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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Up for grabs

Mangino: It’s going to be a wild race for North title

Kansas receiver Dezmon Briscoe and Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown vie for the ball Saturday in Boulder, Colo. Kansas State leads the Big 12 North right now, while Nebraska and Kansas are one game back.

Kansas receiver Dezmon Briscoe and Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown vie for the ball Saturday in Boulder, Colo. Kansas State leads the Big 12 North right now, while Nebraska and Kansas are one game back.

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A victory over a one-win Colorado team Saturday would have put the Kansas University football team alone atop the Big 12 North standings and in prime position to battle for its first outright division crown.

Instead, following a weekend in which the two division favorites (Kansas and Nebraska) suffered upset losses and a surprising team (Kansas State) moved into the North’s top spot, the Jayhawks find themselves in what is quickly becoming a wacky and unpredictable division race.

Currently, Kansas is in a three-team logjam — along with Nebraska (1-1 in Big 12 play) and Colorado (1-1) — behind the first-place Wildcats (2-1), while holding a slight edge over Iowa State (1-2) and Missouri (0-2).

“It looks like it’s going to be a wild race,” KU coach Mark Mangino said during Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference. “... What I see is that a lot of teams in the North — everybody, probably — has still got an opportunity.”

Which team has the best chance to secure a spot in December’s Big 12 Championship in Arlington, Texas?

Here’s a look at each of the division’s six teams and the schedules they’ll try to navigate heading into the second half of the season.

Kansas: On paper, the Jayhawks figure to be fighting an uphill battle, with arguably the most challenging remaining schedule of any of the North teams. Kansas’ still faces the prospect of games against No. 25 Oklahoma (home), No. 21 Texas Tech (road) and No. 3 Texas (road), as well as matchups with previously ranked Nebraska (home) and Missouri (neutral). This in addition to a Nov. 7 matchup with current conference leader Kansas State in Manhattan.

Degree of difficulty (on a 10-point scale): 9

Kansas State: Much like Kansas, the Wildcats’ most difficult games await them. They’ll get their first test Saturday, when Colorado visits the Little Apple. A victory would ensure another week atop the Big 12 North standings, while a loss would make things immensely more difficult. K-State follows this weekend’s game with a road matchup against Oklahoma, home games against both Kansas and Missouri, and a regular-season finale against Nebraska in Lincoln.

Degree of difficulty: 7

Nebraska: The Cornhuskers, a team picked in the preseason to narrowly edge Kansas for the North title, will host Oklahoma and play at Kansas, but otherwise won’t face another ranked opponent for the remainder of the season, with games against Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas State and Colorado. Coming off a lopsided 31-10 loss to Texas Tech, the ’Huskers will have a chance to rebound with back-to-back games against Iowa State and Baylor, teams with a combined 7-6 record.

Degree of difficulty: 6

Colorado: Armed with a new quarterback, the Buffaloes will attempt to bounce back from a disastrous non-conference performance. And they have the schedule to do it. With the exception of No. 14 Oklahoma State, the team’s schedule doesn’t feature a single team currently ranked, while the Buffaloes have the luxury of taking on lowly Texas A&M; — a team coming off a 62-14 loss to Kansas State last weekend — as one of their South matchups.

Degree of difficulty: 4

Iowa State: Following last Saturday’s victory over Baylor, the Cyclones doubled their win total from last season, though they’ll be hard-pressed to hang around in the North this fall. They dropped a much-needed victory over K-State in their conference-opener and will likely be the underdog in games against Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Colorado and Missouri, and possibly on the road against Texas A&M.;

Degree of difficulty: 6

Missouri: Facing an 0-2 hole, the Tigers have the most work to do heading into the second half of the season, beginning with a game against the unbeaten Longhorns this weekend. Their next four games — at Colorado, Baylor, at Kansas State and Iowa State — appear winnable, with the regular season finale against Kansas to be held at a neutral site. Assuming Missouri falls to Texas, the Tigers would likely have to win out to be a factor in the race for the North title.

Degree of difficulty: 5

KU football reflects, looks ahead

After dropping a close game at Colorado on Saturday, the Jayhawks are looking to learn from their mistakes as the season moves on. Kansas takes on a Bradford-less Oklahoma team this coming weekend.

Comments

Eurekahwk 10 years, 3 months ago

"The Cornhuskers, a team picked in the preseason to narrowly edge Kansas for the North title, will host Oklahoma and play at Kansas, but otherwise won’t face another ranked opponent for the remainder of the season"

What do rankings have anything to do with it? Texas Tech was an unheralded, unranked team going into Lincoln with a backup QB. The UNL kids had this as a sure win just as we figured Colorado to be a walk in the park. Well, Nebraska also has that Colorado team IN Boulder. Unlike Nebraska, they have a QB. I'm betting Suh will have as much trouble bringing down Hansen as we did. Iowa State with their massive O-line will also give Nebraska fits. This thing is wide open.

Joe Baker 10 years, 3 months ago

I may be wrong but NU will walk into Boulder and probably beat CU. I've got a crazy feeling that we will be CU's only win the entire season!! LOL

If this happens, we have a long football season and the holidays are going to be brutal when it comes to football. We've got to pretty much take care of some business with key wins, ie. OU, UT and TT...yikes! Not to mention Missouri, K-State!

I think it's up to the guys and how badly they want it. They have what it takes to win. They have to want it worse than the other team.

pmohr13 10 years, 3 months ago

I was talking to my friend earlier this year and said that if i had to pick a dark horse to win the north my pick would be Colorado because Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri all had to travel to their place. They have the three toughest north opponents at home, can't ask much more than that.

MNHawk23 10 years, 3 months ago

Nebraska is going to lose to iowa state this weekend. id be willing to bet. mizzou will play texas close, texas better watch out. colorado will kill k-state, by at least 25 points KU OU is a toss-up. whoever sets the tone in the 1st quarter comes away with this one

Kenneth Hillman 10 years, 3 months ago

Our schedule is tough but that is no excuse. We can do this... I don't care who we have on our schedule, we need WINS! This is when teams step up and earn their recognition. Wish I could be there for the OU game.

ROCK CHALK!

Cody Stumma 10 years, 3 months ago

I am betting on KSU to beat Colorado... no offense, but in that game, both teams are going in with a lot of swagger right now... plus it's in Manhattan.

I'm praying that ISU beats Nebraska...

Texas will crush Mizzou.

Kansas better win Saturday... or Halloween in Lubbock could be scarier than the Ghosts and Ghouls.

FriscoKU 10 years, 3 months ago

KU is easily the best team in the North. Reesing is one of the best quaterbacks in the country. The last three games KU has played down to there competition. I think KU can take 2 out of 3 from the South teams, and destroy all the remaining North teams on the schedule. The season will be a failure if we do not win the North.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 3 months ago

"The season will be a failure if we do not win the North."

hardly. a respectable season, with another bowl appearance will be successful....especially if we win said bowl game.

that being said, i'd like to win the North this year, simply BECAUSE of the schedule. it would get the doubters off our back, saying the 2007 season was a total fluke simply from the so called EASY schedule.

KU and iowa st. are the only big 12 schools to have to play OU and UT in the same year. consequently, we get off from both of them during the out years...and all the other North schools have to play UT or OU every year.

it's still very doable. there's not much difference between NU, MU and KU. KSU should go 0-3 vs MU, NU and KU...and that seals it for them. NU can't beat OU...and i don't think they can beat us. Moo...good grief, they're hanging their hat on the Illinois trouncing? the Illini are 0-4 in the Big 10, having just been smoked by Indiana! the Illini are terrible...MU, not much better.

it's time for us to beat these south schools...and it starts on Saturday. i know OU has a very good D, but if we can't beat them this year at home, with a high powered, experienced offense, and their starting Heisman winning QB is out, then shame on us. it's all right there for the taking.

Go Jayhawks!

kansas22 10 years, 3 months ago

Agreed with soobawls... Hate to say it but I'm starting to believe we were just sorely overrated coming into the season. No, I'm not giving up on the team. Not even close actually. But to say we are easily the best team in the North is asinine. As said before, we have lost to a bad CU team (and yes they are bad) and came scarily close to losing to a terrible ISU team. We'll see if those two games were flukes when OU comes to town but I'm guessing the mustached backup QB is going to have a big day and OU gets a relatively easy win. I hate to be pessimistic but from what I've seen I have no reason to believe otherwise. So far, I'm very disappointed considering the expectations coming in. Please oh please KU, turn this around and prove me wrong.

beebe1b 10 years, 3 months ago

KU is not over rated on Offense. Talent on Defense is OK, too. Defensive Coordinator learned from an incompetent Coordinator and no one else to learn from. Univ 0f Cinti is top notch. Head coach moved from Defensive Coordinator at Ohio State. They were rated #9 before Saturdays game, probably up this week. KU moved down and is lucky to be in the top 25!

Strange to me that Mangino doesn't get the point!

FriscoKU 10 years, 3 months ago

Upsets happen in college football all the time. This team does have the most talent in the North. In regards to mvjayhawk comments, : "a respectable season, with another bowl appearance will be successful....especially if we win said bowl game." Everyone goes to bowl games now a days with six wins. By going to the Texas or Independence bowl, this will not make it a successful season for KU. I had great expectations for this season, especially with the offense KU has. KU has one of the highest paid coaches in college football, and great facilities. We should expect top 25 finishes almost every year now.

MNHawk23 10 years, 3 months ago

code_2008- i think colorado will kill k-state because teams often have huge letdowns after huge unexpected blowouts. for example last year after we killed k-state the next week we had a letdown to nebraska. or mizzou last year, killed nebraska then had a letdown at home to okie state. colorado still has a huge chip on their shoulder but now they know they can hang with teams like texas and beat teams like ku. plus they are just a lot better than their 2-4 record would indicate, especially with that new QB. just my opinion though, and it doesnt even really matter since neither team should contend for the title

Corey 10 years, 3 months ago

Do you even watch football? Those are four of the worst predictions I've ever seen. -


MNHawk23 (anonymous) says...

Nebraska is going to lose to iowa state this weekend. id be willing to bet. mizzou will play texas close, texas better watch out. colorado will kill k-state, by at least 25 points KU OU is a toss-up. whoever sets the tone in the 1st quarter comes away with this one

Scott Smetana 10 years, 3 months ago

soobawls... you are the most pessimistic KU fan ever.
Why do you even come to this site?
I clearly remember you saying that our BB team is terrible and we had no chance in the tourney after losing at OSU just before our title run in '08. If the football team pulls some upsets and gets a nice bowl game, I expect an apology.

Kevin Long 10 years, 3 months ago

I don't think the hawks are the best team in the north, but not the worst either. They could still win the north. It is as wide open as it's ever been! Soobawls, you are a glass is half empty kind of guy. Pikes is right.

Jayhawkgirl16 10 years, 3 months ago

Soobawls- your a douche! The site your looking for is www.k-statesports.com or if that's not correct then try www.mutigers.com. You don't belong here with comments like that so get out :P

Dirk Medema 10 years, 3 months ago

soobawls - What was Tyshawn's criminal behavior? Posting rapper lyrics on FB? Getting beat up by a football player? Even throwing the punch that messed up his finger isn't assualt if there is no victim, and I believe the FB was more than satisfied with "the time served". TT and all the players involved were indeed embarassing, but not criminal.

And before you go making more ignorant allogations with references to the criminal "investigation" that is being pursued, from what I read in the article, it is just an investigation and none of it even involved the players on this team. It involved people associated with the team following one of the teams embarrassing incidents, but not the current players.

Stop making the ignorant allegations.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 3 months ago

I am definitely not excited about KU losing the CU game, and figured it was part of the sweep of the N that KU needed to have a chance of playing 14 games. I am definitely excited to see what the rest of the season brings tho. People were really talking down about Duke when we played them because they had lost to Richmond (D 1-AA) tho Richmond is now ranked better than half of our schedule (60's?) UTEP was the same when we played them, but then they go and beat Houston (?), so maybe they aren't as bad as once believed.

Maybe ISU is finally starting to learn their 3rd new O in 4 yrs (?) and beginning to play solidly behind their big OL. Maybe CU/Hansen really is pulling a "Reesing" and will shock a few more teams this year. I still think there is plenty of hope for a good year.

Oh, and Frisco - the "great facilities" have been around for 1 year. Give them a chance to have an impact on recruiting before demanding results.

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