This is the fourth installment of the 2009 edition of the SB Nation Big 12 Roundtable. Rock M Nation is once again serving as hosts, and as such, we will have a recap post of the different responses around SBN later in the week.
On to the questions!
1. The game between Texas Tech and Texas got the Big 12 in the national eye early in the season. If your team was approached with this opportunity (or for Tech and Texas, approached again), would you accept and reap the benefits of the exposure, or decline because of the potential pitfalls of playing a conference foe so early in the season?
I would definitely be against playing a conference game that early in the season. I know people are in favor of early season marquee matchups because of the opportunity for spotlight afforded by the dearth of compelling matchups, but I can't see the payoff in playing such a potentially crucial game so early. Missouri has had the right formula for the past couple of seasons. Open with a fairly respected out-of-conference BCS opponent that draws moderate attention but isn't a death wish. Play your four non-conference games in succession, then reassess your team at the bye week before beginning the conference gauntlet.
2. Some of the Big 12 teams are starting to become known quantities, but there are still a few teams that most of us can't quite measure. Which team in the Big 12 do you consider the biggest enigma right now?
Before this past weekend, I would have said Texas Tech, but we learned a lot about what kind of team Cap'n Leach has after seeing them in Austin last week. Right now, there's one giant enigma in each division. In the South, that team is Texas A&M. The Ags have been apparently high flying in their first two games, but I have no clue whether its a testament to the development of Jerrod Johnson or the lack of quality of the opposition. I do think the injury to Jeff Fuller is a huge one for A&M, but I look forward to what is shaping up to be a "Bacon and Ags" shootout between A&M and Arkansas at JerryWorld in Arlington in a few weeks. In the North, we still have no idea what to make of Kansas. All they've established so far is that they can outclass Northern Colorado, UTEP and Duke. Yes, Jake Sharp has been impressive against these opponents. Yes, the defense is surrendering 8.7 points per game. But until they respond to a test like Missouri and Nebraska did (and, yes, I count NU as "responding" to Virginia Tech), we can't truly know who they are.
3. What did you learn about your team in Week 3, and what questions has your team failed to answer at this point of the season?
There wasn't a whole lot to learn about Missouri against Furman, other than the pleasant sight of seeing Missouri go for the throat early on, only one week after failing to put Bowling Green away. At this point in time, the primary question centers around the offensive line, a question we certainly didn't expect in the offseason. Gary Pinkel has called out the run blocking on multiple occasions, and the pass blocking came under fire from the fans after the Bowling Green game. The unit needs to justify its preseason praise pretty quickly. Missouri may have been able to survive questionable line play in non-conference, but the likes of Nebraska and Texas in the first three weeks of conference play will provide a different caliber challenge than anything the O-Line has seen thus far in 2009.
4. There aren't exactly a whole lot of marquee matchups in Week 4. Which Big 12 game this week not involving your team piques your interest the most?
It's not a banner week in scheduling for the Big 12. The easy pick here is Texas Tech traveling to Houston, where the scoreboard is wholly expected to burst into flames by the third quarter. However, I'm also intrigued by Southern Miss at Kansas. I think Kansas is clearly a class above USM, but given the inadequacy of KU's other opponents, it still represents the biggest test they've had. I'm looking forward to my first extended look at the Jayhawks to see if they're finally in a game where we can assess what they really have.
5. Give us your Offensive Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week, and Surprise (team, individual, coaching decision, etc. Whatever you want it to be...) of the Week.
Offensive Player of the Week: If it was an FCS patsy, I'd dismiss Landry Jones' six-touchdown performance, but against Tulsa, I have to give the man his due. Honorable mention goes to Iowa State's Alexander Robinson, who carried 23 times for 150 yards and put ISU on his back in a win over Kent State.
Defensive Player of the Week: I have no qualms with the conference's selection of Roddrick Muckerloy, but for the sake of mixing it up, I'll take Texas A&M's Von Miller, who had three sacks against Utah State. Miller, who I tabbed as a preseason All-Conference performer, has six sacks through two games this season.
Surprise of the Week: Colorado's relative ease in dispatching Wyoming is one option, as it Texas Tech's fight in Austin. But Oklahoma's stomping of Tulsa caught me most by surprise. Maybe I need to reevaluate my regard for Tulsa, but I thought that was a pretty good football team that OU took behind the woodshed.
6. Power Poll! Rank the teams from 1-12 based on which team would win on a neutral field.
Ugh, I do not like these rankings at all. Regarding Nebraska at No. 3, there seems to be a sharp divide of fans that either completely wrote off NU or become even more worried after the Virginia Tech game. I'm not writing off the Huskers as easily. Nos. 4 through 7 are a complete crapshoot. Rearrange those in any order you want and I wouldn't have a problem with it.
4. Oklahoma State
6. Texas Tech
9. Texas A&M
10. Iowa State
11. Kansas State