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Big 12 Midseason Report

Since 9 doesn't technically have a halfway point, we'll jump the gun a bit before we get to 5:

1. Oklahoma State - I like the athleticism on both sides of the ball. Weeden and Blackmon get most of the ink, but DE Jamie Blatnick is quietly making his case for defensive MVP of the conference.

2. Oklahoma - Obviously, I still think a lot of this OU team, but there were some bigger issues going on in Norman that makes this ranking shaky. On offense, the Sooners don't really have a philosophy, only a series of plays that must be stopped. They appeared to be missing Kevin Wilson and the remaining teams on their schedule have enough scholarship athletes in the secondary to fill out a one deep. The Sooners failed their first test of QB murderer's row on defense. Of a more significant note, Frank Alexander and Ronnell Lewis looked bad in run defense against a marginal zone blocking Tech OL and Travis Lewis was out of place in the middle, mostly serving as a liability. That doesn't bode well with Luke Joeckel and Levy Adcock still on the schedule. Not sure what the status is on Tom Wort's knee, but they desperately need him back. We'll know more about this OU team after a road trip to Kansas State. They still should be able to out-athlete the remaining schedule outside of OSU.

3. Texas A&M - The Aggies have the most consistent thing going, which is a lethal zone blocking game and two NFL backs to run the ball. That's going to be enough everywhere but Norman and it could be enough there, if Sean Porter and company can make Landry Jones move his feet.

4. Texas Tech - Somewhat of a homer pick, but I'm one of the early riders on the Seth Doege bandwagon and I don't think we'll witness another KSU meltdown. Coupled with a workman-like receiving corps possessing the best hands in the league across the board looks like enough to win most shootouts sans OSU. The defense has been improving with Scott Smith and Leon Mackey back in the lineup. The real story on this side of the ball has been the play of safety Terrance Bullitt and defensive tackle Kerry Hyder, two of the most underrated players in the conference.

5. Kansas State - Yes, I'm still a doubter. Collin Klein doesn't give away cheap points and the special teams and defense are opportunistic. However, they aren't going to overwhelm anyone with athleticism like the squads from Snyder's first regime and I'm not convinced that will be enough in the next few weeks. I'm predicting 4 straight losses.

6. Baylor - A dangerous team that is capable of beating anyone on the schedule with Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright. The defense is still a huge question mark, but they'll stack up well against running teams with Jean the Baptist anchoring the middle. Not sure that's sufficient against OSU, OU and Tech.

7. Texas - Mack Brown's program is still in a transitional phase in the era of recruiting parity. Taking your 25 favorite players each year isn't going to be enough going forward. There are still 150 remaining capable of making you look bad. The addition of Bryan Harsin was a good start and David Ash, Malcolm Brown, Jaxon Shipley and Josh Cochran are critical pieces of the future puzzle. Carrington Byndom has been a pleasant surprise and Kenny Vaccaro is a likely high round pick. The bigger surprise has been the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde performance of their front 7. The Horns are playing catch up in the development department and may lack the fire power to prevail in shootouts with Tech, A&M and Baylor. They're Kansas State lite right now, but could be doing it better by the time that game rolls around due to athleticism.

8. Missouri - The James Franklin era has been mired with ups and downs. They have that feel of could end up a lot better than this or the wheels could fall off. Similarly, I don't have a very good feel for what they are or what they aren't, but I do like Henry Josey.

9. Iowa State - The Steele Jantz Project appears to be officially disbanded. Damn. On the other side of the ball, Jake Knott is worthy of all conference honors at linebacker.

10. Kansas - The wheels have fallen off and been washed into the flooded banks of the Missouri River.