Oh man, did last weekend hurt if you are a Big 12 bottom-feeder. Not so quietly, the top teams began their Novembers by campaigning the only way that gets someone's attention, and that's by utter destruction.
In five games featuring all 10 teams, the winners scored 232 points to the losers' 85 - an average score of 46.4-17. Those figures include the 31-30 thriller in Morgantown. Take that game away, and the average spread in the other four games: 50.25 - 13.75.
Anyways, this week, thankfully, the conference slate has a much different, championship feel to it as we begin to wonder if schedules are such that 7-2 may be the magic number for a Big 12 title this year. And, if that happens, how many champions could there be in the land of "One True Champion"?
Here we go ...
1. TCU Horned Frogs (7-1, 4-1) -- Whhheeeewwww. Gary Patterson's frogs are leading a semi-charmed kinda life after escaping Morgantown with a win. Trevone Boykin looked ordinary for the first time in a long time, but his defense picked him up. Doesn't matter how purple Frogger gets to the top of the box as long as he gets there, and now there's just one extremely tough game left on the schedule as K-State comes calling.
2. Kansas State Wildcats (7-1, 5-0) -- Unlike TCU, KSU has one of the worst stretches to finish the season with three Top 25 opponents (with all three on the road) in four games, beginning with a visit to Amon G. Carter Stadium. If Jake Waters stays healthy enough, this weekend could be a dandy, and a win could mean huge, HUGE things for a College Football Playoff Committee that seemed to find some favor with K-State in its first poll.
3. Baylor Bears (7-1, 4-1) -- The Bears put 60 points on the worst team in the Big 12, but I think this is the kind of performance you should expect from here until the end. Art Briles knows his team has to blast its way back into the national conversation, and time is running a bit short. Hanging a gaudy, convincing number on OU, in Norman, would be a great "remember me" statement for the nation's top-scoring team (50.4 ppg).
4. Oklahoma Sooners (6-2, 3-2) -- It's a finish line of sorts for Bob Stoops' Sooners as Baylor comes in. Losses to TCU and K-State knocked OU out of any sort of giant prize this year, but should a little magic happen at home, a 7-2 team then gets to feast on Texas Tech, Kansas and Oklahoma State to wrap the year. Seven wins in conference might be enough to make the 2014 championship waters pretty muddy.
5. West Virginia Mountaineers (6-3, 4-2) -- This is the rub with WVU this year, isn't it? Pretty good, pretty competitive especially at home, but not good enough to win against "better" teams. The Mountaineers are now 1-3 against teams ranked in the Top 10 (when they played), with Baylor being the lone victory. STILL, there's a lot to like and play for with this group, and it's certainly possible it also could win out (@ Texas, vs. K-State, @ Iowa State) and finish 7-2 in conference.
6. Texas Longhorns (4-5, 3-3) -- Nothing Texas did was particularly flashy, but it was a solid win against one of the league's bottom teams. Charlie Strong's first year won't be marked by a lot of success, so this is a nice return for the remaining players' efforts. What I can't help but wonder, though, is whether some or many of these try-hard guys are actually playing for a place on the team next year. That just depends on whether Strong feels enough blood-letting was done in year one, which might be the case considering he almost bled Bevo to death in 2014.
7. Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-4, 3-3) -- I heard Phil Steele before last weekend say that he felt this team reminds him of last year's Texas Tech group that started 7-0 and then fell apart against better competition. He even pointed out that both teams were afforded the benefit of playing the Big 12's worst teams early in conference, which helped inflate their value. It's a valid point, but I certainly think OSU is in much better shape as a program and merely dealing with talented youth as opposed to just being hot garbage. That might bode well for OSU next year, but that doesn't make this campaign's growing pains any easier.
8. Iowa St. Cyclones (2-6, 0-5) -- Well, if Wide Right & Natty Lite's soul isn't crushed completely, here's something to cling to: after losing back-to-back games to start the year, ISU won. Then it lost two more before winning again. So, look out this weekend, after losses to Texas and OU, as the 'Clones prepare for the Charmin Bowl with KU. I feel a Paul Rhoads celebration speech and WRNL hangover coming on ... not that the second is dependent on the first, but work with it.
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders (3-6, 1-5) -- The Red Raiders aren't fast enough, big enough, strong enough or disciplined enough to compete, but they look good in sunglasses.This was the kind of loss that may actually carry more weight than many others as Texas is a bottom-half program decimated by suspensions, dismissals and injuries, and it still lazily manhandled Tech in the second half. How about a fifth-straight losing Big 12 record guaranteed with three games still to go? Guns up!
10. Drunk Pittsburgh Steelers IRS fan -- A 29-year old furloughed employee goes to support his Stillurs, gets wasted in the process and knocks a lady out after throwing steel crowd dividers. His statement to officers: "Listen, I know how this works. How much money will it take to make this go away and to let me go home today?" Dude. If the IRS offered to actually pay me and offer to make itself disappear, I'd listen. The officers? Not so much. The sap's employment status is now in jeopardy.
11. Israeli soccer brawl lasting two days -- A Middle Eastern soccer match fight between fans isn't news. A fight between fans and players that led to a cancellation and then carried over to the courthouse the next day is news. It started with a fan attacking a player, who then was red-carded when he defended himself and fought back. That's when it went downhill.
While it's a terrible scene, that resolve and fight is obviously stronger than the ...
12. Kansas Jayhawks (2-6, 0-5) -- In Big 12 games, KU is last in: scoring offense (13.8 ppg); rush offense (94.6 ypg); pass offense (212.4 ypg); total offense (307 ypg); kickoff returns (17.8); pass efficiency (111.7); first downs (77 in 5 games); 3rd-down conversions (31.0%); sack yardage allowed (117 - tied with OSU); field goal percentage (50% - 2/4 ... yep, 4 FGA in 5 games); and total red zone conversions (63.6%). KU color guy David Lawrence said it best toward the end of the Baylor massacre in looking ahead: "We do have a lot of basketball coming up."