Big 12 South Champs?

Can the Pokes win the South? The Newton affair. Where does CU rank? The editors debate.

Can the Pokes win the South? The Newton affair. Where does CU rank? The editors debate.

Athlon editors Steven Lassan, Mitch Light and Braden Gall debate five burning questions about Week 11 in college football:

Follow us on twitter: @AthlonBraden / @AthlonSteven / @AthlonMitch

1. Oklahoma State's final three games are at Texas, at Kansas and Oklahoma at home in the Bedlam Series. What will their record be in those three games?

Steven: I’ll go with 2-1. I think the Cowboys will split the Texas and Oklahoma games and Kansas should be an easy win. Although the Longhorns have struggled, I’m hesitant to write them off against the Cowboys this Saturday. You never know what’s going to happen in the Bedlam Series, and Oklahoma has experienced its share of struggles on the road, but I’ll give the Sooners an edge in that matchup. Even if the Cowboys finish 1-2 over the last three games, this season was still a success when you consider the significant personnel losses coming into this year.

Mitch: I'll go with 2-1. Chalk up the Kansas game as a win, even on the road, and I believe the Pokes will split the two games against Texas and Oklahoma. They are favored to beat Texas this week and might be favored to beat OU in Stillwater, but it will be tough to sweep UT and OU in the same season -- even with the Longhorns' struggles. Mike Gundy should be up for National Coach of the Year. With all of the turnover on both sides of the ball, it's amazing that this team has only one loss this late in the season.

Braden: The Pokes have not won in Austin since 1944 and have only beaten the Longhorns twice in 24 tries. They will win at Kansas and lose to Oklahoma (who really doesn't play well on the road). So that leaves this weekend. They certainly have the momentum and the talent while Texas appears to have given up on Mack Brown. The pick is 2-1. But they will have to win one of the two brutal match-ups.

2. If Oregon and Auburn played in a cornfield in Iowa today, who would be favored?

Steven: Tough call. I could see either team favored with a likely spread of three points. However, I’d give the Ducks a slight edge over Auburn. Even though the Tigers are solid against the run, I’m not sure they could keep Darron Thomas and LaMichael James in check for a full game. Even though Oregon’s defense isn’t going to resemble the 2009 Alabama unit, it’s not bad either. If this game does end up being the national championship, it should be an impressive display of offensive fireworks.

Mitch: You need to ask the boys in Vegas this question, but my guess would be Oregon by 2.5. That wouldn’t necessarily be my prediction (I'd have to think about that a bit longer), but I believe Oregon would be favored.

Braden: Oregon would be favored by four points. Oregon's offense is more complete than Auburn's, and their quarterback isn't much worse than Mr. Newton. Darron Thomas has been excellent this year and is a dynamic playmaker in his own right.

3. Would any rumor-innuendo-investigation-potential transgression affect the way you would vote for the Heisman?

Steven: I don’t think it’s fair for rumors to decide how someone votes for the Heisman. If there is proof of something, then it absolutely comes into play. If the player is eligible and there are no outstanding investigations hanging over his head, then he would get my vote, regardless of a rumor. It’s too easy to start rumors, and anyone can bring in anonymous sources to get a story going. When it becomes fact is the point it should start affecting Heisman ballots.

Mitch: Rumor and innuendo would not affect my vote — actual evidence of wrongdoing would. That is what makes this Cam Newton situation so interesting. There is new evidence coming out every day, but there is nothing out that proves Auburn and/or Newton did anything wrong. I have my own thoughts on what may or may not have happened, but until something comes out that proves there was some wrongdoing, I would still vote for Cam Newton. But stay tuned.

Braden: If the Reggie Bush-USC sanctions or the NFL agent investigations had not just taken place, I would say no. And in reality, if Newton is eligible, then all that should matter is what happens on the field. However, there are some voters who have already stated that this will impact their vote. Whether it is right or wrong, this story will impact Newton's Heisman chances. And in the end, where there is smoke, there is fire.

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Taxonomy upgrade extras: 
Cam Newton's problems off the field, Colorado's job opening, the nation's best one-loss team and much more in this week's 5 Burning Questions.

4. Where does the Colorado coaching job rank in the Pac-10?

Steven: Colorado certainly isn’t the worst job, but it’s probably in the middle of the Pac-10. The Buffaloes have shown they can be relevant nationally with the 1990 title, but the facilities and budget will prevent it from being one of the elite jobs in this conference. I’d certainly rate USC, Oregon, UCLA and Washington ahead of it, with Arizona, Arizona State and California battling it out with Colorado for the next spot.

Mitch: We ranked all 120 coaching jobs in our preseason magazine, and had Colorado 31st, which ranked behind four Pac-10 schools -- USC, UCLA, Oregon and Washington. So I'd say CU ranks fifth in the current Pac-10 landscape. We ranked schools on the attractiveness of the position, not on how good the programs are right now. Obviously, Arizona and Stanford are in better shape than Colorado right now, but if you strip the rosters away from all of the schools and start over, we believe the Colorado is a better job.

Braden: Colorado has a national championship in the last 20 years. Aside from USC, that is as many national titles as the rest the conference combined. That being said, Oregon has elevated itself into a new level of play and Washington and UCLA are better jobs as well. Arizona, Stanford, Cal and Arizona State are in the same ballpark, but currently Cal and Arizona might be better jobs. I will go with the 6th or 7th best job in the conference.

5. Who is the best one-loss team in the nation?

Steven: Some very good choices – Stanford, Nebraska, Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and LSU – are all worthy of being in this discussion. Considering its only loss came to the No. 1 team in the nation, I’ll go with Stanford. The Cardinal have one of the nation’s best quarterbacks (Andrew Luck) and rank among the best with the offensive line. The offense is balanced with the rushing of Stepfan Taylor, and there is no shortage of weapons for Luck when he drops back to pass. Although the defense isn’t elite, first-year coordinator Vic Fangio was a good hire and brought some much-needed improvement.

Mitch: I'll go with Stanford, but you can make a strong case for LSU, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Stanford's only loss is at No. 1 Oregon, and the Cardinal have dominating wins at UCLA, Notre Dame and Washington, plus a very big win over Arizona at home. LSU also has some very good wins (West Virginia, at Florida, Alabama), but I believe Stanford is the better team.

Braden: Stanford and Ohio State are the best one-loss teams. LSU has no business being a one-loss team. Wisconsin has injury issues. Nebraska is also a great team but has youth and inexperience in spots that Stanford and Ohio State do not. The defense of the Buckeyes gives them the edge over Stanford in my book.

Campus Challenge

Year Three of the Campus Challenge returns as Mitch returns to defend his championship. The rules: Each person picks a quarterback, running back and wide receiver to make up his "team" for the week in an effort to amass as many passing yards, rushing yards, receiving yards and total touchdowns as possible. Whoever has the best stats as the end of the year wins. All players selected must be from a BCS conference team playing an FBS opponent, and each editor can only use a player once during the season.

Players who have been selected by all three editors: Oklahoma's Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon and Kendall Hunter, Northwestern's Dan Persa, Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor, Michigan's Denard Robinson,

Week 10 Selections
QuarterbackCameron Newton, Aub.Ryan Mallett, Ark.Russell Wilson, NC St.
Running backLaMichael James, Ore.Jacquizz Rodgers, Ore. StMontel Harris, BC
ReceiverJeff Fuller, TAMUJuron Criner, Ariz.Jeff Maehl, Ore.


Week 9 ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards303305435
Rushing Yards84183111
Receiving Yards819098


Cumulative ResultsStevenMitchBraden
Passing Yards3,007 (1)2,353 (3)2,542 (2)
Rushing Yards1,557 (2)1,655 (3)1,680 (1)
Receiving Yards1,291 (1)965 (3)1,205 (2)
Touchdowns55 (2)43 (3)57 (1)

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