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Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Big 12 power rankings



Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


1. Texas: The Longhorns looked like they’ve lost little from last season. And the addition of D.J. Monroe has given them a spot weapon at running back that will boost team speed and provide them with a threat on kickoff returns.

2. Oklahoma State: The big question about the Cowboys coming into the season was their defense. Considering their first-game performance against Georgia, those have been answered. And the offense and special teams will pick up, perhaps against a Houston team they singed for 56 points and 699 yards last season.

3. Oklahoma: The loss of Sam Bradford won’t kill them if he can make it back during his projected two- to four-week recovery window. That means he would be back for Miami and the start of conference play. Until then, the Sooners will lean on a conservative offense with Landry Jones and a defense that played well enough to beat BYU in its first game.

4. Kansas: Northern Colorado dared the Jayhawks to beat it with the running game and they obliged. It probably wasn’t the best strategy considering Dezmon Briscoe was out of the lineup, but it showed the respect of how deep the Jayhawks' receiving corps is. Briscoe will be back rested and ready against UTEP. His big-play ability might be needed in what could be a shootout at the Sun Bowl -- both as a receiver and a kick returner.

5. Nebraska: The Cornhuskers extended their 24-game winning streak in opening games with a strong game offensively and defensively. The Blackshirts produced three turnovers, and youngsters like quarterback Cody Green and tailback Rex Burkhead provided hope for the future.

6. Missouri: Enough with the claims that the Tigers won’t be a factor in the wild North Division title race. They played the most complete game in the conference with an emphatic four-touchdown beatdown of Illinois, keyed by a supreme defensive effort and a wondrous first-game effort by Blaine Gabbert. But they can’t rest on their laurels with pesky old rival Bowling Green looming.

7. Baylor: A strong team effort produced an upset victory at Wake Forest that sparked hopes of a bowl trip after only one game. Most importantly, the Bears won a game like so many they have allowed to slip away in the past. After a well-deserved break this week, another tough challenge looms against Connecticut next week.

8. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders had more trouble than expected with North Dakota, scoring the fewest points in an opener since 2006 as new quarterback Taylor Potts threw three interceptions. The running game didn’t meet Mike Leach’s expectations, although the defense limiting the Fighting Sioux to 207 yards and no play longer than 18 yards. It was a mixed bag of accomplishments.

9. Texas A&M: Shades of the vintage “Wrecking Crew” defense were seen in the Aggies' opener as they notched five sacks and limited New Mexico to 231 yards. Jerrod Johnson looked confident at quarterback and Ryan Tannehill was back playing wide receiver as we all suspected. It was a good performance to build on as the Aggies get ready for Utah State next week.

10. Iowa State: Tom Herman’s new offense looked precise in its first-game performance. The Cyclones still missed way too many tackles, and that area will have to improve immediately with the bruising Iowa running game on the horizon. The Cyclones haven’t been intimidated in recent Cy-Hawk games and I don’t expect they will be this week while playing at home.

11. Kansas State: The Wildcats’ sputtering special teams nearly cost them against Massachusetts with two critical mistakes that led to 14 points. The offense bunched all of its points in one quarter and must play more consistently with fewer turnovers if it wants to persevere down in the bayou this weekend at Louisiana-Lafayette.

12. Colorado: So much for much "Hawk Love" with this team. The Buffaloes were humiliated in their own stadium as Colorado State jumped on them early and dictated the tempo from the opening snap. They were gashed for too many big plays and couldn’t run the ball when they needed to. And that debacle is followed by a tough road trip to Toledo to play on a short work week.