Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 7
Texas/Oklahoma border battle continues after the game
By John Razook,
4:29PM, Wed. Oct. 21, 2009
Memorable image of the week: Returning from a trip to Oklahoma over the weekend, where I witnessed firsthand the highs and lows of football seasons on the brink of both utter collapse and abounding hope, the pilot of our rental spaceship (a rather poorly-designed Nissan Versa) pointed out a group of hammered-drunk dudes on the side of the road …
… just to the south of the Oklahoma-Texas border. These shirtless gentlemen, most likely members of a national beer-swilling date-raping brotherhood of some sort, had probably violated several drunken-driving laws in getting their truck to the border, where it's easier, I suppose to get a hold of a couple of cases of 3.2 beer (you know, for the ride back home). Then again, we'd violated several laws ourselves at that point as well, so there was no need to do anything rash like alert the authorities.
Besides, these boys were simply doing what any self-respecting, heavily-intoxicated Longhorn fans would probably do on a Sunday afternoon if the spirit so moved them – drive to the border, park, drink, and taunt every single car that crossed back into Oklahoma, assuming they must all be Sooner fans, headed home to bury their heads in the sand. Or red dirt. Or whatever it is the earth is made out of up there.
The hellish, gnawing reality, though, is that Texas fans, though victorious this past Saturday, can't really be holding their heads much higher than the lowly Sooners. No team in the Big 12 can. The Longhorns didn't impress anyone with their 16-13 win, and while Texas is still undefeated, no one thinks they are playing nearly well enough to compete with, say, a Florida or Alabama.
The season is turning out badly for the league, which was supposed to repeat last year's drama of a three-team brawl for the South Division crown, a Heisman trophy race, etc. Instead we've been witness to a slew of injuries, suspensions, and demoralizing losses to teams from Conference USA and the WAC. The league's marquee nonconference win is probably Oklahoma State over Georgia and Georgia is doing its part to make sure football fans everywhere realize the Dawgs aren't really all that good this year.
A closer look at the Big 12 North should clear up the picture a bit. The first-place Kansas State Wildcats lost 66-14 to Texas Tech two weeks ago but responded with a 62-14 drilling of Texas A&M. Kansas, a supposed Top 25 team, just lost to lowly Colorado, the team everyone's been kicking like a dead mule. The Buffaloes, by virtue of that win, are now very much alive in the race for the North title, and one can't say that the benching of coach Dan Hawkins' son, quarterback Cody, hasn't been a catalyst for this newfound success. Nebraska, meanwhile … big, bad Nebraska … was supposed to finally be back, ferocious as a pack of crazed hyenas, and just one week ago nearly every national writer couldn't unbuckle the Huskers' collective belts fast enough to get at some of that sweet corn jock. So what happens this week? NU gets exposed as frauds by Tech, that's what. Granted, Tech's offense can make anyone look bad. That's what Mike Leach's pirates are known for.
Well, that and Twittering.
When K-State is in first, and Colorado is tied for second, you know the league is in for a rough ride down the homestretch. Ranking these teams in any kind of meaningful way now seems about as pointless as taunting Sooner fans. Sure, it's fun to do, but you're not really going to impress anyone.
1) Texas [6-0; 3-0]: Longhorns keep winning, and even though it seems like Mack Brown keeps smiling, I'll bet you big money he ain't smiling in the locker room, on the practice field, in the coaches' offices, and probably at home, too. Not with the Colt playing like a scared pony. Then again, that OU defense can be kind of frightening.
2) Oklahoma State [5-1; 2-0]: The Pokes held Missouri's high-powered offense to under 100 yards in the second half of Saturday's homecoming game in Stillwater, Okla., snapping a four-game home losing streak to the Tigers. Next up is a classic trap game at Baylor before Texas comes to town for the Halloween game that should decide the Big 12 South champion.
3) Texas Tech [5-2; 2-1]: Who's next in line to play QB for the Red Raiders? Tyler Potts is out, and now it looks like backup Steven Sheffield may miss time, too. It's a great time to put all this "system quarterback" talk to rest, isn't it, Mike Leach?
4) Oklahoma [3-3; 1-1]: The OU defense did its part against Texas, just as it's done to every team the Sooners have faced this year. The offense, though, without Sam Bradford and Jermaine Gresham … ouch. Bob Stoops' visor is probably used to being thrown violently to the ground in a raging stupor by this time.
5) Kansas [5-1; 1-1]: One thing Mark Mangino won't be eating this season is crow. He said Colorado was better than everyone else had been saying and he looks to be right.
6) Nebraska [4-2; 1-1]: Can still win the mediocre North. But that's more of an insult to the rest of the division than it is saying something nice about the Cornhuskers.
7) Kansas State [4-3; 2-1]: "I can't tell you this was anticipated," said Bill Snyder of his Wildcats thumping A&M to take sole possession of first place in the North. Well, coach, I can't, either. Though maybe we shouldn't be all that surprised. Something tells me you know a little bit about this coaching thing.
8) Missouri [4-2; 0-2]: Back-to-back losses have the Tigers reeling. Blaine Gabbert is hurt. These are bleak days in Columbia, made all the more so after Mizzou's fast start to the season.
9) Colorado [2-3; 1-1]: Dan Hawkins might have saved his job by finally benching his son. Since doing so, the Buffs are at least moving the ball, and while this isn't basketball, beating Kansas is still big for CU.
10) Iowa State [4-3; 1-2]: Snapped an 11-game Big 12 losing streak. Paul Rhodes is certainly helping the Ames faithful forget that short-lived and nasty Gene Chizik era.
11) Baylor [3-3; 0-2]: Bears … Bears … Bulls … Bears.
12) Texas A&M [3-3; 0-2]: So this is what improvement looks like, eh? Any bonfires built in College Station from now on should be done for the express purpose of burning in effigy the clowns that ran R.C. Slocum out of town.