Most of the national attention on the Big 12 is centered on the conference's south division; rightfully so, the last five seasons the south is 67-28 against their north brethren. In addition the past 5 conference champions have come from the south and in the Big 12 championship game, they are winning on an avg. of 36.4 ppg.
Needless to say, the north has been outclassed on a competitive level for a multitude of years now.
All that is subject to change in 2009.
Coming into the season, the south was once again ballyhooed as one of the most formidable divisions in the country. Five weeks into the season however, the division has not lived up to its billing.
It started with perennial Big 12 heavyweight Oklahoma going down on opening weekend to a very well disciplined BYU team. Not to be out done, Oklahoma state relinquished the national respect it had earned with its impressive defeat of Georgia, by losing to Conference USA's Houston at home the very next week. (The same Houston that lost to a UTEP team that Texas demolished by 57 points)
Since then, Oklahoma lost again on the national stage and currently have an injury list the size of Montana, Texas Tech lost to the same Houston as OSU, Texas A&M got embarrassed by Arkansas in the new Cowboys stadium, and Baylor; who had hoped this would be the year they'd break their 14 year bowl drought, got sobering news that they will be without the services of Robert Griffin, one of the most talented dual threat quarterbacks in the country.
With all the tumultuous activity on the south side the north couldn't have picked a better year to appear formidable again.
Enter Nebraska, Missouri:
Nebraska came into the season as a favorite to win the Big 12 north but nobody knew what that equated to; most people among Big 12 circles held the assertion that they would finish no greater than fourth if they played in the south.
Missouri was even bigger a question mark. Some of the replacements they had to fill we're their record setting QB in Chase Daniel, All American TE Chase Coffman, and the nation's premier all purpose threat in Jeremy Maclin, who decided to leave school early for the NFL.
Fast forward to week six and both teams have impressive OOC performances; albeit Nebraska did lose to VT, they showed that they can compete with any team in the country. Missouri lit up Illinois and Nevada respectively in nationally televised games and still remain undefeated.
Missouri has found a budding star in So. QB Blaine Gabbert who currently leads the Big 12 in passing efficiency, completing 66.4 percent of his passes. He also has 11 TD passes and has yet to throw an INT.
Nebraska has the nation's number one scoring defense and has a very talented and active front seven.
It is conceivable that both teams can do great things this year; this may finally be the year that the north champion can actually look forward to the Big 12 championship game and have a shot at winning, a goal that start's on Thursday night for both teams.
Kansas is the other Big 12 North team that will have a say in the division race when it is all said and done but for now, the winner of this north showdown will have the inside track at the division title.
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