Brian asked me to lead this week's BlogPoll roundtable. We use these questions as an opportunity to learn more about the teams our colleagues follow most closely. A roundup of some of the most enlightening answers will be provided in this space on Friday.
1. Handicap your team's chances to win your conference championship. If your team is not the favorite, who is?
(Notre Dame bloggers, please use the following variation on the above: the over/under on wins in your next five games is being set at 1.5. Can you make a good case for the over? (Next five: vs Michigan State, at Purdue, at UCLA, vs Boston College, vs USC)
Oklahoma has to be considered the favorite, followed closely by the Nebraska-Missouri winner (if for no other reason than the North has to send someone to a winner-take-all conference championship game).
For Texas, everything hinges on the Oklahoma game, though you could point to last season and note that even that, at times, is not enough. If we guess that (using only what we've seen from both teams so far):
A) Texas only beats Oklahoma 3 times out of 10 (.3)
B) If Texas beats Oklahoma, it wins the Big 12 South 4 times out of 5 (.8)
C) If Oklahoma beats Texas, it wins the Big 12 South 9 times out of 10 (.9)
Texas then has a [(.3) x (.8)] + [(.7) x (.1)] = .31
Based just on what we've seen so far, Texas has about a 30% chance of making the conference championship game. If we're optimistic and say Texas defeats the North Division winner 7 times out of 10, we get a final of (.31) x (.7) = .217
Roughly a 20% chance of a Big 12 championship.
2. Outline the (realistic) best case and worst case scenarios for your team.
Best Case: The Longhorns get a big push from young talent and work out the kinks in the scheming (both sides of the ball). Texas beats Oklahoma and gets rolling. It's not unfathomable that this team could win the remainder of its games. It doesn't look like a team that could win the BCS Title, even if it were to right the wrongs and get by OU. A more realistic best case scenario is an 11-1 season with a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
Worst Case: Kansas State catches lightning in a bottle, drops Texas in Austin, as the wheels come off. Loss to Oklahoma is right now probable. Games against teams like A&M, Nebraska, and even Texas Tech (or Oklahoma State on the road) could break to the bad guys. Texas could finish 8-4.
3. We're only three games in to the season, but teams and storylines are starting to take shape. Compare your team to a character or theme from a fable or children's tale.
Right now, Texas looks to me like a little piggy who's building his house out of straw, refusing - for whatever reason - to use the bricks lying around. The Big Bad Wolf, Oklahoma, is about to come huffing and puffing, and damnit, this house is going to crumble in the worst way if there's not a switch to something sturdier. See below for some bricks this team could use.
4. Imagine you're the coach of your team. Give three specific changes you'd implement immediately which you think would have the biggest impact on improving the team.
- Bench Bobino and Killebrew; insert Norton and Muckelroy. This is simple, this is easy. This would improve the team immediately.
- Use John Chiles as an offensive weapon. Not only is it suicidal to have no backup quarterback with any experience, but in this case, the backup in question might just provide some offensive spark that this team needs. Even if the rainy day never arrives, the kid might just help out anyway. What are we waiting for?
- Fix the blitzing patterns, which have become discombobulated. Part of this is tied to our sorry linebacking play, but sending in Bobino on these kamikaze blitzes is not working well. Not only is he blitzing himself out of far too many plays, but there's not been sufficient protection for the vulnerabilities exposed by a blitzing MLB. This is a simple fix that we need to see soon.
5. USC, LSU/Florida, and Oklahoma have established themselves as the frontrunners in the early going. Which other team or teams are you eyeballing as potential BCS party crashers?
Could the Big East send an undefeated team through this year? Probably not, were two of the above three also to run the table. I also think the shaky start by the Big 10, in conjunction with last year's Ohio State/Michigan bowl meltdown, probably precludes the voters sending an undefeated Penn State, Ohio State, or Wisconsin to the big game unless there's only one other (or no) undefeated teams elsewhere.