The Big 12's growing reputation as one of the weakest conferences in the country appears to be deserved. With the exception of Texas and Texas Tech, the other ten teams have been remarkably average or below. That there were eight teams undefeated after the first three weeks of the 2005 season was merely an illusion…a sleight-of-hand trick performed by six of those eight's scheduling magicians.
As we head into week number 7, the two strongest teams in the Big 12 are preparing to face one another down in Austin. Whether or not the Longhorns will be able to brush Coach Leach's Red Raiders aside with the same relative ease as their first three conference foes will be revealed this coming Saturday.
1. Texas (6-0, 3-0) There is a strong lobby of sportscasters and pundits who believe Texas may be better than USC at the moment. But considering the Trojans' gutsy performance in South Bend last weekend, my vote still goes west. Pete Carroll's sleek subterfuge in the last seven seconds when he appeared to order the ball to be grounded by Leinart and then had the quarterback sneak the ball over the goal line instead was masterful in its conception and timing. And although Texas is cutting through the Big 12 like Sherman through the deep south, let's not forget how misleading clearing the table in this particular conference can be.
Next up: October 22nd – Texas Tech in Austin.
2. Texas Tech (6-0, 3-0) Okay Mike, you've looked pretty good so far. You've nearly convinced us that you've been teaching some ‘d' down in Buddy Holly country. This weekend it'll be time to show us what you've really got.
Next up: October 22nd – Texas at Austin.
3. Nebraska (5-1, 2-1) While the Huskers remain one of the most unconvincing 5-1 teams in the country (as is evidenced by their absence from the wire services polls – as of last week, anyway), we still have to doff our caps to them and give them their due by kicking them up to number three in this week's rankings.
Next up: October 22nd – Missouri at Columbia.
4. Missouri (4-2, 2-1) Ditto for Coach Pinkel and his team. After besting the Cyclones for the second year in a row, the Tigers are enjoying about as much momentum as they've ever had under Pinkel.
Next up: October 22nd – Nebraska in Columbia.
5. Texas A&M (4-2, 2-1) The Jekyll and Hyde Aggies have been perfect this season: perfectly undefeated at home and perfectly awful on the road. This could be very bad news for Bill Snyder and his backsliding ‘Cats this coming weekend.
Next up: October 22nd – Kansas State at Manhattan.
6. Colorado (4-2, 2-1) Just when you think Gary's got ‘em back on the wagon again, his team plays like the Laotian basketball team in the Olympics. Still have to consider them a strong possibility for the position of the Northern Sacrificial Lamb in the Big12C against Texas.
Next up: October 22nd – Kansas in Boulder.
7. Oklahoma (3-3, 2-1) Speaking as a native Oklahoman, this is not easy for me to say but say it I must: this team is awful. Sorry, but it's true. I have not seen an Oklahoma team play this poorly since Gary Gibbs' team went belly-up in the '94 Copper Bowl, Schnellenberger's head-on collision in Norman against Okie State in '95, or John Blakes' (you fill in the game here). There are simply too many gaffes to mention within the confines of this paragraph. When the Sooners dropped their first game to TCU, while it was sobering, there was still hope for a very good season. Right now, I'm thinking maybe 6-5. Maybe.
Next up: October 22nd – Baylor in Norman.
8. Kansas State (4-2, 1-2) Those of you who are nostalgia buffs should head down to Manhattan where the nineteen-seventies are just getting underway. The Wildcats are playing football like nothing seen at KSU in many a year.
Next up: October 22nd – Texas A&M in Manhattan.
9. Baylor (4-2, 2-1) Guy's guys are looking better than any Baylor team has looked since Grant Teaff walked the sidelines. Have to think they're good enough to at least send a scare through the 82,112 loyal fans in Norman this weekend.
Next up: October 22nd – Oklahoma at Norman.
10. Iowa State (3-3, 0-3) This is a good albeit flawed football team. And adding to their problems, they appear to be coming down with the ‘Sooner Flu', whose symptoms are weakness, vertigo, and a temporary loss of self-confidence.
Next up: October 22nd – Oklahoma State in Ames.
11. Kansas (3-3, 0-3) Last weekend's game with the Sooners set Big Mark's program back a couple of years. The KU offense actually made OU's defense look great. Mangino may be wearing out his welcome in the No-Doze state.
Next up: October 22nd – Colorado at Boulder.
12. Oklahoma State (3-3, 0-3) Coach Gundy may have alienated more people affiliated with Oklahoma State University faster than any other coach in recent memory. After these Aggies shot out of the gate with a 3-0 mark (didn't matter against whom it was achieved) OSU fans began getting mouthy – as is their custom – and now the silence coming from their quarter is deafening…and wonderful.
Next up: October 22nd – Iowa State at Ames.
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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