Big 12 North Picks and Power Rankings, Week Five
For as wet and wild as the rest of college football looked in week four, the Big 12 North looked relatively dry.
I love-hate to say this, but outside of Colorado, the North has been, surprisingly, rather unsurprising in general this season.
However, I can promise that from here on out, everything topside of the Kansas Oklahoma border is going to return to its unexpected norm. The geographical upper half of the hectic conference we have come to know and love won't let us down.
Conference play is, for the most part, here for the long haul, and this year could be the tightest of any in the history of the North.
But I'll try not to get too far ahead of myself. For now, lets just have a look at the upcoming week.
Last week I picked five out of five correctly (a shout-out to Ryan Faller and Josh Klein for doing so as well), bringing my total over two weeks to eleven for eleven.
However, once again the picks last week weren't particularly difficult to make, and once again I failed dismally in the 'point-margins' column.
We'll just see how much changes in the second month of the season.
6. Kansas State (2-2) at Iowa State (3-1)
Even if it was just Tennessee Tech, the Wildcats have to be pleased with their 49-7 performance.
Even my girlfriend, an avid KU fan who attended the game in Manhattan last Saturday with some friends, pointed out that Kansas State had shown plenty of things they can build off of in the coming weeks.
Daniel Thomas' performance thankfully kept Carson Coffman from having to do anything at all, the average defense kept a miserable FCS offense in the dirt, and Brandon Banks finally found some running lanes on the only two kickoffs that Tech had the opportunity to send his way.
However, lets not get carried away either, because this week will be different.
The Wildcats have to travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on a quickly improving group of Iowa State Cyclones, and I don't like the outlook for Willie and his friends.
Kansas State may battle for a while before bowing out to the Cyclones, 31-16.
5. Colorado (1-2) at West Virginia (2-1)
I just don't know why Dan Hawkins insists on throwing so much. It's not that I don't like his son Cody, it's just that he's no good.
So he didn't throw any picks last game, but he also struggled to complete 50 percent of his passes against a bad Wyoming defense at home.
I don't want to turn this page into a weekly Hawkins-bashing, but unless Cody shows me something special this Thursday, it will probably continue out of sheer habit.
Fortunately for the Buffalo, they actually stand somewhat of a chance at West Virginia this weekend.
The Mountaineers may be out for revenge and playing at home, but if Colorado's defense looks as good as it did against Wyoming, the Big East could get a nasty-North surprise.
Unfortunately, Noel Devine turns good defenses into awful ones. Sorry CU, but it looks like you'll be seeing a 1-3 record after West Virginia sneaks past you comfortably, 27-16.
4. Iowa State (3-1) vs. Kansas State (2-2)
Suddenly, Alexander Robinson and the Cyclones don't look half bad. In turn, Austen Arnaud hasn't thrown a pick since that awful Iowa game and Marquis Hamilton has become a good target for him.
The defense even held their own against the infamous Army ground game in a competition that I thought would be much tighter.
They will likely have to beat either Baylor at home or Texas A&M on the road to have any chance of a Bowl Berth, but wins over Colorado and Kansas State could ultimately leave Paul Rhodes' new club at number four on this list in his first season; a very good sign for Cyclone fans.
Hamilton may have gotten dinged up last week but should be ready for his neutral-site bout against the Wildcats. My prediction stands in favor of the 'Clones, 31-16.
By the way, 'Farmageddon'? Are you serious? I love the creativity, but that name isn't doing a lot for me, and no offense but I'm just not sure this game is worthy of Arrowhead Stadium.
Then again, the Chiefs aren't using it for much these days either...
3. Missouri (4-0) BYE
So maybe Colin Kaepernick and Nevada aren't quite as bad as we were led to believe(Maybe Colorado State is that good?).
The Tigers didn't blow the Wolfpack away as my companions and I predicted, but the game may not have been as bad for Gary Pinkel and company as some might think.
Their defense kept a fiery Wolfpack offense at an arms length for the entire game, and the Blaine Gabbert-to-Danario Alexander connection looked unstoppable yet again.
The bye this weekend may be what Missouri needs to work out some issues in the running game before a short week and the much-awaited Thursday night contest with the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
That may be the do-or-die game as far as Missouri's chance of taking home the North crown for a third consecutive time, so they'd better start trying to figure out how to catch up to Roy Helu Jr. and company fast.
2. Kansas (4-0) BYE
I know the Hawks have all sorts of excuses concerning Saturday's performance against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles, but I don't like any of them.
The fact of the matter is that over the past three games against semi-quality teams, KU's offense and defense never seem to be clicking at the same time, or in any consistent sort of fashion at all, really.
I'm ecstatic that the Jayhawk Defense stepped up at game's end when it mattered the most, but in all fairness, it was certainly their turn.
As for the offense, Toben Opurum is good, but Jake Sharp is a chain mover. His versatility and game-breaking abilities sustain drives and give Todd Reesing the extra, reliable option he needed at the end of the game as he suffered under all sorts of pressure.
Kansas has a BYE week to get healthy, and hopefully off-the-field issues aren't on the agenda. The Hawks better use it, because Iowa State may be rolling into Lawrence in two weeks, and are probably still stinging after a come-from-behind KU victory in Ames last season.
1. Nebraska (3-1) BYE
The way violent manner in which Nebraska rebounded against an inferior opponent after a close loss to the increasingly-popular Virginia Tech Hokies is plenty of incentive for me to move them back to the top.
If KU had played much better at all, it would've been hard to remove them.
However, it was the Cornhuskers playing opportunistic ball last Saturday and I'm not afraid to give credit where credit was due.
The most impressive part of this beat-down is how consistently the punishment was dealt on either side of the ball.
The experience Nebraska gained in their loss to Nebraska may be all of the edge they need when they travel to Colombia in 10 days.
However, they should use every last bit of their BYE week to figure out how to slow down Blaine Gabbert. Pressuring him is critical, as he has only been sacked four times and has yet to throw an interception this season.
Ndamukong Suh may just be the perfect guy for that kind of job.