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Column: Sluggish start for Big 12 North

Matt Gerstner

Sept. 29, 2009

You might as well call the Big 12 Championship game "jail" because one Big 12 North team is going to become a prison bitch.

An observation shook me Saturday as I watched Kansas (to my disappointment) eek one out against Southern Mississippi. There is no Big 12 North team that looks BCS-worthy right now. Hell, they don't look Cotton Bowl-worthy.

Nebraska is not as good as people thought it would be. Iowa State is a non-factor, as is Colorado. Kansas State — wow. And Missouri and Kansas are sputtering and coughing against Western Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA teams, which should not happen.

Missouri is getting the wins. I understand that. We knew it wasn't going to be as easy as it was the last two years. But the Bowling Green game was a sad excuse for effort. It took a couple of three-and-outs to get going against Furman. We made Nevada look much better than they are.

The fun thing is Kansas is playing the exact same way, sputtering against Texas-El Paso and Duke and almost blowing one against Southern Mississippi.

So the two teams who have the only real shot at a Big 12 North title are just waiting to go to the slaughterhouse against the Texas Longhorns. The Big 12 South is just too stacked.

In general, the Big 12 looks ill (Florida must have coughed something our way). So far, it's been a bit of a disappointment. There are only four teams in the Big 12 that are undefeated, most without facing a reasonable test.

This is just one of those years you know what's going to happen. One team, in this case Florida, is going to run the table. To quote Peter Griffin: "It's like sex with Kobe Bryant. You can kick and scream all you want, but it's gonna happen."

Oh, right, Missouri. Forgot.

The good thing with the Tigers right now is they're kind of flying under the radar, even with two out of their first four games on national television and another coming up. Unfortunately, the Tigers probably won't enjoy that conspicuity much longer after that upcoming game.

Here's the way I see it: If Missouri wins, big time or not, the Tigers aren't a secret anymore. Now, they have a target and a top 25 ranking on their back. Teams actually focus on the Tigers, and when we play teams like Texas and Oklahoma State, things could get ugly.

If Missouri loses, well, you can kiss any confidence goodbye, Big 12 Championship and any respect from Kansas you might have had going into the Border War, which actually could work out for the Tigers. That opens up the door for an upset. That is, if Kansas doesn't follow a similar path.

The point is we don't know what's going to happen. We still don't know a lot about what this Missouri team is made of. What kind of effort will they put up against a formidable opponent like Nebraska? Will the offense click as it did against Illinois, or will it lay an egg as it did against Bowling Green? And what about the defense? Will it bend but not break, or will it just plain snap?

There are a lot of questions that will be answered against Nebraska. I just hope we don't figure out just how ugly Homecoming might be.

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Article comments

Sept. 29, 2009 at 6:39 p.m.

Husker Fan: Interesting Take. I agree Kansas seems suspect ... there's alot of upper classmen playing for KU and i don't see them improving throughout the season as much as Mizzou and the Huskers will I agree Mizzou has underperformed at times but the talent is evident ... Gabert is the real deal and there's young talent around him ... the future is bright for the tigers You missed it on Nebraska ... you say "not as good as people thought" NU has beat up three Sunbelt cream puffs and has one lost to the number 6 team in the country Va Tech(on the road after aurguably outplaying them) ... maybe they haven't proved anything yet but they "look" good ... similar to Mizzou they are also young and improving every week I think the future is bright in the North with NU and MU becoming the banner programs over the next couple of years

Sept. 29, 2009 at 6:44 p.m.

Husker Fan: One more note ... I'm not going to say I like Mizzou, but I am starting to respect the program ... Go Big Red!

Oct. 2, 2009 at 10:04 a.m.

Ryan Morris: Come on dude know what you are talking about before you write something like that! First off this is the best NU team in the 21st century and statistically they are better the half the 90's team. Not as good as people are right, their better.

Oct. 2, 2009 at 11:48 a.m.

Big Red Machine: Nebraska isn't as good as people expected? Wow really? I'm pretty sure we thumped 3 decent (not good) sun belt teams that are as good or better than any team Mizzou has played. Gabbert looks good but Mizzou has no offensive line and that isn't a good thing when you are facing a top 5 in the country line. Gabbert is going to make at least 1 freshman mistake against Nebraska and if you can't slow down bad offenses what makes you think you will stop the number 9 offense in the country esp. when we have a very strong run game and Mizzou has been suspect at best against the run. I believe this will be a good game. (NU win by 10)

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