September 27, 2007

Figuring out the Big 12

NOTE: This is the first in a two-part series talking about the Big 12 Conference.

So far in 2007, the Big 12 has shown that there isn't much depth in the conference.
The rankings at this point pretty much go like this:

1. Oklahoma
2.-12. Everybody else

That might be over-simplifying things a tad, but at this rate, it's pretty much true. The Sooners have been playing very well while everyone else in the league have just been doing okay or looked really bad.

As we are quickly coming up on the first full weekend of Big 12 play, there are some definite trends starting to form amongst teams in the league. Overall, it's pretty easy to say that the conference as a whole is pretty weak. The North is devoid of a really strong team, with the possible exception of Missouri. Texas started off slowly and seems to be coming around, but questions remain about the Longhorns. After that, it might just be a giant mix of mediocrity - which means a traditional also-ran like Kansas or Oklahoma State might be able to shake things up if they get hot in conference play.

Below is a quick rundown of each team in the Big 12. I've ranked the teams in order of how good I feel they are at this moment.

1. OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Record:
4-0
How have they looked so far? Very good. Potentially, great.
Quick rundown on them: It's looking more and more like OU has few weaknesses. Granted, they haven't played anyone super-tough yet, though Miami is a solid squad and Tulsa gave them a fight for awhile. They've put up a ton of points in each of their victories so far. Sam Bradford hasn't been the liability that many in the college football world thought he would be, as freshmen sometimes have troubles adjusting to playing at this level.
First conference opponent: Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Colorado (Fox Sports Net)
Outlook: This might just be the year OU finds its way back to the BCS national championship game, though if things hold now, they'll need either LSU, USC and maybe even Florida to lose to ensure a spot in it. In any event, the Sooners can only take care of their own schedule, which so far that hasn't been an issue at all. The Sooners are averaging 61 points per game so far this season. While that number will likely come down somewhat in Big 12 play, the league is average enough that they could still hang 40 on teams with regularity. They've got weapons all over the field. On defense, their front seven has been extremely effective. Who will be able to score on them? Who will stop their offense? Batten the hatches, Big 12.

2. TEXAS LONGHORNS
Record:
4-0
How have they looked so far? Like an honors student that hit snooze and missed the start of school.
Quick rundown on them: The Longhorns have gotten off to a slow start, but it looked like they finally woke up against a solid Rice squad last weekend, winning 58-14. Somewhere, John F. Kennedy had to be uttering once again "Why does Rice play Texas?" Before that, the Horns struggled in wins at home against Arkansas State and TCU and barely escaped a trap game on the road against an improved UCF squad which was opening their new on-campus stadium.
First conference opponent: Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against Kansas State (ABC)
Outlook: There's no reason for the Horns to finish with more than two losses. It's looking like they'll lose to OU next week, but anything can happen in the Red River Rivalry Shootout. That series has been pretty cyclical and the Horns have won the past couple of years. If there's any hope against the Sooner Death Star, it's that Tulsa showed the world that you can still have success against them over the top on defense. The Horns only have two real legit road tests left (Oklahoma State, Texas A&M) and get Nebraska and Texas Tech at home. If they don't go 10-2 or better, it'd be a shock.

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