Big 12

Blair Kerkhoff's Big 12 Report

The Big 12 launches conference play Saturday with a Texas-Texas Tech blockbuster and a contest with an aces nickname, Farmageddon II, Kansas State vs. Iowa State at Arrowhead Stadium.

But college football-ogists get a case study in power structure and perception with another game involving a Big 12 school this weekend. Direct your attention to Baylor at TCU.

In one corner, weighing in at No. 4 and No. 5 in the Associated Press poll and USA Today coaches’ poll, are the Horned Frogs.

In the other corner, the sixth preseason poll choice in the Big 12 South, are the Baylor Bears.

Mismatch on paper, right? It probably needs to be in reality for TCU if the Frogs to enter the national championship conversation.

The Frogs are exhibit two, behind Boise State, in what is shaping up as the season’s great debate. That is, if a team is voted into a position to reach the national championship game — as Boise and TCU are — can it actually do so without a credibility of a power conference schedule?

The mood seems to be that Boise and TCU are, as Rogers and Hammerstein said about Kansas City, up to date (but) they gone about as far as they can go.

The Frogs and Broncos could run the table and probably have no shot of winding up in front of undefeated teams from a BCS automatic-qualifying conference, or even a one-loss team from the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten or Pac-10.

Boise’s thrilling triumph over Virginia Tech was mitigated by the Hokies’ embarrassing loss to James Madison. Now, TCU, which plays in the tougher Mountain West Conference, must take advantage of every opportunity to make a statement.

That begins Saturday against Baylor, which hasn’t given up a touchdown in its 2-0 start and has its own Denard Robinson in Robert Griffin.

A resounding victory will help the Frogs. Anything less will contribute to the perception that even an undefeated TCU team won’t deserve to play on the final weekend.

TWO STORY LINES

1. Washington quarterback Jake Locker against the Nebraska secondary pits power against power. Cornhuskers’ defensive backs were at their pilfering best against Idaho, picking off five and returning two for touchdowns. Locker touted as an early choice in next year’s NFL Draft, tossed four touchdown passes against Syracuse last week.

2. Oklahoma State is racking up the yards and points, but the defense needs to shore up with Tulsa and the nation’s fourth-ranked passing attack arriving Saturday.

“We have to tackle better,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. “Tulsa is running up more than 500 yards a game and scoring a lot of points. Our players will have the luxury of watching that on tape. They’re certainly not a team they’re going to look past.”

POWER RANKINGS

School Opponent Comment

1.Texas (1) at Texas Tech Nicked in last visit to Lubbock

2. Oklahoma (3) Air Force Back on track

3. Nebraska (2) at Washington Only serious non-league threat

4. Missouri (6) San Diego State Toughest non-league foe

5. Texas A&M (4) Fla. International Last breather on schedule grows fangs

6. Kansas State (5) vs. Iowa State* What to make of UCLA outcomes?

7. Texas Tech (7) Texas Red Raiders ready for their close-up?

8. Oklahoma State (8) Tulsa Hunter averages 207 yards per game

9. Baylor (11) at TCU Bears’ measuring stick game

10. Kansas (12) at Southern Miss (Friday) Bluer sky today

11. Iowa State (10) vs. Kansas State* Must shake Iowa hangover

12. Colorado (9) Hawaii Cal loss margin troubling

*at Arrowhead Stadium

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