This is the sixth installment of the 2009 edition of the SB Nation Big 12 Roundtable. We're the gracious hosts this week, and we'll have the roundup post later in the week.
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.
CB and I went with 8-4 in August, with JLew predicting 10-2. But frankly, I've been more impressed by Nebraska than I thought I would be...and Baylor and Oklahoma each have question marks now, so yes, I think it's not insane to consider 11-1 to be a potential outcome to this season. That being said, there are still four games that could go either way: Missouri, Kansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma. Texas Tech has a few issues, and let's be honest, Iowa State, Kansas State, and Colorado are in a three-way battle for the bottom. My preseason prediction of 8-4 now looks like the most reasonable worst-case scenario. My prediction? I think the Huskers come up short against the Sooners, but win the North at 10-2.
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?
Gotham Bowl anybody? There's one upside to a Yankee Stadium bowl, and that's getting eyeballs in the New York media market. But truth be told, in New York City, even a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium won't raise much of a stir in a city that really could care less about college football. At least in Shreveport, you are a big fish in a small pond. Now add in all of the negatives: expensive hotels for fans, likely horrible weather, long travel distances, and a game played in an awkwardly configured baseball field. In that light, I think it's a bad move. Frankly, if the Big XII wants to play a bowl game for TV cameras, bring back the Aloha Bowl or maybe create the Cancun Bowl.
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?
Maybe, but truth be told...those losses were only by one point each. I'm still not convinced Oklahoma isn't the #2 team in the conference even without Sam Bradford. But the clearly have more issues than originally thought. They clearly are trying to rebuild the offensive line, and they miss Jermaine Gresham dearly. The defense is trying to keep things going, but can't carry the whole team.
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?
I love Thursday night games...for somebody else. Just not my team. Yes, I know that you get the full, undivided attention of the college football world. (Though many sports fans will be focused on the baseball playoffs this week.) But on this gameday, I've got to work all day, then switch into Husker mode for the game. With the 8 pm kickoff, I'll probably be up late which means that Friday is going to be a bitch as well. And that's for a game I'm not attending. If it were a home game, I'd have to burn some vacation time to get to Lincoln, then have to head into work the next day on a half-night's sleep. I remember the 2001 Thursday night game against Rice, and realized that Nebraska football and weekdays simply don't mix. So yeah, if somebody else wants to do it, fine. Just leave my Husker football where God intended it to be - on Saturdays.
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?
Sadly, yes, the gap is growing. Colorado is in a tailspin and it's unclear if and when they'll ever pull out. Dan Hawkins is in way over his head, and Colorado doesn't have the resources to fire him, let alone hire a quality replacement. It's going to take a visionary leader in Boulder who can tap into the Denver sports market and find the resources to upgrade the Buffs program from top to bottom. Until then, the future for the Buffs looks incredibly bleak. Kansas State is feeling the effects of the Ron Prince debacle, but 70 year old Bill Snyder is an interim solution at best. Plus they too have their own resource issues after the Ron Prince secret agreement. In my mind, Iowa State is the most likely of these three schools to bust out of the bottom. Jamie Pollard has aggressive plans to upgrade the Cyclones, and I think Paul Rhoads has the Cyclones on an upward path. It's going to be tough to pass up Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska most years, but not impossible.
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?
Hard to argue with the SEC at the top. The Big XII had positioned themselves to challenge, but Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State all have lost games they should have won. They're #2. The Pac 10 is a solid #3 right now. The ACC really looks weak; they lost two games in the opening week to 1-AA teams, then almost did it again the next week. But Virginia Tech seems to have seperated themselves from the rest of the pack. I'll grudgingly place the Big 10/11 next. While the top teams in the Mountain West (TCU, BYU, Utah) and WAC (Boise State and Fresno State) probably are stronger than what the Big 10/11 can muster nowadays, the Big 10/11 is by far stronger at the bottom. I'll put the Mountain West next, followed by the Big East. The WAC gets the nod next on the strength of Boise. Conference USA and finally the Sun Belt run to the bottom.
7. PowerPoll time. Rank 'em 1 to 12 based on who you think would be the victor on a neutral field.
- Oklahoma State
- Texas Tech
- Texas A&M
- Kansas State
- Iowa State
I can't bump anybody ahead of Oklahoma at this time despite their two losses. I still think OU is better. I was not impressed with Tech this week, and A&M was badly exposed by Arkansas. Kansas State gets the nod over Iowa State simply by blocking an extra point. And woe be the Buffaloes, who have no "D" to speak of, and not much "O" either.