Sorry for getting this out a day late...
1. Will firing Steve Pederson help Nebraska's program long term or will they be as bad or worse off without him?
Long term, Corn will be better off without Steve Pederson. But him and Bill Callahan have dug an awfully deep hole there in Lincoln, a hole that will take a full-fledged rebuilding job to climb out of. The next coaching hire for the Corn, a choice likely to be made by Corn legend Tom Osborne, will be the most important decision in Nebraska football in a long, long time. If Osborne can find the right coach, he is rumored to be most interested in LSU defensive coordinator (and former Corn defensive coordinator) Bo Pelini, Nebraska has a chance to get back to its glory years. Otherwise, Nebraska could find itself relying more on history and tradition than the actual product on the field for a long time.
2. Can Kansas keep winning conference games, not just this year but on into the future?
Speaking of rebuilding jobs, that is exactly what Mark Mangino has done here in Lawrence. He started at quite a low point, the Terry Allen days, but has built the program up through recruiting and scheduling, just the way he learned from Bill Snyder. Kansas' easy non-conference schedule was a national punchline, at least as much as Kansas was actually mentioned nationally, but it built up a confidence that is now overflowing from this Jayhawk team. He has found numerous diamonds in the rough, including James McClinton, Aqib Talib, Todd Reesing, etc. After 5 years of building and decent teams in the Big 12, we are finally starting to reap the rewards of all of that hardship hard work of the last 5 years. We have the talent, we have the depth, we have all of the components of a winning team for the first time in a long, long time here at Kansas. Maybe for the first time ever, at least in a way built for sustained success.
Which leads to your question. Yes, I do believe that the success is repeatable, that we can continue to win conference games. This isn't a fluky, 1995 redux year. We are deep, we are talented, we are full of playmakers and we are here to stay. Mangino already has the pieces that will make up his best recruiting class since coming to Kansas for the 2008 class, and you could make an argument that each year's recruiting class has gotten better and better. We will be even better next year, as we are returning the majority of our starters and adding in the above-mentioned recruits. We are on the verge of becoming a consistent threat in the Big 12, a consistent threat to beat any team, any time, anywhere.
Kansas is here to stay.
3. Is Sam Bradford at OU good enough to lead the Sooners to victories in all of their remaining games or will he meltdown again like he did late against CU?
Sam Bradford is really impressing me. Like, a lot. Oklahoma is a legitimate national title contender, and they can beat anyone in the country as long as they don't screw it up, a la Colorado. However, I wouldn't blame the CU loss on Sam Bradford alone, the biggest problem IMO was the muffed punt by Reggie Smith. But to answer the question, yes Bradford is fully capable of being a national championship QB with his current team, but I don't think that he could lead a team there or anything. At least not yet.
4. Do the routs of ISU and Baylor mean Texas is firing on all
cylinders or will this be another disappointing season in Austin?
Texas just isn't very good this year, at least by Texas standards. They are still going to become bowl-eligible, probably a 8 win team, but aren't to the level of Oklahoma, Muzzurrah or even Kansas. Yes, Kansas. I know that ESPN and other national media-types are telling you that Kansas is soo lucky to not have to face OU or Texas, but we are just a better team than Texas. And at this point, I think we are a lot better than the Longhorns. So no, Texas isn't at the level of the Big 12 elite this season, and are instead a middle-of-the-pack team.