Each week, some of the better Jayhawk writers out there (including the head guys from Hawk Digest and KJ-IBT) will all get together and answer some questions. This week, I asked the questions, but the torch will pass between all five current members. If you are interested in joining the Roundtable, post a sample here (on this post, answering these questions) and send me an email at rockchalktalk -at- gmail -dot- com. With all of that said, let's get to the questions and answers.
1) Todd Reesing excluded, who is this offense's MVP? It seems like it should be a fairly easy question to answer, yet I have thought about it all day and have yet to come up with a definitive answer.
2) Who is your favorite player on this team? Kind of a random question, sure, but an interesting one I think.
3) Who is better, Iowa State or Kansas State? Why?
4) Moving away from Kansas (again) for a second, what are your thoughts on that monstrous machine down in Tuscaloosa? I am finding that story fascinating; not that I don't they are good, it's just hard for me to believe that they are THIS good THIS soon. I mean, just how good of a coach is Nick Saban?
5) Lastly, and I know we kind of talked about it last week, but what is your ranking of conferences right now? Is the Big 12 better than the SEC? Which is worse, Pac 10 or Big East?
6) And finally, Big 12 picks in the first week of conference action:
Oklahoma @ Baylor
Texas Tech @ Kansas State
Texas @ Colorado
Missouri @ Nebraska
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State
Answers after the jump...
1) My vote for offensive MVP is Kerry Meier. Maybe he hasn't been the flashiest or the most explosive offensively but when we need a play he's there and he has been extremely reliable. Clearly being the leading receiver in College Football helps his argument as well.
2) Looks like my answers may have a theme today. Kerry Meier is hands down my favorite player on this team for a variety of reason. Meier exemplifies what it means to be a team player. He came to Kansas the QB of the future and lost his job a year later but he didn't let that derail his career and he has made the most of his opportunity and turned into an excellent receiver and leader for this team. I truly hope that when it's all said and done this guy finds a way to extend his career to Sundays but I guess that might be a questions for another day.
3) Kansas State is better. K-States biggest problem is probably the captain of the ship. Iowa States at this point is still talent. If Kansas State continues to stay the course I don't think it will be too much longer before Gene Chizik has Iowa State ahead of them but at this point KSU still gets my vote. As a side not what a worthless game for Arrowhead to pickup.
4) The progress in Alabama is remarkable. Julio Jones is incredible. I am not a Nick Saban fan but how can you argue with what he's done. The biggest reason they have been successful this year is their offensive line. The front five are big, experienced and dominating. I want to believe they will come back down to earth soon but I can't find a sign or a reason they will.
5) Right now as of today I am going to give the Big 12 the nod over the SEC. 4 in the Top 7 and 6 in the Top 25 is pretty impressive. If CU and Nebraska hadn't allowed two inept offensive teams to score so many points we might even have 8. I get the top to bottom argument and before last weekend I still bought into that but who knows A&M vs. Arkansas might be a game? The worst...wow tough one. I guess I would have to go with the reverse of the top to bottom argument. Taking the best from each league I guess USC and the Pac10 get the nod here. As much as I would like for selfish reasons to pick the Big East and South Florida the reality is now that USC has there annual brain fart out of the way they will probably begin to dominate again.
6) Oklahoma over Baylor
Texas Tech over K-State
Texas over CU (would've taken CU earlier in the year but too many Injuries)
Missouri over Nebraska
Oklahoma State over Texas A&M
1) I too would have to say that it's Kerry Meier. You could make a VERY convincing argument for Dez Briscoe and soon as Dex gets back into the swing of things the whole receiver dynamic could change entirely. But to this point no one has been as valuable as Kerry. He does it all; blocks, goes down the field some, catches everything in his direction, and most importantly, keeps the chains moving.
2) I guess Denver and I are on the same page here, because there's just no way not to love Kerry. For sake of diversity though I'll say Darrell Stuckey. He's sometimes prone to over pursue (see: USF), but finally seeing him and full strength it's pretty clear that we've got a great safety on our hands. Plus, I don't think I've enjoyed any sequence of plays more than I did him running down Livas and then bursting into the backfield the next play.
3) I haven't yet seen ISU play, but I'm inclined to say KSU. My thinking here is that while KSU is awful, they do at least have a potentially capable offense and enough playmakers to win some games. And while ISU may not be quite as awful as KSU on defense, they're way behind offensively. All that said, at least their program seems to be moving in the right direction; I can't say the same for the guys in purple.
4) There's no logical way not to consider them legit national champion contenders. The Clemson win didn't mean much to me and though I think Georgia was a bit over hyped (especially with their injuries) that win Saturday sold me. Call me crazy though, but I'd put them on upset alert this Saturday. For my reasoning their see their performance v. Tulane after the Clemson rout.
5) I'm definitely leaning Big XII this year, but it's closer than ever either way. Some see Florida's loss as a validation of how good the SEC is top to bottom: I see it as an upset of a team that has become utterly predictable and is young on defense. The transitive property doesn't work too well in football, but lest we forget Ole Miss recently lost to a Wake Forest team that couldn't quite handle the Midshipmen of Navy. Keeping it in state, I think we're all pretty familiar with a team that handled Mississippi St.; meanwhile Auburn can only edge them 3-2 and even LSU staggered to only a 10 point W.
As for the worst, you have to look to the Big East. USF is legit and even UCONN seemed to have some pieces (before they lost Lorenzen), but other than that the league is just pitiful. WVU may have fallen off some losing Schmidt and Slaton (and a few others), but the way Bill Stewart has mangled that offense is truly unbelievable.
6) I pointed this out earlier this week, but how crazy is it that all six ranked play all six that are unranked. Even crazier, of the ranked teams only OSU is at home and the only line within a score is Tech @ KSU. I have to think someone is going to get upset (and Tech was my original pick), but since I don't know I'm going to play it safe and stick with the favorites.
OU over Baylor
Tech over KSU
UT over CU
Methzou over NU
OSU over A&M
DJ (Hawk Digest):
1) K-10. It's not often we have a guy leading the nation in receptions. He's pretty much our run game right now, but you've got to respect him deep or he'll put you on the cover of SI. Plus, he's the best backup QB in the Big 12...maybe the nation.
2) I've liked Todd Reesing since his high school bio was posted on the message boards during his recruitment, but TR is too easy. Stuckey and Chris Harris. Even though he's in the doghouse -- The Breeze aka D Briscoe. DP. Dexton. K-10...oh c'mon. I can't choose just one. It pretty much changes every down. I'm too much of a homer -- anyone that pulls on the KU football jersey pretty much has my respect.
3) I give KSU the edge. Josh Freeman should be a big time QB and occasionally that surfaces -- ask UT. They have a couple of dangerous wideouts as well -- Banks and Murphy. Otherwise, they're pretty similar, but Iowa State does have a bigger stadium.
4) I'm pretty sure that's what 'Bama fans were saying about KU last year. It's pretty impressive, but the talent is always going to be hanging around at a place like that -- see Bob Stoops and the OU quick turnaround.
5) I wasn't impressed with the Big 12 record against other BCS competition (7-7); however, I don't care so much about top-to-bottom. With three teams in the top five, I put the Big 12 ahead of the SEC. East vs the Pac -- for the moment, I'll put the PAC-10 below the BEast based on USF and UConn and taking care of business to date and staying undefeated as opposed to USC and Oregon already taking one on the chin. This will switch back relatively soon though -- probably Saturday when UConn loses at UNC.
6) I'm pretty sure there has to be at least one upset this weekend, but I don't have the guts to pick one.
Oklahoma over Baylor
Texas Tech over Kansas State
Texas over Colorado
Missouri over Nebraska
OSU over A&M
1) I've been racking my brain, trying to come up with a decent case for anyone besides Meier. I think he's the obvious choice, but I guess I'll go with my man Angus Quigley. While in general, the running game hasn't been up to snuff, Quigley has been the one player that's been able to give it some spark. He's averaging a solid 5.3 yards per carry, has separated himself as the best receiving back we have, and scored what is probably the most important touchdown of the season up to this point: the tying score against South Florida, giving us a chance at what would have been a huge win.
Is that enough to top what Sunshine has accomplished, though? No.
2) Outside of my worship of the ground that Todd Reesing walks on, I'm going to go with Chis Harris. I love his potential as a shut down corner, but I love what he repesents even more: a solidifying of a tradition of elite corners at the University of Kansas. Charles Gordon was a fluke. Aqib Tailb was a coincidence. But Chris Harris represents a trend- a trend that could pay off huge in recruiting. In the pass-happy spread offenses of the Big 12, great corners are absolutely crucial.
3) Hmmm... tough one. You probably learn the most about teams in their losses. Iowa State's losses were to a middling Big 10 team and a middling Mountain West team (in overtime). Kansas State's loss was to a middling Big East team. It appears as though KState will be able to put points on the board (though didn't they just lose their starting running back to jail or something?), but their defense also just gave up 37 to Louisiana-Lafayette. In this game, there are no winners-- especially not for fans of good football. On a neutral field, I gotta go with the kitty cats- there's no way ISUck can go score-for-score with them.
4) I think this is the most interesting storyline going right now. Saban obviously was able to infuse some talent at the skill positions with his top-rated recruiting class of high schoolers and JUCO transfers. But don't under estimate what Scott Cochran, Bama's strength and conditioning coach, has brought to the table. Bama is winning by overpowering opponents right now, and that only comes through out working your adversaries in the weight room all offseason (it helps when your d tackle came to school weighing an estimated 425 pounds!!!). Young studs like Julio Jones are only going to improve as the season goes on. So, even if Bama can't physically dominate opponents later on in the season, they still will have a great chance at running the table.
I just wonder how all those kids that lost their scholarships to get within NCAA guidelines feel about all of this. Saban's a dick, but he knows how to get it done on the college level.
5) You know, as much as we may scoff at the Big East, aren't they like 4-0 against the Big 12? I think the discussion for worst BCS conference is between the ACC and the Pac 10, personally. And you can't ignore what the Mountain West has accomplished so far.
I've got it:
6) OU over Baylor
Tech over Kansas State
UT over Colorado
OSU over Texas A&M
And my upset special:
Nebillbraskey FTW! (over Missouri)
1) Wow. Obviously, this wasn't as big of an issue as I thought it would be. I suppose Kerry Meier is the obvious candidate, although when I thought about it, he didn't immediately pop into my head. Just for the sake of making my question worth a damn, I'll go with...umm...never mind. Kerry Meier is the choice. I really need to ask better, non-obvious questions next time.
2) This one, however, is a good question, if I do say so myself. I'll go Daymond Patterson, who consistently tears at my heart strings through good times and bad. After blowing onto the scene the first two games, he has played much worse the past two games, but he is still my favorite player on this team. Second place would probably be Jamal Greene, which is an irrational like; I just do, I suppose. I did park next to his mother in the Orange Bowl parking lot, so maybe that's it.
3) Kansas State is the obvious answer, and the most-likely-to-be-correct one. However, Iowa State did beat the Wildcats last year, and both have, simply going off the ol' eye-test, seemed to have improved roughly equal amounts this season. I'll stick with Kansas State, thanks to the 2009 #1 pick in the NFL Draft (aka Josh Freeman), but it should be a very interesting question to ponder the next decade-or-so. Kansas and Missouri have entrenched themselves atop the Big 12 North, and both Colorado and Nebraska have that early-Big-12-North dominance to fall back on, plus the day-after-Thanksgiving tradition plus the "rising program" element. That only leaves the two also-rans in the North, Iowa State and Kansas State. They have obviously realized this, given their upcoming series in Arrowhead, but it will be interesting to see who can emerge, if either of them can, as the 5th best team in the North. Not a prestigous title, certainly, but one that could certainly allow the victor to keep his job longer.
But again, as far as this year goes, I'll stick with the Powercats. Subject to change, though, after Saturday's games.
4) Again, this question likely makes next-to-no sense. Of course, they are a legitimate national title contender. I suppose I'm just not buying into such a quick turnaround, and I am fully expecting them to be upset at some point down the road. Still, they have a case to be the best team in the entire country (although I still comfortably place Oklahoma ahead of them), and with Nick Saban as coach could easily find themselves holding up the crystal ball at the end of the year. I just don't see it. It is completely irrational, but I am sticking with it.
5) I want to say Big 12, and I am going to try and get a post out on this sometime today or tomorrow before conference season gets into full gear, but I'll just cop out and go with a nice, even tie. The answer to come tomorrow. How about that.
As far as the worst conference in football goes, I think it absolutely has to be the ACC. Sure, the Big East pretty much sucks as well, but South Florida has looked pretty damn good thus far (current defecit to Pittsburgh notwithstanding), the aformentioned Panthers have the talent of a Top 15 team (and a High School JV coach, of course) and UCONN is still sitting there undefeated. Not to mention the Pat White and Noel Devine combination at West Virginia, but, again, HS JV-level coach. The Pac 10 has USC and, despite last week's upset against Oregon State, effectively disqualifies the conference from being considered. Although I don't know, the rest of the conference is pretty much shit right now. But, I think the clear answer is the ACC. Wake Forest just lost at home to Navy. Clemson's destruction at the hands of Alabama looks better and better every week, especially after last Saturday, but you don't lose to Maryland at home. Of course, the Turtles could very well be the ACC's best team; a testament to how weak the conference is. Oh, and don't forget the Virginia Tech Hokies, who lost a kabillion players from last year's team (including their top 4 receivers) and are still in awesome position to capture the conference crown. Nevermind, screw 'em all, North Carolina is the best team in the conference.
6) There will be at least one upset this weekend in the Big 12, as a couple people mentioned earlier. And considering that all six games have one ranked and one unranked team playing, and only one of those ranked teams are playing at home (Oklahoma State, the only untelevised game of the weekend), it really could be anybody. I'm not really sure which one will be the one upset, it could be any of them, really, but I'll go out on a limb and pick the Wildcats at home against the team from Lubbock. Mike Leach always loses a game he shouldn't, and Ron Prince always beats a Top 10 Texas team at some point in the season, usually early. The next four games are listed in order of likelihood of an upset occurring (with UT-CO being the most likely upset and so on)
Kansas State over Texas Tech
Texas over Colorado
Nebraska over Missouri
Texas A&M over Oklahoma State
Baylor over Oklahoma
And, just for the record, I'd slide Kansas' potential upset ranking between NU-MU and A&M-OSU.
That's all, folks. There goes the first edition of the Rock Chalk Roundtable. Hope you enjoyed it. We'll try to get someone else to ask the questions next time; hopefully they will be better.