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Big 12's elite have major flaws; and the worst pick in ChatterTV's short history


After Saturday's college football games, I attempted to think about the big picture in the Big 12.

Since the conference had three teams ranked in the top 10 heading into the weekend, it appeared the Big 12 had a decent chance of landing a team in the BCS Championship in January.

I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't happen, though.

The Big 12 has had a representative in the BCS Championship in seven of the past 10 years, including the last two seasons.

Last week, Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma all had BCS title expectations. But each has displayed major flaws in the first four weeks that could slash their dreams of playing in Glendale, Ariz. Texas' dream seems to have already been crushed with its loss to UCLA.

One would think a Big 12 team would have to go undefeated to play for the BCS title. I'm hesitant to say any conference team could do that in 2010.

A closer look why:

Nebraska (4-0)

Flaw: Inconsistency. It's puzzling how the Huskers could thrash Washington, 56-21 on the road one week, then come back seven days later and only beat lowly South Dakota State, 17-3 at home. With all due respect to South Dakota State...Delaware beat SDSU, 26-3, in its home opener. Come on, Huskers. I expected more.

Nebraska has a freshman quarterback who, while brilliant at times, is, well, a freshman quarterback. And with that raw youth comes inconsistency from said freshman Taylor Martinez.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Martinez couldn't get into a rhythm Saturday, completing only six of his 14 passes, tossing two interceptions and fumbling his first snap. He was also flagged for a 15-yard taunting penalty.

Nebraska is 4-0 and all seems well, but Martinez must be more consistent if Nebraska has any chance of sniffing the BCS title this season. NU checked in at No. 6 in the new AP poll on Sunday.

Oklahoma (4-0)

Flaw: Playing in too many tight games. OK, so coach Bob Stoops said he thought the Sooners would have better luck after losing four games by a combined 12 points last season.

So far, he's been right.

Of Oklahoma's four victories in 2010, three of them have been one-possession games. But how long will that luck last? It seems it's already lasted quite a while and we haven't reached conference play yet.

Oklahoma has to face Texas next week in Dallas, and has road games later in the season at Missouri, at Texas A&M and at Oklahoma State. The Sooners must play better to remain unbeaten.

Texas (3-1)

Flaw: Lack of production on offense. Or not defending its home field. Or the defensive line being gashed against the run. All of the above.

What the heck happened to Texas in its 34-12 loss at home to UCLA?

Safe to say the Longhorns won't be returning to the BCS title for the second straight year. This one was ugly. A defense that was supposed to be stout against the run (No. 1 in country heading into game) surrendered a whopping 264 yards and three touchdowns to a UCLA team that lost at Kansas State in week 1 and was shut out, 35-0, against Stanford.

Time to hit the burnt orange panic button? Perhaps.

Texas will take on Oklahoma next week in Dallas, before traveling to Lincoln, Neb. to take on Nebraska with a bye week in between. Not favorable.

The Horns dropped from No. 7 to No. 21 in the rankings this week.

What do you guys think...does a Big 12 team have a chance to play in the biggest game of the college football season this year?

Speaking of Texas, that leads me to reflecting on the fourth week of Big 12 football in the latest episode of Conference ChatterTV. I'll admit, picking Texas to win (and win big) against UCLA was my worst call in the two-year history of ChatterTV. Hey, you win some and lose some:

Onto the week 4 awards for Big 12 players who went above and beyond this past weekend:

Player of the week: Jonathan Nelson, DB, Oklahoma.

Slim pickings in a slow and unimpressive weekend in the Big 12. But Nelson may have saved the Sooners in their 31-29 escape at Cincinnati. The senior displayed a remarkable amount of hustle in chasing Cincinnati receiver D.J. Woods after a 73-yard reception, where Nelson poked the ball free and into the end zone for a touchback and a turnover. Nelson also intercepted a pass in the endzone for another touchback. Red zone defense at its finest.

Kansas call of the week: D.J. Beshears reminds me a bit of Kansas City Chiefs playmaker Dexter McCluster.

They're pretty much the same size. Beshears, KU's receiver/runner/kickoff return specialist, is 5-8, 174 pounds. McCluster, the Ole Miss standout and Chiefs receiver/return specialist, is 5-8, 170 pounds.

Furthermore, they can both take it to the house on any given play. McCluster had a monster punt return for a touchdown in the season opener against the Chargers, and had a 31-yard receiving touchdown on Sunday in the Chiefs' victory over the 49ers.

Beshears, similarly, is making an impact on special teams and on offense. He returned a kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown against New Mexico State on Saturday, and took two more handoffs into the endzone.

Seems like both these guys are shifty, change-of-pace energizers who make you watch their every move on the field. Gotta love high-energy guys like this.

Beshears, only a sophomore, has quite the hill to climb if he wants to get to McCluster's level. But he should study his style.

Big 12 Tweet of the week: Texas A&M's Von Miller, @MillerLite40:

"Ambition!!! Is the most important quality a woman can have!!! That's so so sexy Ladies! Nobody wants a drop out.."

Can't say I disagree there, Von. If you're not following last season's national sacks leader at Texas A&M, he's an interesting dude.

Looking ahead: Upcoming game of the week: Texas vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas).

This one's pretty obvious. Red River's game time was pushed back this season from its usual 11 a.m. slot to 2:30 p.m. Decent news for KU fans since the Jayhawks face Baylor at 11 a.m. next Saturday in Waco, Texas. Early line: Oklahoma by 3.5.

The following is the latest edition of the Sorrentino Scale. The number that follows in parentheses is what the team was ranked last week:

1 (1). Nebraska (4-0): Huskers on bye next weekend before showdown at K-State.
2 (3). Oklahoma (4-0): Sooners must get better at stopping run.
3 (2). Texas (3-1): Longhorns must get better all around.
4 (4). Oklahoma State (3-0): Interesting Thursday night matchup looms at home vs. Texas A&M.
5 (5). Texas A&M (3-0): Aggies could move up few spots with Thursday victory.
6 (6). Missouri (4-0): No close call this past weekend.
7 (7). Kansas State (4-0): Might be boring to watch, but 4-0 is 4-0.
8 (8). Texas Tech (2-1): Second Big 12 matchup next weekend at Iowa State.
9 (9). Baylor (3-1): Robert Griffin came back to life against Rice.
10 (10). Colorado (2-1): Buffs play host to Georgia next weekend in intriguing Big 12-SEC battle.
11 (11): Iowa State (2-2): Cyclones defense played great in shutout of Northern Iowa.
12 (12): Kansas (2-2): Jayhawks could jump some spots with victory at Baylor.

Lawrence Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan also ranked each Big 12 team today in his latest column.

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


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