Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 14

CollegeFootballGazette.com editor Wann Smith weighs in on the end of the regular season.

As the regular season comes to a screeching halt, the single glaring characteristic of the Big 12 Conference appears to be a lack of balance between the two divisions. The conference as a whole compiled an ostensibly impressive 31-5 record against outside competition although most of the wins were against sub-par teams. The four top-notch programs the Big 12 engaged were Ohio State (Texas), UCLA (Oklahoma), Miami (Colorado) and Clemson (Texas A&M) and only Texas emerged from its game victorious.

In head-to-head matchups between the two divisions, the South came out on top although not decisively by a margin of 11-7. But in spite of those relatively close numbers, there is a huge gaping chasm between the top three teams in the Big 12 South and the Big 12 North. Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma compiled a composite 9-0 record against their Northern brethren. Texas, with an iron defense and a more effective Vince Young, was clearly in a league by itself all year long. Texas Tech, while stronger than it has been in recent memory, had to rely on divine beneficence to beat Oklahoma in Lubbock. Oklahoma, struggling mightily in the first half of the season, appeared to come into its own down the stretch. The balance of the Big 12 South, with the exception of Oklahoma State, appeared to merge into a middle-ground with each appearing to be capable of competing evenly with the other.

The Big 12 North, on the other hand, continues to falter for the second straight year. Iowa State, to everyone's shock, found itself on the brink of the Big 12 Championship game for the second straight season and for the second straight season, blew it. Colorado has fielded a very average team for two consecutive years and for two consecutive years has backed into the championship round. After showcasing its worst team since the mid-sixties in 2004, Nebraska improved marginally in 2005 while showing signs of confidence and improvement in its final season victory over Colorado in Boulder. Missouri continues to falter and disappoint under Pinkel's administration and both Kansas teams are doing respectable imitations of the early nineteen-eighties versions of their clubs.

There will be two more power rankings this season. The next installment will be after the Big 12 Championship game and the last chapter, including the final 2005 standings, will appear in early January. Additionally, there will be a Big 12 Bowl Preview in two weeks.

The Rankings
1. Texas (11-0, 8-0)
The flagship of the Big 12 in 2005, the Longhorns offer the best chance at a national title since Oklahoma took the field against LSU in the 2004 Sugar Bowl.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 North: 3-0
Next up: Big 12 Championship Game – Colorado in Houston, December 3rd


2. Texas Tech (9-2, 6-2) The big question is whether Leach can motivate his team to perform in a bowl as well as it did against most of the Big 12 conference teams without a letdown.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 North: 3-0
Next up: Bowl TBA


3. Oklahoma (7-4, 6-2) The Sooners continue to peak at the right time. The outlook for 2006 couldn't be brighter if coach Stoops solves a few coaching riddles.
Record Outside conference: 1-2
Record Against Big 12 North: 3-0
Next up: Bowl TBA


4. Nebraska (7-4, 4-4) Callahan just bought himself a little more time and a little more credibility in Lincoln. The Huskers' impressive win over Colorado in Boulder might just indicate that a corner has been turned. Big Bill must now avoid an embarrassing loss in his upcoming bowl game in order to insure longevity.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 South: 1-2
Next up: Bowl TBA

5. Colorado (7-4, 5-3)
Anyone who doesn't believe in Santa Claus needs only to look at Barnett's last two years in Boulder. Unfortunately, Santa Claus doesn't wear red clothing and a white beard; he wears an Iowa State windbreaker and lives in Ames.
Record Outside conference: 2-1
Record Against Big 12 South: 2-1
Next up: Big 12 Championship Game – Texas in Houston, December 3rd

6. Iowa State (7-4, 4-4)
This has to be the most demoralized team in the nation. After having the door to the Big 12 Championship game held wide open for them by Colorado, they tripped on the approach and fell flat. Difficult to imagine McCarney motivating the Cyclones to beat a quality bowl opponent when he couldn't convince them to play well enough to beat Kansas.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 South: 2-1
Next up: Bowl TBA

7. Missouri (6-5, 4-4)
In approximately three weeks Gary Pinkel will be facing the biggest game of his career in Columbia. If the Tigers can win their bowl game impressively, the future with Chase Daniel at the helm looks reasonably bright. Get blown out in late December and face the consequences, Gary.
Record Outside conference: 2-1
Record Against Big 12 South: 2-1
Next up: Bowl TBA

8. Kansas (6-5, 3-5)
While coach Mangino's record doesn't show it, his Jayhawk teams have improved dramatically from the years immediately prior to his taking over. His 18-28 record doesn't reflect the scares his team threw into Nebraska in Lincoln and Texas in Lawrence in 2004, and based on the way his Jayhawks arched their backs and defeated Iowa State last weekend, they are still full of fight. Mangino should be given more time.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 South: 0-3
Next up: Bowl TBA

9. Texas A&M (5-6, 3-5)
The Aggies most certainly played better football in their final two games than they did for most of the season. Does this indicate a trend? Doubtful. The belief in College Station and around the college football world is that Dennis is overrated. Now, given the time, he must prove that he can work the same magic in central Texas that he worked at TCU. But time is running out.
Record Outside conference: 2-1
Record Against Big 12 North: 1-2
Season complete.

10. Baylor (5-6, 3-5)
Fireworks should be going off in Waco. Guy Morriss has done a terrific job and by all indications, the Bears are a team on the rise.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 North: 1-2
Season complete.

11. Kansas State (5-6, 2-6)
The Wildcats are and will remain a question mark until a successor for Snyder is named.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 South: 0-3
Season complete.

12. Oklahoma State (4-7, 1-7)
Coach Gundy was coaching against a stacked deck in 2005. After courageously dismissing a number of quality players from the team for disciplinary reasons and losing a top player in an automobile accident, the Pokes ran the pre-season table. This was both good and bad. It was good because it enabled OSU to start the season 3-0; and it was bad for the same reason. The perfect start raised hopes and expectations in the Cowboy universe to an unreasonable level. Oklahoma State will improve in '06.
Record Outside conference: 3-0
Record Against Big 12 North: 0-3
Season complete.


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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 wsmith@collegefootballgazette.com


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