1. West Virginia: Could
a team with the nation’s 104th “best” defense actually win the Big
12? Unlikely, perhaps. But when you’ve got the
commanding frontrunner for the Heisman (Geno Smith)
pulling the trigger, and the nation’s most dangerous receiver (Stedman Bailey)
catching his passes, you’ve certainly got a shot. The win in Austin was very
impressive, but the pressure mounts and the competition doesn’t get much
easier. The Mountaineers’ national championship hopes could easily go up in
smoke against Texas Tech.
2. Kansas State: Bill Snyder’s Wildcats travel to Ames, Iowa for an early game this weekend. Oklahoma State’s perfect season went down in flames there a year ago. And the Cyclones
have the ability to reprise their Waterloo act yet again.
3. Texas: The
Longhorns are a photonegative of the Texas Tech Red Raiders: everybody is
shocked at how good they are on offense, but surprised at their defensive
mediocrity. Still, this is a team that remains a strong Big 12 title contender.
Strangely enough, however, the upcoming Red River Shootout with Oklahoma is
generating very little buzz. Somebody will go home a Big 12 also-ran.
4. Oklahoma: The
Sooners’ victory in Lubbock didn’t win me over. Oklahoma is a very good, but
not great team. The offense has weaknesses at the skill positions and the
defense will struggle against teams with serious talent at the quarterback
position. Texas’ David Ash is good enough to plow OU’s defense into the sod.
5. Oklahoma State: Assuming
the Cowboys have gotten over getting rooked out of a victory over Texas two
weeks ago, they will roll Kansas this weekend. Aw, who
am I kiddin’? They’ll roll the Jayhawks anyway.
6. Texas Tech: The
21-point loss to Oklahoma will convince many observers that Texas Tech is a
paper tiger little better than the group that befouled the air over west Texas
last year. If the Mountaineers fall prey to that delusion, they will not leave
Lubbock with a victory because the Red Raiders are much better than the
three-touchdown loss suggests. If Tech gets good quarterback play—and
that’s admittedly a major if—they can beat anybody in the country.
7. Baylor: The
Bears have had two weeks to lick their wounds following a close loss in Morgantown,
now they draw a TCU team that is in disarray. This shapes up as a huge rout for
Baylor, which, much like the 2003 Texas Tech Red Raiders, may have the nation’s
best offense and worst defense.
8. Iowa State: The
Cyclones are, without doubt, the nation’s best eighth best team. Their win in
TCU’s home stadium certainly gave the Horned Frogs a proper introduction to
what Big 12 football is all about, and what the future looks like the purple
peons. (When they’re not decked out in black, that is.)
9. TCU: Whenever
I’m feeling a little down in the mouth, all I have to do is think about the
weekly humblings headed Gary Patterson’s way and my
spirits lift. Casey Pachall’s situation is, of
course, very unfortunate, but my sympathies don’t extend beyond him.
10. Kansas: And
the beatings go on. Motivating a team to keep playing hard and keep trying to
improve when everybody knows they don’t stand a chance of winning must be the
toughest situation a coach can face. If Charlie Weis can hang on to this abysmal
outfit for the rest of the season it will be one heck of an accomplishment.