Sunday, October 25, 2009

The state of the Big 12 North

Well, show of hands—who predicted this in the Big 12 North? Let’s review, shall we…?

- Nebraska: The Cornhuskers were picked by most to win the Big 12 North. Don't look now but the Big Red are 4-3, 1-2 in the Big 12 North and have games coming up against Oklahoma at home and at Kansas and Colorado. The offense is in a shambles and the loss against Iowa State was against a team without its starting QB and the league's leading rusher.

- Kansas: The Jayhawks started out as planned with five consecutive wins even though they should have lost to Iowa State. That should have been a sign. KU then lost at Colorado by spotting the Buffs 14 points off of turnovers. The turnover trend continued yesterday against OU and now Kansas faces a killer end to the schedule--at Texas Tech, at Kansas State, Nebraska, at Texas and Missouri (Kansas City.)

- Missouri: The Tigers were the surprise team in the league in the non-conference portion, then Blaine Gabbert injured his ankle in a loss to Nebraska at home and things haven't been the same since. MU next lost to Oklahoma State and was blown out last night against Texas. The good news is that MU's next four games are very winnable--at Colorado, Baylor, at Kansas State and Iowa State, then the match-up with Kansas.

In the place of these might-have-been stories, at the top of the Big 12 North, is Kansas State. What's most intriguing about the Wildcats is how they got here. The Cats lost at Louisiana-Lafayette and at UCLA and were 2-2 entering Big 12 play. They survived by blocking a PAT against Iowa State, were blown out at Texas Tech but then came home and annihilated Texas A&M. Next up came Colorado and another win, 20-6. KSU is now 5-2/3-1 and firmly atop the North standings. The road, though, gets much rougher--at OU next week, a critical game against Kansas at home, then Missouri and at Nebraska.

Given all of this wackiness, how do we predict who will end up winning the North? It's going to be a four-way tie between Kansas State, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri...but KU will prevail with tie-breaker wins in Manhattan, over NU and over MU in Kansas City. The Jayhawks will then get the inglorious task of trying to stay within four touchdowns of Texas in the Big 12 Championship game at Jerry World (a k a Texas Stadium) in Arlington, TX.

Wild, huh?

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