With most Big 12 teams starting conference play this week, the conference's picture will soon come into focus. One game can make or break a season in college football, and week one in league play only supports this notion. We have already seen one thrilling game this week, with Oklahoma State knocking off Texas A&M 38-35. The win gives the pokes an inside track to compete for the Big 12 South title. Examining the remaining matchups on a game-by-game basis shows what each team has to gain (and lose) in week five.
21 Texas at 8 Oklahoma
This game almost always decides who will win the league and have a possible shot at an appearance in the national title game. This year may be no different, however both teams have struggled in the non-conference slate. Texas will look to rebound from an embarrasing loss to UCLA, while a win for OU would put them in the national title hunt.
Texas Tech at Iowa State
Both of these teams sit at 0-1 in the league after tough losses in rivalry games. The cyclones are solid, yet face a daunting schedule. Texas Tech is young and still needs a win to prove itself. Both teams need this game to avoid a big early season hole and a chance to get back into the bowl picture.
Kansas at Baylor
Both teams must win this game to have any shot at making the post-season. Kansas has been extremely up and down and traditionally struggles on the road. Baylor sits at 3-1 and will likely need to win this game to have a shot at a bowl in the tough South division. Stick a fork in whoever loses this one.
Georgia at Colorado
A matchup of two coaches who likely will not be back next season. Is this the game that finally gets Colorado going? Will Georgia start winning and save Mark Richt's job? Expect a sloppy one in Boulder.
Week one is full of great matchups and plenty of intrigue. By tonight, the Big 12 race will have some clear favorites. Let the fireworks begin.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Big 12 Preview: League as Wide Open as Ever
With most Big 12 schools starting conference play this next weekend and the non-conference schedules almost wrapped up, the league picture is starting to come into focus. If the non-conference results are any indicator, this could be the most wide open league the Big 12 has seen in its history as a conference.
The conference remains wide open mostly due to the struggles of the league's two perennial top teams, Texas and Oklahoma. Texas struggled all non-conference play, and its problems finally cumulated in a blowout loss to UCLA. Oklahoma, picked by most pundits to win the league, has remained undefeated so far. Despite the perfect record, it has been anything but easy for the Sooners. OU hung on to beat Air Force and then narrowly escaped Cincinnati. None of these teams are that strong, and if there is any year that a team not named Texas or Oklahoma makes a run at a Big 12 title, this could be it.
One team that could push UT and OU is Nebraska. The Huskers finally appear to have a dangerous offense to go with its stout defense now that Taylor Martinez is behind center. However, the team struggled against FCS South Dakota State saturday, and the Huskers have struggled to remain consistent the last several seasons under Bo Pelini. Other teams picked to finish high in the league, such as Missouri, Texas A & M and Texas Tech have all struggled against lesser teams during the non-conference schedule as well. Add these teams to a team like Kansas who lost to an FCS opponent in week one and then beat last year's ACC champion in week two, and it is hard to figure out how the Big 12 play will shape out.
While its hard to pick against Texas and Oklahoma once again being the class of the Big 12, the two juggernauts have looked beatable so far this season. The only problem is, few if any other Big 12 schools seem ready to challenge them. While predicting the league is tough, one thing is for sure: this is the closest from top to bottom the Big 12 has ever been.
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