Thanks to everyone for participating in this week's Roundtable. By my count, we had responses from Rock M Nation, Corn Nation, Clone Chronicles, Crimson and Cream Machine, I Am The 12th Man, Double T Nation and, of course, BOTC, this week. If I've missed anyone, please let me know.
Here is a roundup of the best responses, in my sole and ultimately unimpeachable judgment.
Though not true of everyone -- Texas continued its "just take care of business" approach -- Saturday shook a lot assumptions we had about some teams. What, if anything, can you say with confidence about your team?
Up at Clone Chronicles, Mark Kieffer takes the long view of the season.
The team is improving, and there isn't a single game on the schedule that is unwinnable, as long as the players execute. Yes, we are supposed to get rolled by Nebraska, but we were supposed to get rolled by KU also, and look what happened. Winning the North isn't going to happen this year, but gaining Bowl Eligibility is a nice goal to have going down the stretch.
Crimson and Cream Machine's, uhh, ccmachine, makes the case for OU as the best three-loss team in America. I can't argue.
I can confidently say two things about the Sooners right now. One, they are the best three loss team in the country and second they have the best defense in the Big 12. Looking at Oklahoma's three losses they are five points away from being 6-0. Yes, I know that a 1 point loss is the same as a 1,000 point loss in the W/L column and that there are no stats or rankings to moral victories but even with all the injuries that OU has suffered this year they've been very close.
With all due respect to the Texas Longhorns, I'm giving the edge to Oklahoma as the best defense in the Big 12. Both units were outstanding in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday but the Sooners were up against a first team offense while the Longhorns were relegated to playing the equivalent of Oklahoma's junior varsity offense.
Two weeks ago, we discussed whether the divide between K-State, Iowa State and Colorado and the rest of the conference was widening. After the North's total faceplant in "referendum" weekend, do we need to ask if the gap between the divisions is continuing to widen?
Beergut doesn't think things look too good for the North squads.
I don't think we need to ask the question, because I think most of the people who watch Big 12 South teams already knew the talk from Big 12 North teams that the gap between the two divisions closing was just that - talk. I think there is simply too big of a gulf in talent between Big 12 South teams and Big 12 North teams right now, and a lot of that has to do with the proximity of the Big 12 South teams to the recruiting base in Texas. The fact that we also have three of the wealthiest teams in the conference, when you look at athletic department revenues, in the South also helps a lot. Unless the Big 12 North can somehow open pipelines to Florida and California to make up for the talent shortage, I don't know if the North can catch up. It should be noted that there are teams like Missouri who do a good job recruiting Texas, but I still think Big 12 South teams have an advantage of getting more quality recruits because of proximity. Missouri is an interesting case, because they have talent to mine in their own state, but I think they are still in the process of building a program there. That is really a separate issue for a separate blog post.
Speaking of that question two weeks ago, does yesterday's 3-0 showing by the three teams originally discussed -- K-State, Iowa State, and Colorado -- change your answer to that question, or was it just a random weekend where those three teams beat teams who weren't as good as we thought?
I'll defer to BOTC's own BracketCat on this one.
Well, Kansas definitely isn't as good as most people thought, but I don't know what people saw there -- I saw this coming weeks ago when the Jayhawks were giving up chunks of yardage to Duke and Southern Miss. Although Iowa State let almost-certain victory slip through its fingers, I knew it was only a matter of time before the serious losing began in Lawrence.
Baylor and Texas A&M are awful. It's not totally Baylor's fault, given the injury to Robert Griffin, but I thought the rest of the team would play better than they have, even in his absence. I was wrong. Frankly, the Bears lost their bowl bid when they lost to Connecticut in September. There's no margin for error for a scrub team in the Big 12; you have to go 4-0 in the non-conference when you schedule like Baylor did.
As for Texas A&M, any last, lingering shred of respect I might have had for Mike Sherman (and that really wasn't any, don't worry) disappeared quickly on Saturday between raucous peals of laughter. Each Wildcat touchdown seemed to add 70 worry lines to his already craggy face. Oh, wow, what a train wreck Bill Byrne has on his hands down there.
So, my roundabout point is that it's not like Colorado, Iowa State and Kansas State suddenly flipped a magic switch that makes them "contendas." But at the same time, anyone who knows anything about football could see steady, sometimes surprising improvement from week to week in Ames and Manhattan (excepting the Texas Tech setback, of course).
And as for Colorado, it's probably too late to salvage the season, but Tyler Hansen always was the best choice for that job. The worrisome sign for Colorado's long-term future is that it took Dan Hawkins this long to realize it.
Next weekend, we see an interesting matchup of suddenly desperate teams in Lawrence, Kansas. Which team needs that game worse? Oklahoma, to show that they're not going to pack it in and have a disastrously bad season, or KU, to show that they are still in the running for the North division?
Corn Nation's Husker Mike reminds you that, despite having three losses, Oklahoma isn't that bad.
I'm not bagging on Oklahoma yet; they've lost three games by a total of FIVE points, fer cripes sake. Kansas, on the other hand, is going to need to play their best game of the year in order to merely keep it close. I really doubt the Sooners just mail it in the rest of the way.
As usual, Rock M Nation's RPT thinks KU's back is against the wall.
I'm sure I could justify it either way, but my gut tells me it's more important for Kansas.
Yes, I know that Kansas probably shouldn't win this game. I know that before the season, pretty much everyone had marked this game down as a loss. But Kansas is coming off of probably the most embarrassing loss in the conference last Saturday. Because of their South schedule, the 'Hawks margin for error was already razor thin. The loss to CU made it even thinner. That's not something that was supposed to happen it the "History Awaits" season. Missouri supposedly squandered its "greatest team ever" year last season. Kansas can take a huge step in the opposite direction by defending home turf against OU.
After a low-scoring, fumble-ridden -- I seriously think the guys on the sidelines handling the footballs were eating fried butter from the Texas State Fair, thus greasing the pigskin -- win in the Red River Shootout, Texas has continued its "just win, baby" season. You're on the spot, right now: Do the Longhorns play for the national title in Pasadena this January?
Skin Patrol of Double T Nation goes all insightful on us and tells me what the question should have been. Kudos, sir.
Question essentially boils down to: Will Texas remain undefeated? If they do, they go. If they don't, I'd say a one loss Texas is going to have a hard time advancing in front of a lot of other teams that are undefeated, and even some of the other one loss teams, particularly since a loss for Texas will be later than, say, for USC. The question, reformed, is thus: "Do the Longhorns have a better than not chance to win all the remaining games on their schedule?" (Am I a Bayesian? Maybe.) Although I believe the University of Texas is more likely to win (than not) every single game remaining on their schedule, a number of them substantially, I'm a big fan of the field in any bet that involves "Do you think X is more or less likely to be the case?" Simply put, they've got seven remaining opportunities to not make the National Championship, and their odds of losing any of those games individually, added up, is equal to or greater than 51% in my opinion. All of which is not to say, Texas Fans, that Texas is not a current favorite to make the NC. I am just betting on the field. At least in my mind, it is currently the case that the universe where Texas plays in Pasadena is less likely an outcome than the universe in which it does not.
Power Poll -- Rank 'em according to who you think would win on a neutral field (by average ranking)
1. Texas -- The unanimous choice
2. Oklahoma State -- Some variance, but the Pokes just keep winning.
3. Texas Tech -- Beat out OU in a close race.
4. Oklahoma -- Most Big 12 partisans see the good in their three losses. Interesting that their lowest ranking (by two spots) was their own blogger.
5. Nebraska -- The North finally makes an appearance.
6. Missouri -- Tigers are last in the North record-wise, but the bloggers expect that to change.
7. KU -- The beaks take a tumble after loss to Colorado. Wide variance this week, with two bloggers giving them a "4" and another a "10."
8. K-State -- Cats almost got unanimous eights across the board.
9. Iowa State -- Cyclones are going to be a tough out for most teams this year.
10. Colorado -- Rapid improvement the last two weeks for the Buffs. A win in Manhattan would keep that trend going.
11. Texas A&M -- Despite 48-point loss to K-State, Ags avoid the cellar.
12. Baylor -- Bowl and improved-season hopes have gone up in smoke.