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Big 12 Roundtable, Week 5: Conference Play Preview

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This week, we owe a debt of gratitude to Burnt Orange Nation for supplying the questions.

1. We start with a review of your team's non-conference performance. Take the format of my Week 5 Big 12 Report (North Division post here, South Division here) and give us your Offensive MVP, Defensive MVP, and Projected Finish. (Limit 125 words max on each.)

Non-Conference Performance: Expected. I'm not going to draw many, if any conclusions from Eastern Washington, Nevada, UMass and SMU. I will say this, I still think that EWU is a good football team, despite the FCS designation, and Nevada is an interesting club that was fun to watch.

Offensive MVP: Michael Crabtree. Every week teams will have to game-plan for him and although I've given credit to Harrell and Leach for establishing the running game, having a game-breaking receiver helps.

Defensive MVP: McKinner Dixon. I thought he was going to be good, but I was expecting a much slower start for Dixon. Dixon has 3 sacks in limited time, but the key here is that Dixon provides the dual threat that Texas Tech has lacked in the past. Two defensive ends (the other being Brandon Williams) who are capable of putting pressure on the quarterback.  With Dixon, the defense is that much more dynamic.

Projected Finish: 2nd in the Big 12 South. OU is still the class of the conference. I think Texas and Texas Tech both lose 2 games, but Texas Tech wins the head-to-head matchup in Lubbock. I'm a homer.

2. Oklahoma State is one of two Big 12 teams not represented by bloggers. Don your oversized Cowboy hat for a day and give us your take on Mike Gundy's team. Are they same old same old (above average offense, putrid defense)? Or something else?

I seem to recall that Dez Bryant's school decision came down to Texas Tech and OSU and as a result I've followed his career at OSU and wistfully think about the possibilities. Again, I don't think any school has really had tough non-conference opponents, but the Pokes do look better right now that they have in the past. Right now they're 5th in total defense in the Big 12, but the problem of course is that I'm not sure that this holds up over the course of the Big 12 season. OSU does such a great job of controlling the clock so opposing offense don't have the time to rack up the yards that I think Big 12 offenses will do against OSU.  No one will be able to stop anyone else.

3. Your team has reached the Big 12 title game, but in a cruel twist of fate, your coach is declared ineligible and you have been asked to select among the other 11 coaches in the conference your team's game day maestro. Who do you select and why?

Bob Stoops. No question. He's been a little off as of late, but I still don't think there are many better in the business.

4. Same situation, but different replacement: Assume this time that it's your quarterback who can't participate in the Big 12 title game. Which other quarterback from the conference would you select to lead your team for that game?

I think I've said in the past that I'd love to have Sam Bradford and I think he's do a great job leading the Air-Raid offense, but I've got to go with Chase Daniel. He'd be great to watch and there are few that run the spread offense as efficiently as Daniel.

5. Imagine it is July 2008 and you receive an email from the conference's director of public relations, who informs you that the Big 12 has officially partnered with Austin City Limits Music Festival 2008. To promote the partnership, the conference has asked you to choose one of the festival's participating bands as metaphor for your football team and explain it. Go.

I'm really going to show my ignorance for music, but I'll go with the Old 97's. I'll let let their introduction take it from here:

Some bands blast out of the gate and never recapture their early energy. Other bands establish themselves as models of consistency. Still other bands take a while to find themselves. And then there are bands like the Old 97s, who blast out of the gate, establish themselves as models of consistency, take a while to find themselves, and then, fifteen years in, deliver a glorious record that sums up everything about them that fans have always loved.

That level of consistency started with Spike Dykes and I think Leach improved what Dykes started.  Leach is on track to win on a more consistent basis that Dykes did, the problem of course is that he just hasn't been able to put it all together in one glorious year.  Admittedly, it's taken some time for Leach to pull it all together, but I'm hoping that this year it happens where we're able to spin that perfect record.

6. Answer all of the following in no more than two sentences:

(A) Conference's best quarterback? Sam Bradford
(B) Conference's best offense?Missouri
(C) Big 12 South winner? Oklahoma
(D) Big 12 North winner? Missouri
(E) Big 12 champion? Oklahoma (preseason it was Missouri, but the Mizzou defense hasn't been up to last year's standards)
(F) Big 12 team you would adopt as your favorite if forced to abandon your own? Missouri, it's God's country.
(G) One prediction that might surprise the rest of us? Kansas will have just two losses heading into the Missouri game. I still think they're pretty good.