This is the fifth 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. Is it time for the Big 12 to collectively pour one out for the departure of Baylor quarterback Robert "Hot Tub" Griffin? Even if your team benefits from his injury, are you sad to see one of the conference's premier playmakers done for the season?
Indeed it is time to pour one out for ol' Hot Tub, and indeed we did just that. I find it amusing how much the rest of the conference has enjoyed Baylor's ascent to relevancy. It seemed like nearly every fan base respected Baylor as a threat and expected them to beat some good teams, but no one expected them to beat their team.
There's no doubt that every team on Baylor's schedule just got a huge boost with the departure of Griffin, but from a pure spectator standpoint, it's incredibly sad to see him go. I won't miss him too terribly much when the Bears come to Faurot Field, but his presence added real intrigue to any game Baylor was scheduled to play. The rest of the season should be a litmus test for how Art Briles can perform without the central compelling character of his offensive attack.
2. Play the role of Mythbusters for us. If you could dispel one national perception of your team, what would it be?
We pick up where we last left off: the pass defense.
Most Missouri fans are actually on the same page about the pass defense this year, as it has seemed to pass the eye test with relative ease. But to national media and other fans who only get a look at the box scores, I can understand why given Missouri's recent history, the pass defense numbers might be a concern. Missouri sits at No. 68 in the country and No. 8 in the Big 12 in passing yardage allowed, surrendering 218.0 yards per game. To make matters worse in the eyes of the beholders, the yardage was surrendered to Illinois (No. 110 in passing yardage), Nevada (No. 86) and an FCS team in Furman.
Perhaps the most telling stat I have (because I'm sure Bill can tell us a lot more about this with his metrics) is that the Missouri defense has surrendered 872 yards through the air, 416 of which have come with Missouri leading by 15 points or more. That's 47.7 percent of opponent's passing yardage that's come with the opponent in desperation and Missouri content to just keep everything in front of them.
3. Give us the name of one player on each side of the ball on your team that everyone else in the conference may not know about or fully appreciate.
Lord knows Blaine Gabbert is getting his due from within the Big 12, as is Danario Alexander after his explosion against Nevada. Derrick Washington had been one of the more underappreciated backs in the conference, but he has (in conjunction with the offensive line) done little to justify our claims of underappreciation. The award should probably be split between Wes Kemp and Kendial Lawrence. In four games, Kemp has done nothing outstanding but has done almost everything well. He's become a very solid contributor that's part Tommy Saunders, part Justin Gage. As for Lawrence, his numbers aren't that impressive, but the way he's contributed has caused some Missouri fans to wonder if he's actually the best back on the team right now. For the sake of brevity, I won't get into those claims right now.
Defensively, you can make a case for Aldon Smith, but I'll give the nod to my boy Will Ebner. Ebner's developing a bit of a cult following for his big hitting style of play, a cult that I admittedly tried to start last season. Luke Lambert has been a solid starter at middle linebacker for Missouri throughout his career, and its a testament to Ebner that not only has there been no dropoff, but there's arguably been improvement.
4. OU vs. Da U: Who ya' got?
Give me Oklahoma. I know the competition hasn't been top notch, but the Sooner offense seems to have gotten its act together since Week 1. Furthermore, Miami wunderkind Jacory Harris got a dose of reality last week when the speed and aggressiveness of Bud Foster's defense at Virginia Tech completely threw Harris and the Miami offense off rhythm. The bad news for Miami is that Oklahoma has that same kind of speed, a better defensive line, and a respected defensive mind in Brent Venables.
5. Give us your Offensive Player of the Week, Defensive Player of the Week, and Storyline of the Week for last week.
Offensive Player of the Week: Much love to Alexander Robinson, who I've nominated for Offensive Player of the Week in this forum before, but this week's nod goes to another Alexander. Danario Alexander was incredible in Missouri's win against Nevada, compiling nine receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Alexander's previous career game came against Kansas at Armageddon in 2007, but in that game he was more solid than explosive. We're starting to see the explosive Danario we all heard about before injuries derailed his career.
Defensive Player of the Week: I don't have any issues with Earl Thomas taking home the conference's award, but I'll give my vote to Kansas defensive back Chris Harris, who had two tackles for loss scattered amongst his 15 total tackles, an absurd number for a member of the secondary. Kansas needed every one of those tackles, too, to fight off Southern Miss.
Storyline of the Week: It's a tie between two storylines in the Big 12 South. The Twittergate fallout from Texas Tech's loss to Houston and the injury of Griffin at Baylor are the two dominant storylines that emerged from last week.
6. Power Poll! Rank the teams 1-12 based on who would win on a neutral field.
5. Oklahoma State
7. Texas Tech
8. Texas A&M
9. Iowa State
11. Kansas State