See World-Herald staff writer Lee Barfknecht's Big 12 rankings.
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Six games down, six to go for most Big 12 Conference football teams. Check these story lines as the second half commences:
1, Colorado coach Dan Hawkins' next job.
Even though the Buffaloes (3-3) could qualify for a bowl game, it seems like Front Range football minds have had it with Hawkins and his weirdo coaching decisions.
Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla called for Hawkins' head after CU's 31-25 home loss to Baylor, writing “Why wait until Thanksgiving when the Buffaloes can dump Hawkins at Halloween?''
Against Baylor, Colorado scored the game's first touchdown, and Hawkins had his backup quarterback — his son, Cody — call a two-point conversion that failed. Another two-point conversion in the first quarter also failed.
Baylor, the Big 12's doormat since the league was formed, gained 543 yards and never punted. The last time a Colorado opponent went a whole game without punting was the 1983 Nebraska “scoring explosion'' offense.
With CU about to enter what will be the Pacific-12 Conference, it's difficult to sell Hawkins (19-36 overall, 14 straight road losses) as the guy to follow into new territory.
Chatter about former coach Bill McCartney coming back as head coach or athletic director continues to swirl. Current Colorado A.D. Mike Bohn is a former Kansas football and baseball player, and will be considered as an A.D. candidate at his alma mater.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, speaking generally Monday when told the 70-year-old McCartney — out of coaching for 16 years — is considering a return, offered high praise.
“Bill McCartney is as fine a football coach as I've ever known,'' said Snyder, 71, who returned to coach in 2009 after a three-year hiatus. “If he wanted to go back at the age of 90, he would still be extremely successful.
“More power to him. Somebody would be very fortunate to have him if he chose to do that.''
2, Are 6-0 Missouri and 6-0 Oklahoma State for real?
No one would have predicted these two teams — Nebraska's next two opponents — to be among the 10 unbeatens nationally at the season's midpoint.
Missouri was undervalued entering 2010. The Tigers weren't in the preseason Top 25, despite having an NFL-caliber quarterback, a strong kicking game and some star power on defense.
Just last week, most MU beat writers remained puzzled about how good the team really is. After Saturday's dominating performance at Texas A&M, there are more believers.
The Tigers are finally playing defense. They are No. 2 nationally in scoring defense (10.2 points) and No. 4 in sacks, and doing it with their best player — defensive end Aldon Smith — out with a leg fracture.
“We don't have great players,'' coach Gary Pinkel said Monday. “But we've got a lot of very good ones. And we play together well.''
Oklahoma State appeared to have missed its opportunity to emerge last year when injuries and suspensions decimated its talent-filled roster. Most picked the Cowboys in 2010 to finish fifth in the six-team Big 12 South.
Yet OSU has ridden first-year starting quarterback Brandon Weeden — a 27-year-old former pro baseball pitcher — and speedy playmakers on both sides of the ball to overcome vast inexperience.
“Watch out. All limits are off this OSU team,'' veteran Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel wrote after the Cowboys thumped Texas Tech on the road 34-17.
We'll know much more about Oklahoma State soon with Nebraska, Kansas State and Texas on the schedule in three of the next four weeks.
3, Turner Gill's rough start at Kansas.
The idea that Gill, a former Nebraska star, could lose his job at Kansas after one season seems ludicrous.
But it will be discussed — and I mean by KU decision-makers — for two reasons.
First, the topic is on the table after consecutive losses to longtime doormat Baylor 55-7 and at home to rival Kansas State 59-7, the second more egregious because KU had 12 days to practice and K-State was coming off a 35-point loss to Nebraska.
The Jayhawks looked woefully ill-prepared and showed little effort in both games. Plus, Gill's postgame interviews were filled with long pauses and no concrete answers.
Second, Kansas is searching for a new athletic director. As abhorrent as it might seem, it is possible for those in charge to decide Gill's hiring was a mistake, end his term in November and allow the new A.D. to pick his own coach.
That is a bone-chilling scenario, but unfortunately it can't be dismissed.
Gill is getting pummeled nationally for his Victorian Era rules of no cell phones for players the 24 hours before a game and no female companionship after 10 p.m. every day.
Closer to home, Kansas State fans are taunting the Jayhawks by referring to Gill as “Ron Prince Jr.,'' a dig about the inexperienced and ineffective former K-State coach who was fired after three seasons.
Gill repeatedly used the word “faith'' during Monday's teleconference. He'll need all of that he can get to plow through what looks like a 2-10 season.
Other things worth watching: Baylor is one win away from breaking its 16-year bowl drought. ... How Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez reacts to his two benchings. ... Oklahoma tailback DeMarco Murray's quiet surge into Heisman Trophy contention. ... Texas A&M's potential free fall with games left against Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska and at Baylor.
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