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Big 12 not as elite as last year

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:

  • 2. Texas
  • 15. Oklahoma State
  • 16. Kansas
  • 19. Oklahoma
  • 21. Nebraska
  • 24. Missouri

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:

  • 1. SEC
  • 2. Big 12
  • 3. Pac-10
  • 4. ACC
  • 5. Big Ten
  • 6. Big East

Onto the awards for week 5 for Big 12 players who went above and beyond:

Player of the week: Grant Gregory, Kansas State

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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

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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.

  • 1 (1). Texas (4-0): Make that 5-0 after hosting Colorado next weekend.
  • 2 (3). Oklahoma State (3-1): Defense needs to step up.
  • 3 (4). Kansas (4-0): 6-0 start realistic (vs. Iowa State, at Colorado).
  • 4 (2). Oklahoma (2-2): BCS title dreams likely over.
  • 5 (5). Missouri (4-0): Hosting Nebraska on Thursday.
  • 6 (6). Nebraska (3-1): Huskers have seen a hostile road environment already this season (at Va. Tech). NU hoping for different result this time.
  • 7 (8). Texas Tech (3-2): WR Tramain Swindall emerging as legitimate deep threat (19.3 YPC, 4 TDs).
  • 8 (9). Baylor (3-1): At Oklahoma next week. Which QB will it be for both teams?
  • 9 (7). Texas A&M (3-1): Reality check vs. Arkansas.
  • 10 (11). Kansas State (3-2): Memorable blocked PAT to preserve victory.
  • 11 (10). Iowa State (3-2): RB Alexander Robinson left with hurt groin, but should be ready in time for Kansas.
  • 12 (12). Colorado (1-3): 1-4 after next weekend at Texas.

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.

Comments

suttonku 5 years ago

Hey do not count MU out against NU...I go to NU and honestly they're not that impressive and this game is at MU...Should be a good game.

Eric Sorrentino 5 years ago

Hey guys, that should definitely be a good game. Latest line just came in tonight. It has Nebraska as 2.5-point favorites on the road.

suttonku 5 years ago

Eric I would like to know how would you would rank the WR crews of the big 12?

CanesMLF 5 years ago

Besides James, there are 3 other keys to this game. 1. Jacory Harris. 2 stupid INT's to start the game. What did he do after the second? He laughed. Ice in the veins. He settled down and made good decisions in the 2nd half. 2. The U Defense. I was watching closely and in the 2nd half, i saw a Ray Lewis/Ed Reed/Vilma type intensity. All go no quit, flying to the ball, attacking, causing turnovers. Prototypical Randy Shannon D. 3. Mark Whipple. Correlates to #1 with Jacory settling down. He called great plays, mixed it up a bit, did what he does best that we didnt see against Va Tech. As Dwayne Johnson would say...Finally! The U has come back to Miami! We aren't all the way back, but we're taking big steps.

I never thought Miami would go 3-1, i was confident about FSU and Ga Tech, but Va Tech and OU were my "season busters" for the Canes. College football year in and year out proves that one loss could mean ANYTHING. Miami isnt a title contender this year. However, I will go on record with you good sir and say that next year, Beware The U.

Ben Kane 5 years ago

You are definitely right about this year being a down year, but you do the Big12 injustice to say only we are down. Truth is, the talent of teams overall this year is way down from last year. Pollsters are still using last year's results / name recognition to do their job, and as a result we have a horrible top 25 that is bouncing around more than a two year old on coffee.

I'm confident these polls will straighten themselves out over the next 3-5 weeks but the overall downward trend this year is going to continue. Teams like Texas, Florida, and Alabama probably are the three best teams in the country and not one of them would be able to beat their team from last year.

This all has me thinking that maybe Kansas is closer to the level of play of the top teir teams this year than ever before. I was surprised both by Duke putting up a fight against Virginia Tech and UTEP knocking of Houston. By the end of the season we may have one of the more difficult strength of schedules in the country.

JayViking 5 years ago

chuckberry32,

It does seem like there are fewer "elite" teams and an incredibly more vast amount of parity this year.

bg_duck1 5 years ago

As much as it pains me to say it I think mizzourah is going to win this thursday night. They are a better team than nebraska and it will show plus being the thursday night espn game those idiots are going to be pumped up..the home team has won every thursday night espn game this year so far

coolhand357 5 years ago

Premonition: I'm a bit worried about the Texas Tech game on the schedule. This may be the upset game the Jayhawks will have to overcome. Sure, KU SHOULD beat them handily, but I just got this feeling.... anybody else?

That being said, I'd like to see the Cornholers knock Misery down a notch, thus advancing the Cornholers in the polls. Then, when the Cornholers come to Lawrence, Lil Jay will have an early Thanksgiving feast. And Misery - having a Big XII North loss... will be the gravy AND the frosting.

suttonku 5 years ago

I would like to see NU lose because NU is less likely to lose in the future than Mizzou is...And then If KU beats them both then we will be in the driver's seat...I hate to say it but KU fans need to be cheering for MU in this game...I know it's tough to do but we have a better chance at beating Mizzou than NU, not saying we won't win both, but NU is a tougher team to beat in my book...I just have a feeling that Mizzou is going to win on Thursday...And if NU loses to OU and KU then we have the north in the bag...I think KU needs a bit of a cushion over NU rather than MU.

Mizzou has to play UT and at OSU and those are two very losable games and they have to play KU at the end so that potentially could be 3 big 12 losses.

NU has to play at Mizzou TTU at home and OU at home...they could lose all three of those games and they would have to go to KU 1 week after playing OU...So you see we need MU to beat NU on Thursday.

Benjamin Piehler 5 years ago

i think the Pac-10 may be better than big 12 this year. we will probably never know since the rankings are so crazy right now. SEC easily the best again. As a former student of a Big East school, we would be have lucky to even have a football team; all hoops.

hdhntr 5 years ago

best thing for KU is for MU to trounce NU, start them on a death spiral before they go into their south portion and then come to lawrence. this way KU can get it's rankings up as will MU to make it that much more of a Big Game at Arrowhead. Despite NU's fans faith in it's D, it has been exposed as having a very good Dline but the back 7 don't cover well and are thin on talent, something that Reesing and the Huge Dude can exploit bigtime!

All signs pt to a climatic Arrowhead thriller and is'nt that what college football is all about? Biggest rivals playing for a division championship?

actorman 5 years ago

Good call on TT, coolhand. KU is still looking pretty shaky on pass defense, and could be vulnerable against a great passing team like TT.

hdhntr, I understand your reasoning but I still want to see NU beat MU. I just can't root for the Tiggers unless it has a direct effect on KU's ranking, and even then it would be tough. It would be exciting to have a huge game at Arrowhead, though, especially if it ends up like last year's game, which was truly a classic.

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