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Big 12 Roundtable, Week 5: Conference Play Preview

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SB Nation's Burnt Orange Nation is hosting this week's Big 12 Roundtable.  PB is getting pretty demanding here, which is only fitting, as we're headed into conference play and the level of competition is about to ramp up considerably.

1. We start with a review of your team's non-conference performance. Take the format of my Week 5 Big 12 Report (North Division post here, South Division here) and give us your Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP, and Projected Finish. (Limit 125 words max on each.)

TB: Offensive MVP: Josh Freeman, QB.  Our man-mountain of self-assurance has delivered this season.  He's hitting almost 70 percent of his passes and has thrown only two interceptions against 11 TDs.  On top of that, he's a rushing threat this year, scoring six rushing touchdowns.  The combined yardage on those rushing TDs is probably 6.5, but that didn't stop Tim Tebow from winning the Heisman (disclaimer: I'm not predicting Freeman to win the Heisman.  Save the angry comments/emails).

Defensive MVP: Nobody.  Our defense is awful right now.

Projected Finish: 2-6, Fourth North Division.  I see us wining two games among the contests against Texas A&M, Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa State.  I have been underwhelmed by CU and NU thus far, but I've been more underwhelmed by my own Wildcats.  I'd like to think we can at least tie somebody for fourth.

PJ: Offensive MVP: Josh Freeman, QB - He's in the top ten for passing efficiency (#8), and he's accounted for 17 TD's in four games (11 passing, 6 rushing), and he's only thrown two picks (one of them wasn't his fault).  We're only four games into his Junior year, and he passed Lynn Dickey as the career passing leader in K-State history.  We've always known that the sky was the limit for him because of his physical tools, but he's finally starting to put it all together.  He's on pace for 3315 yards, 33 passing TD's, 18 rushing TDs, and only 6 INT's.  Josh is heart and soul of this team, and as he goes, so go the Wildcats.

Defensive MVP: Brandon Harold.  The true freshman defensive end ranks third in the nation in tackles for loss.  He's been the surprise star of the defense so far, and the only bright spot for the future on that entire side of the ball.  I'd love to give more of a justification, but really, he's the only guy making plays on the defensive side of the ball, so if he registered a tenth of what he's doing, I'd probably still have him here by default because he's the only one that can beat blocks and make tackles.

Projected Finish: 2-6, 5th, North Division -  At this point, I'd like to think K-State would edge out Nebraska and Iowa State, but if KSU can't get better defensively, I see two conference wins (@ Texas A&M, ISU) and a very dejected fan base.

2.  Oklahoma State is one of two Big 12 teams not represented by bloggers. Don your oversized Cowboy hat for a day and give us your take on Mike Gundy's team. Are they same old same old (above average offense, putrid defense)? Or something else?

TB: I thought oversized Cowboy hats were the province of Texas?  Never mind.  I think Okie State will push Texas and Texas Tech for second place in the South.  Their offense has been nothing short of amazing thus far.  True, their schedule hasn't been that great, but has anyone else's been much better?  Washington State is bad, but they did play (sort of) on the road.  Maybe I'm a semi-homer for the school I currently attend, but Houston is a much better team than they're getting credit for right now.  They lost a game against Air Force and had a close win against Colorado State primarily because of disruptions caused by Hurricane Ike.  If you don't think those things have an effect, I invite you to live through the aftermath of a hurricane sometime.

PJ: I think Oklahoma St. has the most dangerous offense in all of college football.  I understand why Missouri and Tech fans might strangle me for that comment, but pass first offenses have a propensity to lose a game or two that they shouldn't due to a bad day.  Oklahoma State is absolutely destructive on the ground (340 yards a game?  Insane.), and their dual-threat QB is, in my opinion, the most dangerous running QB in the FBS.  Zac Robinson is the perfect QB for that offense.

They may not win the South, but I think we're looking at a legit Cotton/Holiday Bowl type team there depending on how they fare against Mizzou and Texas.

3.  Your team has reached the Big 12 title game, but in a cruel twist of fate, your coach is declared ineligible and you have been asked to select among the other 11 coaches in the conference your team's game day maestro. Who do you select and why?

TB: First of all, I'm not sure K-Staters would consider that a cruel twist of fate.  Of course, if Ron Prince did manage to get us to the Big 12 title game, my thinking would probably have changed.

Despite all his troubles in bowl games the last few years and the disgusting way he left K-State, give me Bob Stoops anyday.  He owns this conference and knows how to get things done in Manhattan.  I hate seeing that bastard on the other sideline, but I'd love him if he was coaching my team.

PJ: Mike Leach.  I would absolutely kill to see him scheme and run an offense that's commanded by Josh Freeman.

Also, I think most folks (silently) fear playing Tech more than any other team because if they ever get that right balance between offense and defense, they may be darn near unstoppable.

4. Same situation, but different replacement: Assume this time that it's your quarterback who can't participate in the Big 12 title game. Which other quarterback from the conference would you select to lead your team for that game?

TB: Oklahoma's Sam Bradford.  He's the quarterback most similar to Freeman in this conference.  Big guy, strong arm, better decision maker.  Graham Harrell and Chase Daniel are close seconds, but they are better in the systems they run than they would be in K-State's offense.

PJ: Sam Bradford, and it's not even close.  KSU doesn't run a spread offense, so Daniel and Reesing are out.  We don't run the option that often, so I'm going to remove Robinson from consideration.  Hawkins doesn't have a strong enough arm, Griffin isn't quite ready for the pro-style, and Ganz is streaky.  I don't even know who Iowa State's quarterback is (nor do I care).

Bradford is the one guy that I think would translate the closest to the KSU offense, and he's shown that he's got a strong arm, great pocket presence, and amazing decision making ability.  The guy is just a machine.

5. Imagine it is July 2008 and you receive an email from the conference's director of public relations, who informs you that the Big 12 has officially partnered with Austin City Limits Music Festival 2008. To promote the partnership, the conference has asked you to choose one of the festival's participating bands as metaphor for your football team and explain it. Go.

TB: Dear Lord, I really need to get to ACL sometime.  I was even in Austin last week, but left before the festival really got ramped up.  Not in time to avoid all its traffic, however.

I'm going with that band "Slightly Stoopid."  I've never heard a single song by them, but I think there name aptly sums up what we've seen from K-State's coaching staff this season.

PJ: G. Love & The Special Sauce.  They have a pretty small, and rabid, cult following, but aside from a couple of hits, no mainstream listeners could tell you a damn thing about who they are or what they're about.

6. Answer all of the following in no more than two sentences:

(A) Conference's best quarterback?
(B) Conference's best offense?
(C) Big 12 South winner?
(D) Big 12 North winner?
(E) Big 12 champion?
(F) Big 12 team you would adopt as your favorite if forced to abandon your own?
(G) One prediction that might surprise the rest of us?

TB:

A) Conference's Best Quarterback?  Call him a system QB if you want, but Chase Daniel is simply magic on a football field in Mizzou's black-and-gold.  I could watch that offense all day and all night long.

B) Conference's Best Offense?  Just stay in Columbia with me.  Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, Chase Coffman, Derrick Washington, and the list goes on.

C) Big 12 South Winner?  Oklahoma.  Let's just deal with the fact that they're really, really good.

D) Big 12 North Winner?  Missouri.  This division is a crapshoot except for the top spot, which is clearly held by the Tigers.

E) Big 12 Champion?  Missouri.  I'm going out on a limb here, but they have a real shot this year.

F) Big 12 team you would adopt as your favorite if forced to abandon your own?  Texas A&M.  The first thing I would do is get rid of the Corps of Cadets.

G) One prediction that might surprise the rest of us?  I'm such a moron I doubt anything I say would be surprising to the rest of you.  Probably my choice of Missouri as conference champion.

PJ:

(A) Conference's best quarterback? Sam Bradford.  The only other acceptable answer is Chase Daniel.
(B) Conference's best offense? Oklahoma State. Amazingly balanced with a dominant rushing attack.
(C) Big 12 South winner? Oklahoma
(D) Big 12 North winner? Missouri
(E) Big 12 champion? Oklahoma
(F) Big 12 team you would adopt as your favorite if forced to abandon your own? Missouri.  I live here now, and we both hate KU with a bloody passion.
(G) One prediction that might surprise the rest of us? Josh Freeman would be drafted higher than anyone else in the Big 12 if he came out this year.