Before I get to the MU-KSU preview, I want to have some fun (i.e. distract myself a bit longer). CSTV.com's Carolyn Braff has some kind words for the Big 12 (the North in particular) and decides it's time to pit the SEC against the Big 12 to see just how much difference exists between the two conferences. Her column runs off the rails a bit when she decides to focus totally on the matchups of the conference's dregs, but let's finish that column for her, shall we?
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(By the way, now's as good a time as any to point out that the Big 12 North's overall conference record this year is 21-19...the first time in forever that it's had a better record than the South. Just thought I'd throw that out there.)
Going by standings, here is the ranking of the Big 12...
- Kansas (6-0)
- Oklahoma (5-1)
- Missouri (5-1)
- Texas (5-2)
- Oklahoma State (3-3)
- Texas Tech (3-4)
- Texas A&M (3-4)
- Kansas State (3-4)
- Colorado (3-4)
- Nebraska (2-5)
- Iowa State (2-5)
- Baylor (0-7)
And here's the SEC...
- LSU (5-1)
- Georgia (5-2)
- Tennessee (4-2)
- Florida (5-3)
- Auburn (4-3)
- Alabama (4-3)
- Kentucky (3-3)
- Mississippi State (3-3)
- South Carolina (3-5)
- Arkansas (2-4)
- Vanderbilt (2-5)
- Ole Miss (0-6)
So from bottom to top, here are the matchups...and being that Ms. Braff spent so many words on Baylor vs Vandy and ISU vs Ole Miss, we'll adjust the bottom order to fit her matchups.
(And for assistance, I enlisted The Beef to make a comment about each of these games as well...)
Baylor vs Vanderbilt
I think Braff nailed it on this one. Bottom line is, Baylor has a below-average (at best) offense and a below-average defense. Vandy has a below-average offense and a strong defense. That might change next year, when (I really really hope) Mike Singletary takes the reins, but...yeah, Mike Singletary's not patrolling the field or the sidelines this year.
The Beef says...Vanderbilt still has an outside shot at a .500 record on the season and some respect. Baylor has an outside shot of hiring a new coach people will have actually heard of next season. That and I snuck into Vandy’s stadium this past summer when I was in Nashville, so if that does not give them the game, I don’t know what will.
Iowa State vs Ole Miss
A month ago, I'd have picked Ole Miss, but around mid-October, Iowa State turned into a competent team, while Ole Miss more or less gave out. They had a string of competitive performances early in the season, but they've been, shall we say, less than competitive ever since.
The Beef says...This one might come down to where the game is played. Iowa State is clearly playing far better of late, and Ole Miss has not done much this season, harkening the end for Oregeron. I would like to have this game played in Oxford simply because of tailgating, but I take the Clones in this one.
Verdict: Big 12.
Nebraska vs Arkansas
Remember the gigantic holes USC created through which Stefon Johnson ran for about 600 yards? What if it were Darren McFadden running through those holes? Granted, I think a Joey Ganz-led offense would score some point on the Hogs, but the Hogs would stop them at least once. Not sure NU could stop Arkansas once at this point.
The Beef says...The Houston Nutt Bowl (and how that is not yet an approved game, I will never know). From what I saw last week vs. kSU, I would say that NU is much more dangerous now than they were 3 weeks ago. However, Arkansas has the stats of a much better team, and this will potentially be a game of double-lame ducks. I take Arkansas though in this one.
Colorado vs South Carolina
Honestly, this is exactly the kind of team that Colorado could stay close with until the end. Teams with explosive offenses can do a number on Colorado, but teams with mediocre O's aren't going to run away with the Buffs. South Carolina has tried roughly 26 different QBs this year (actually, I'm third on the depth chart right now), and none of them have worked to any reliable degree. However, CU peaked a month ago, and just because I think they can keep it close doesn't mean I think they can win.
The Beef says...Unfortunately, this is where the SEC makes up a lot of ground against the Big XII. The middle of their pack is just better than the middle of ours. CU is starting to fall off, and while SC is not a great team, they are better than the Fighting Hawkins’. The Ol’ Ball Coach takes this one.
Kansas State vs Mississippi State
This is another favorable matchup for the Big 12. Yes, K-State just lost to Iowa State, and MSU is probably better than ISU (though I'd say the difference between the teams in their current state isn't too great). This is another game where I'd have made a drastically different prediction a month or two ago. We'll see how much fight KSU has left in them tomorrow (hopefully not much), but I have to say at this point in the season, Croom's Bulldogs get the nod.
The Beef says...All I can say is good for you Sly Croom for the season you are having. You responded from a merciless 45-0 home and season opener beating at the hands of LSU to get big wins against Auburn and Alabama. At their best, kSU would have had a good chance in this one, but they are not at their best right now.
Texas A&M vs Kentucky
Kentucky peaked in mid-September, fell off the face of the earth after beating LSU, then rebounded. They can still go 5-3/9-3 if they win out, and I think it's safe to say their ceiling is much, much higher than ATM's.
The Beef says...Kentucky has stumbled a bit of late, and that will likely continue this week against a white-hot UGA squad. aTm...well...Mizzou fans saw that they SHOULD have been doing all year for a time in the 3rd quarter, but a 10 minute stretch does not a season nor win make. So...even though they are staring another loss in the face vs. UGA and probably a second vs. Tenn, take the Wildcats.
Verdict: SEC. SEC goes up 5-1.
Texas Tech vs Alabama
'Bama is really just a better version of Colorado at this point. They're talented and well-coached enough to stay close against good teams, but their fatal flaws (namely, their over-hyped QB with the ever-so-Alabamaish name) have prevented them from taking the next step. You have to figure Saban will get things figured out down there, but it hasn't been an immediate fix. Meanwhile, for some reason I'm going to go homerish and predict that Tech would be able to put up a decent amount of points on the Tide (unlike in the Cotton Bowl two years ago). And apparently The Beef feels the same way...
The Beef says...I am going to go out on a bit of limb here and take Tech here. The Bama defense is not all that solid on the season, and while this would likely be a shootout (just like any TTech game), I think Tech brings enough fire power to just outscore Bama and take one for the Big XII.
Verdict: Big 12
Oklahoma State vs Auburn
I'd say if this game were in Stillwater, OSU would have a very strong chance. But then again, OSU has lost its last two at home. Maybe I'm just down on the 'Pokes because they piddled away a chance at victory against KU (fumbling a lateral on a trick play, then fumbling while stretching for extra yardage), but this just isn't an altogether confident team at the moment, especially without Bowman.
The Beef says...Auburn has been VERY Jekyll and Hyde this season. Back to back "bad" home losses to USF (later looking REALLY bad) and Miss St (now not SO bad). Then...road wins at Florida and Arkansas and about 2 plays away from beating LSU at LSU. But now, back to getting throttled a bit, as UGA woodshedded them last week. OK State...well...the jokes just write themselves. Auburn is all defense and no offense, and Okie State is the polar opposite. On a neutral field with both teams healthy...I take Auburn since I don’t feel Ok State could close out a win against them.
Texas vs Florida
When UF lost, you heard a lot of "The best team in the country has 1 loss", then "The best team in the country has 2 losses", then "The best team in the country has 3 losses". Well guess what, Florida's simply not the best team in the country. They're fun and explosive, and I love Tim Tebow, but...they've proven themselves simply too young to win big games. They might be the best in the country next year, but not at the moment. Meanwhile, UT has (Nebraska game aside) been quietly playing at a very high level since they fell off the radar screen with two early Big 12 losses.
The Beef says...I don’t know how other people would view this game, but I really see Texas winning a game like this. They have something of a familiarity with a QB like Tebow who can both run and throw, and I think Florida is just a little too young and inexperienced to take a game like this, especially the way UT is playing right now. Take the Horns in this one.
Verdict: Big 12. SEC up 6-3, but it could very easily be 8-1.
Missouri vs Tennessee
Of all the years for Mizzou to play Tennessee, this would be a very good one. The Vols are obviously better than I thought they were--they wouldn't be 4-2 in the SEC if they weren't--but I just can't see them taking us. And you don't know how weird it feels to say that.
The Beef says...I guess I find it funny and a little too bad that Tenn controls their own destiny like they do, with two pretty winnable games to finish the year to make it to the Champ game. I wish UGA had turned it on sooner, since I think they pose a MUCH bigger threat to LSU than Tenn does. To answer the question at hand I guess, Mizzou takes it and I don’t know that it is terribly close, as Tenn has been only decent on offense and pretty bad on defense.
Verdict: Big 12. 6-4 SEC.
Oklahoma vs Georgia
OU has yet to play a truly great game in conference, while Georgia has really turned it on since the 'dancing in the endzone' incident in Jacksonville. However, a) OU continues to do just enough to win (strange CU collapse aside), while b) UGa's string of success coincided pretty well with the point in which they thought they were out of the running for the SEC East. With something on the line, OU is a more proven commodity. This would be a helluva game, though.
The Beef says...Now THIS is a game I would love to see right now considering how the teams are playing. Moreno of UGA is a MAN right now running the ball, and I have been very impressed by what I have seen from him the last couple of games. However, OU is...well...ranked higher and has played better throughout the year with only one slip-up. I have to take the Sooners here since Stoops is a better big game coach in most cases than Richt.
Verdict: Big 12. Major comeback! SEC only up 6-5!
Kansas vs LSU
Yeah, here's where the SEC salts away the victory. Honestly, this could be a much closer game than your immediate reflex says it would be. LSU likes to mess around for a while before clinching victory, and their defense just isn't the All-Pro squad everybody thought it would be. Meanwhile, all KU does is take advantage of opportunities and play extremely physical on offense. But I just can't pull the trigger here. It might be closer than expected, but I see LSU making the plays when it counts.
The Beef says...I have to take LSU here...conference pride or school pride aside. I just think they are a better team than kansas, though by perhaps not as much as some would be willing to admit. And I will be honest, while I think LSU is deserving of the spot they are in, I don’t know that they are a world-beater at this time...which is why the end of this season is going to be so strange. But take LSU.
Verdict: SEC. But not by much.
I'd run a Big 12 vs Pac 10 contest as well (or maybe a Big 12 vs Big 10 one just for grins), but a) I can tell you right now I'd have the Big 12 winning, b) it would just be more of an opportunity for The Beef and me to eerily agree about almost everything (and nobody wants to see that), and c) I think I've stalled long enough...time to think about tomorrow's game.