Monday, September 14, 2009
Big 12 power rankings: Week 2
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
1. Texas: The Longhorns could afford to sleepwalk through the first half against a team like Wyoming, but they won’t be that fortunate once Big 12 play begins. Tre’ Newton looks like he could be the featured back they are looking for. The biggest concern after two weeks has to be the offensive line developing as finishers after early struggles.
2. Oklahoma: Sure, it was against Idaho State, but the Sooners’ performance was exactly what was needed to restore some confidence. Kevin Wilson didn’t simplify the offense too much for Landry Jones and the personnel changes in the offensive line resulted in a better performance. The Sooners’ defensive effort was outstanding as Idaho State didn’t advance past Oklahoma’s 49. And the best news is that Sam Bradford is a week closer to returning to the lineup.
3. Oklahoma State: Chalk up the Houston game as a tough learning experience. Zac Robinson just doesn’t look right to me compared to his early-career performances. The defense couldn’t keep up with Case Keenum and yielded too many big plays. The schedule turns soft the next couple of weeks, meaning Kendall Hunter can take his time returning to the lineup -- particularly with Keith Toston and Beau Johnson playing as well as they did on Saturday.
4. Kansas: Where did that defensive performance against UTEP come from? Even the late touchdown by the Miners doesn’t diminish the strong effort, particularly the rushing defense and pass rush.
5. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers have handled everything thrown their way in the first two games and are ready for the challenge of Virginia Tech. A quick start put the Arkansas State game away early. Zac Lee is exceeding expectations. But despite allowing only 12 points this season, Nebraska’s defense looks inconsistent and spotty. But the Cornhuskers have won six straight games -- their longest streak since winning 13 in a row during 2000-01.
6. Texas Tech: After a slow start in the first half against Rice, the Red Raiders boat-raced the Owls as they scored on six straight possessions. Taylor Potts’ big night helps give him the confidence he’ll need to prepare for the first road trip as a starter at Texas. The defense had a balanced performance with six sacks, eight other tackles for losses and 12 pass deflections. But they’ll be tested in Austin, where Mike Leach is 0-4 and his teams have allowed an average of 49 points per game to the Longhorns.
7. Missouri: Hold off on those comparisons between John Elway and Blaine Gabbert just yet. Gabbert looked like a second-game college starting quarterback against pesky Bowling Green before the Tigers’ comeback from a 14-point deficit late in the third quarter. But despite not playing their best, Missouri still found a way to win. One of the main reasons was that offensive coordinator David Yost still had faith in his running game even when behind.
8. Baylor: The Bears took the week off after their impressive victory at Wake Forest. But it won’t be any easier as they try to maintain those high expectations against a Connecticut team still stewing after its close loss to North Carolina on Saturday. Baylor should have plenty of confidence for the Huskies after their near miss on the road last season.
9. Texas A&M: I bet Mike Sherman probably wished he was playing somebody on Saturday after the first-week triumph. Instead, the Aggies took the weak off to prepare for this week’s game against Utah State. They had a strong outing that arguably was the Big 12’s most complete game of the first week. They shouldn’t be challenged much by Utah State.
10. Kansas State: Is Bill Snyder really up for five more years of this job? After losing to Louisiana-Lafayette the day after his new contract was announced, he might have some doubts. Daniel Thomas played as advertised as a running/passing/receiving threat and the Wildcats showed some resiliency to put themselves into position for the comeback against the Ragin’ Cajuns. But inconsistent quarterback play and too many special-teams mistakes paved the way for their eventual upset loss.
11. Iowa State: Paul Rhoads’ early onside kick turned the momentum of the game around and left himself open for a lot of second-guessing after the loss to Iowa. But that was only part of the problem. Austen Arnaud had four interceptions during a turnover binge that marked the spotty execution of the Cyclones’ offensive efforts. Despite a 32-point loss, the Cyclones’ defense played much better than the offense. And it won’t get any easier as the Cyclones will try to halt a nation-worst 17-game losing streak at Kent State.
12. Colorado: It can’t get much worse to start the season for the Buffaloes, who dropped two games to schools from outside BCS conferences and allowed 1,000 yards on defense to boot. The Buffaloes’ embarrassing defensive efforts have them ranked in the bottom 10 teams nationally in rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and total defense. And a rushing game that was thought to be the team's biggest strength ranks only 109th nationally.