This week, our friends over at Clone Chronicles have been kind enough to host the Big 12 Round Table, focusing this time on the "Rise of the North."
Were Saturday's games a sign that the Big 12 North may be on its way back?
-- I think it was a combination of the rebirth of the North mixed with a down year for certain teams in the South. Teams like Colorado and Kansas State are certainly on their way back to matching the success they had in earlier days in the Big 12, and teams like Mizzou and Kansas are trying to establish the foundation of conference success. In the South, Texas has looked nothing like the powerhouse they claim to be. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M have not taken the steps forward that everyone expected and have most likely taken steps back. In the North, what was supposed to be a two-team race all of the sudden looks like one of the most compelling divisional races this side of the National League West, with five teams now thinking San Antonio.
How seriously do we take the hot starts at Mizzou and Kansas?
-- All biases aside, I think you can take Missouri's hot start very seriously. The win over Illinois looks more and more impressive as the weeks pass, and don't overlook the road win at Ole Miss. The surprise, however, is Kansas. I really have no idea what to make of this team because they have played teams with the collective talent of an inner-city middle school. However, if the Jayhawks come out and beat Kansas State and get on an early conference tear, I reserve the right to label KU as a bona fide contender.
Pick one team from the opposite division that you truly hate, and say why; follow this up by picking another team from the opposite division that you don't mind pulling for, and say why.
-- In the South, I truly hate the Texas Tech Red Raiders for a variety of reasons that really don't apply in any logical forum. I have quite a passionate disdain for all things Lubbock, and my hatred of the football team stems from that, rather than the other way around. From a football standpoint, though, I hate any comparison between Missouri and Tech based on the "pass offense/little defense" concept. As for a team to pull for, I generally pull for every other school, but if I had to pick one, I pull for Texas A&M because of family connections.
The NCAA has enacted a rule allowing you to bring back one senior that graduated last year to play for your team for the rest of the season. Would you do it? And if so, who?
-- Brian Smith. The much maligned Missouri defense was outstanding in the early portion of last season with a healthy Smith at defensive end. However, once Smith injured his hip against Kansas State, the defense and the season took a turn for the worse. Stryker Sulak has provided sparks of a pass rush several times throughout the season, but the loss of Smith (in combination with Xzavie Jackson) has been an immeasurable subtraction from the program.
Rank the conference teams
1. Oklahoma - Don't care that they lost. They still have the capacity to destroy most Big 12 teams on any given day.
2. Missouri - Saturday night will tell a lot about how the '07 version of the Tigers responds under pressure.
3. Kansas State - Last week I said they were flying under radars. I'm thinking people are paying attention now.
4. Kansas - Will return to bottom half of power rankings if Kansas State takes care of business this weekend.
5. Colorado - In hockey, it's not a series 'til a team wins one away from home. Colorado held serve in Boulder; now what?
6. Texas - Mack Brown's honeymoon is over. Welcome back to mediocrity, your old room is still open.
7. Texas Tech - Well, now we know the defense can hold a lower-division school in single digits. Congrats?
8. Nebraska - Husker fans relieved to have defeated Iowa State. Stop printing the shirts - order is now restored.
9. Oklahoma State - Is Saturday night's match-up at Kyle Field really to determine the South lead?
10. Texas A&M - Not extremely impressive over Baylor, but convincing win over Pokes could move the Ags back up the ladder.
11. Baylor - Still have the capacity to sneak up on teams, but I still don't think the Bears go bowling.
12. Iowa State - Look for ISU-Baylor to duke it out all-season for the Nos. 11-12 spots on the power rankings.