1. Other than Texas most likely winning the South, and Baylor likely going o-fer in the conference, there's a lot of uncertainty with teams jockeying for position in the Big 12. As the teams head into this 3 or 4 game stretch, what concerns do you have about your team? What would be considered a good season, and what would be considered a bad season? If you've already decided it's a good season or bad season regardless of what happens down the stretch, what's the storyline you're looking for as we head into the final month of the regular season?
For all concerns that don't involve the phrase "ankle sprain," I think you can answer pretty succinctly: consistency. Missouri's offense had shown flashes of extremely efficient play with everyone healthy, but since the Gabbert injury, the consistency has largely disappeared. Allow me to break it down further:
- The offensive line has really picked up its play. Can it maintain that level?
- Perhaps it's related to the point above, the tailbacks are starting to find their rhythm. Have they stepped up for good, or is a regression still possible?
- The defense really has been fantastic in seven of Missouri's eight games. The CU win proved that Steckel can and prefers to dial up the blitz on inexperienced QBs, which could mean good things for the upcoming Baylor, Kansas State, and Iowa State games. But it'll be a concern for Arrowhead against [presumably] Todd Reesing, who is good enough to beat the blitz OR nickel and dime you if you elect to play soft.
- The redzone offense remains a bit of a concern, and it pains me to say this because I REALLY don't want to give any fodder to the "ZOMG FULLBACK!!!1!" crowd. But the numbers are concerning. Mizzou is No. 8 in the Big 12 in scoring percentage in the red zone at 79.31 percent, which in itself isn't all that bad. What's bad is that Missouri has only scored touchdowns on 41.38 percent of trips to the red zone, dead last in the conference and more than 13 percentage points away from No. 11 Nebraska. Mizzou has settled for field goals at Big 12-leading 37.93 percent of the time, more than six percentage points higher than any other team.
As for season success, here we go:
- Ideal: Finish 5-3 or 4-4 in conference, either winning the Big 12 North or losing in a tiebreak.
- Still good: Finishing at either of the above records but not getting a share a North, still qualifying Missouri for a solid bowl game despite an incredibly young team that pretty much all returns in 2010.
- Not good, not bad: Finishing the season at 7-5 overall. Still a good sign that a rebuilding Missouri is a bowl team, but not as encouraging as anything above.
- Bad: Going 1-3 or 0-4 down the stretch to finish either 5-7 or 6-6, thereby potentially missing a bowl game.
2. We haven't had a chance to talk a lot of about of the individual players. Some have performed as expected, others have had breakout seasons, while others haven't had the greatest season in 2009. By now, you're probably seen a handful of other Big 12 teams play. Pick one player on each side of the ball from another Big 12 team that you've been the most impressed with, and what about them has caught your attention.
Ndamukong Suh, Earl Thomas and Sean Weatherspoon are going to get all of the love for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year hype, but I continue to be extremely impressed by the play of Texas A&M's Von Miller. Now, part of this is me thumping my chest for believing in him enough to place him on my All-Big 12 preseason ballot, but Miller really has done enough to transcend simple pride and warrant some love. He leads the country with 13 sacks, although nine of them came in non-conference. (Yeah, suck it, New Mexico, Utah State, and UAB)
Offensively, Kansas State's Daniel Thomas has caught my attention, primarily because I had NO idea what to expect from him. I mean, for awhile during the offseason, we all (KSU bloggers included) thought he was an option at quarterback. I never would have expected him to carry the load for KSU to the tune of 20 carries per game and 4.98 yards per carry. And, just like K-State, he's been better in Big 12 play than in non-conference, improving his yards per carry more half a yard more in conference.
3. What is your take on the Big 12 TV situation? It seems like every week, we have at least one Big 12 game that gets zero TV coverage, while many games are on stations that not every cable company/satellite carrier picks up (like Fox College Sports and Versus). As a Big 12 fan, do you think a change of some sort is needed, or are you happy with the coverage? Does it hurt the Big 12 that not every game is televised?
Maybe I'm not caught up enough in the RABBLE RABBLE that surrounds the Big 12 TV package, but although it isn't the package the SEC or Big Ten has, it's really not a bad deal. Does anyone want to complain to the ACC or Pac-10 about the Big 12 TV package?
Sure, I'd love to have every game televised, even if it meant the use of "ESPN Plus" as a de facto Big 12 Network like the conference does for basketball. Of course, this all presumes that an actual Big 12 Network isn't coming down the pipeline some time soon.
4. Let's say you had a friend that's been living under a rock the past few months, and they want to know how your team's season has gone. You only want to spend a few minutes on it, you don't want to get into the game-by-game details, so you decide to play the song that best describes your team's season thus far. What song are you playing?
I'm going to open this up to the RMN community. Thoughts from the masses?
5. Power Rank the teams! If you find it too difficult, or don't want to participate, rank the teams based on your projected Bowl Selection Order (just make sure you designate what you are doing. Also keep in mind that K-State is the only team in the conference with 2 FCS wins, so they need to get to 7 in order to be bowl eligible)
3. Oklahoma State
4. Texas Tech
6. Texas A&M
7. Nebraska Iowa State
9. Kansas State