SB Nation Big 12 Roundtable -- Week 5

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via assets.sbnation.com

Roundtable is back and, as usual, it's hosted by Rock M Nation. 

Is it time for the Big 12 to collectively pour one out for the departure of Baylor quarterback Robert "Hot Tub" Griffin? Even if your team benefits from his injury, are you sad to see one of the conference's premier playmakers done for the season?

BracketCat: Well, we don't play them this year, so I feel nothing but bad for the Bad News Bears. Between this and the UConn loss, their chances for a bowl berth appear to be on life support. Meanwhile, Art Briles' old team, Houston, is on a tear. Now that he sees how long the road to respectability may be at Baylor, think he has some regrets? At any rate, it sucks for Griffin, who already was suffering a sophomore slump and needs more playing time in order to improve, but not may not get it due to the technicalities of the medical-redshirt system. And it sucks for the Big 12, which already has underachieved in most respects and now is without one of its top playmakers.

Panjandrum: Kansas State doesn't play Baylor this year, so yes, I'm sad.  If KSU were playing Baylor...I'd be less sad.

TB: Yes, it's absolutely time to pour one out.  Personally, I will be pouring out a St. Arnold's for RGIII, as a nod to his Houston roots.  K-State doesn't benefit from this at all because we don't play Baylor, and it actually hurts us because this gives the teams in the North who play Baylor a better shot at beating them.  Whoa!  For a second there, I forgot that we are not in any way, shape, or form going to contend for the North this year.  So yeah, the only way it hurts me is that I won't get to watch him play this year, and he is a lot of fun to watch.  I just hope this doesn't affect his football and track careers long-term, as he had a bright future in both.

Play the role of Mythbusters for us. If you could dispel one national perception of your team, what would it be?

BracketCat: This one's easy. The dominant Bill Snyder myth is that he always schedules patsies and cupcakes. Point the First: In our prime, we played such teams as Iowa, USC, Cal, Marshall and Fresno State. It wasn't all FCS and Sun Belt teams. Point the Second: We play in the freakin' Big 12. That means a minimum of three Top 25 teams on the schedule every season. Unlike schools in the podunk Big East or ACC, we don't need to schedule a gangbusters non-conference in order to have a decent schedule strength. Point the Third: EVERYONE freakin' does it now. Kansas built an entire program on scheduling crappy teams and using those four free wins to get to bowl games, all while Ron Prince was building tearing down K-State's foundation by agreeing to televised road losses versus Louisville, Auburn, Louisiana and UCLA.

Panjandrum: Honestly, I'd like to dispel the notion that KSU has some sort of lower than average NCAA standard that allows JUCO players and other academically challenged players to qualify.  KSU complies with the NCAA, Big 12, and Kansas Board of Regents in terms of requirements.  We don't do anything special to get kids qualified.  If they qualify per the NCAA, they can get in here.  I just think KSU takes more chances on these kids than other schools are willing to take, therefore, it seems like we get more academically challenged kids.  Of course we do...we just offer more of them.

TB: It gets tiring to see various iterations of this theme: "Boy, K-State is bad, I bet Snyder wishes he had stayed retired!"  Not because they say we are bad, because we are, but because it completely misses the boat.  As bad as we are this year, it doesn't even compare to Snyder's first-first year, 1989.  We hadn't won a game in three years and were thrilled when we beat a terrible North Texas team.  Clearly, we are a terrible team this year, but we've won two games at this point and have at least hung around in the other two.  Granted, we may have seen our last victory of the season, but rest assured that Bill Snyder has seen worse.  Much, much worse.

Give us the name of one player on each side of the ball on your team that everyone else in the conference may not know about or fully appreciate.

BracketCat: I think by now people know who Brandon Banks is, but it's possible people still aren't aware of the phenomenon that is Daniel Thomas. He's one of the conference's leading rushers, but you don't hear his name mentioned with others, such as Helu, Sharp, Hunter, Murray, Scott, Washington and others. At least, not yet. Let's see what he does in conference play, but this guy is a surefire NFL talent. I heard Mike Patrick say the other night that Baron Batch is one of the top three rushers in the league, and that is a joke. Aside from the fact that Texas Tech never runs the damn ball, everything I have seen leads me to believe Helu, Murray and Thomas have the brightest NFL futures, as of right now. Hell, even Alexander Robinson is a better rusher.


For defense, it is without a doubt Tysyn Hartman. He has three interceptions, but has dropped at least two others. He has a recovered fumble. He leads the team in tackles and probably in PBUs, as well. He just makes plays. Might be one of the smartest DBs, with the greatest upside, in the league.


For special teams, I'd go with Corey Adams. He was rated the top long snapper in the nation in his high school class. He has backed it up in 2.25 years of play, as we have had no punts blocked when he was the snapper. Another surefire NFL talent at a position that never gets publicity, but is so crucial in the game of field position.

Panjandrum: Daniel Thomas probably isn't a household name yet because we're playing in relative obscurity right now.  However, he is a wildly talented running back that will turn some heads during the conference season.  On the defensive side, Tysyn Hartman is putting together a really, really nice season.  A lot of the publicity on this defense goes to Josh Moore and Brandon Harold, but Hartman has been very consistent and has surpassed a lot of expectations.

TB: On offense, I guess I'll go with Braden Wilson.  I'm going to go against the grain established by my colleagues and eschew Daniel Thomas (because he led the conference in rushing after two games) and Brandon Banks (because he's 5'7", 150 lbs., and took two kicks to the house on Saturday, among other things).  So that really leaves me with slim pickings on the offensive side, because there aren't a lot of players to really "appreciate."  I'm going with Wilson because, for the first time since 2006, we are actually employing a fullback on offense.  Our offensive line isn't great, so Wilson has played a role in Thomas' rushing success.
 
Defensively, I still don't think Josh Moore gets the credit he's due.  I'd put him up against any of the cornerbacks that were hyped for preseason honors and my guess is that he'd more than hold his own.

OU vs. Da U: Who ya' got?

BracketCat: After week one, I thought Miami would win this. But then Virginia Tech exposed a bunch of the Hurricanes' flaws, and Oklahoma hasn't allowed a single point since then. As of now, it looks like Sam Bradford might be able to play, but even if he can't, record-setting backup Landry Jones has proven himself more than capable. Even though this one is in Miami, I like Oklahoma to win. The Sooners know how to win big games like this (at least in the regular season), and I think all the Miami hype was premature. Florida State is overrated and Georgia Tech is one-dimensional, so who are the Hurricanes, really?

Panjandrum: Oklahoma.  Miami is overrated...as per usual.  That win over FSU doesn't look so hot now.

TB: I'll cheer for almost anyone against a bunch of arrogant pricks who call their school "Tha U."  Miami was horrible last weekend against a Virginia Tech team that I still don't think is all that great.  Frankly, I think Miami was horribly overrated after the wins they had amassed, given that I don't think Florida State is that good (beat BYU, lost to USF) and Georgia Tech is only fair.  Somehow, Miami's offense made Tyrod Taylor look like a Heisman contender, certainly not a feather in anybody's cap.

Give us your Offensive Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week, and Storyline of the Week for last week.

BracketCat: Offensive POTW: Iowa State RB Alexander Robinson
More than 100 yards of offense? Check. Multiple touchdowns? Check. First Cyclone with three consecutive 100-yard rushing games since Ennis Haywood in 2000? Check. Led Iowa State to its third win of the season, already one more than they had last season? Check. Winner, winner, chicken dinner.


Defensive POTW: Kansas DB Chris Harris
The Big 12 has given this award to Texas players three weeks running, and while all of them certainly have been deserving, I can't help but think it has something to do with Texas ALWAYS being on TV. So I'm going to break out of the groupthink and award it to Chris Harris, who had 11 solo tackles and four assists, for a total of 15. He also had two tackles for loss and broke up a pass, all crucial plays in a tighter-than-expected 35-28 win over Southern Miss. Not bad for a guy who should have been suspended for the game... but then Kansas might not have won, right?


Special Teams POTW: Kansas State WR Brandon Banks
If you have to ask why, you simply aren't paying attention to college football. All he did was become the first Big 12 player, first K-State player and 11th player ever in the NCAA to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in a single game. He set a bunch of other records, too, but most important, he served notice to the rest of the Big 12 that last year's Offensive Newcomer of the Year has his mojo back.

Storyline: Ann Richards is a dumb bitch. We should have invited Houston, not Baylor, to join the Big 12 back in 1995. Imagine how much bigger our media profile would be in the nation's fourth-largest metropolis.

Panjandrum: Offensive POY: Blaine Gabbert.  He played an awesome game against Nevada racking up over 400+ passing yards without a pick.  Missouri fans have a LOT to be excited about with this young player.

Defensive POY: I'll go with Chris Harris as well.  I like double-digit tackling games against good teams.

TB: Offensive POW: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri.  Sorry, I keep defaulting to this guy, but he had another 400+ yard passing game.  Jeez.
Defensive POW: Nobody had one of those ridiculous games and the matchups for the most part weren't very good, so I'll make it three in a row and say Chris Harris.
Storyline of the Week: Does it have to be Big 12 related?  If not, I'll go with Houston asserting themselves as a possible BCS Buster out of Conference USA (who woulda thunk?).  Of course, the Coogs have a tendency to lay eggs at very inopportune times, so I'd keep my eye on their upcoming matchups against UTEP, Southern Miss, and Mississippi State.
 
Other, more Big 12-centric storylines: Can Texas A&M continue its roll against a decent opponent?  Upon whom will God's unfavorable judgment (read: last place in the North) rain in Farmageddon at Arrowhead?  Why are there so few games this week?

Power Poll

BracketCat: Even more shakeups this week, but it sure looks like I was ahead of the curve on dropping Baylor like a rock last week.


1. Texas (Still our only national title contender, but has looked shaky at times.)
2. Oklahoma (Better beat Miami to keep this spot, Sooners.)
3. Kansas (Jayhawks drop a spot for nearly losing to both Southern Miss and the Kansas basketball team.)
4. Nebraska (One more dominating shutout like that and Nebraska will be top-ranked in the North. Near win at Virginia Tech gained major cachet this week, too.)
5. Oklahoma State (You're not fooling me, Cowboys. It was only Grambling.)
6. Missouri (Is it just me, or does Mizzou look amazing and terrible on alternating weeks? Doesn't bode well for the Nubbies...)
7. Texas Tech (C'mon, Mike Leach. Run the damn ball when it is working - don't abandon it.)
8. Texas A&M (I still have no idea how good the Aggies actually are. Saturday's game in the Jerrydome should tell us something.)
9. Baylor (With Griffin out, Bears still could sink to No. 12 before it's all said and done.)
10. Iowa State (Don't look now, but Iowa State is starting to look decent. And that Iowa loss is totally understandable now.)
11. Kansas State (A traditional blowout with some halfway decent offense and the return of our return game has me cautiously optimistic we still can win 4-5.)
12. Colorado (About to get ass-pounded by West Virginia, Texas and Kansas in quick succession. Don't look for the Buffs to vacate the basement any time soon.)

Panjandrum: Here's the list.  Not a lot of movement.

1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Nebraska
4. Missouri
5. Kansas
6. Oklahoma State
7. Texas Tech
8. Texas A&M
9. Colorado
10. Baylor
11. Iowa State
12. Kansas State 

TB:

1.  Texas: Until further notice.
2.  Oklahoma: Big test in Coral Gables this weekend.  I think the Sooners deserve this spot in my rankings, but we won't know for sure until Saturday.
3.  Missouri: Defensive concerns barely keep them in this position with Nebraska nipping at their heels, but Lord that offense can be good.
4.  Nebraska: The Ragin' Cajuns were led to slaughter in Nebraska's 300th consecutive home sellout.  If it had been a little better opponent, Nebraska may have bumped past Mizzou.  They'll get their chance to prove they deserve it in 10 days.
5.  KU: Gritty home win over Southern Mississippi boosts them past Oklahoma State despite Pokes' big win.  Defense looked suspect for a while, but came up big when they needed it.  Now the big question is whether the offensive line can protect Todd Reesing and improve the rushing game.
6.  Oklahoma State: Big win over Grambling was nice, but...it was Grambling.  Impressive note of the day: Cowboys blew out Grambling without Kendall Hunter or Dez Bryant.
7.  Texas A&M: Against my better judgment, I'm giving the Aggies a boost despite another win over a ho-hum opponent.  We'll see if they're for real in Dallas this weekend.
8.  Texas Tech: Given that I believe Houston is a legit opponent, and has now proven it against two Big 12 South teams, I probably shouldn't drop the Red Raiders too much.  However, it's clear that the defense isn't quite as improved as we thought after the Texas game, and the rushing stats were compiled against a defensive line giving up 30 lbs. on average.
9.  Iowa State: Win over Army means ISU is more than halfway to beating its entire win total under Gene Chizik (who apparently is doing just fine at Auburn, thanks).  They can get to 80 percent of that win total on Saturday if they can survive God's Bill Snyder's judgment in Farmageddon at Arrowhead.
10.  Colorado: Despite sitting idle this weekend, I'm boosting the Buffs because I think Baylor is done without Robert Griffin.
11.  Baylor: Am I being too harsh on the Bears?  They still have some good players on defense, but I think the psychological effect of Griffin's loss will rival the loss of his physical abilities.
12.  K-State: Big margin of victory over completely overmatched Tennessee Tech team isn't as impressive as it may first appear, given that two of the touchdowns came on kickoff returns.  Still, this team is improving, albeit in tiny little increments.  A win at Arrowhead, and maybe this team can pick up two or three conference wins.  A loss, and we've probably won our final game of the season.

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