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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Big 12 stock report: Week 5

By David Ubben

Acid tests! Balance sheets! Gross profits! Share capital!

Oh, that's right, I found a financial glossary and hit the motherload of terms I can throw around with little context or meaning. Which I just did.

Now, it's time to provide a few things across the Big 12 with context and meaning, but also with wildly fluctuating stock prices.

Rising: Bryce Hager

Bryce Hager
Keep an eye on Baylor LB Bryce Hager, as he's been a star through four weeks this season.
Baylor's new middle linebacker has quietly been one of the Big 12's breakout stars through nonconference play. The sophomore Austin, Texas native leads the Big 12 with 39 tackles in just three games, including 15 in last week's win over Louisiana-Monroe and a game-high 14 in the Bears' season-opening win over SMU. Hager, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound first-year starter has slid into a big role in the middle of the Bears' defense replacing stalwart Elliot Coffey.

Falling: Oklahoma's home prowess

You saw the history-making win on Saturday night when Kansas State became the first ranked team to beat Oklahoma in Norman under Bob Stoops. But could we be seeing the official end of a trend? Oklahoma lost two games in Stoops' first 75 games at Owen Field. After last week, the Sooners have lost two of their last five games at home, and one of those wins came over FCS Florida A&M. Oklahoma needs to flex a little at home late this season, or else that Owen Field mystique will officially be gone.

Rising: Kansas' strength of schedule 

Jeff Sagarin's ratings are one of a handful of computer rankings that factor into the BCS rankings, and schedule strength is a big part of his rating. So far, Kansas has played the toughest schedule in the entire Big 12 by a long, long way. The Jayhawks, despite playing FCS South Dakota State, have the nation's No. 51 schedule. TCU has been the Jayhawks' toughest opponent to date, but KU also lined up against Rice and Northern Illinois, losing both games. The Big 12's next-toughest schedule? Kansas State, at No. 81. Those numbers will be rising soon as Big 12 play hits its full stride, but the numbers tell us what we already know: The Big 12's nonconference schedule is all kinds of sorry.

Falling: Texas Tech's strength of schedule

The worst offender for that schedule? Texas Tech. The Red Raiders travel to Iowa State this weekend after taking care of a rather scrumptious platter of nonconference cupcakes. Tech easily dispatched Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico before last week's bye, and Sagarin's ratings say that's the nation's 164th-toughest schedule. That's especially eyepopping considering there are only 124 FBS teams. Still, Tech's apparently been impressive enough in those games to be sitting at 18th in Sagarin's ratings, one spot ahead of West Virginia. That's what happens when you lead the nation in total defense and sit at No. 2 overall in total offense.

Rising: Nick Florence

Had enough of Florence's big plays yet? Get used to it. Florence has 11 completions longer than 30 yards this season, and he's done it in just three games. Only Arkansas' Tyler Wilson has thrown more, and Florence has two more than the next-best in the Big 12: West Virginia's Geno Smith.

Falling: The Big 12's 'No Interception' pool

There are officially only two quarterbacks left in the Big 12 pool: West Virginia's Geno Smith and Texas' David Ash. TCU's Casey Pachall threw his first interception of the season against Virginia last week, but get this stat: Smith, Ash and Pachall are the nation's three leaders in passer rating. The Big 12 continues to be the place where quarterbacks come to play. The Big 12 has two quarterbacks left in the pool, but there are only 14 starting quarterbacks left in college football who haven't thrown an interception. Outside the Big 12, only four of those are from BCS conference teams (Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M; Kain Colter, Northwestern; Cameron Coffman, Indiana; AJ McCarron, Alabama)