Another week, another Big 12 Roundtable; you get the shtick. Post your own answers below and let me know what I got horribly wrong. Much thanks to Bring on the Cats for hosting this week. Remaining questions are after the break.
Bring on the Cats: Though not true of everyone -- Texas continued its "just take care of business" approach -- Saturday shook a lot assumptions we had about some teams. What, if anything, can you say with confidence about your team?
Skin Patrol: I can state with confidence that we beat Nebraska, on the road, 31-10. Beyond that, whatever I say is mere conjecture. My confident conjecture, since you're asking, is that, as of this moment, we're the second best team in the Big 12. The only teams from the north challenging were, perhaps, Nebraska and Kansas and both lost this past weekend. We took out Nebraska on the road, despite a lackluster effort offensively. It is a rare thing indeed for Tech to be able to state that its defense won a game, and this is probably the biggest game of the Leach era that defense definitively won. On the road. That's a problem for people that aren't Tech (although one could argue it's a problem for us; why did the offense look so flat? Maybe because Nebraska is about as strong a defense as exists in the Big 12). The current leader of the north, plucky Kansas State, was deconstructed by us two weeks ago. From the south it would be Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to contend with. There is no shame in losing to very good BYU (
at home! on neutral field) and Miami teams by one point, nor is there any shame in losing to Texas by three on neutral ground. We've played three ranked teams on the road and we're 1-2. That first number is what distinguishes us from Oklahoma. Oklahoma State has a ranked victory (although it's looking less and less impressive) at home. We have a ranked victory on the road. Against common opponents we probably look better: We lost to Houston by one, at their house, and handled Rice better than them. Acknowledging the weakness of the transitive property in football, Oklahoma State's toughish win against A&M is suspect given that they lost to K-State so bad... who lost to Texas Tech with equal fail. If I assume that Texas one day beats Oklahoma State, and I am, then I'm taking Tech. Our game against Texas A&M could well settle that issue against us, but by resume of this date, I state confidently that Texas Tech has the 2nd best in the Big 12. Take me to task for it.
BOTC: Two weeks ago, we discussed whether the divide between K-State, Iowa State and Colorado and the rest of the conference was widening. After the North's total faceplant in "referendum" weekend, do we need to ask if the gap between the divisions is continuing to widen?
SP: I feel stupid switching from widening to shrinking on a weekly basis, but what a powerful data point. Kansas State demolishes A&M, Iowa State takes out Baylor, and Colorado unseats a north favorite. It must be admitted that none of these teams were as bad as we thought. Maybe the lesson here is that teams are neither as good or as bad as their last win, their last few wins, or the season to date, or last season. Because this is a game played by young adults, with a ball that is seemingly designed to bounce randomly, outcomes determined by inches, etc. the rule of thumb should be that hyperbole about the goodness or badness of teams (which is what we're engaging in when we say things like "K-State, Iowa State, and Colorado are so, so bad, and getting worse) is best kept in check. Texas A&M, like its disposer K-State, is probably not as bad as the week prior's result. If we only beat A&M by 3 points or, yikes, they beat us, it will probably indicate that rumors of their demise had been greatly exaggerated. Let's wait on some data.
BOTC: Speaking of that question two weeks ago, does yesterday's 3-0 showing by the three teams originally discussed -- K-State, Iowa State, and Colorado -- change your answer to that question, or was it just a random weekend where those three teams beat teams who weren't as good as we thought?
SP: Of course it changed my answer. I like to adjust my thoughts to reality, and data is data. I think the tendency of people to refuse to alter their opinions in the face of contrary data is a most unattractive trait. Such people cannot be reasoned with.
BOTC: Next weekend, we see an interesting matchup of suddenly desperate teams in Lawrence, Kansas. Which team needs that game worse? Oklahoma, to show that they're not going to pack it in and have a disastrously bad season, or KU, to show that they are still in the running for the North division?
SP: Kansas because there is more at stake. Oklahoma cannot win the Big 12 South, and thus will not be going to the Big 12 Championship. Kansas could still go to that game, could conceivably win it, and thus could advance to a BCS game. Oklahoma can make a bowl game, yet. All they have to lose is face and a slightly better non-BCS bowl game. Because need is not always determinative, I'm still picking Oklahoma to win.
BOTC: After a low-scoring, fumble-ridden -- I seriously think the guys on the sidelines handling the footballs were eating fried butter from the Texas State Fair, thus greasing the pigskin -- win in the Red River Shootout, Texas has continued its "just win, baby" season. You're on the spot, right now: Do the Longhorns play for the national title in Pasadena this January?
SP: Question essentially boils down to: Will Texas remain undefeated? If they do, they go. If they don't, I'd say a one loss Texas is going to have a hard time advancing in front of a lot of other teams that are undefeated, and even some of the other one loss teams, particularly since a loss for Texas will be later than, say, for USC. The question, reformed, is thus: "Do the Longhorns have a better than not chance to win all the remaining games on their schedule?" (Am I a Bayesian? Maybe.) Although I believe the University of Texas is more likely to win (than not) every single game remaining on their schedule, a number of them substantially, I'm a big fan of the field in any bet that involves "Do you think X is more or less likely to be the case?" Simply put, they've got seven remaining opportunities to not make the National Championship, and their odds of losing any of those games individually, added up, is equal to or greater than 51% in my opinion. All of which is not to say, Texas Fans, that Texas is not a current favorite to make the NC. I am just betting on the field. At least in my mind, it is currently the case that the universe where Texas plays in Pasadena is less likely an outcome than the universe in which it does not.
BOTC: Power Poll -- Rank 'em according to who you think would win on a neutral site
SP: Very intriguing poll, which was answered by Vegas -- and they might know -- the following way:
4. Texas Tech
5. Oklahoma State
8. Everyone else
Here is mine, because sometimes they're wrong:
2. Your Texas Tech Red Raiders
T4. Oklahoma State
T8. Kansas State
10. Iowa State
12. Texas A&M