• Sports Of All Sorts Scattered Between The Dots………………..Big XII At Mid-Season: My Take On The Conference In Football……By RC

    1. Kansas State: These guys are for real; just ask West Virginia. Their quarterback, Collin Klein is a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate. He has an uncanny sense about how to get his team in the end zone. They don’t commit stupid mistakes and play hard-nosed defense: a trademark of Bill Snyder teams. Their work ethic must be off the charts in Manhattan. And speaking of Snyder: football hasn’t been the same since he took over in his first stint as the head man. They have already handed the Oklahoma Sooners an almost unheard of home loss, so they are in the driver’s seat. Only time will tell if they can go through undefeated!
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    2. Oklahoma: These guys are right on the heels of K State. Bob Stoopes and Company handled the Kansas State loss just as they should have and seemingly always do. They corrected their costly mistakes and convinced their team that they will be in the picture just in case the Wildcats fall. Landry Jones has begun to look like a seasoned senior leader and their running game is on fire. And given their level of talent the defense has steadily become the envy of the league. Of course that isn’t saying much in a conference that boasts some of the most porous defenses in the country. Hang on because the Sooners are on a mission!
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    3. Texas Tech: The surprise of the conference so far. This is in large part due to their rejuvenated desire to play defense on the high plains. Not since the days of Spike Dykes have the Raiders been this physical and well coached on the defensive side of the ball. And Seth Doege is slowly and surely etching his name in the upper tier of Big XII quarterbacks: not far behind Klein and Jones. To this point I had not been impressed with the coaching of Tommy Tuberville, but give him credit because playing defense and running the ball are the keys to winning. The defense is there and when you can throw it like Doege the running game doesn’t have to be as good. Watch out for the Raiders as they played the Sooners much closer than the score indicated.
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    4. Texas: Why can’t these guys play a lick of defense. It has been a while since the front four of the Horns has been pushed around this badly. But Mack Brown and Manny Diaz will probably tell any critic that these kids are still very young and very injured. Either way for Texas to be any kind of factor in the race for the crown they are going to have to figure out how to stop people. The high octane offense (forget the OU game) has been their savior in key games. They will need to be able to continue their lethal ground attack to be effective because David Ash will beat no one in this conference with his arm. Orangebloods everywhere are hoping to get the defense back on track and healed while the offense keeps them in the race.
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    5. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys and Horns could very well trade places but I give Texas the edge because of their victory in Stillwater. I’m sure that Mike Gundy would love to have a couple of those weapons back that suited up for his team last year. They too must learn to play more physical defense and continue to improve to have a shot at a decent bowl game. I don’t think that they will be a factor in the race but it is all about getting their program back to the 2011 level. Going to Norman for the last game isn’t the way to end a regular season but until then it is up to the guys who suit up to make a difference.
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    6. TCU: Even though the Frogs are very competitive and holding their own in the Big XII they are finding that losing just one key player is very costly in this league. In the other conferences in which they have been a member, they probably could have dealt with the loss of a veteran starting QB, but not here. They still play a very solid and fundamentally sound defense but the high octane offenses will start to take a toll on them. They should become bowl eligible and be very representative in that bowl. They have a chance to become a spoiler but not much of one. These guys will continue to play hard.
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    7. West Virginia: What a disappointment! No question that these guys thought when they went to Austin and beat the defenseless Horns by three that they were in the driver’s seat. They are proving that they don’t have a chance when another team can match them point for point or better on offense. Their unraveling in Lubbock was, at the time; shocking. However after K State went into Morgantown and took them out behind the barn for a thrashing their porous defense is no longer shocking. And Geno Smith not being able to handle the wind on the high plains – give me a break! Heisman winners learn to handle just about anything. You’re not on the East Coast anymore WV.
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    8. Baylor: Art Briles continues to prove that he can match offensive genius with any coach in the nation. However, either the Bears are like too many others in the Big XII who cannot seem to grasp the first read on defense or they are just under-talented on that side of the ball. I have to believe that it may be a talent issue simply because coordinator Phil Bennett knows a thing or two about defense. Baylor continues to fight and even though I have them below TCU mainly because of their head to head result, I think the Bears have a real chance to be a spoiler. They learned how to win last year and liked it and they no longer fear the big boys. They just want a chance.
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    9. Iowa State: This may be the most roller coaster crew in the Big XII. They play hard week in and week out. And that seemingly is their trademark through the last few years. But consistency seems to be their enemy. They looked really good in their loss to powerful K State and their victory over TCU in Cowtown but then they will play others and look like a bottom feeder. I don’t really think that Ames is a visitor friendly place for a team to come into hoping to clinch a crown or secure a bowl berth. So to those who just go walking in believing that the Cyclones will roll over: be aware. Just ask Mike Gundy and his 2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys!
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    10. Kansas: Can Charlie Weis teach these kids how to dribble a football? That seems to be their only chance. Only time will tell if Weis once again has gotten in over his head. The Jayhawks have struggled in all phases of the game. Mainly they must learn to win once again and hope to gain some clout in a very very tough league. This could take awhile in this sport. At least they should have a leg up on the others since they can be recruiting full time while the others are bowling some place. Yes, another bad Jayhawk season.

    *The unpredictability that this conference has shown in 2012 may leave me requesting that you simply ignore this block after another weekend of shockers!

    About Ronnie Clifton

    Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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