During the Big 12 era, OU is a whopping 24-7 against the remaining North teams. Texas is 25-6.
Missouri has emerged as a consistent winner, although success against South squads has been spotty at best. Kansas State thrived during the first Bill Snyder era, but is struggling to climb back to those standards in Snyder's return.
Now the shift from three games against South teams to six threatens the North teams' ability to reach .500.
“The difficulty is, basically, they're bigger than you usually, physically, so that's a challenge in itself,” said Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele, an All-Big 12 pick on the offensive line. “And in addition to that, teams like that execute well. They're just so organized and well-oiled you have to be on your game.”
Osemele actually found some optimism in the Cyclones' place at No. 9, an elevated status of sorts.
“The way I see it, it's actually an improvement,” he said, “because the past two years we've been dead last.
“But also, I take it as a little chip on our shoulders to get better and grind it into a motivating factor for us to come out and work every day to prove people wrong.”
On the bright side, along with the challenge comes opportunity. Beat an Oklahoma or a Texas or Oklahoma State or Texas A&M — all projected top 20 teams this season — and some positive publicity can flow.
Besides, players don't want to shy away from the best competition, they welcome it.
“I see it as more fun, being able to play these high-caliber offenses that can score at will,” said Hartman. “They have some great receivers down there, with (OU's Ryan) Broyles, (OSU's Justin) Blackmon, (A&M's Jeff) Fuller and the list can go on.
“I like putting my talents up against the best. In the Big 12 Conference, you have the best quarterbacks and the best receivers.”
And for the most part, they're on the best teams, the South teams.
“We're going to see how it goes,” said Kansas offensive lineman Jeremiah Hatch. “There's no excuses now – ‘who's the better team or it's not fair.' Either you win, or you don't. We'll see.
“The fairness is everyone gets their shot. You can't complain about that.”
MORE FROM NEWSOK
The new Big 12 brings the South and North teams together for one big – happy? – gang of 10. While the divisions have been removed, a separation remains competitively, with the South squads owning a history of dominance.
Here's how the North teams have fared against the South's top five teams:
Iowa State vs.
Texas A&M: 1-9
Texas Tech: 1-7
Texas A&M: 1-6
Texas Tech: 1-7
Kansas State vs.
Texas A&M: 4-5
Texas Tech: 3-5
Texas A&M: 3-3
Texas Tech: 5-2