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Big XII Football Preview Stuck
Posted on August 14, 2012 at 12:27 PM.


And then there were ten…again.

The Big XII has been at the center of way too much college football realignment discussion the past three summers, but it appears the league is back on solid footing after very possibly upgrading their football stature by bringing in West Virginia and TCU after losing Texas A&M and MIssouri.

The league this season will be trying to get used to the newcomers, and the newcomers will be trying to get used to their new league. But look for West Virginia to make the transition easier than TCU. The Horned Frogs dismissed several key cogs from their team in the offseason for those dreaded team rules violations while West Virginia boasts a team that belongs in the Big XII already: a powerful offense with a questionable defense.

But don't get too excited just yet West Virginia fans, because the league figures to be ran by the Oklahoma schools and Texas this year. To quote Alphonse Karr, it seems that in the Big XII the more things change, the more they stay the same.

1. Oklahoma 10-2 (7-2)

I know, you look at my blog header and it's plastered with OU gear so I'm obviously a homer right? Ask my OU buddies and they'll tell you they hate (HATE) that I'm so darned unbiased when it comes to analyzing a season. The Sooners return Landry Jones and have one of the best Wide Receiver corps in the country with Trey Metoyer, Kenny Stills, and Justin Brown. There are rumblings on campus that Jalen Saunders could be given an NCAA waiver as well. Dominique Whaley heads the run game, the OL has depth issues so they have to stay healthy. With Mike Stoops back in town, the defense will likely be better, especially with seven returning starters and more guys than that returning with experience. The Sooners schedule is tough, I have them losing at West Virginia and dropping a random game they shouldn't but inevitably do. They are a National Championship threat though if the team gels as it could.

2. Oklahoma State 10-2 (7-2)

Oklahoma State is completely retooling their offense after Brandon Weedon and Justin Blackmon left campus for the cushy confines of the NFL, but this is a Mike Gundy ran team. Until otherwise noted: the offense is going to be pretty good. Oklahoma State's schedule sets up for another run at the Big XII if the offense can mature alongside the experienced defense. The defense is anchored by a fantastic LB corps of Alex Elkins, Caleb Lavey, and Shaun Lewis. An early road game at Arizona will test young freshman QB Wes Lunt, but if the Cowboys survive that game (I say they will), then their league slate only include tough road games at Kansas State and Oklahoma -- I have them losing both. Sure there is a good chance the Cowboys could be upset along the way, or lose to Texas at home -- but in college football when in doubt: pick the home team.

3. Texas 9-3 (6-3)

Don't laugh. Yes, Texas was 8-5 last year and they were even worse the year before. Yes, Texas hasn't had an offensive pulse in two full seasons. But there is a lot of talent on the Austin campus, and assuming David Ash is a competent Division I QB, Texas should win more games this year than last. The offense has Jaxon Shipley, Mike Davis, Marquise Goodwin, and Malcolm Brown all returning this season at the skill positions. The defense is going to be spectacular, with Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor anchoring the defensive line at the ends. Jordan Hicks is the only returning starter at LB, but Longhorn coaches love Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs. Texas faces tough road games at Kansas State and Oklahoma State and also plays Oklahoma in the annual showdown in Dallas. I have them losing all three of those games but winning the rest.

4. West Virginia 9-3 (6-3)

Welcome to the Big XII West Virginia. Big XII, say hello to Geno Smith and his talented batch of WRs: Tavon Austin, Stedman Bailey, and Ivan McCartney. Dana Holgerson's Mountaineers are going to instantly bring in the top offense in the league, but it's the defense that has question marks. Last year's team gave up 26.8 points per game, which was at the bottom of the Big East. They also struggled to win the league last year, which makes the 10-3 mark a deceiving record when you get down to it. The defensive staff has been completely redone (as has the scheme), the defense is replacing both Des, but it has plenty of experience in the defensive backfield. The schedule sets up for a tough haul through the schedule, with road trips to Texas and Oklahoma State. Expect West Virginia to drop those two and another game, likely one they should have never lost to finish their inaugural Big XII season up near the top (but not at the top) of the standings.

5. Kansas State 8-4 (5-4)

What more can you say about Bill Snyder? There's not much else to say as the Wildcats were slighted from a BCS berth last year but still finished with 10 wins. In fact, the Wildcats were incredibly close to beating Oklahoma State, finishing 11-1, and winning the Big XII. This year's team could be even stronger overall, but they simply don't have the schedule and frankly probably won't have the luck they had on their side last season. Regardless, this is a dangerous bunch led by SR QB Collin Klein. Chris Harper is an experienced target at wideout and John Hubert returns in the backfield. The line is only returning two starters though, and could be starting two Freshmen. Defensively, there is talent all over the field and it's experienced. The Wildcats figure to start almost all Juniors and Seniors on defense, which will mean they will be mature and poised. While the schedule is tough, with a key road game early in the season at Oklahoma being the toughest, the Wildcats will likely still upset one of the big dogs in the conference but will likely drop a game elsewhere. But seriously, don't be surprised if Kansas State is near the top of the league standings again…in Bill Snyder I trust.

6. Texas Tech 7-5 (4-5)

The brass at Texas Tech had to have a sense of humor. Ditch Mike Leach and find the one coach in America who is probably the polar opposite from Leach in almost every respect. Tommy Tuberville's second year at Texas Tech was a bit rougher than the first, as after his team knocked off then #1 Oklahoma, they managed to lose their final five games by an average of more than 20 points. Tech figures to be better this year, with Seth Doege returning for his senior season with lots of experience returning around him. The Red Raiders are particularly deep in the defensive backfield, with D.J. Johnson and Cody Davis, both seniors, anchoring the safety positions. The schedule sets up for three automatic wins in the non-conference slate, and I can realistically find four wins in conference, which will include an upset of a big-name team (I have that upset as Oklahoma). All things considered, Texas Tech will be back to bowling once again this season -- but Tommy Tuberville will find himself on the hot seat even more than he was going into this season.

7. TCU 6-6 (4-5)

TCU has a problem in the sense that they dismissed several key players in the offseason for drug violations. This, of course, is a huge problem considering the Horned Frogs could have been poised to make a huge run in the conference. I still think TCU could make some noise, but adjusting to a week in and week out rigorous schedule will not be easy for Gary Patterson's team. On offense Casey Pachall will lead the charge at QB, but he's surrounded by much inexperience. Josh Boyce was Pachall's main target last season and he does return, but the Horned Frogs are completely retooling just about everything else on offense. Defensively, the Horned Frogs are also retooling a lot, and it's likely they are going to struggle while facing offenses on a caliber you didn't quite see in the Mountain West on a weekly basis. TCU's schedule for their first season in the league includes Virginia in the offseason slate, the Cavaliers should be a solid test for the Horned Frogs. TCU will likely get off to a pretty fast start, as the schedule is backloaded with their final five games being at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, Kansas State, at Texas, and Oklahoma at home to finish the season. If TCU can go 1-4 in that stretch they will have met what I expect for them. Look for TCU to struggle a bit this season, but a more experienced team next year will be waiting in the wings of a wide-open Big XII.

8. Baylor 6-6 (3-6)

Robert Griffin III isn't playing for Baylor anymore, that automatically makes Baylor a lot less dangerous. With that said, the Bears return a lot of talent on both sides of the ball from last year's team and if they can find that Nick Florence is a playmaker, they could make a run at surprising people (including me) and being competitive in the league for a second season. Terrance Williams returns as the top offensive option for the Bears, and the OL returns much depth from last season. Defensively, the Bears return a lot of players from a defense that ranked near the bottom of the Big XII statistically. Realistically, I'd expect the defense to improve, the offense to regress and for the Bears to have a harder time repeating last years 10 win total than Baylor fans would like to admit. Road games at West Virginia, Texas, and Oklahoma all figure to be losses. Hosting Oklahoma State won't be easy either, nor will hosting Kansas State. I have the Bears at 6-6, but I wouldn't be surprised if they won seven or even eight games. Regardless, I expect the Bears to go bowling for a third straight year.

9. Iowa State 5-7 (3-6)

There's a lot about Paul Rhoads team I like. They're returning plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, including a linebacking corps which is perhaps the best in the nation, and they have a scrappy attitude which allows them to win games they probably shouldn't (see: Oklahoma State last season). However, last year's six win total took a bit of good fortune, as the Cyclones had serious issues beating FCS Northern Iowa and UCONN along with Kansas (who was the worst Big XII team I've seen this side of an old Baylor team), among other teams. Simply put, I'm not as high on Iowa State this year and I don't expect them to go bowling. Jared Barnett returns at the QB, with James White and Josh Lenz both also returning. On defense, A.J. Klein and Jake Knott are two of the best in the conference at LB. Jake McDonough also returns at NT to give the interior a boost. The Cyclones, despite their talent at LB, had the seventh ranked scoring defense and 82nd nationally last year. Iowa State will likely knock off a big boy (beware West Virginia and Oklahoma), but they will struggle otherwise. Expect the Cyclones to be at home for Christmas this year.

10. Kansas 3-9 (0-9)

Oh the Jayhawks. Last year, Kansas managed to lose their final ten games -- and they managed to look incredibly awful most of the way to get there. Anecdotally, I remember watching Oklahoma basically play one of the sloppiest games of the year against the Jayhwaks and still manage to win by 30. Yeah, it was that bad. But out with Turner Gill and in with Charlie Weis. There's not much good news here, with the offense returning scant talent, with Dayne Crist heading the offense at QB and Kale Pick being his leading target. Defensively, the Jayhawks have some talent returning in Greg Brown and Toben Opurum, but Weis is going to have to get the Jayhawks on the right footing with a bit of old fashioned coaching. The Jayhawks figure to be able to win all three non-conference matchups, but they simply don't have the firepower to compete with Big XII schools yet. Kansas' best hope is to upset a team or two and finish with four or five wins. Anything else and we might need to appoint Weis as the Mayor of Lawrence.

Best Offense
West Virginia

Best Defense
Texas

Offensive Player of the Year
Geno Smith, QB - West Virginia Mountaineers

Defensive Player of the Year
A.J. Klein, LB - Iowa State Cyclones

Coach of the Year
Mike Gundy - Oklahoma State

Coach on the Hot Seat
Tommy Tuberville - Texas Tech

Team on the Rise
Texas Longhorns

Team on the Decline
Baylor Bears

Toughest Schedule
Oklahoma Sooners

Easiest Schedule
Texas Tech Red Raiders

Teams Going Bowling
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor
Comments
# 1 THE YAMA @ Aug 14
I expect Oklahoma to win the conference this year. Though I believe Texas will be right behind them at 2 instead of Okie State.
 
# 2 TB12TCUPROCOMBAT @ Aug 14
Your predictions are pretty good. However i think TCU will have a much better season than what others expected, maybe an 8-4 record. But that is probably because i am a TCU fan. Your prediction on TCU next year in 2013 seems pretty right if i do say so myself. They probably would have a better defense if it weren't for the drug sting but things happen and young kids that think they can do whatever they want and think they wont get caught. However i think Baylor will have a worse record than 6-6 and KU might have one or two more wins but that is only my thought.
 
# 3 marginwalker12 @ Aug 14
Even at home, that Texas D is way too stout for the Freshman. And I don't see Baylor getting to 6 wins. RG3 shielded what was and always been a historically horrific defense. And that was with RG3 controlling the ball and giving them a breather. Baylor will be horrific. I think Kansas St finished second after topping Texas in the finale. Oklahoma walks away with the division.
 
# 4 Stafford2Johnson @ Aug 15
Go Red Raiders!
 
# 5 Mckinley Cash @ Aug 15
I like the mention of Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney for WVU, but... Why no mention of Tavon Austin? He's on the Heisman Watch List along with Geno.. SMH...
 
# 6 OSUPiper @ Aug 15
Good analysis. I see it going just about like that. People are a little too high on Texas but they will be improved. It's gonna be a logjam from 1 through 6 in conference.
 
# 7 khaled @ Aug 15
I see the Horns finishing second behind the Sooners. OU's O-Line has me a little shaky about them being first, but they'll be decent as long as no injuries occur. Can LJ stop making mistakes and can he step up under pressure? Will the off-season trouble have an effect on the locker room?

I think Texas's offense is going to surprise some people this year. Lots of young, inexperienced play makers, so we won't be consistent. I expect Ash to be a solid game manager. Brown, Bergeron, and Gray will have room to run behind the much-improved OL. 9-3 or 10-2 is a real possibility imo.

With OSU starting a true freshman quarterback, I can't see them winning more than 9 games max. He's gonna have to be a good passer and move the ball to allow their duo at RB to have success running. He's bound to have some Freshman games where he'll be be confused by the defenses and the speed of the game.

Honestly, I think WVU is over rated this season. I saw 4 or 5 games last season, and other than the Clemson blowout, I was not impressed. Unless they can be consistent, I too see them winning 8 games. I get that thier offense is going to be good, but will they show up for every game? How will the defense fair against offenses like OU, OSU, Tech, and TCU? Are physical enough to stop Texas's and Kansas State's power running?

I don't know about KSU. Can Klein survive another season of taking a ton of hits? Can he get the ball to his play makers? Their defense will be solid, but it won't stop potent offenses. They had a lot of close games where the ball bounces their way last season, and to be honest, I don't see that happening again. I see them winning either 7 or 8 games.

TCU will struggle with their off-season trouble and adjusting to the competition in the Big 12. The offense can score, but can the defense, with a depleted LB corps, slow teams down? Do they have enough depth? 6 or 7 wins for the Frogs.

TTU will get back a bowl this season, as long a they stay injuries. ISU will win 4 or 5 games, including an upset of either WVU or KSU. KU will continue to struggle.
 
# 8 UGOOGLE DOT COM @ Aug 16
but big 10 not have champ game thats why no one will have champs game this year in dallas play the games at for secondd time in two years then you ge champ game back and two conference split i mean. right?
 
# 9 marginwalker12 @ Aug 16
Yes. The Big 12 is two teams short of being able to hold a conference championship. However, despite rumors of Notre Dame, Florida St, Louisville and such, I think the want from the schools is to stay at 10.
 
# 10 HechticSooner @ Aug 27
**** the schools, and I don't care who you scalp, in order to stay relevant in todays college football you need a championship game and that means 12 schools. Go get Houston and any other school that'll be worth in to bring. I'd beg FlSt but that's me. Really I don't care who it is as long as we stay relevant because if we don't keep up with the super conferences and end up losing out to them and Oklahoma doesn't leave then you will see one pissed off (or is that on?) Sooner!
 
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