Well I'm waiting on a call back to fix my main work application...so I've got a few minutes to say hello to those in the blogosphere. I'll get things started today with my thoughts from this week's Big 12 Roundtable, courtesy of the fine folks over at Burnt Orange Nation:
#7 Texas Tech Red Raiders (4-0)
Result Eastern Washington W, 49-24 @ Nevada W,35-19 SMU W,43-7 Massachusetts W, 56-14
Offensive MVP: Shannon Woods, RB and Baron Batch - Woods has seen himself go from multi-year starter, to scout team, to off the team, to graduating in 3 years, to back on the team, and back to the starter role...all in less than a year. He saw most of the carries in the first 2 games but Baron Batch has continued to show that he's healthy and ready to run and has seen increased carries. The 2 have combined for 515 yds on 75 carries (6.9 ypc) and 9 TD's through the first 4 games. Woods is the better inside runner (and the #1 pass blocker) and gets most of the goal line touches (see his 7 TD's) but Batch is a great spark off the bench and in 2-back sets that is a threat to create a big play every time he touches the ball (9.1 yards per touch). If the Red Raiders are make a serious run at the Big 12 title this year, it will be in large part thanks to the running backs for keeping defenses honest against the Air Raid.
Defensive MVP: McKinner Dixon and Brandon Williams, DEs - For a team that failed to get pressure the QB under former DC Lyle Setencich, Dixon and BWill have been set free with Coach Ruff at the helm. Combining for 8 sacks so far, they lead an improved Red Raider D-line that is finally 1) pressuring the QB and 2) allowing the LB's to make plays (2 of the top 3 tacklers are LB's which didn't happen in recent years). The defense exhibited a bend but don't break mentality as the offense struggled at Nevada...and they'll need to have AT LEAST that same mentality against the immensely talented offenses in the Big 12 if the Red Raiders are to win 10+ games this year.
Big 12 Schedule - at Kansas State, vs Nebraska, at Texas A&M, at Kansas, vs Texas, vs Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma, vs Baylor.
Projected Big 12 Finish: 6-2, 2nd, South Division - Tech will start the Big 12 3-0 and demolish the aggies at Kyle Field. However, the 2-6 post-Aggie slump will move to 2-7 as they fall 34-30 at Kansas. After a decisive 45-31 victory over Texas in Lubbock...they'll find themselves at 9-1 and ranked #6 in the country as they travel to Norman. Win this game...and you're booking a ticket to Kansas City. Unfortunately, the Sooners step up big with 10 points in the 4th Quarter and win this won 31-24 on a late Bradford to Johnson TD pass.
2. This might be the best offense that the Pokes have had since Rashaun Woods (one of the Top 3 college WR's I've ever seen) was leading them to the Cotton Bowl. They're #1 in rushing, #3 in scoring and #4 in pass efficiency. One thing that's overlooked is that their defense is 42nd in the country (5th in the conference). At this same point last year, they were 101st in the nation and 10th in the conference. Attribute that to whatever you want, but the Cowboys are definitely a team of interest in the Big 12 South and won't be an easy out for anybody. Unfortunately, they play @ Mizzou, @ Texas, and @ Texas Tech before finish with the Sooners at home...so their schedule will likely be their downfall this year.
3. Bob Stoops. Unlike any other coach in the Big 12, he KNOWS how to win Big 12 Championships. Also, he's been able to continually reinvent his team to fit his personell. Leach used to work under him at OU and Seth Littrell (RB Coach) is a former team captain for OU's MNC team of 2000, so he'll have some familiarity with the offensive scheme and somebody on the coaching staff. Now just give us back Leach for the BCS game! :)
4. I'm torn between Daniel and Bradford. Daniel is definitely a better leader and has spent a lot more time in a spread offense that has taken a few pages out of the TT playbook so despite my personal disdain for him, I'd have to go with Daniel.
5. You see I'm torn here...because I'm really not a fan of the 2008 ACL lineup. Can I choose from the 04 or 05 lineup maybe? Ok, I'll go with Eli Young Band. They're fairly new to the scene but for those tied in with the Texas Music (Country/Rock...call it whatever) scene then you've known of them for a while now. They've made the rounds and continued to earn respect throughout the industry. They're latest album (Jet Black & Jealous was released in Mid-September...so go pickup a copy) is a big step in them becoming a player on the national stage. However, they're not quite there yet. At the end of the day, their music is too good to not catch on across the country so they'll have their day in the sun soon enough.
6. Answer all of the following in no more than two sentences:
(A) Conference's best quarterback? Sam Bradford makes it look too easy. Chase Daniel and Graham Harrell make you wonder how the hell they didn't end up playing for one of the Big Boys in college football.
(B) Conference's best offense? Missouri. Maclin and Daniel bring the star power but TE Chase Coffman steals the show.
(C) Big 12 South winner? Oklahoma
(D) Big 12 North winner? Missouri
(E) Big 12 champion? Oklahoma. Until Mizzou's defense shows that they could do anything to slow down the boomers, I'm going to stick with the safe pick.
(F) Big 12 team you would adopt as your favorite if forced to abandon your own? Nebraska if I wanted to go out of state. Texas because it would make things MUCH easier for me on the homefront! ;)
(G) One prediction that might surprise the rest of us? A&M WILL beat Baylor...damn it I can't lie to myself like that just for the sake of creating a surprise. I'll go with this...Texas will give up 100+ points between the OU and Mizzou games.