Posted 09/14/2009 at 05:50 PM
It was nearly a disastrous weekend for the Big Ten as Ohio State folded late and Michigan State was upset. Four teams held off upset bids however while Michigan also earned a big escape for a marquee win. The conference taking the most heat this week will be the Big XII as two top 5 teams have been taken down in just two weeks.
Houston is a dangerous offensive team that scored 37 points against Oklahoma State last season but that did not stop the Cowboys from falling in the letdown trap this season. After a great run in the third quarter it looked like OSU would survive and hold its historic top 5 ranking but Houston and QB Case Keenum delivered the upset. The Big XII South conference race will still be a great battle but two of the big three in the division have already suffered losses that could mean elimination from national title discussion. Texas stays highly ranked but the Longhorns were struggling early last week as well at Wyoming before pulling away for a convincing but not overwhelming win.
Texas and Texas Tech face off this week meaning that at least three Big XII South teams will have losses by next week. Baylor and Texas A&M could both still be among the undefeated however as the division is as strong as it has been top-to-bottom since the division was formed, even it appears the top teams may have opened the year a bit overrated.
Oklahoma will face a dangerous Tulsa team this week as well as a road game at Miami in the near future and with QB Bradford possibly still sidelined nothing is a given. Oklahoma State should have ample time to rebound with Rice and Grambling State in the next two weeks but the Cowboys will not be taken as a serious national threat again anytime soon. Houston will have another upset opportunity in two weeks as they will face Texas Tech to close September as the Red Raiders will be coming off the Texas game. Tech is not expected to be as good as last season but that is a program that can reload quickly.
The North was not immune to bad news last week as well in a year where there was some hope that the division could close the gap to some degree. Friday night featured Colorado losing again and the Buffaloes are 0-2 with two awful performances despite being considered a contender in this division. Kansas State was upset by the Sun Belt’s Louisiana and it won’t get easier for the Wildcats this week, visiting UCLA. Iowa State also failed to play close with Iowa, scoring the Big Ten a victory.
The most impressive North team from week 1 was Missouri but after trouncing Illinois, the Tigers played a very flat game against Bowling Green, needing a comeback to win by just seven. Kansas and Nebraska have both had strong starts but the Big XII credibility will be on the line again this week as Nebraska visits Virginia Tech. Nebraska is in the national rankings after two wins over Sun Belt teams and a revenge win over the Hokies would restore some hope for the power of the North. Virginia Tech beat Nebraska last season and will carry the banner for the ACC as that conference has also faced significant criticism.
The Big XII has had two BCS bowl game teams each of the last two seasons while making a strong argument for three teams if that were allowed as Texas Tech was left out last year and Missouri in 2007. Most expected two teams from the trio of top teams in the South to be in position to get to major bowl games this year. Two of those teams have losses already before conference play has started, greatly diminishing those chances.
It would be tough to make an argument that the Big XII is not one of the top three conferences in the nation but comparisons with the SEC and the Pac-10 look less favorable at this point and none of the top teams have had completely smooth starts through the first two weeks of the season. If BYU proves to be a BCS-buster and Houston goes on to win C-USA the early losses will be forgiven, but given the schedules ahead there is a very good chance that every Big XII team will have a loss by mid-season. Texas projects as a national contender but the Red River Shootout could be a coin flip game and the October schedule is brutal. The team with the easiest path to a 6-0 start is Kansas but the Jayhawks will face a difficult finish. Missouri, Nebraska, A&M, & Baylor will all play as dogs before mid-October. Good Luck!