This week's Roundtable is hosted by Husker Mike at Corn Nation. Excellent questions this week, and I'm sorry we didn't get our answers posted in time for the recap.
1. I'm sure everybody had preseason predictions for their team. Now that we're a few games in, revise your predictions with your best and worst case scenarios (being reasonable on both sides), and then revising your prediction for the season result.
TB: My preseason prediction for K-State was 6-6, with a 3-5 conference record. The overall record projection should be adjusted downward at least one game because of the loss to Louisiana in the non-conference schedule. I think 3-5 is still attainable in conference after the win over Iowa State. We have home games against Colorado and Texas A&M remaining. Neither will be easy wins -- nothing will come easy for this team this year -- but neither of those teams is very good.
BracketCat: Well, I sipped the Kool-Aid a little bit back in August and said 7-5 (+/- 1), but that was before Brandon Harold and a host of other players got hurt. At this point, things definitely are shaping up for a 5-7/6-6 type season, but there's no denying that considerable progress has been made over last year, even if the record ends up the same. And I still think if things continue to progress for the next month as they have over the last month, we could jump up and bite somebody nobody thinks we will (hopefully, the Jayhawks) and maybe squeak out that seventh win after all.
2. In 2010, the Big 12 will send it's 7th place team to play in a new bowl game to be played at Yankee Stadium, replacing the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. What's your take on this move? Is it a good move for players? Is it a good move for the conference? Is it a good move for fans?
TB: From a media standpoint, this is probably a good move. It's the biggest city in the country, which could provide some extra exposure for the conference. Certainly it's better than some non-descript town along I-20 in northwest Louisiana in this area.
I have no idea whether this is good for the players or not. They get to play in Yankee Stadium, which may or may not be cool to them. I would think that playing somewhere like The Rose Bowl would be a bigger deal, but Yankee Stadium is almost certainly better than whatever crappy stadium Shreveport had for them.
For fans, this has its positives and negatives. I've never been, but it seems to me that you either love or hate New York City. My wife, a very sensible person, did not enjoy it at all. With a lot of schools in the Big 12 sporting fairly rural fanbases that consider $7 an outrageous sum to spend on a beer at a sporting event, this may not be good. The City is big, crowded and expensive, and those from that don't like cities will probably hate it. I'd probably go once if K-State was playing, but whether I would return would depend on my experience that first time.
BracketCat: I'm cool with it. For the seventh-place team, it will feel like Christmas and New Year's rolled into one. I mean, let's not pretend that Shreveport is any kind of attractive destination for fans. Yeah, New York might be a little more expensive to get to, but at least you can fly into a major airport and there are plenty of places to stay. I might be a little biased because my aunt lives just across the way in New Jersey and I'd have a free place to crash, but with our luck, we'd probably get rematched against my uncle's team (Rutgers), and have to face a hostile Yankee Stadium and get plowed again. The big benefit will be to the conference; a bowl game in ESPN's backyard can't hurt our media profile at all.
3. Oklahoma is now 2-2, with one of those victories coming against a winless 1-AA team. Will all be well in Soonerland once Sam Bradford returns?
TB: No. Oklahoma has reached the point where it expects to contend for a national title every year, and that hope is gone this season. The Sooners' worst year since 1999 was 2005 when they lost two games in the non-conference (sound familiar?). If OU loses to UT in Dallas in a few weeks, the season will officially be over, because even the Big 12 title will be off the table. At that point, I wouldn't be surprised to see an official "mail-it-in" effort from OU over the rest of the year. An 8-4 record would not be surprising at all.
BracketCat: No, because they're still without Mike Balogun, Ryan Broyles, Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson, Jermaine Gresham, Phil Loadholt and three other starting offensive linemen from last year. Even before the season, I thought OU might lose at Miami, to Texas, at Kansas, at Nebraska and/or at Texas Tech. Now that the BYU loss has been added to the ledger, and the Sooners have shown a severe lack of mental fortitude in dealing with the adversity that has been slung at them, a 7-5 "collapse" is a realistic possibility, given how balanced the rest of the conference is.
4. This week, Missouri and Nebraska face off on an ESPN Thursday night broadcast at 8 pm. Last Thursday, Colorado lost to West Virginia. Missouri and Colorado both have played Friday night road games. What's your take on non-Saturday games?
TB: I've laid this out pretty extensively in the past, but the short answer is that they're a terrible idea for K-State as home games. When your school is in a town of 45,000 people, and the nearest population centers are Topeka (50 miles, 120,000 people), Kansas City (120 miles, 2 million people) and Wichita (120 miles, ~400,000 people), you're not going to draw a good crowd for a game on Thursday or Friday. If it's a road game, it might not be a bad idea, but it doesn't work in Manhattan. I will be shocked if you ever see a Thursday game in Manhattan.
BracketCat: Four words: Louisville on a Wednesday. Four more words: I f***in' hate 'em. And I am glad Bill Snyder never will consent to playing another one. They're great to watch other people like Colorado flop in, but I despise watching my team do the same.
5. It seems everybody is in agreement that the bottom three teams in the North are the bottom three teams in the conference. Is the gap growing, and which of these teams is going to break out of the cellar first. Or is it hopeless?
TB: The gap is pretty wide, but it's clearly grown over time. Are the bottom three teams in the North in 2009 appreciably worse than the bottom three teams in the North were in 1998? Yes, given that MU and CU were 8-4 that year and were clearly the third and fourth best teams in the North. This year, K-State, Iowa State and Colorado are likely to range from 2-10 to 5-7 (at best). That's clearly a step back.
On the other hand, I'd hold off on announcing those three teams as the undisputed worst in the conference. This week's result against Arkansas makes clear that Texas A&M is not nearly as improved as we thought. The loss of Robert Griffin also likely relegates Baylor to the level of the ignominious three from the North.
Finally, no, nothing is hopeless. If a team with 500 losses can hire an assistant coach from Iowa and come within one quarter of playing for a national title 10 years later, nothing is hopeless. If you're old enough, think back to KU under Terry Allen and MU under Larry Smith. Did any of those fans have any hope of achieving anything resembling the success they've had recently? If they say they did, ask them if they still thought that while K-State was beating them 64-0 and 66-0, respectively.
BracketCat: I think the gap is narrowing, actually, and for two reasons. One, Baylor and Texas A&M appear to be more at our ("our" being CU/ISU/KSU) level than at any other. Two, I see week-to-week improvement in Iowa State and Kansas State. These teams are playing solid ball; they just lack depth and talent. Colorado, not so much, but that's the only truly putrid team we have. As for breaking out of the cellar, I have to be a homer and say us since we're already 1-0 in the North and get CU at home. First past the post, baby!
6. Rank all of the division 1 football conferences from top to bottom. Not just the BCS conferences (ACC, Big 12, Big 10/11, Big East, Pac 10, SEC), but the others (MAC, Conference USA, WAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt) as well. Who's the strongest conference, and who's the pretender?
TB: I punt. I'll take a page out of T. Kyle King's book and just avoid the conference wars.
BracketCat: 1. SEC -- "King of the Hill" for all eternity now that ESPN has become its pimp.
2. Big 12 -- Overrated, but still better then the others. Texas is a stud; rest of the conference is more balanced than last year. Ties the SEC with six ranked teams.
3. Pac-10 -- USC is not as good as previous years; Cal is a fraud; Oregon got bitchslapped by Boise State. But Stanford is pretty good and there is a lot of balance.
4. Big Ten -- Solid, but unspectacular. Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State all have given reason to believe they're not worthy of Top 25 status, and Indiana and Purdue are beyond awful.
5. Mountain West -- Yeah, I put 'em here. Should have three ranked teams and deserves a BCS bid more than the Big East. Colorado State is pretty good, too.
T6. ACC -- Other than Miami and Virginia Tech, still a wallowing puddle of mediocrity and suckyness. Virginia might be the worst BCS team with a single win. Oh, wait, forgot about Duke.
T6. Big East -- Cincinnati and the seven dwarves. Still not buying USF, because FSU is awful. WVU, Pittsburgh and Rutgers haven't done shit. Louisville and Syracuse are just plain bad.
8. WAC -- Not just Boise State. Fresno State remains a dangerous program and Nevada looked pretty damn solid against Missouri.
9. Conference USA -- Houston's obliteration at the hands of UTEP knocked them out of 8th place. Tulsa is way down and ECU is solid, but getting no media love.
T10. MAC -- Normally would have sole possession of 10th, but Ball State went from first to worst, Buffalo has returned to its old ways and there is no premier program this year other than Central Michigan, and even it looks a little down from the last two seasons. If not for Toledo destroying Colorado, would anyone even notice the MAC's existence this season?
T10. Sun Belt -- Probably going to be here until the end of time. Welcoming Western Kentucky to the ranks sure didn't help.
7. PowerPoll time. Rank 'em 1 to 12 based on who you think would be the victor on a neutral field.
1. Texas -- Nothing to add here.
2. Missouri -- By simple attrition, the Tigers move up to this spot. We'll see if they deserve it against Nebraska on Thursday.
3. Nebraska -- Justified in my mind, because Nebraska narrowly lost to a Virginia Tech team that spanked the Miami team that beat Oklahoma. Comparative box scores don't tell the whole story, but for now their resume trumps the Sooners'.
4. Oklahoma -- Failed their big test in Oklahoma and it will be interesting to see if they bounce back or mail in the rest of the season. Get the nod over the No. 5 team because they've played a much better schedule and have been overwhelmingly good in their two wins.
5. KU -- If you're feeling slighted as a KU fan, you'll have your chance against all four of the teams in front of you. As of now, the resume is not as impressive as those teams.
6. Oklahoma State -- Nobody behind them was overly impressive, so the Pokes stay here.
7. Texas Tech -- Not overly impressive against New Mexico, but the team in front of them was far worse, so they move up a spot. Something has happened to that defense since the game in Austin.
8. Texas A&M -- Was annihilated by Arkansas, but nobody behind them did enough to justify a bigger drop.
9. K-State -- No, beating Iowa State is not really that impressive, but I can't justify any of the other bottom-dwellers here, so the Cats land at No. 9.
10. Iowa State -- Not really based on anything. They were slightly better than Baylor in beating Kent State, so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
11. Baylor -- Proved they can still win a game without Griffin. The problem is that the opponent was Kent State.
12. Colorado -- Gashed by West Virginia in a game that wasn't really as close as it looked. Without a doubt, K-State's best shot at another win this year is when CU visits Manhattan.
BracketCat: So if things hold pat, it's Kansas State vs. Texas for the Big 12 Championship, right? LOL!
6. Texas Tech
7. Oklahoma State
8. Texas A&M
10. Kansas State
11. Iowa State