1) Nebraska 4-0, 0-0 (last week's ranking, No. 1)
The 'Huskers had a bye week last week to stew on their less-than-stellar effort against South Dakota State. That also meant that Nebraska had a bye week to prepare for this week's game against Kansas State, one of the first games with an early impact on who is going to come out of the North. With the Cornhuskers' three-headed running attack, and the fact that Kansas State struggled against a mobile QB in its last outing, it's hard to pick against Nebraska, even on the road. Look for this to be a statement game, with the Cornhuskers out to show that not only are they the best in the North, but that they are the best in the entire Big 12.
Last time out: W 17-3 vs. South Dakota State
Next time out: at Kansas State (tonight)
2) Oklahoma 5-0, 1-0 (LW 2)
The Sooners took care of business in defeating a struggling Texas team this past week. But there were plenty of reasons for despair. The Longhorns actually out-gained the Sooners, and three of Oklahoma's four touchdown drives would have been stopped if not for a Texas penalty. Still, a win is a win, and the Sooners' victory means that they have the leg up in the South race, especially since Oklahoma doesn't have to play Nebraska. This is a Sooner squad that has a great chance to finish the regular season undefeated, but still, at this point, it's a more flawed squad, in terms of running the ball and playing defense, than previous Sooner versions.
Last time out: W 28-20 vs. Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
Next time out: Iowa State (Oct. 16)
3) Oklahoma State 4-0, 1-0 (LW 4)
The Cowboys did about everything wrong in falling behind 21-7 early, then did about everything right in scoring the game's next 28 points. But the Cowboys allowed the Aggies to score 14 points to tie the game up, and had to defend against an A&M chance to drive for the winning score. Thankfully for Oklahoma State, Shaun Lewis was able to pick off a Jerrod Johnson throw and the Cowboys booted the winning field goal. The victory sets the Cowboys up for a likely third-place finish in the South, and with a shocker here or there (like the Cowboys finding a defense), the potential for even more.
Last time out: W 38-35 vs. Texas A&M
Next time out: at Louisiana-Lafayette (Friday)
4) Texas 3-2, 1-1 (LW 3)
It's tough to blame Texas for losing to the rival Sooners in a close game, but the Oklahoma game pretty much summed up the season for the Longhorns. Texas fell behind early, and lost largely from its own mistakes. The Longhorns gave up 21 points on drives that were continued because of Texas penalties. Still another penalty cost Texas a huge turnover. Still, heading into the bye week, there are some positives, like the development of running back D.J. Monroe as an explosive running threat. But the Longhorns will have to come out with a fire to avoid losing three straight regular season games for the first time in the Mack Brown era.
Last time out: L 20-28 vs. Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
Next time out: at Nebraska (Oct. 16)
5) Missouri 4-0, 0-0 (LW 6)
Missouri seems to grow wide receivers on trees, with slot receiver T.J. Moe being the most recent Tiger threat. Moe leads the Big 12 in receptions per game and is third in receiving yards per game. It's difficult to tell where the Tigers stand at this point, as the schedule hasn't exactly been brutal. Still, it's tough to bet against Missouri winning a majority of their North games, as the Tigers are 8-2 in the past two seasons against their divisional foes. Missouri can continue its strong play against North opponents when the Tigers host Colorado this week.
Last time out: W 51-13 vs. Miami (Ohio)
Next time out: Colorado6) Kansas State 4-0, 0-0 (LW 7)
Are the Wildcats a paper tiger, or are they for real? They'll get a chance to make their claim tonight against the Cornhuskers. One thing's for sure: if the Wildcats are going to beat Nebraska and take a step toward the North crown, they'll need a big game from running back Daniel Thomas. They'll probably get it, though the Wildcats will struggle to win with Carson Coffman at quarterback. He puts up big numbers against less-than-stellar defenses, but in Kansas State's two toughest games, Coffman was largely a non-factor. The defense must also handle mobile quarterback Taylor Martinez better than they did against a running threat against UCF.
Last time out: W 17-13 vs. UCF
Next time out: Nebraska (tonight)
7) Baylor 4-1, 1-0 (LW 9)
The Bears set several records with their 55-7 thrashing of Kansas last Saturday. But those records didn't surpass the sight that the Bears simply out-athleted the Jayhawk defense. Art Briles might not have the hogs in the trenches to compete with the South elite just yet, but it's apparent that he's getting the kinds of athletes he needs to excel in his spread offense. Robert Griffin had an outstanding day, putting up nearly 450 total yards. He had help from two 100-yard receivers, Josh Gordon and Terrance Williams, who averaged 32.8 yards per catch between them. The duo combined for four touchdowns. The Bears' only loss is a blowout defeat to TCU, one which Griffin called "a fluke." They'll have a chance to prove Saturday's result wasn't a fluke in a big game at Texas Tech this weekend.
Last time out: W 55-7 vs. Kansas
Next time out: at Texas Tech
8) Texas A&M 4-1, 0-1 (LW 5)
After the Aggies' heartbreaking loss in Stillwater, it appears that the 2010 version of Texas A&M is similar to last year's team. The Aggies looked like world-beaters at times, and like cellar-dwellers at others. It should be noted that Texas A&M actually out-gained Oklahoma State by nearly 200 yards, and that the Aggies were driving with a chance to win late in the game. But Jerrod Johnson heaved a game-changing interception — one of five Aggie turnovers on the game — allowing for a Cowboy field goal winner. The loss was a huge one in terms of establishing a pecking order in the South, and there's no guarantee that the Aggies, with a turnover-prone offense and an inconsistent-at-best defense, will finish higher than fifth in the division.
Last time out: L 35-38 at Oklahoma State
Next time out: Missouri (Oct. 16)
9) Colorado 3-1, 0-0 (LW 10)
Let's get this straight: this isn't your father's Georgia team. After the Buffaloes defeated the Bulldogs 29-27, Georgia fell to 1-4 on the year. But that doesn't detract from a good win for a Buffaloes team that has found victories hard to come by in recent years. Tyler Hansen was his typical hard-to-handle self, managing the game well in passing for 158 yards while rushing for another 51 yards. He had two of Colorado's four touchdowns. The Buffs were 7-15 on third downs, and also deserve credit for coming back from a 10-point third-quarter deficit. The defense allowed 409 yards, including almost six yards per carry, but the Buffaloes made stops when they needed to.
Last time out: W 29-27 vs. Georgia
Next time out: Baylor (Oct. 16)
10) Iowa State 3-2, 1-1 (LW 12)
When Austen Arnaud plays well, the Cyclones are tough to beat. The senior, who ranks last among Big 12 starters in passing efficiency, had no problems against Texas Tech, throwing touchdowns to four different receivers. That allowed Iowa State runners Alexander Robinson and Shontrelle Johnson to average better than eight yards per carry. Each topped the century mark. The Cyclones didn't fare as well defensively, giving up 508 yards and allowing a poor-rushing Tech team to run for 5.2 yards per carry. But entering a brutal stretch that includes top-10 Utah before games against teams like Oklahoma and Texas, a win was a must.
Last time out: W 52-38 vs. Texas Tech
Next time out: vs. Utah
11) Texas Tech 2-2, 0-2 (LW 8)
Ames can be a tough place to play, but it should be noted that the Red Raiders allowed nearly double the points that Northern Iowa did (27) in their loss to the Cyclones in the same stadium. With two consecutive losses, Tech is the Big 12's only two-loss squad. Taylor Potts passed for five touchdowns as Texas Tech put up more than 500 yards of total offense, but the Red Raiders lost the turnover battle 3-0. It didn't help that Texas Tech allowed a struggling Austen Arnaud to complete 71 percent of his throws while hurling four touchdowns. The Red Raiders better get their defense in order, as a red-hot Baylor offense comes to Lubbock a week after scoring 55.
Last time out: L 38-52 at Iowa State
Next time out: vs. Baylor
12) Kansas 2-3, 0-1 (LW 11)
Kansas coaches moved D.J. Beshears and Daymond Patterson, a pair of 4.3 runners to wide receiver in an attempt to create more big-play ability at the position. But by moving two of the team's best athletes out of the defensive backfield, the Jayhawks left themselves open to teams with athletic receivers. That lack of speed showed in a loss to Southern Miss, but was absolutely exposed by an explosive Baylor passing attack. It's a bit early to say the Jayhawks won't win again this season, as foes like Kansas State, Iowa State and Colorado aren't necessarily known for airing it out. But at the same time, a bowl trip is starting to look extremely unlikely.
Last time out: L 7-55 at Baylor
Next time out: Kansas State (Oct. 14)