This is the second 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. A solid 10-2 showing for the Big 12 this weekend. Which of these wins was biggest for the Big 12 and why?
While I'd love to sit here and extol the majesty of Missouri's pantsing of Illinois, the biggest win had to be down in Stillwater. Of course, we're still not quite sure what Georgia will amount to in 2009. The Dawgs' defense certainly seems solid, but they seem to lack the offensive efficiency and explosiveness that made them a week-in, week-out threat to every team in the country. But it wasn't the fact that OSU won that was impressive, it was how they won.
By all accounts, Oklahoma State played smashmouth football defensively and refused to be bullied in the trenches. So while all disclaimers about Georgia apply when talking about the significance of this win, props to the Pokes for refusing to be pigeon-holed into a style of play.
Honorable mention goes to Baylor for getting a road win over a BCS conference team.
2. Conversely, the Mountain West did its damage against Colorado and Oklahoma. What's more disconcerting -- a sleeper in Colorado coming unglued, or a power in Oklahoma getting knocked off?
The Big 12 hung its hat on the "power at the top" argument argument last season, and certainly appeared ready to do so again in 2009. The OU loss to BYU -- Bradford or no Bradford -- is obviously a threat to that line of Big 12 propaganda. Pardon me if I can't muster too much surprise or anger about the way Colorado opened the season.
I think what may be most concerning here is that the Big 12 now figures prominently into discussion about the Mountain West. Last season, analysts and pundits continually brought up the MWC's record against the Pac 10, to which many detractors (primarily in the southeast) responded by chiding the Pac 10 as a second- or third-tier conference. If the Big 12 struggles, it could be facing the same predicament.
3. Right now, the college football world is rotating around a shoulder that can't rotate itself. What does the Sam Bradford injury mean for the conference right now?
First and foremost, it puts a giant question mark squarely on Oklahoma's national championship chances. Granted, I still think that Oklahoma is right back in the mix if they take Texas in Dallas, but the margin for error has gone from slim to zero.
I'd sit here and remark that it puts another level of pressure on Texas, but even I can't buy that argument. Expectations were already astronomically high in Austin, so any struggles by Oklahoma shouldn't factor in too terribly much. The team that may be affected most is Oklahoma State. Odds are good that Bradford will be fine and back in the swing of things well before the Bedlam game, but the Oklahoma slip combined with the Georgia win means a small window of opportunity to be the toast of the state is opening for the Cowboys.
4. How, if at all, did your perception of your team change after week one, both for better and for worse?
I don't think you can say perceptions of Missouri changed for worse at all. As far as perceptions go, Missouri probably had the best opener anyone could have asked for or could have expected.
I think most Missouri fans expected Blaine Gabbert to be good, but I don't know any of us expected him to be great. I'm having to temper my enthusiasm a little bit because there's a very real possibility that Illinois is a terrible football team, but the ease with which Gabbert took the reins and led Missouri back into the national conscience was truly riveting theater.
The other story of the day was the defense, which managed not to stumble over itself in St. Louis this year. Again, we'll have to wait and see whether or not we need to credit Dave Steckel and Co., or merely send a thank you card to Juice Williams and his teammates.
5. Give us your offensive player of the week, defensive player of the week, and coaching move of the week, including justifications for your selection. You ARE eligible to vote for your own program.
Offensive Player of the Week: Blaine Gabbert is certainly a logical pick, but if he's going to win the award, I want it to come from my colleagues, not from me. As such, I'll take Roy Helu Jr., who ran for 152 yards and three touchdowns on only 16 carries. That's one way to shut up the "BUT WHAT ABOUT QUENTIN CASTILLE???" crowd.
Defensive Player of the Week: Baylor's Joe Pawelek, whose seven tackles, a sack and an interception helped Baylor hold on for the win at Wake Forest. Honorable mention goes to Tysyn "I'd like to buy a vowel" Hartman of Kansas State, who had six tackles and two picks against UMass.
Coaching Decision of the Week: Art Briles gets my nod for the award this week, pulling out the bag of tricks an refusing to play it close to the vest on the road in Winston-Salem. There's a boatload of teams that could have been hurt more by a season-opening loss, but there's probably no team that could have benefitted more from a season-opening win than Baylor. Props to Briles for opening it up and getting the Bears in the win column.
6. Big 12 Power Poll! Rank the teams from 1-12. (Again, the simple criteria for this is power, i.e. who would beat who on a neutral field?)
2. Oklahoma State
7. Texas Tech
9. Texas A&M
10. Iowa State
11. Kansas State