SB Nation Big 12 Roundtable -- Week 4

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Blah blah blah Roundtable is back blah blah blah TB is really late posting our responses blah blah blah sorry, RPT.

The game between Texas Tech and Texas got the Big 12 in the national eye early in the season. If your team was approached with this opportunity (or for Tech and Texas, approached again), would you accept and reap the benefits of the exposure, or decline because of the potential pitfalls of playing a conference foe so early in the season?

BracketCat: It depends on if we're talking about now or in a hypothetical future. If we're talking now, then it wouldn't be worth it. We're rebuilding and we need all the early gimme games we can get (i.e., not freaking road games against Louisiana and UCLA in Weeks 2 and 3). If we're talking five years from now when we actually might be good again, then I'd probably be for it. After all, the first-ever Big 12 game was played in August between K-State and Texas Tech in Manhattan, and it was quite an epic battle.

Panjandrum: If it were my program, I'd do it.  If it gets you on TV, there's more money to be made, and you can't turn that down.  I know that it's heresy for KSU fans to say that you need to baby step into the season because that's Snyder's way, but I don't believe that.  If you're good, you're good.  If you're not, you're not.  If your logic is that you'll be better on later in the year, the same goes for them too.  More upsets seem to take place earlier in the year, so if you're the underdog, it only seems logical that playing the other team earler in the season could be a win-win.

TB: I'd be OK with it as long as it wasn't the first or second game of the season.  To a large extent, I agree with Pan that if you're good, you're good -- and vice versa -- but I don't think I'd ever want to play a big conference game right out of the gate.  We've played decent teams in openers before and won -- Iowa and Cal come to mind -- so it's not like it can't be done.  But there's a lot more riding on a conference game.  And I certainly would never want to play an opener against a team that you may be competing with for your division.  Given the way Bill Snyder's teams usually improve throughout the season, I think we'd really be kicking ourselves if we lost a tiebreaker for the North to a team we played in the opener.  Not that this is an issue this year, of course...


Some of the Big 12 teams are starting to become known quantities, but there are still a few teams that most of us can't quite measure. Which team in the Big 12 do you consider the biggest enigma right now?

BracketCat: I'd say Texas A&M. They appeared to recruit well in the offseason and they are winning decently now, so they appear to be improved... but appearances can be deceiving. There are still a lot of reasons to doubt Mike Sherman and the Aggies, and we won't know their true measure until they start Big 12 play. I also think Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech remain enigma-ish in their own ways right now, too - especially Kansas, who has played no one of consequence.

Panjandrum: Kansas is the enigma thus far.  Everyone seems to have a chink in the armor thus far, but KU has been pretty decent in every game.  Maybe it's because the other teams are sub par, but it could be that they're actually good.  MU has a win over Illinois to lean on; KU beat UTEP on the road in their most challenging game.  Regardless, they're a solid team that's going bowling, but can they win the North?  We won't really know until conference play because they schedule as soft as a lot of Snyder's old teams.

TB: Thus far, I've only seen Nebraska, Colorado, KU, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma on TV.  My thought right now is that Mizzou and A&M are the biggest enigmas.  Missouri has been a bit schizophrenic on the year, beating a decent Illinois team before coming disastrously close to losing at home to Bowling Green before smoking the hell out of Furman.  What are you, Tigers? 
 
As for A&M, they've put up ridiculous offensive numbers against two teams that are probably going to be pretty bad.  That's a big improvement over last year, when they put up paltry offensive numbers even against those teams, but it hasn't really netted the results you'd think it would, i.e. big blowouts.

What did you learn about your team in Week 3, and what questions has your team failed to answer at this point of the season?

BracketCat: We really suck. We're improving by baby steps, but we still really suck. We have failed to demonstrate any kind of consistent passing game, and despite fans assuring each other during the offseason that Bill Snyder would tailor his offense to suit Carson Coffman's talents (which appear limited in all facets), Snyder still seems hell-bent on molding Coffman into an option QB.

Meanwhile, the special teams lag in all areas, with no sign of improvement to come. And the defense finally gave us reason to doubt their improvement is any more than nominal. Although the statistics are improved, and one certainly cannot deny the change in attitude, fundamentals and coaching adjustments, UCLA still opened some holes through us that look frighteningly reminiscent of last season. Oklahoma and Texas Tech probably are going to embarrass us in October.

Panjandrum: Kansas State is the worst team in the conference right now, and every week will be measured in subjective terms to keep us interested.  Honestly, judging this season on wins and losses is worthless at this point.  KSU can't go 5-3 in the conference, so a bowl is out of the question.  So we'll have to look towards improved play to have hope going into 2010.  The biggest question thus far is obviously quarterback, and I don't even want to dive into what KSU could do, because every alternative scenario is really more depressing than the last.

TB: It's more like what we re-learned, or had reiterated.  We have no passing game.  Carson Coffman, God love him, is drowning in this offensive system right now.  He was better than his first two games, so maybe with some more time he'll keep turning the corner, but it's still pretty bad right now.  We were also rudely reminded that special teams are going to be a backbreaker all season.  You can't win much when you only make 20 percent of your FGs and your holder drops snaps two out of every three games.

There aren't exactly a whole lot of marquee matchups in Week 4. Which Big 12 game this week not involving your team piques your interest the most?

BracketCat: It has to be Texas Tech at Houston. What a shootout that will be. Southern Miss at Kansas also should be interesting, but I expect KU to hold serve at home.

Panjandrum: Southern Miss at Kansas.  I can easily see KU winning this game, but I guess margin of victory will help tell us how good they are.

TB: Without a doubt, it's Texas Tech @ Houston.  Not only is Houston my second alma mater, but my friends down there are psyched for this game.  It's going to be a standing-room only crowd -- which is still only about 31,000+ at Robertson Stadium -- and there hasn't been this much excitement around Coog football since Andre Ware ran the show.  If they can beat Texas Tech this weekend and avoid slipping up in the Conference USA season, the Cougars have a chance to be a BCS-buster this year.
 
Oh, you wanted to hear about it from the Big 12 perspective?  It's a tough test for Tech.  Their defense had better be everything it was against Texas, because UH can put points on the board in a hurry.  With all apologies to my friend Seth at DTN, and with full realization that this is treason for a Big 12 fan, I'm kind of cheering for old U of H in this one.

Give us your Offensive Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week, and Surprise (team, individual, coaching decision, etc. Whatever you want it to be...) of the Week.

BracketCat: Offensive Player of the Week: Oklahoma QB Landry Jones (duh - OU record six TD passes, plus NCAA freshman record)
Defensive Player of the Week: Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh (yeah, they lost, but not because of him; dude was a freakish monster, as always)
Special Teams Player of the Week: Nebraska K Alex Henery (I know it wasn't requested, but when a guy produces ALL of his team's scoring in a road game against a Top 25 program, he deserves recognition)
Surprise: Colorado posting a shutout (Raise your hand if you seriously saw that coming after they yielded half a hundred to Toledo ... [looks around and sees no hands raised] ... I thought so.)

Panjandrum: Landry is offensive player of the week, and I don't even need to explain why.  Defensively, I'll agree with Bracket and go with co-players of Muckelroy and Suh.  As far as surprises go, I'll go with how bad Kansas State's special teams have been this season.

TB: Offensive POW -- Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma.  Granted, Tulsa plays C-USA defense, but six TD passes is pretty good.
 
Defensive POW -- Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska.  As someone at Corn Nation said this week, he looked like one of John Cook's volleyball players out there against Tyrod Taylor, knocking down passes like he was a middle blocker.  Dude's a beast.

Surprise: I really thought Texas might blow Texas Tech out of Austin.  While the outcome was never really in doubt, the Red Raiders made Texas earn it.

Power Poll

BracketCat:

1. Texas (solid win over South rival, despite Colt McCoy having the flu, to avenge only loss last season and advance to 1-0 in the Big 12)
2. Kansas (disagree all you want, but the Jayhawks have posted 127 points - second only to Texas - and yielded only 26 - second only to Oklahoma - and the really scary thing is that they haven't even looked that great yet; when they put it all together, they likely will win the North)
3. Oklahoma (if the Sooners keep posting shutouts, they're going to climb back to the top very quickly - but a Top 10 Miami squad now awaits them on the road, and even if Sam Bradford is back, no way will he be 100 percent)
4. Texas Tech (still the third wheel in the South, but the Red Raiders showed me grit and moxie in that loss; Taylor Potts will be a beast before it is all said and done, and OSU's gonna have to knock them off before I promote them to third in the South)
5. Missouri (struggling too much with crappy opponents for me to put them in the top four yet; plus, I think Illinois really isn't all that good)
6. Nebraska (tough loss, but Husker defense is legit - now they just need to find some offense other than Alex Henery)
7. Oklahoma State (SI jinx, my ass; they have underachieved both on offense and defense, end of story; overrated from the start)
8. Texas A&M (well, they had to fall somewhere - might as well be here)
9. Colorado (shutout shows progress; Cody Hawkins still is a better QB than Austin Arnaud or Carson Coffman)
10. Iowa State (even a road win over a crappy program still is one more road win than we're gonna have this year)
11. Baylor (forget the Bears - that was a must-win game and they came up WAY short; have scored only 46, while giving up 51 - a level of suckiness surpassed only by K-State's 45 and 57)
12. Kansas State (no point living in denial, I suppose; an 0-8 Big 12 season is a distinct possibility if Snyder doesn't fall out of love with Carson Coffman soon)

Panjandrum:

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Oklahoma State (I think the game against Houston was a letdown.  They're still legit.)
4. Nebraska
5. Kansas
6. Texas Tech
7. Missouri
8. Baylor
9. Texas A&M
10. Colorado
11. Iowa State
12. Kansas State

TB:

1.  Texas -- It wasn't dominating, but it was a win.  Tech put up a good fight, but in a power poll, no other Big 12 team is seriously challenging them right now.
2.  Oklahoma -- Is getting Sam Bradford back as big of a priority as we thought?  No, I'm not talking about Jones' record-breaking performance Saturday, I'm talking about a defense that has allowed 14 points in three games.  You don't need to score much if the opposition doesn't score at all.
3.  Missouri -- Yes, despite being an enigma, I still have them this high because I'm thinking the Bowling Green game was a letdown after the opening win.  Need a solid road win over struggling Nevada to continue justifying my faith in them.
4.  Nebraska -- Snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with boneheaded coverage collapse late at Virginia Tech.  Zac Lee was unimpressive, but Virginia Tech's defense has a tendency to make you look that way.  Defensive effort was pretty good, but I'm not convinced that about half of it wasn't utter ineptitude by VT.
5.  Oklahoma State -- This is your last free pass, Pokes.  Being sort of unimpressive against Rice should have bumped them down, but I'm still giving them some juice from the Georgia win.
6.  KU -- The beaks look like they'll be pretty good, now I just want to see how it translates against any kind of decent competition.  And no, beating up the basketball team doesn't count.
7.  Texas Tech -- If Tech could run the ball at all I'd assuredly boost them higher than this, but I think that problem is going to keep biting them this year.  Taylor Potts is the real deal, and the defense is decent, but no running game is going to equal a disappointing season.
8.  Texas A&M -- Really unimpressive final score against Utah State, but who do you put ahead of them?
9.  Baylor -- It's not going to be the kind of season the Bears were expecting if Robert Griffin doesn't get rolling soon.  Losing home games in the non-conference is not the way to a bowl, BU.
10.  Iowa State -- Impressive bounce-back win over Kent State after debacle against Iowa the week before ended the nation's longest road losing streak.
11.  Colorado -- Wait a minute, CU's defense pitched a shutout?  Against an Dave Christensen-coached team?  God, Wyoming is bad.  Still, it was enough to bump the Buffs, because...
12.  K-State -- ...we're really bad.  The offense is no threat at all, and while the defense is improved, it's still not great.

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