How many of you would have bet your life-savings, your house, and your wife's underwear on Oklahoma having a better record than Baylor after the fifth week of the season? Well, if you had, you'd be broke, homeless and your wife would be wearing longer skirts.
Guy Morriss' usually beatable Bears have become truly ursine this year as they currently post a 4-1 overall record. The road victory over Iowa State last weekend marks the first time Baylor has won a conference game since they defeated SMU 48-7 in the now defunct Southwest Conference back in 1995. Baylor slowly edged itself up the Big 12 power ranking this week; more progress must be made before we can boost them much higher.
1. Texas (5-0, 2-0) Mack has finally done it. The Stoops monkey is off of his back. And if you're the sort of person who subscribes to trends, it may be quite some time before Stoops climbs back on again. Texas appears dominant and plays with the sort of bravado and reckless abandon that Oklahoma once did. But don't underestimate Mack Brown. There's ‘many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip' and Mack has many games to play before the Longhorns earn that berth in Pasadena. Coach Brown has proven himself more than capable of losing the odd game he shouldn't.
Next up: October 15th – Colorado in Austin.
2. Texas Tech (5-0, 2-0) The big victory in Lincoln has revealed more negatives than positives about the state of football in Lubbock. Nebraska's offense looked much better than it will look later in the year against better defenses and Tech's offense, while effective enough to win, showed signs of human weakness as well. Leach needs to make sure his team isn't looking ahead to their October 22nd date with Texas or they could be mauled by the Wildcats this weekend.
Next up: October 15th – Kansas State in Lubbock.
3. Colorado (4-1, 2-0) I never would have believed the Beefaloes could look this potent with Joel Klatt taking snaps in the backfield. But potent they do appear and there are about 90 whiplashed Aggies down in College Station that can attest to the fact. And Klatt wasn't just effective, he was dazzling as he passed for 398 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Colorado also averaged over four yards per carry as they scrambled for 158 yards on the ground.
Next up: October 15th – Texas at Austin.
4. Kansas State (4-1, 1-1) Never, ever, count Bill Snyder out. After allowing his team to perform like the nineteen-eighties K-State teams on October 1st in Norman, Snyder whipped his kitties into a frenzy for their game against in-state rival Kansas.
Next up: October 15th – Texas Tech at Lubbock.
5. Nebraska (4-1, 1-1) Although Callahan turned in the expected loss this weekend, and although I'm still not convinced the Huskers have arrived, Nebraska takes a couple of steps up the Big 12 ladder this week thanks to their overall record, their encouraging offensive showing in the loss to Texas Tech, and the lackluster performances of most of the rest of the Big 12.
Next up: October 15th – Baylor at Waco.
6. Missouri (3-2, 1-1) The rumors about Missouri having no defense are understated. After leading the woeful Cowboys 31-9 with less than seven minutes left in the third quarter, the "Tigers" decided to take a breather and let OSU back in the game. The Cowboys cut Missouri's lead to 31-24 by the end of the third before going on to lose, 38-31. My guess is that even though next week's opponent, Iowa State, has no rushing offense, they'll gain at least 150 ground yards on the hapless Tigers.
Next up: October 15th – Iowa State in Columbia.
7. Oklahoma (2-3, 1-1) There is simply no excuse for the Sooners to be consistently losing games to marquee opponents by such absurd margins. To be sure, every team, no matter how solid and experienced, can expect to lose games from time to time. But for Oklahoma to have plunged from the status of national power to doormat so abruptly demands an explanation.
The catastrophic loss in last season's Orange Bowl has left what appears to be an indelible mark with the residuals being worse than most of us thought. The confidence and swagger that have been such important characteristics of Stoops-led Oklahoma teams has not just taken a hit, they appear to have disappeared altogether. The Bob Stoops who came to Norman and endeared himself immediately to the university, fans and team by declaring that "there would be no rebuilding year" and that "we can win with the athletes we have right now" and then went out and did it, is now talking about expecting to be good "next year."
Bob Stoops needs to give the team an infusion of confidence and swagger; he needs to help them get their chins up off of their chests. But doing it in 1999 was different – easier – than it will be to do it now. In 1999 Stoops came to Norman with a clean slate. He had the right assistants, the right players and the right attitude. He was cleaning up someone else's mess. Now he is faced with the daunting task of cleaning up his own.
Next up: October 15th – Kansas in Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium).
8. Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1) Texas A&M is playing like uncle Slocum is back in town. Reggie McNeal, who began the season as a Heisman hopeful, carried the ball five times for -14 yards and completed only 10 passes in Boulder. Looks like it's going to be ‘Goodbye Heisman' and ‘Hello Canadian Football League' for ol' Reg at the end of this year. Additonally, the folks in Alabama must be gloating at both their own good fortune and the sudden appearance of karmic justice at Dennis Franchione's front door.
Next up: October 15th – Oklahoma State in College Station.
9. Baylor (4-1, 1-1) There are two words that spring to mind when discussing the 2005 Baylor Bears; competent and opportunistic. Their offense, while far from flashy, is nicely balanced with Shawn Bell doing a journeyman's job at quarterback while being complemented adequately by Paul Mosely and Brandon Whitaker. The Bears turned two Cyclone fumbles into winning points last Saturday as they continue to build momentum for weekends yet to come.
Next up: October 15th – Nebraska in Waco.
10. Iowa State (3-2, 0-2) The Cyclones have further damaged the already sullied reputation of the Big 12 North by losing to Baylor. Once so promising, Iowa State is now struggling to salvage their season.
Next up: October 15th – Missouri at Columbia.
11. Kansas (3-2, 0-2) Once again letting down the long-suffering fans in Lawrence, Mark Mangino's Squawks only mustered three points in what could have been a watershed game for them.
Next up: October 15th – Oklahoma in Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium).
12. Oklahoma State (3-2, 0-2) For those of you who think Oklahoma State emerged from their offensive doldrums in the late stages of their game against Mizzou, think again.
Next up: October 15th – Texas A&M at College Station.
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.
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You can also contact Wann Smith at email@example.com
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