jones to rush the passer. This is where teams have had trouble handling the Tech DL.

9. And finally, your final score is...

On paper, I think Tech is 2 TDs better than Kansas in the trenches. Since it's a home game for KU, I'll knock 1 TD off that. And since Tech pulled a guy out of the stands to kick field goals this week, I'll say 42-38, Tech.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Look at Mount Mangino

Good article on Dez in the KC Star today. That makes just about every outlet that covers Kansas football; I guess that's what happens when you completely dominate the Oklahoma secondary on your own. has an article up about Mack Brown and because it was written by Joe Posnanski, it's definitely worth a read. And while I'm not quite sure I agree with his assertion that Mack is the best coach in America, he makes some valid and interesting points. First off, I find his good credit/bad credit thing incredibly true with everyone he mentions, as well as many others. Very intriguing. But more to the point, when he's making his case about Mack being the best, he cites the six things a school is looking for in its football coach. What I want to do is look at those six things as they pertain to our own Mount Mangino.

1. Win. Sure, his first season was a little ugly (2-10, 0-8), but ever since then we've had little to complain about considering the circumstances. 2004 (4-7) and 2006 (6-6) were frustrating years, because of what they could have been. In '04, six losses came by a combined total of 29 points. Two of those losses came when Tech and Texas both scored touchdowns on their last drives of the game, after KU had led throughout. '06 was much the same, only against a lesser schedule. Only in Columbia did they not hold either a late fourth quarter lead or an extremely significant second half lead. Yet they lost six times. But that aside, he's compiled a 42-38 record (20 of the last 24) and led the team to their best season of all time as 12-1 Orange Bowl Champions.

2. Win the big games. This one is a little hard to quantify, since there haven't been a whole lot of them. He hasn't gone out and led a whole slew of upsets, but he has exorcised a few demons. After being humiliated by KSU for years, he broke that streak in 2004 and has gone 3-1 since (3-3) overall. Despite (arguably) having less talent on the field each time, he's gone 3-3 against MU. And much more importantly he's gone 2-1 in bowl games with last year's Orange Bowl win the highlight. This will hopefully become more measurable in years to come as the magnitude of games continue to grow.

3. Go to bowl games and win them. This seems like much the same as point #2, but alas, it's not my list. Either way, it's worth noting that in 6 years he's been bowl eligible 4 times and gone to three, winning twice. Assuming they add to that total this year, it will be the first time in their history that Kansas has gone to bowls in back-to-back years.

4. Make game adjustments. This is one I'm not so sure about. Obviously there were the late game disappointments of '04 and '06. Similarly, it was extremely frustrating to watch them never make an adjustment at Arrowhead last year or during the third quarters in Tampa and Norman this year. I probably don't know enough about football to be critiquing game plans/adjustments too much, but the proof is in the pudding that not only have there not been a ton of comebacks, but also there have been plenty of late blown leads. (Note: The job done in Ames this year was very commendable, however.)

5. Recruit talented players. He's not getting too many (or any) five stars just yet, but the caliber of player has definitely improved in year's past. A simple look at the NFL will reveal that he's either getting better players or making them better. Of the 7 Jayhawks in the NFL, four were drafted in April.

6. Energize the fan base. Absolutely. When he arrived, morale was at an all time low. The average attendance record was set in 1969 (42,161) and had not been broken since. In 2005 he broke it (43,6750. In 2006 he broke it again (44,137). Same thing last year (46, 784). And they're on pace to break it again (50,516) with every remaining game on the schedule already sold out. Factor in the $31 million he raised for the new football complex and I'd say he's energized the fan base a little.

7. Get the most out of your players (I'm adding this one). The reason I added this one is threefold…
1) I think this is a crucial point that Joe misses in his article. Possibly on purpose? You've got to make your argument, after all. Because while I think he's on target with Mack's credit rating, very few would even consider questioning most of these things on Mack's resume. What people want to know is…How, amongst all this success and with all of this talent, has he only managed to win the Big XII one time?
2) I think it's something any energetic (and educated) fan base wants out of their coach. As big of a disappointment as Bill Callahan was, perhaps his biggest failure was how little he seemed to get out of his players. Despite always having a top tier recruiting class, he could only put together two winning seasons. And despite having (arguably) a better athlete on the field at every position, Kansas scored 69 points on them in under 3 quarters of football.
3) And finally, I think it's Mangino's strong suit. It's hard to quantify any of this and I don't want to short change the players. But as little as I trust recruiting services, it's still pretty apparent that he's rarely taking the field with the same level of talent. And yet as they proved a week ago (or in last year's Orange Bowl), they can play with anyone. Which is why it's so easy to like this team.

Nothing against Mack (I'd kill for that kind of success), but it's easy to understand why his fan base gets upset at times. When you know you have the talent to beat anyone and yet you're going 0-4 against Ron Prince & Dennis Franchione in a two year span, the diehards get restless. Bad credit rating or not, I don't think that's too unfair. To quote my man Marlo, "that sounds like one of them good problems."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Q&A Time: Texas Tech

The man behind the answers in this Q&A is none other than Seth C of Double T Nation, who, today posted his Five Reasons Texas Tech Will Win: Kansas Edition. I also did a Q&A for him, and I'll apprise you when it has been posted as well. Thanks to Seth for taking the time to answer our questions. Now if he could just clue us in on how to get so many visitors. Onto the questions...

**UPDATE** Double T Nation has posted the Q&A here.

1. Tech is 7-0 and on the list of no more than 8-10 teams that have a shot at the MNC. However, they could play well, not ever be upset and finish the regular season at 8-4. What were your expectations going in and what are they now?

I think my expectations are the same now as they were before and would have been disappointed had Texas Tech not been undefeated heading into this weekends' game. I would be disappointed with a 4 loss regular season as I think Texas Tech is capable of beating anyone on their schedule. That's not to say that I'm expecting 4 wins, but rather I'm expecting these games to be competitive and I'd be happy with getting 2 out of 4. I know, that sounds somewhat of a defeatist attitude, but winning 2 of these 4 would be a good thing.

2. Obviously the offense is as effective as ever. However, I don't think you've been running nearly enough. Do you agree? And also, do you think we should expect the same ratio here on out or has Leach been saving this in light of the next four games?

Absolutely not. A quick look at the numbers and Texas Tech is running 37% of the time this year. Just comparing that to last year, which was a measly 24%, there's no doubt that Leach has been running the ball quite a bit more, especially in comparison to last year. One of the reasons Texas Tech looked so average against Aggie last week is that there were very few running plays in the first half, but the second half was a different story and Texas Tech ran the ball.

3. Baron Batch is someone I didn't now much about before this year and really enjoy watching. Has he been the biggest surprise for you? If not, who?

I didn't expect Batch to be as good as he is, but the biggest surprise thus far has been the play of DE McKinner Dixon. Dixon was a JUCO transfer, who had played for Texas Tech his freshman season, but due to grades issues, he left to the JUCO ranks. Being back this year has been a breath of fresh air and supplied Texas Tech with two quality pass rushers, the other being Brandon Williams.

4. While I'm hesitant to say Tech's defense has turned the proverbial corner, they are playing physically and do seem better than in year's past. Colby Whitlock, Brandon Williams and Brian Duncan seem to be the most valuable members from my limited perspective. Mind discussing them and any other important cogs?

Up front, there's quite a bit of improvement. The difference of course is that Texas Tech was awful against the run last year, but great against the pass. This year, things are flipped. Given that, I'd still rather have a stout defensive line, like Colby Whitlock who anchors one defensive tackle position, while Richard Jones, subbing in for an injured Rajon Henley, is performing at a pretty high level. As mentioned above, the best part about all of this is that Texas Tech has two pass rushers in Dixon and Williams, while Brandon Sesay was recruited as a defensive end, but has played defensive tackle thus far. As far as linebackers go, Brian Duncan is playing lights out right now. He's excellent against the run and he is the unquestioned leader on the defense. He's really fun player to watch.

5. Keeping with the defense, I would expect them to come hard at the Jayhawks and try to out-physical them. Agreed? And more importantly, what kind of schemes do they like to run? Where would you attack them if you were Todd Reesing?

Thus far, Ruffin McNeill has had his best success coordinating the defense by playing it safe and letting his line do the dirty work. There's no doubt that the defensive line is Texas Tech's strength on defense and you can expect lots of base defense with the tackles stunting, trying to put pressure on the pocket but containing Reesing all at the same time. Personally, I think that's a tough order as I have this fear that Reesing, who has a nice knack of getting out of trouble, using his legs to move the Kansas offense. Again, look for a base 4-3 while utilizing the nickel and dime packages as needed.

6. Speaking of our gunslinger, how do you guys feel about him? Where would you rank him in the Big XII pecking order?

I really enjoy watching Reesing play. You know how you're supposed to have this built up animosity for opposing players (and I'm sure I will to an extent on Saturday)? I don't have that with Reesing. Secretly, I cheer for him. Ranking the Big 12 QB's: McCoy, Bradford, Robinson, Harrell, Daniel and Reesing. That's not a knock on Reesing, but a product of the incredible depth at QB in the Big 12.

7. Quick aside, were you pretty surprised that Vegas labeled you underdogs this week? I know I was.

Yes I was. In fact when I wrote about it I assumed that Texas Tech was favored, which made me look careless. I really respect Kansas and considering last year's success, you guys should be favored.

8. Finish this sentence. Tech will win if...

The defensive line can get pressure on Reesing. If Reesing can't get the ball to Meier or Briscoe then I like Texas Tech's chances. If either or both of those guys go off, I think we're in for a long day.

9. And finally, your final score is...

I'm a homer and most of the time, think Texas Tech can win just about any game. Give me Texas Tech 41, Kansas 38.

And of course, we can't let you go without wishing you a very HAPPY MULLET WEDNESDAY! (Note: formatting on pic is weird; if you're not getting the full shot just click on it.)

Rock Chalk Roundtable: Week 4 (Part 1 of 2)

As always, these questions went out to the contributors at Rock Chalk Talk, as well as DJ from Hawk Digest. However, since young GingerBalls also partook in the action this week, we were looking at a rather enormous post. In the interest of spacing saving, we'll be splitting it up. First for the IBT answers and later in the week, we'll disseminate the others as well.

**Edit** TG has a story about Dez up on his blog. It's pretty much the same thing you read in the LJW today, except that it has a few facts incorrect and still makes no mention of him being snubbed out of the coveted TG helmet sticker despite having the biggest day receiving in the nation this year and second biggest in conference history. But worth a read nonetheless.

1. What, if anything, can KU take from the loss in Norman?

GingerBalls: Our offense was far from perfect and left points on the field. Yet, even when it isn't quite at its best, it's still pretty damn good....defense on the other hand, not so much.

Hiphopopotamus: A lot. For one thing, they proved that they can stay on the field with a legitimate top 5 team, on the road. Not that I ever want to be lumped in with them, but if you'll recall a year ago; the legitimacy of a certain team was entirely validated by doing the exact same thing (against an OU team that wasn't nearly as good). OU and UT are on another level (as they should be), but at this point we have reason to believe Kansas isn't the equal or better than anyone else (as they'll have a chance to prove shortly).

2. What do you think about Dezmon Briscoe's breakout day - Is it just a case of a guy being fired up for playing OU or is this a sign of things to come?

GB: Things to come I would expect. We have seen flashes of brilliance from this kid, but the amazing thing is how open he was getting when our other receivers couldn't get a yard of spacing.

HH: I'm thinking a little of both. It's obvious from their play calling that the coaching staff thought that this game needed to be a shoot-out. In thinking that, they called a lot of plays that sent him down the field quite a bit more than we're used to seeing. On the one hand, I'd expect them to build off that success and look to do so more often. On the other, that kind of play-calling doesn't exactly promote ball security, something very important to this coaching staff and this team's success.

3. If you could fix one thing with our defense what would it be? Also, if that one thing is unlikely to be fixed, what one thing do you think we have a chance of fixing to improve from here on out?

GB: Obvious answer is pass rush and that won't be rectified anytime before next year most likely. So I am gonna go with more press coverage on our corners against the spread. Why not try and bump them off the snap, worked for that little that we did it against USF and then I haven't seen it since.

HH: I think we're on the same page here, because I think it's just about an overall physicality. And more than anything, I really want to see us try and mix things up some. We've proven before (2005 most notably) that this system does work and I can appreciate sticking with it, especially during the season. But it's pretty obvious that offenses have evolved since then and that right now we don't have the players to make it work as we're trying to do. That being the case and timing being as important a factor as any in most of these offenses, why wouldn't we want to try and confuse as much as possible before the snap?

4. On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate the importance of Saturday's game?

GB: For the season to be the type of success that most expect, we need this pretty badly to keep rolling into that UT buzzsaw. 8

HH: I'll go with a 9. It's not must win by any standard so I won't put it at 10. But if this team is to truly believe in itself and get the recognition it deserves, it needs to take down one of the South "powers." With Texas looking less likely by the week, this is their best chance.

5. Being a bit more specific than "stop the pass" (because that won't happen), what one thing does KU need to do to win this game?

GB: Control the ball and the clock by giving them a good dose of Jake and Jocques opening up down field even more than it already will be. 50/50 run/pass will be key.

HH: Agreed, they need to control the game. But in the interest of diversity, I'll be generic and repeat what I told Double T Nation, "they [need to make the] plays when they count. Both of these teams are going to do some scoring, so it will come down to who makes less mistakes and who capitalizes on thier opportunities. If Kansas can win the turnover battle and not settle for field goals, I think they'll come out of Saturday with a well earned win and a newfound national respect."

6. And finally, Big XII picks...

Oklahoma 45 @ KSU 10
Colorado 10@ MU 59
A&M 20@ ISU 9
Baylor 24@ Nebraska 31
OSU 38@ Texas 42

Hiphopopotamus: I'll keep things short since we're at the end of a long post, but consider these the abridged picks for the week.

OU (-19.5) @ KSU : My fear here is that Stoops opts for the Milton Berle approach. But since he's trying to get back in the MNC picture, I betting he won't. OU 56 KSU 21

CU @ MU (-22.5): Unless the Tigers are feeling sorry for themselves, this shouldn't be much of a game. Evidence mostly by the destruction in Boulder a year ago and Colorado not yet passing 14 points in a conference game. MU 45 CU 14

A&M @ ISU (-3): I don't have a clue, mostly because this is the only chance either has to get a league win. After watching each last week, I'd be crazy to go against A&M. But I'm giving the Cyclones one last shot. ISU 24 A&M 20

Baylor (+11) @ Nebraska: Robert Griffin would scare me if I was Nebraska. But I really like what the Huskers have done on the road the last two weeks, especially on offense. NU 30 Baylor 21

OSU @ UT (-12.5): I'll be the first to admit that I'm probably just being stubborn with OSU, but I've yet to fully come around on them. Texas, on the other hand, I've been high on since the day they hired Will Muschamp. Can you imagine if Jamaal Charles had come back? Texas 41 OSU 28

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Five Reasons Kansas Could Win

A couple quick links before we get going. First up is a wonderful microcosm of what has happened to Iowa State's season ever since halftime of our visit to Ames. Secondly, we have for you a nice find from Orson on our good pal Chase. That guy has had a good couple of weeks. And in response to Ginger's link to the ref's tackle this weekend, the SEC thinks he did nothing wrong. Of course.

Lastly we have a few ESPN links. Brucie Feldman ranks Todd the best little guy in the country. Obviously. But he also continues to have little faith in this Kansas team, still pegging them for the Sun Bowl (v. Cal). Meanwhile, Schlabach has upgraded them to the Alamo Bowl (v. Northwestern) in this week's bowl projections.

Also, Double T Nation has posted their introduction to the game. It's an all encompassing look at the statistics of each team. Some other news came out of Lubbock as well. Take from that what you will.

1. The Mangino Effect: More times than not it feels like we have a distinct coaching advantage when we take the field. This was not necessarily the case last week and I think it showed, particularly in the third quarter. But among other things, Mangino seems to have a decent grasp on what Leach likes to do on offense. Obviously he won't admit this, but if you look back, the results are at least semi-conclusive.
Will it help us? Sure. Maybe not in the way I'm about to suggest, but having Mangino on our side is obviously a huge benefit. Pun intended. Optimistically, I like to think it will be even more so this week. In 2004, Tech averaged over 36 ppg (40 against teams other than OU and UT). Kansas finished this year 4-7, but held Tech to 31 points. Of course, they also led the game 30-5, before completely falling apart and ultimately allowing Taurean Henderson to run 70 yards for the winning score. The next year, Tech's offense improved, averaging nearly 40 for the year (52+ at home). Yet, KU went into Lubbock and only allowed 30 on the night (7 of which were scored by the defense). So while this hasn't translated into a win yet, it's pretty safe to say that I'll feel very good about our chances if Tech only scores 30 points.

2. Ball control: This was obviously a huge weakness a week ago and a big reason for the loss, but it has the potential to be a strength. With our newfound running game and Todd's accuracy, there is no reason this offense can't move down the field while simultaneously keeping Tech's offense off of it.
Will it help us? Assuming it's done, and that the drives are converted into touchdowns. Two weeks ago, Tech's offense obliterated Nebraska. They scored on all but 2 drives. They didn't turn the ball over. They averaged just under 9 yards per play. But they only ran 48 plays. Their season average is 74 (7.5 yards per). And Nebraska did absolutely nothing special except consistently move the ball while not turning it over (had it for over 40 minutes). It led to each scoring 31 on the way to overtime. After watching our pass defense last week, this is likely the best possible way to stop (or slow) Tech. And since it also leads to points for us and a worn down defense for them (NU scored TDs on their last 3 drives to force OT), it seems like a pretty sound plan.

3. Sacks: We mentioned yesterday that Graham Harrell has been sacked a mere 1 time this year. On 318 pass attempts. We also mentioned that this is a big reason why Tech has been successful as by far the easiest way to slow (or stop) them is to pressure, disrupt and/or rattle him. But Kansas is used to not being able to do that anyway, so maybe they won't be caught off guard by the fact that they're unlikely to have any success doing so this Saturday.
Will it help us? Probably not, but it's worth considering. We know we can't get pressure with four. They know we can't get pressure with four. So why not do everything from showing 7 and coming with 2 to showing nothing and coming with 6? If you're not going to get to him (with four), you might as well do everything you can to confuse him and/or catch him off guard.

4. Todd Reesing: Despite the un-Todd mistakes he made last week, he remains here for good reason. Straight from the University notes for this week, "has established 31 school records and is within reach of the career passing yards mark (needs 399)…Owns a 17-3 record as a starter. In starts he has thrown 50 TDs to 12 INTs…Has thrown for 300 yards five times this year and ten times in his career."
Will it help us? Of course. Yes, Todd made some mistakes last week; the goal line INT and fumble (recovered) down 31-24 and driving being the most costly. But he also dealt with constant pressure and still managed to go 24/41 for 342 with 2 TDs. He's still being asked to do too much and that's part of why his mistakes are up, but simply put; he gives this team a chance to win every single game.

5. Memorial Stadium: Strangely enough, Kansas hasn't looked a ton better at Memorial this year. But that's probably because Colorado was the best opponent. Not exactly thrill worthy. And still, facts are facts; they've won 13 in a row and 22/24 in Memorial. Equally beneficial is the effect it has on Tech as they too, are a much better team when they get to play on their home turf.
Will it help us? Sure. There is no aura around the stadium to win the game for us and the crowd isn't so crazy that Tech won't be able to run their offense. But on Homecoming and against an undefeated, top ten team, everyone is bound to be fired up. One can only expect that this will be a huge benefit to the Jayhawks. How much of one, we'll have to see. May I suggest everyone start drinking heavily no later than dawn so as to be extremely rowdy by kickoff? Rock Chalk!

As always, disagreements and additions are welcome. One big one I left off was Tech's struggling kicking game. I could see this being a huge factor as they are not only struggling on FGS, but PATs as well. I left it off, though, because solid as he has been, Branstetter has yet to make a kick from beyond 30 yards and missed his other two attempts from that distance. For that reason alone, I'm not yet ready to declare this a decided advantage. I hope I'm wrong though.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday night quick links

Sorry to bump Hiphop's post down but thought I would share a few interesting links. I do want to remind all KU fans to be thankful that our defense is not quite as porous as the Denver Broncos.

Free tailgating banner (3'x6') to anyone who wants it, provided you don't mind paying the $12 shipping. May I suggest changing the text to Rip His Fucking Head OFF! Stay classy...

Can't say I don't agree with this website. All jokes about a KSU fan actually knowing how to run a website can go into the comments after this post. But why would you leave a team that you worked so hard to get to the Top 25 to take a job at a KSU? You decide, Clemson or Kansas State....that's what I thought. (favorite part of the site is the current situation of the program link)

Kind of crappy video quality but the awesomeness of the catch shines through. Kerry Meier is a stud.

This is simply ludacris, if you haven't seen it yet you have been living under a hole.(love the comment about Buffalo Wild Wings made me do it, guess they didn't want to go home yet)

And in closing, a chimpanzee on a Segway.(it really is as awesome as it sounds) One thing is for sure, that chimpanzee racks a discipline. -thanks to RoboBoogie for the link
Olga Kurylenko for your viewing pleasure. If you weren't excited enough about the new Bond movie Quantum of Solace, you are now.

Five Reasons Kansas Could Lose

Before we get to the task at hand. I have one link to pass along. Weekly conference awards were handed out today. Colt McCoy took offensive (sure), Lendy Holmes defense (no argument) and Brooks Rossman special teams (what?!). He's an OK kicker I guess, but are they aware he went 2-4 on FGs and 1/1 on PATs? As a quick aside, a simple 3/4 would have won them the game. And for reference, throughout the league: Branstetter (KU) and Wolfert (MU) each were 1/1 on FG and 4/4 on PATs. Texas' kickers were a combined 8/8 on PATs (no FG attempts required). Bailey from OSU was 2/2 on FGs and 4/4 on PATS (in a win). And Bullock from A&M was 3/3 on FGs and 2/2 on PATs. Don't all of these sound like better performances than Rossman's? Just wondering.

1. Pass defense: In truth, I could probably just end this entire post right here, because this is what it all comes down to. Tech has shown an ability to run the ball with both Batch and Woods, but it's not what they want to do and it's not how they win games. And outside of the Colorado game (which clearly doesn't count anyway), Kansas has shown almost no ability to stop the pass this year.
Will it hurt us? Without a shadow of a doubt. There is but one way to stop the Tech offense and that consists of getting pressure on Graham Harrell. Which explains why the Pirates are undefeated, as he's only been sacked 1 time all year. Then again, the "best" team they've played was Nebraska, a team not exactly known for sacking the quarterback (1.86 per game, compared to Kansas at 2.14). Be that as it may, KU fans shouldn't count on getting a ton of pressure. That being the case, it will be up to the secondary to disrupt the routes as best they can by bumping off the line, switching up coverage and trying to confuse them as much as possible. It's worth assuming that they were trying to do some of these things in Norman, apparently to no avail.

2. Michael Crabtree: Obviously this fits in with #1, but when you have 12 TDs on the year and you're behind last year's pace you merit mentioning. If you haven't seen him play much, but you're familiar with Kansas, think of an even more athletic Kerry Meier that is also a full time receiver.
Will it hurt us? Yep. He's averaging over 7 catches and 103 yards per game, with 5 & 62 (UMASS) being his lowest output. Even more, he's Kansas' worst nightmare. During last year's Methzou game, the secondary often times covered perfectly, only the pass rush couldn't get to Booger so he bought some time…meanwhile, their receivers broke off their routes just trying to get open and he usually found them. Expect Harrell to do the same with Crabtree on more than one occasion. This may not be an issue as someone is almost always open anyway, but let's hope that between the crowd and the huge splits, some Jayhawk linemen can cause some pressure and help out the secondary.

3. Baron Batch and Shannon Woods: Obviously we could pick out any of Tech's weapons (Lewis and Morris come to mind immediately), but these two especially worry me. Both have shown an ability to run the ball pretty effectively and just as importantly, catch out of the backfield. With the way KU struggled to cover Murray and how any sort of screen produced at least 5 yards, Tech could easily use this as an effective check down or a guarantee in short yardage situations.
Will it hurt us? We'll see. It certainly hurts that they have these capabilities, but sometimes they don't utilize them nearly as much as they could. Also, the Hawks are rarely run on when they aren't physically overmanned (which they shouldn't really be this week), so as long as they're cognizant of the potential here and stay assignment sound, I could see it not playing a huge factor.

4. The offensive lull: Over the last five games, the offense has gone through one prolonged period of ineffectiveness. Dating back all the way to USF (when this first started and as much a reason for that loss as any), this has hurt them in some capacity. Against USF, it was five straight drives from the end of the first half through the fourth quarter (at which time they blew their lead). Even against Sam Houston, they didn't score until their fourth drive, making it competitive much longer than it should have been. Against ISU, they went the entire first half (6.5 drives) without scoring, leading to a 20-0 deficit. Versus Colorado, they went 4 straight drives, allowing CU to stay in it much longer than they should have. And against OU, it was 5 drives spanning from the middle of the third to late in the fourth, during which OU took it from 31-24 to 45-24 before KU closed the gap.
Will it hurt us? If it happens, you bet it will. Tech certainly doesn't have the defense of OU, CU, USF or possibly even ISU. But since we can't count on stopping them too many times in a row, any lulls on our end could lead to a deficit that can't be overcome. Such is life in a conference with 7 of the top 15 rated quarterbacks in the country.

5. Third down defense: Tech is currently third in the nation, converting third downs into first 55.6% of the time. Statistically, this isn't a huge weakness of our defense, allowing them to be converted 35.6% of the time (44th). And last week, we held OU to 7/16 (43.75%). But while they only converted 7 here, they converted another 29 for a total of 36 first downs. If you're allowing teams to pick up yards in chunks like that, you have to get off the field when you get them to third down.
Will it hurt us? Again, if it happens, you bet it will. It was obvious to anyone that knew anything that OU was going to get some points last week. But it became even more obvious the longer the defense had to stay on the field, looking a step slower as the game went on. While plenty capable, Tech won't be looking down the field too much, but rather on shorter routes putting their receivers in position for YAC. It will be imperative to keep them in front and limit their gains. And absolutely to get off the field on third downs.

I remain semi-confident about this game, if for no reason other than the home field advantage. But with as bad as our pass defense has looked and as typically great as their pass offense looks, I'm shocked the Jayhawks open as favorites in this one. What I really want to see, though, is the over/under, because I haven't seen anything from either team to make me think this will be any less offensive than last week.

Big XII Week 3 RoundUp (No surprises edition)

Some scores may have caught you off guard this week. But I doubt any outcomes did. If one thing has become apparent in this conference season, it's that the north's one year reign as (possibly) superior has ended with a hammer drop. Things could even out a bit as the season goes on, but with four teams legitimately in the national title hunt, the South reigns supreme. For the week we went 6-0 TGS and 3-3 ATS. That won't pay the bills. On the year now we're 14-4 TGS and 10-8 ATS.

Another 11:30 start time - are you kidding me?! That makes 4 out of the first 5 conference games.

1. Texas (7-0, 3-0) – beat Methzou 56-31: And it wasn't nearly that close. There are maybe three teams (USC, Florida and maybe Bama) in the country that could beat the Horns when they're playing well and not one of them is in this conference. However, with their gauntlet of a schedule, they're bound to have an off-week some time. Here's to hoping its November 15th. Next up is a trip from the Cowpokes.

2. Oklahoma (6-1, 2-1) – beat Kansas 45-31: Racking up a meager 674 yards on the way. I guess that's what happens when your scoring drives cover: 84, 79, 69, 78, 53, 58, & 60 yards (not to mention missed FGs after 64 & 53). They didn't exactly bring KU to a screeching halt, but I do think they're onto something with Nic Harris at MLB. If the weakness of your defense is pass coverage over the middle, it makes a lot of sense to me to plug in a safety there. And while Kansas had success, much of it wasn't over the middle. One thing to keep in mind though is the decent success they had running the ball, which may be a side effect of this switch (though you'd think a guy at 230 could hold his own). Next up is a trip to Bill Snyder Family Stadium and I'm not willing to put a ceiling on the amount of yards they might gain there.

3. Oklahoma State (7-0, 3-0) – beat Baylor 34-6: I'm still not quite sold on them yet, but they've got a helluva chance to convince me this week. They have great pass/run balance on offense, but there passing offense consists entirely of Dez Bryant. And defensively, they've obviously got some athletes and holding Booger and Robert Griffin in check two weeks in a row is pretty impressive. But I'm just not there yet with them and could see them losing 4 of their last 5 games. And I have been right before. I think. Next up is a trip to Austin.

4. Texas Tech (7-0, 3-0) – won at A&M 43-25: And it was much closer (scored with 20 seconds left). There's probably not a worse week to move them up, but it's pretty hard to justify having any two loss team ahead of them at this point. Hopefully that will change in exactly 5 days. There defense is soft and while still scoring, their offense has really only had one huge game this year and that was against KSU so it has to be taken with a grain of salt. I'll get a firsthand look pretty shortly. Up next is their trip to Lawrence.

5. Methzou (5-2, 1-2) – lost at Texas 56-31: Booger got his numbers, but nearly all of them came in the second half. Their first four drives covered: 1, 13, -12, & -8 yards, all ending in punts. After that they moved it pretty well, but the damage was more than done. And their record over the last two years when he is pressured has now moved to 0-4. That 3rd quarter INT truly couldn't have been a worse decision. Lucky for them, the rest of their games are against the north (+ Baylor) so running the table is plenty doable and Arrowhead will almost surely be for the north. Up next is a visit from Colorado. No word yet on if they'll start their first, second or third string quarterback. Reasoning unknown.

6. Kansas (5-2, 2-1) lost 45-31 @ Oklahoma: I hate to drop them, because there's no shame in losing in Norman. But they'll have a chance to move up a couple with a win Saturday (I can't believe they opened as 2 point favorites, though). I've said plenty about where my disappointment stems from on Saturday, but the fact of the matter is; despite how much they did wrong, they had plenty of chances to win in Norman. That's major progress. If they come out and correct some of the many mistakes we saw last week, that's all you can ask for. And that's what I'm counting on. Next up is a trip from Mike Leach's merry band of pirates.

7. Nebraska (4-3, 1-2) – won @ ISU 35-7: After watching their "attempt" against Methzou, it's hard to admit that I've been legitimately impressed the last two weeks. Which should be expected any time you outgain your opponent by 330 yards on the road. And have a good chance to win in Lubbock. That's two weeks in a row they've absolutely dominated time of possession. Some think it's an over-rated statistic. Not me. And especially not when you have a defense like Nebraska's. I've never been overly confident about our trip to Lincoln and I'm becoming less so by the week. Next us is a visit from Baylor.

8. Baylor (3-4, 1-2) lost @ OSU 34-6: I'm keeping them this high mostly out of stubbornness. But right now I'm in now way convinced that any team below them could beat them (CU is the only possible exception). Unfortunately, their five remaining are: @ NU, MU, @ Texas, A&M (yay!), @ Tech, so anything better than 1-4 in that stretch will be a big surprise. If Baylor wins in Lincoln, I'll start feeling a little better about our trip.

9. Colorado (4-3, 1-2) – beat KSU 14-13: Fourteen points on this Wildcat defense? Really?!? And why are you playing Tyler Hansen? Are C-Hawk and Ballenger really that bad? Hansen and Hawkins combined to go 13-27 for 106 yards with a TD and an INT. Why even bother throwing the ball? Especially when you're gaining more per rush (4.3) than per pass (4.2) Not per completion; per pass. I know injuries have played a part, but this team has regressed from last year. Not good, Danny boy. Next up is a trip to Columbia.

10. KSU (4-3, 1-2) – lost @ CU 14-13: But more importantly, they held an opponent below 500 yards of offense. Now that's progress. Then again, Tyler Hansen ran for 86 yards. Robert Griffin would have some fun against this team. Their season is certainly not lost with ISU and Nebraska visiting to end the season, but the next three could be rough (OU, @ KU, @ MU). First up is a visit from the Sooners.

11. ISU (2-5, 0-3) – lost to Nebraska 35-7: What happened to that "we're totally different at home?" And where did the team I saw against KU go? Did that loss really demoralize everyone? Because it shouldn't have. Luckily, they get a visit from the Aggies for a right to see who will go winless in the league this year, because neither of these teams look like they're beating anyone else. And the opening line has ISU giving the three point home field penalty.

12. Texas A&M (2-5, 0-3) lost to Tech 43-25: I'm actually starting to think they're beter than ISU, but they've been just a little more pathetic to date. Had they not been so inept, they had a decent chance to steal one on Saturday. But alas, it was not to be. And now they need to win in Ames to have much of a chance for a conference win this year.

Worth mentioning before we go - Tim Griffin's Big XII helmet stickers this week. You'll notice an absence of one Dezmon Briscoe, despite his 12 catches for 269 yards and 2 TDs (all better than the included Dez Bryant). You'll also notice the inclusion of Dan Hawkins for semi-benching his son Cody. If that's a hard move to make because he's your son, you shouldn't be coaching him. Oh by the way, Colorado still only scored 14 points on a KSU defense that gives up 500+ yards and 30+ points like it's going out of style. He's a genius!