Monday, October 11, 2010
Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 7
By David Ubben
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1. Nebraska (5-0, 1-0, last week: 2): The Huskers and Sooners have been spooning each other in my Top 25 poll for a few weeks now, but the Huskers took their turn as big spoon for the first time this year on my ballot this week. Taylor Martinez made his entrance into the Heisman discussion and the Nebraska running game is one of the most entertaining things to watch in the Big 12 this year. Martinez's all-world ball fake on the zone read may give the Longhorns big trouble on Saturday.
2. Oklahoma (5-0, 1-0, LW: 1): Oklahoma didn't fall as much as it was jumped by a dominant Huskers performance. The Sooners need to take care of business this week against Iowa State, but those early-season wins over Air Force and Florida State are looking better and better. Neither team has a second loss, and Florida State dismantled Miami on Saturday.
3. Oklahoma State (5-0, 1-0, LW: 3): The Cowboys did what they had to do after a sluggish first half against the Ragin' Cajuns. Oklahoma State's quick-strike offense can look impossible to stop when it gets rolling with Kendall Hunter and Brandon Weeden clicking at the same time.
4. Missouri (5-0, 1-0, LW: 5): Blaine Gabbert's hip pointer is a minor concern; he proved last year with his ankle injury he can play through pain. The Tigers have been dominant in the past two weeks, and that season-opening win over Illinois is looking a little better these days, too. A desperate Texas A&M will be a big test in College Station on Saturday.
5. Texas (3-2, 1-1, LW: 6): Texas draws the unenviable assignment of trying to stop Martinez in Lincoln in one of the biggest games for Nebraska in awhile. There's no question that an upset would mean more than just an unranked team knocking off a top-5 opponent. Texas can win, but the defense has to rein in Martinez and force him to throw the ball more than the Nebraska had planned and hope the freshman makes a few bad decisions.
6. Kansas State (4-1, 1-1, LW: 4): Kansas State got exposed against Nebraska, silencing all the Wildcats fans who couldn't figure out why an undefeated team wasn't getting any love from pollsters. That was why. The Wildcats have no passing game and an average defense surrounding one of the nation's best running backs. Add that up, and you get a bowl team, but you don't get a Top-25 team.
7. Texas Tech (3-2, 1-2, LW: 11): Texas Tech is climbing back up the rankings, in part because every team below it lost or didn't play Saturday. The win was exactly what it needed, and gets the Red Raiders right back on track to stretch their streak of seasons at .500 or better to 17. And for all of the defensive problems that have surfaced in the past two weeks, the offense looks back to what we expect from Texas Tech. One final note: The Red Raiders ought to shelve the onside kick for rest the season, after giving up another touchdown trying to recover possession.
8. Texas A&M (3-2, 0-1, LW: 8): Texas A&M looks somewhat close to putting it together, but the Aggies seemed to abandon the running game while Jerrod Johnson struggled throwing the ball. Christine Michael ran hard in the first half for 56 yards on 12 carries, but only got six carries in the second half, turning them into 23 yards. If you want to fix the offense, start there. Michael's one of the best backs in the conference, and he can take a little of the heat off Johnson and make the play-action game a factor when he gets rolling like he was in the first half. He earned all those yards. His longest carry was just 9 yards, but still kept his yards per carry easily over 4. Cite the two fumbles as a reason to not hand it to him if you want, but the Aggies have another back in Cyrus Gray who is more than capable, too. But in a game like that, Texas A&M had to run the football and it didn't.
9. Baylor (4-2, 1-1, LW: 7): Baylor doesn't have the two-deep to compete with the Big 12's elite without big plays or turnovers, but it's much better, and the bowl hopes are still very alive. Nobody outside of maybe Nebraska or Oklahoma in the Big 12 can blow the Bears away, and they've got two winnable games at Colorado and hosting Kansas State in the next two weeks to try to earn bowl eligibility.
10. Iowa State (3-3, 1-1, LW: 9): Wow. Did not see that coming. Sixty-eight points? As in SIX-EIGHT? Iowa State doesn't have a great defense, but it's way, way better than that. Utah hadn't shown that explosiveness against a team with the talent of the Iowa State so far this season, and that's a pitiful showing by the Cyclones' defense. No team in the Big 12 should ever give up that many points to anyone ever, and it's made worse when you see turnovers -- both teams had two -- don't have much to do with it. It wasn't much better on offense for the Cyclones, who converted 0-of-11 third-down plays.
11. Colorado (3-2, 0-1, LW: 11): I haven't been sold on the Buffs as a bowl team at any point this year, and games like the 26-0 loss to Missouri are why. There's a reason I picked them to lose by 24. They're improved, and they're not a team who should lose 52-7 to Cal, but my guess is Georgia would beat them more times than not if they played 10 games. Colorado had plenty of chances to score, but Missouri was in control for most of Saturday's game. And Cody Hawkins said it best after Saturday's loss, the 13th consecutive on the road for the Buffaloes. "I think it's so funny that everybody talks about the road," he said. "It's not like we've been kicking [patootie] at home."
12. Kansas (2-3, 0-1, LW: 12): The Jayhawks are still stewing over the 48-point loss to Baylor. The Sunflower Showdown pits Kansas against rival Kansas State, which will play on a second consecutive Thursday night.