The gloves have finally come off in the conference race and five of the teams who were undefeated last Friday are currently sporting black eyes. The conference is logjammed at the top with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Colorado and Nebraska. and at the bottom with Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and Missouri. Looks a little like the old Big 8 Conference from Oklahoma State on down, doesn't it?
After the first week of conference play a few observations might be relevant:
• Texas looks like an offensive monster as Vince and his supporting cast gobble up yards effortlessly;
• Leach continues to mystify down in Lubbock as his team appears stronger on defense than usual;
• Baylor, although still losing, is raising eyebrows with its newly discovered competence;
• Franchione is scaring the bejesus out of the folks who hired him;
• Iowa State finds it hard to operate an offense without a rushing game;
• Oklahoma may be awakening from a long slumber;
• Barnett's Beefaloes remain terribly difficult to predict;
• Nebraska's offense was surprisingly effective;
• Kansas State has a more accurate assessment of its strengths and weaknesses;
• Mangino is making progress in Lawrence;
• Pinkel is faltering in Columbia; and
• Oklahoma State is pulling out the crying towels for what they expect to be a long and painful 2005.
1. Texas (4-0 1-0) Texas showed signs of vulnerability in the first half against a Missouri team that couldn't decide exactly how it wanted to lose… by turning the ball over on offense or by allowing a scrambling Vince to pick up a first down on third and about sixty. The Horns can barely contain themselves until their date with Oklahoma.
Next up: October 8th – Oklahoma at Dallas.
2. Texas Tech (4-0 1-0) After handling Kansas' well-balanced attack (117 yards rushing, 154 yards passing), Leach must take his team north to face a Nebraska team intent upon avenging last season's 70-10 blistering in Lubbock. The good news is that if the Tech defense is even nearly as good as it has looked they'll have a decent shot at beating the Huskers.
Next up: October 8th – Nebraska at Lincoln.
3. Iowa State (3-1 0-1) The ‘Clones came soooo very close to achieving their dreams in Lincoln Saturday, but it wasn't to be. With Meyer playing close to the top of his game, if McCarney can find a decent running game his team will still be in contention for the Big 12 North title.
Next up: October 8th – Baylor in Ames.
4. Oklahoma (2-2 1-0) The Sooners downed a decent KSU team 43-21 last weekend. However, outshining the score as the most telling statistic of the evening was the fact that Oklahoma actually protected the pigskin. That's right…not a single fumble, lost or recovered, and not a single interception. Rhett Bomar completed 12 of 22 passes (55%) for 139 yards and one score while rushing for 67 yards and another. The defense played admirably against the rush holding the Cats to a scant 22 yards. But remaining true to form, the Sooner secondary once again proved porous as KSU pounced for 226 yards and two touchdowns through the thin evening air.
Next up: October 8th – Texas at Dallas.
5. Texas A&M (3-1 1-0) After being outgained, outplayed and virtually outdone by Baylor in nearly every category except for the final score last Saturday, A&M takes a fall in this weeks rankings.
Next up: October 8th – Colorado in Boulder.
6. Colorado (3-1 1-0) The Buffs took the adult dose of just the tonic they needed to recover from their massacre in Miami – the Oklahoma State Cowboys, 34-0.
Next up: October 8th – Texas A&M in Boulder.
7. Nebraska (4-0 1-0) We have to give credit where it's due: The Huskers played a gritty, determined game in Saturday's overtime victory over Iowa State. But we're still not convinced Nebraska will be competitive down the stretch with that tentative offense.
Next up: October 8th – Texas Tech in Lincoln.
8. Kansas State (3-1 0-1) Last weekend's 43-21 caning in Norman brought the Wildcats back down to earth. Without a doubt KSU made Oklahoma look better than it truly was as the Sooners exposed the Cats' intrinsic weaknesses. Snyder and company could still remain a major player in the Big 12 North Chinese fire drill.
Next up: October 8th – Kansas in Manhattan.
9. Kansas (3-1 0-1) Much to everyone's surprise, the Jayhawks played with the high-octane Red Raider offense before succumbing by a respectable score of 30-17. Don't expect Mangino to allow his team to become dejected – they're capable of winning seven this season.
Next up: October 8th – Kansas State at Manhattan.
10. Missouri (2-2 0-1) The Tigers lost to a vulnerable Texas team and looked painfully inept doing it. Although Pinkel will probably even his conference record this coming weekend, he's still in dire straits.
Next up: October 8th – Oklahoma State at Stillwater.
11. Baylor (3-1 0-1) Just what exactly is Guy Morriss up to down in Whacko? His team actually marched into College Station with every intention of playing real college football and nearly upset a revenge-minded Aggie team. Baylor will be fun to watch the rest of this season.
Next up: October 8th – Iowa State at Ames.
12. Oklahoma State (3-1 0-1) Yep, you guessed it…Oklahoma State fans are already warning the rest of the Big 12 to "wait ‘till next year."
Next up: October 8th – Missouri in Stillwater.
Wann Smith has served two years as national columnist for the Pigskin Post, contributed to the College Football News (a contributor to Fox Sports and the Sporting News) and is currently the editor of the College Football Gazette. Smith lives in St. Louis with his family.
Click the link below to visit his website...
College Football Gazette
You can also contact Wann Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
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