It's time to pretend you're on vacation anywhere out of the country for the following scenario. There's no need to take cost into consideration because this is, after all, a dream vacation.
Where did your imagination take you? I'm in Italy. I've always wanted to go, and the closest I've been in my lifetime was the Venetian in Las Vegas. Something tells me that's not exactly Italy in all its glory (nice hotel, though). And come on, my last name? If I made restaurant reservations, I may not even be mistaken for a tourist.
Let's say I was on this dream vacation for the first month of the college football season. Internet access was limited.
While overseas, I probably would have heard about the Big 12 basics: Sam Bradford's shoulder injury, Jermaine Gresham out for the season, Oklahoma shocked by BYU, Florida and Texas still 1-2 in the rankings.
To get up to speed on what I missed, one of the first things I'd do is check the latest AP poll.
As it turned out, six Big 12 teams were included in Sunday's latest rankings:
Oklahoma's a little lower than their usual position at this point in the season, but six teams from one conference in the top 25 is usually a sign of a deep and talented conference. Had I been out of the country, I may have thought the Big 12 was off to an incredible start. Last year was one of the best seasons in recent memory and the Big 12 usually had five teams ranked per week. Now it's six? Must be another amazing year.
In reality, it doesn't seem so amazing, though. Not sure about everyone else, but it seems like a down year in the Big 12.
Texas is an elite team, but after the Longhorns, the conference doesn't have nearly as much elite depth as it did last year.
Last year, Texas and Oklahoma were elite teams. This year, the Sooners have been decimated by injuries and are a pedestrian 2-2 after the non-conference slate.
Last year, Texas Tech was a borderline elite team. This year, the Red Raiders are 3-2 after five weeks.
This year, I see only one elite team and a bunch of pretty solid teams. As of now, Oklahoma State is the second-highest ranked team in the conference. After the waxing the OSU defense took at the hands of Houston, I'm not so sure I want the Cowboys representing the conference in the Fiesta Bowl.
Kansas looks good, but could the Jayhawks, currently the third-highest ranked Big 12 team, represent the conference well in the Cotton Bowl against the SEC?
The Big 12 finished the non-conference season 4-7 against BCS foes (0-3 just this past Saturday). To gain more national respect, the conference must improve by the time the bowl season rolls around. If not, Big 12 fans will continue to hear that "S-E-C!" chant that A&M fans heard after getting pounded by Arkansas on Saturday in Arlington, Texas.
Speaking of Saturday, the latest edition of ConferenceChatterTV can be found below. Among the topics discussed in the week 5 review: OU's injuries piling up, the difference maker in the Sooners' loss in Miami, and Big 12 backup quarterbacks taking control of several games.
So where do you think the Big 12 ranks with other conferences after the non-conference season? KUSports.com poster whitechocolate posed the question in my blog entry before the weekend.
The Big 12 is still the second-best conference in college football, despite the conference coming in at No. 4 in the latest Sagarin ratings.
The SEC, with three of the top four teams in the country, is far and away No. 1. The SEC and Big 12 both have six teams ranked. No other conference has more than three. I just see a bigger gap between the SEC and Big 12 this year.
Here's my rankings:
Onto the awards for week 5 for Big 12 players who went above and beyond:
Player of the week: Grant Gregory, Kansas State
The K-State quarterback started this week in place of the ineffective Carson Coffman and responded with 206 passing yards, three total scores and a Wildcats' 24-23 victory over Iowa State in Arrowhead Stadium. Gregory, a senior, started his career at Indiana, before transferring to South Florida. He later transferred again to Kansas State. He hadn't started a game since high school. Bill Snyder gave him that chance and Gregory produced.
K-State seemed to be more effective with Gregory under center. In games like their 17-15 loss at Louisiana Lafayette, the Wildcats seemed to be one-dimensional on offense with running back Daniel Thomas the lone threat.
Biggest surprise of the week: Arkansas 47, Texas A&M 19
I picked Arkansas to win, but not by that much. A&M was looking to prove those first three wins (New Mexico, Utah State, UAB) weren't flukes. But it's looking like that 3-0 A&M start had a lot to do with the inferior opponents.
Sleeper alert: Steven Sheffield, Texas Tech
Sheffield stepped in for the injured Taylor Potts and threw for 238 yards and three TDs. The Lubbock Avalanche Journal is reporting Potts suffered a concussion against New Mexico. His status for Saturday against K-State is up in the air. In Mike Leach's 10 years of coaching Tech, he's never had a starting quarterback miss a start. That may change Saturday, but Sheffield's effectiveness has to make Red Raider fans more comfortable.
Here's the latest Sorrentino Scale to close this entry. The number in parentheses is what the team was ranked last week.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.