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What's the magic number to win Big 12 North?

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I wonder how many wins it will take in conference play to win the lowly Big 12 North division this season.

Check out the latest edition of ConferenceChatterTV for some thoughts on the topic, along with my reaction to each Big 12 game from week 8:

Finish 4-4 in the North and I'd have to think that team would have a chance.

At 5-3, you could probably book the trip to Arlington, Texas, site of this year's Big 12 Championship game.

The North is looking worse with each passing week.

Nebraska, the favorite before this weekend because of a favorable remaining schedule, turned the ball over eight times against Iowa State on Saturday. At home. In fact, the Huskers had more turnovers than points in their embarrassing 9-7 loss to the Cyclones. It's hard to picture Nebraska winning the North with such ineptitude on offense.

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Nebraska wide receiver Niles Paul (24)

Now, the so-called favorites (Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri) are at the bottom of a North logjam:

  • Kansas State: 3-1
  • Iowa State: 2-1
  • Colorado: 1-2
  • Kansas: 1-2
  • Nebraska 1-2
  • Missouri: 0-3

Now that's ugly.

First, none of these North teams can beat Texas, Oklahoma State or Oklahoma, so it's pretty much an automatic loss when they meet up. After that, it's a bunch of mediocre teams beating up on each other within the division. The guess here is 4-4 will win the division, which makes the North vs. North matchups that much more pivotal if it comes to a tiebreaker.

It sounds bizarre, but Kansas State probably has the best chance to finish 5-3. The Wildcats already have three conference wins, and their remaining schedule looks like this: at Oklahoma, vs. Kansas, vs. Missouri, at Nebraska. After most likely losing in Norman, the Wildcats will have three winnable games left. Win two of them and they're looking at 5-3 and a trip to Arlington.

Only one time in the history of the Big 12 (Colorado in 2004) has a North team finished 4-4 and won the division. Oklahoma waxed the Buffaloes, 42-3, that year in the Big 12 Championship game. I expect something similar this year.

Here are the conference records for each North team that's won the division in the Big 12 era:

  • 1996, Nebraska: 8-0
  • 1997, Nebraska: 8-0
  • 1998, Kansas State: 8-0
  • 1999, Nebraska: 7-1 (Kansas State was also 7-1)
  • 2000, Kansas State: 6-2 (Nebraska was also 6-2)
  • 2001, Colorado: 7-1 (Nebraska was also 7-1)
  • 2002, Colorado: 7-1
  • 2003, Kansas State: 6-2
  • 2004, Colorado: 4-4 (Iowa State was also 4-4)
  • 2005, Colorado: 5-3
  • 2006, Nebraska: 6-2
  • 2007, Missouri: 7-1 (Kansas was also 7-1)
  • 2008, Missouri: 5-3 (Nebraska was also 5-3)
  • 2009: ?

Six of the 13 years, two teams have finished atop the North standings with the same record. In those cases, the tiebreaker was the head-to-head matchup between the two teams in the regular season. That winner advanced to the Big 12 Championship game.

What do you think the magic number is this year?

Onto the week 8 awards for Big 12 players who went above and beyond this weekend:

Player of the week: Colt McCoy, Texas

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McCoy, who had the flu earlier in the season, seems to be healthy now. He torched the Missouri defense for 269 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday night. His precision looks like it's back as well after completing 26 of 31 passes in UT's 41-7 triumph.

Biggest surprise of the week: Nebraska's eight turnovers

It could have been more. Junior quarterback Zac Lee threw three interceptions and the Huskers fumbled seven times, losing five. A change at quarterback to freshman Cody Green seems like the right move at this point. I've been hesitant to pull Lee despite his recent struggles, but this weekend pushed me to the other side. Nebraska's offense is dreadful right now. The Huskers have scored only 17 points in their last two games, both at home. There's no punch and no spark, so NU might as well roll the dice with Green since he's the future signal caller in Lincoln anyways.

Sleeper alert: Cyrus Gray/Christine Michael, Texas A&M

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A&M running back Cyrus Gray (32)

The Aggies' running back duo went crazy against Texas Tech, combining for 293 total yards and six touchdowns. How's this for balance?

Gray: 25 carries, 131 yards, three TDs
Michael: 22 carries 121 yards, two TDs

Gray also added 41 receiving yards and a separate score.

The Aggies need two more wins to qualify for a bowl and still have Iowa State, Colorado and Baylor left on the schedule. That'd be a nice accomplishment for second-year coach Mike Sherman, who went 4-8 last year in College Station.

Here's the latest Sorrentino Scale to close this entry. The number in parentheses is what the team was ranked last week.

  • 1 (1). Texas (7-0, 4-0): Should be a nice atmosphere in Stillwater on Halloween night for UT at OSU.
  • 2 (2). Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-0): Battle of conference unbeatens next week. Will Dez Bryant or Kendall Hunter return?
  • 3 (4). Oklahoma (4-3, 2-1): Defense should give chance for OU to win rest of its games.
  • 4 (3). Texas Tech (5-3, 2-2): Steven Sheffield gives Tech biggest spark at QB.
  • 5 (7). Kansas State (5-3, 3-1): Wildcats have won the games they've supposed to in conference, and therefore sit atop North.
  • 6 (10). Iowa State (5-3, 2-2): First win in Lincoln since 1977.
  • 7 (5). Kansas (5-2, 1-2): Toughest remaining schedule in North.
  • 8 (6). Nebraska (4-3, 1-2): The conference lacks quality depth this season.
  • 9 (12). Texas A&M (4-3, 1-2): Most inconsistent team in Big 12 because of the amount of freshmen and sophomores that play. Looked darn good Saturday.
  • 10 (8). Missouri (4-3, 0-3): Didn't put up a fight against UT.
  • 11 (9). Colorado (2-5, 1-2): Tyler Hansen should take every snap.
  • 12 (11). Baylor (3-4, 0-3): May get one conference win this season.

That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.

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