With two conference teams done for the season (K-State and Baylor) and two done for the regular season (Missouri and Texas Tech), we're entering the final week of play in the Big 12 with no drama in the South and plenty left in the North. Both Kansas State and Baylor ended their seasons on promising notes; Guy Morriss has his team looking ahead for the first time since the mid-nineties and KSU, despite losing Bill Snyder, is excited about the future. The Texas – Texas A&M and Oklahoma – Oklahoma State games should hold little excitement, at least in terms of conference titles, while the Iowa State – Kansas and Colorado – Nebraska games should both be both interesting and exciting.
1. Texas (10-0, 7-0) Having been inactive last weekend, the Horns will suit up over the Thanksgiving holiday for a joust with the Aggies of Texas A&M. Texas is right on schedule to have their best year since the Nixon administration and even Mack's tendency to lose the occasional unexpected game probably won't overcome his team's talent and ability during this final conference tilt before the Big12C.
Next up: Friday, November 25th – Texas A&M at College Station.
2. Texas Tech (9-2, 6-2) Leach's Raiders have just posted the best record seen in Lubbock since the 1976 Tech team posted a 10-2-0 mark (note: since 1976 the raiders have won as many as nine games on three occasions – 2002, 1995, 1989 – but have always accompanied those victories with three or more losses…). The victory over the Sooners catapulted the RR's over that hump as well (the last Tech coach to beat OU was Spike Dykes in 1999) giving Mike Leach his first win over his old boss. The Raiders are now saddling up for a probable Cotton Bowl berth.
Next up: Regular season complete.
3. Oklahoma (6-4, 5-2) What a heartbreaker for the Sooners. Oklahoma played what was arguably their best game of the season in their last-nanosecond loss to Texas Tech on Saturday. The offense displayed a salty maturity while the defense held Tech to 23 points, thirty-four points less than their home average. And whether the Raiders would have or could have won without the benefit of generous officiating reminiscent of the 1947 Jack Sisco controversy in the Texas game will never be known. Oklahoma is now gearing up for their regular season finale against an Oklahoma State team that appears to have discovered itself offensively.
Next up: November 26th – Oklahoma State in Norman.
4. Iowa State (7-3, 4-3) Congrats to Dan McCarney for his best team since 2000. He needs only a victory against a deflated Kansas team to wrap up an 8-3 season and a promising bowl trip. And, as a little extra added incentive, if Iowa State does manage to drop-kick KU and if Colorado chokes in Lincoln, the Cyclones will earn a trip to Houston to try the Longhorns on for size.
Next up: November 26th – Kansas at Lawrence.
5. Colorado (7-3, 5-2) Colorado is on the threshold of its second straight Big 12 North championship. All the Beefaloes need to do to wrap up the title is to beat a constipated Nebraska team in Boulder (incidentally, that's never a simple feat even when the Huskers aren't at their best).
Next up: Friday, November 25th – Nebraska in Boulder.
6. Nebraska (6-4, 3-4) As Bill Callahan wraps up what may very well be his penultimate year in Lincoln, he finds himself with his back to the wall. Colorado will be bringing it all, because they realize that a victory will result in their second straight Big 12 North title and a better bowl. It's doubtful that Nebraska will be upping their record to 7-4 this coming weekend.
Next up: Friday, November 25th – Colorado in Boulder.
7. Texas A&M (5-5, 3-4) As A&M prepares for their annual hate-fest with the Longhorns, an apathy seems to be encroaching on the campus. Over 4,000 student allocated tickets remained unsold after the deadline purchase date last week – a situation that hasn't occurred in many seasons. Alan Cannon, A&M assistant athletic director attributes the unsold tickets to the game being nationally televised, to its being broadcast the morning after Thanksgiving and to the Aggies' 5-5 record. Cannon failed to explain why, when the game is always nationally telecast and almost always shown the day after Thanksgiving, those factors would play a bigger role in ticket sales this year than in any other. The 5-5 record, however, needs no explanation. Reggie McNeal is questionable for this game and if he's smart, he'll rest that ankle and let McGee take the Longhorn's punch.
Next up: Friday, November 25th – Texas in College Station.
8. Kansas State (5-6, 2-6) The end of an era. Bill Snyder has truly led Kansas State football out of the wilderness and into the promised land (or, at least, to the borders of the promised land). Some have criticized Snyder for building his team by beating a series of French pastries in the early nineties. And while that may be somewhat true, I must reply that it doesn't matter. Snyder's goal was twofold: to bring K-State football to a position of prominence and to compete for a national title – two goals that everyone believed to be completely impossible for the Wildcats to ever achieve. Bill Snyder achieved those goals, and then some as he accomplished what Barry Switzer has referred to as "the coaching job of the century."
Next up: Season complete.
9. Missouri (6-5, 4-4) Prior to the Tigers' game with the Wildcats, Gary Pinkel lectured his team on the history of the rivalry. Pinkel pointed out that Missouri had not beaten K-State since 1992. He also pointed out that even though the Tigers were now bowl eligible, that this game was still a very significant one. The contest would be more than a football game, added Pinkel, it would be a "psychological war." I think we can all be happy that Gary Pinkel wasn't in Dwight Eisenhower's position in 1944 as the troops prepared for the Normandy invasion. Had he been in charge there's an excellent chance that today we'd all be speaking German, paying for our "Bier" with Reichsmarks, and watching our favorite college team playing soccer.
Next up: Regular season complete.
10. Baylor (5-6, 3-5) The Baylor administration needs to take a hard look at Kansas State's record after Bill Snyder's fourth year (5-6-0). Guy Morriss has just completed his third year and appears to be making real progress in Waco. While it's true that a 5-6 record is nothing to call mama about, it is an indication that things appear to be improving. Next year will provide the litmus test on Morriss' progress. He'll be expected to improve on 5-6; if he does, he should be endorsed for at least three more years (with contingencies). If he doesn't, he'll be sent to the Old Coach's Burial Ground in Lincoln.
Next up: Season complete.
11. Kansas (5-5, 2-5) Kansas will be vying for a possible bowl berth in this coming weekend's game. Unfortunately for Mangino, Iowa State has a better team and will be playing for higher stakes.
Next up: November 26th – Iowa State in Lawrence.
12. Oklahoma State (4-6, 1-6) After their eyebrow-raising victory over Texas Tech on the 12th, the Cowboys expected to come out of Waco the same way most teams have been coming out of Waco for the past eleven years – with a win – but it wasn't to be. But what has improved in Stillwater over the past fourteen days is the OSU offense. So, if the Cowboys can get pumped up for just one more game…and if the Sooners are the least bit deflated over their loss in Lubbock…and if Dusty, Adrian and Rhett's foot and ankle problems get just the slightest bit worse… Oklahoma State just might have a chance in Norman. And if frogs had wings…
Next up: November 26th – Oklahoma at Norman.
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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