2012 Big 12 College Football Predictions and Preview

Jake WestrichSenior Writer IAugust 22, 2012

Using our college football simulation engine, WhatIfSports.com simulated thousands of college football games to create this Big 12 Preview. Team ratings, player ratings and depth charts are accurate as of August 17th. What you see in the Big 12 Predictions table is the most likely outcome based on the computer simulations. The team-by-team schedules use Absolute Records, which you can learn more about below. Those same game-by-game simulations also generate average points per game for both teams.

Big 12 Predictions
Team W L Overall Record
Oklahoma 7 2 10-2
West Virginia 6 3 8-4
Texas 5 4 8-4
TCU 5 4 8-4
Oklahoma State 5 4 8-4
Texas Tech 4 5 7-5
Kansas State 4 5 6-6
Baylor 4 5 6-6
Iowa State 3 6 5-7
Kansas 2 7 5-7

For this analysis, thousands of college football games are simulated, with the sum of the winning percentages of those games being our final predicted record. As can be noted, sometimes a team is "favored" (wins more than 50% of the time) in a different number of our games than the expected record shows. We list this record as the Absolute Record. The assumption of the Absolute Record is that the more likely scenario always happens. Since we know that it does not, our expected record (in the table above) is far more accurate. Also, especially since we are rounding, it is possible for a team to win a game more often, yet score the same or fewer points on average. In those cases, for Absolute Records, we always take higher winning percentage and are not predicting a tie or a win by an underdog. This is another reason why the expected records are more accurate, as the teams are so evenly matched, the game could easily go either way.


From the start of the 2000 season up until the 2003 Big 12 championship, with Mark Stoops as the defensive coordinator, OU allowed more than 30 points just four times over a 52-game span, beating Kansas State in 2000 and 2001 and losing to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State in 2002. Meanwhile, last season, Oklahoma was 10-0 when allowing fewer than 41 points.

Now it's up to Mike Stoops to be able to close. Last year's team would've been 11-0 going into the Oklahoma State game had it been able to come up with a late stop against both Texas Tech and Baylor, but this year the defense should be in place to do it.

Beyond just what getting the old defensive coordinator back will do, OU has a defense that would thrive no matter who the coach is with one of the best and most athletic back sevens in America. They also have a front line that should make up for a lack of experience on the outside with waves of talented prospects working around a deep set of strong tackles.

Even with Landry Jones putting off millions of dollars to have a shot at being a national championship quarterback, the offense has a few concerns with a thin receiving corps and an average set of backs, but the line should be fantastic and the starting receivers have a world of potential and talent. It's Oklahoma, so feel free to budget in a minimum of 500 points, and then it will be up to the defense to do the rest.

It's time for the Stoops brothers to recreate the magic, and for a program that's been really, really close to winning a national title again for over a decade, the new addition to the coaching staff could be just the little push needed to get over the mountain.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records


2012 Oklahoma Sooners
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 @UTEP Miners 91 37-17
2 Florida A&M Rattlers 95 58-7
4 Kansas State Wildcats 70 29-22
6 @Texas Tech Red Raiders 72 32-24
7 Texas Longhorns 62 26-22
8 Kansas Jayhawks 84 34-21
9 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 68 29-23
10 @Iowa State Cyclones 81 30-18
11 Baylor Bears 71 29-24
12 @West Virginia Mountaineers 53 29-27
13 Oklahoma State Cowboys 55 27-26
14 @TCU Horned Frogs 52 28-26


West Virginia

Kevin Kinder of BlueGoldNews.com is our West Virginia Mountaineers insider:

West Virginia makes its entrance into the Big 12 with a high-powered offense and questions about a revamped, rebuilding defense. That profile seems to fit many other schools in the offense-heavy league, but despite the big leap in competition from WVU's former home, the Big East Conference, the Mountaineers have designs on a championship.

WVU returns almost all of the major pieces from its school-record setting offense of a year ago. Quarterback Geno Smith will team with Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, who both topped the 1,000-yard mark a year ago, to power the passing game. While the running game, beset with injuries in 2011, hopes to see a resurgence between the power of Shane Alston and the speed of Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie. The questions come on defense, where a switch to a base 3-4 front and a number of freshmen and redshirt freshmen in the mix for playing time will have fans watching anxiously to see if West Virginia can stand up to the speed and power of Big 12 offenses.

Perhaps the biggest issue facing West Virginia is the consistent level of competition it will face in the Big 12. The Big East had some good teams, and WVU played major conference foes such as Auburn and LSU in recent years, but can the Mountaineers stand up to the week-in, week-out blitz of tough league competition? WVU will face five preseason Top 25 teams, including a very difficult stretch of Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma smack-dab in the middle of the Big 12 season. West Virginia's response to its more difficult slate will likely be the biggest determining factor in its success this year.

For more from Kevin Kinder and the Mountaineers, check out BlueGoldNews.com.

Absolute Schedule/Records

2012 West Virginia Mountaineers
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Marshall Thundering Herd 72 33-23
3 James Madison Dukes 95 55-9
4 Maryland Terrapins 75 31-22
5 Baylor Bears 64 31-24
6 @Texas Longhorns 51 25-24
7 @Texas Tech Red Raiders 71 34-27
8 Kansas State Wildcats 69 30-24
10 TCU Horned Frogs 53 29-27
11 @Oklahoma State Cowboys 59 29-28
12 Oklahoma Sooners 47 27-29
13 @Iowa State Cyclones 80 31-21
14 Kansas Jayhawks 85 34-21




Where's the glaring weakness? Outside of the quarterback Texas is as good or better talent and athletic-wise than at least 120 other FBS teams.

Running back? Check. Malcolm Brown was an all-everything recruit with franchise pro back skills, and thumping Joe Bergeron might be every bit as productive when he gets his chances.

Wide receiver? Check. The tight end situation might be a little iffy, but Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley, Marquise Goodwin, Miles Onyegbule and a cast of seemingly thousands will blow up if the quarterback play is merely competent.

Offensive line? Check. It might be a year away from truly being special, but three good starters are back from a line that wasn't all that bad in a rebuilding year and gets an upgrade from the JUCO ranks at left tackle with the addition of Donald Hawkins.

And then there's the defense that will replace five starters with five better athletes. Unofficially, there won't be a faster back seven in America now that Demarco Cobbs will take on a full-time linebacking job to go along with warp speed all across the board in the secondary.

The defensive line will boast a pair of NFL defensive ends in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, while freak-of-nature JUCO talent Brandon Moore is about to anchor things on the inside for a run defense that's a mortal lock to finish in the top five.

The players are in place. The coaching staff is tremendous. The schedule isn't all that bad with just two road games against teams that went bowling last season. In other words, there's no excuse.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2012 Texas Longhorns
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Wyoming Cowboys 87 28-15
2 New Mexico Lobos 95 32-10
3 @Mississippi Rebels 88 28-15
5 @Oklahoma State Cowboys 50 23-23
6 West Virginia Mountaineers 49 24-25
7 @Oklahoma Sooners 38 22-26
8 Baylor Bears 65 26-22
9 @Kansas Jayhawks 83 29-18
10 @Texas Tech Red Raiders 71 29-22
11 Iowa State Cyclones 73 25-17
13 TCU Horned Frogs 44 23-23
14 @Kansas State Wildcats 64 24-20



Head coach Gary Patterson could've taken over just about any job opening over the last five years and turned them all down time and again. He has built a system that works and now he's about to reap the rewards of all the years of high-level success without always bringing in the high-level talent.

How good is Patterson? Forget about the consistency on the field; he has done everything possible to make things right in a bad situation with the marijuana controversy that rocked the program this offseason. He never ducked from it and he never tried to make excuses, and in this day and age of issues and scandals across the college football landscape, trying to right the wrong and not trying to sweep things under the rug goes a long way. Fortunately for the Horned Frogs and Patterson, the Big 12 season will be all anyone talks about throughout the summer.

The offense is loaded and led by Casey Pachall, who's as good as a passer and baller as any quarterback in the conference. The running backs are deep, experienced and quick, while the receiving corps could be the Big 12's best if everyone plays up to their potential.

The defense won't be No. 1 in the nation, and it's gutted a bit in certain spots, but it'll be good enough to get by. The aggressiveness will be there as always, but the pass rush has to be ramped up a bit and the consistency has to be there against all the big-time Big 12 offenses.

The team is good enough to be a player and the conference is ready to add an old Southwest Conference team into the fold. The Horned Frogs are a great addition, and they're about to show why.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2012 TCU Horned Frogs
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
2 Grambling State Tigers 95 51-8
3 @Kansas Jayhawks 73 30-22
4 Virginia Cavaliers 64 28-24
5 @Southern Methodist Mustangs 84 32-20
6 Iowa State Cyclones 73 29-21
7 @Baylor Bears 60 30-26
8 Texas Tech Red Raiders 61 31-28
9 @Oklahoma State Cowboys 50 27-27
10 @West Virginia Mountaineers 47 27-29
11 Kansas State Wildcats 71 29-23
13 @Texas Longhorns 56 23-23
14 Oklahoma Sooners 48 26-28


Oklahoma State

Terry Tush of GoPokes.com is our Oklahoma State Cowboys insider:

True freshman Wes Lunt takes over at quarterback following the graduation of NFL first-round draft choice Brandon Weeden. Running backs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, who combined for 1,862 rushing yards and 33 rushing touchdowns a year ago, should help make Lunt's transition to college football a little easier. A group of receivers will attempt to diminish the loss of two-time Biletnikoff Award winner Justin Blackmon, who is now playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seniors Tracy Moore (45 catches for 672 yards and 4 touchdowns) and Isaiah Anderson (28 catches for 315 yards and 4 TDs) should top the receiving game.

Eight starters return for a defense that forced an NCAA-best 44 turnovers in 2011, and was ranked first for points allowed in Big 12 games (25.4). The Cowboys have been among the nation's top 11 teams in forced turnovers each of the last three seasons. Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert form one of the best cornerback tandems in the Big 12, if not the nation. All three starting linebackers return in Caleb Lavey (middle), Shaun Lewis (strongside) and Alex Elkins (weakside), as does free safety Daytawion Lowe, who led the team with 97 tackles and tied for the lead with three forced fumbles last season.

All-American specialist Quinn Sharp (22 of 25 on field goals, and 46.3-yard punting average) is a dangerous weapon.

Don't expect the Cowboys to duplicate last season's 12-1 record and the school's first ever Big 12 championship, but a nine- or 10-win season is not out of the question.

For more from Terry Tush and the Cowboys, check out GoPokes.com.


Absolute Schedule/Records

2012 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Savannah State Tigers 95 56-8
2 @Arizona Wildcats 61 30-25
3 Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns 83 36-22
5 Texas Longhorns 50 23-23
7 @Kansas Jayhawks 75 33-23
8 Iowa State Cyclones 82 30-20
9 TCU Horned Frogs 50 27-27
10 @Kansas State Wildcats 61 26-23
11 West Virginia Mountaineers 41 28-29
12 Texas Tech Red Raiders 68 32-25
13 @Oklahoma Sooners 43 26-27
14 @Baylor Bears 64 28-22


Texas Tech

This year, QB Seth Doege has the experience and the ability to take the passing attack to a whole other level and start to do what it used to be able to crank out under Mike Leach. The receiving corps has the potential to be the best it has been since Michael Crabtree was doing his thing, and if the running backs can stay healthy there might actually be some more balance to the attack. The O line is big, but it has to be more physical for the ground game to go along with everything it does to keep the quarterback clean.

And then there's the defense.

Anyone who wanted to run the ball had no problem pounding away, while the secondary got roasted on a regular basis giving up big play after big play. While the D should be better—it can't be any worse —it has to be a whole bunch better to make any sort of a dent after giving up 52 points to Texas, 66 to Oklahoma State and 66 to Baylor over the final month of the season.

No, it's not going to be a Big 12 title season, and Texas Tech isn't going to be Oklahoma State for now, but for the immediate future of the program this is a big, big year. It's do or die time for the Tommy Tuberville era, but for the program it's time to show that the potential is there to grow into a possible champion. The proverbial big step forward has to be made.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2012 Texas Tech Red Raiders
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Northwestern State Demons 95 50-6
2 @Texas State Bobcats 95 38-14
3 New Mexico Lobos 95 36-17
5 @Iowa State Cyclones 52 25-25
6 Oklahoma Sooners 28 24-32
7 West Virginia Mountaineers 29 27-34
8 @TCU Horned Frogs 39 28-31
9 @Kansas State Wildcats 46 26-27
10 Texas Longhorns 29 22-29
11 Kansas Jayhawks 64 32-28
12 @Oklahoma State Cowboys 32 25-32
13 @Baylor Bears 50 28-29



Kansas State

Kansas State started out last season rallying to get by Eastern Kentucky 10-7, and it needed a goal line stop to get by Miami and a late pick of RGIII to stop Baylor. Nine of the 13 games were decided by a touchdown or less, going 8-1 in those games, and if the time of possession isn't right, the running game slows down, the penalties and turnovers start to happen, the special teams sputter and if everything doesn't work absolutely perfectly, 10-3 could very easily turn into a 2010-like 7-6.

Fortunately for KSU, Collin Klein is a brilliant quarterback who should be one of the most productive all-around playmakers in college football. The O line needs revamping, but can block for John Hubert and a quick stable of backs. The receivers are experienced and can fly, and the power will be there to take the heat off the passing attack.

The secondary has parts that are better than the sum, and the linebacking corps should be terrific with Arthur Brown and Tre Walker certain to combine for well over 150 tackles. The line might have concerns, but the pass rush should be stronger thanks to Meshak Williams and Adam Davis, while there will be a good enough rotation at tackle to get by.

Even if everything goes right and even if the formula works well, Kansas State is hardly assured of being in the Big 12 title chase. But in a league known for passing games, power, toughness and discipline should once again carry the team to a great year while adding yet another feather in the cap of a legendary head coach.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records


2012 Kansas State Wildcats
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Missouri State Bears 95 46-8
2 Miami (FL) Hurricanes 62 25-22
3 North Texas Mean Green 86 30-18
4 @Oklahoma Sooners 30 22-29
6 Kansas Jayhawks 72 28-22
7 @Iowa State Cyclones 55 26-22
8 @West Virginia Mountaineers 30 24-30
9 Texas Tech Red Raiders 54 27-26
10 Oklahoma State Cowboys 39 23-26
11 @TCU Horned Frogs 29 23-29
12 @Baylor Bears 56 25-23
14 Texas Longhorns 36 20-24



If wasn't just RG3 in 2011. With receiver Kendall Wright, running back Terrance Ganaway and some key offensive linemen, the parts were there for the nation's second-best offense to shine. It all came together in a phenomenal year, but this year's receiving corps is loaded—Wright is the only main target who's gone—and despite the tremendous production from Ganaway, the running backs are more talented now with Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk in the mix. The line should be solid and quarterback Nick Florence will be more than capable of directing the show.

The defense's job last year was to not be a liability, and that was far easier said than done. It wasn't just that the D was bad, it's that the talent wasn't in place to come close to matching up with the offense. Five players were drafted from the Baylor offense, but it's no coincidence that just one of the last 12 Bears drafted came from the defense—and Mikel Baker was a seventh-rounder.

The offense is going to work and the defense will probably be better, but Robert Griffin III was Robert Griffin III. Even so, Baylor isn't going to go back to being Baylor just because Griffin went off to be a Redskin. Head coach Art Briles has proven to be too good of a coach to let that happen.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2012 Baylor Bears
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Southern Methodist Mustangs 76 29-21
3 Sam Houston State Bearkats 95 48-9
4 @Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks 83 32-20
5 @West Virginia Mountaineers 36 24-31
7 TCU Horned Frogs 40 26-30
8 @Texas Longhorns 34 22-26
9 @Iowa State Cyclones 54 24-23
10 Kansas Jayhawks 67 28-21
11 @Oklahoma Sooners 29 24-29
12 Kansas State Wildcats 44 23-25
13 Texas Tech Red Raiders 50 29-28
14 Oklahoma State Cowboys 36 22-28

Iowa State

It has taken a little while, but head coach Paul Rhoads has finally started to put together a deep team with lots of options and upsides on both sides of the ball. There might be some big losses with 10 starters gone, along with the starting placekicker, but the team might be even better.

Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz are two decent quarterback prospects who'll battle it out for the job. The running backs are deep, the receivers are deeper and the O line has solid potential even after losing top tackle Kelechi Osemele. The offense might never be among the Big 12 leaders, but it should be more consistent and a bit more explosive.

Jake Knott and A.J. Klein are two of the most productive returning linebackers in America, and they'll have plenty of opportunities to clean things up behind a try-hard line that has decent size, but probably can't get into the backfield. The secondary loses top corner Leonard Robinson, but should be fine with a few JUCO transfers and an underappreciated playmaking free safety Jacques Washington.

This should be the best team in the Rhoads era, and Rhoads should be at his best. He might only be 18-20, but he has settled into the job and continues to get a lot out of a little. However, considering how strong the Big 12 is, it might be tough to come up with decent results. But no one gave Iowa State any credit before and the team went to a bowl game, and Rhoads and the Cyclones might be able to pull off an upset or two again to get to another.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records


2012 Iowa State Cyclones
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 Tulsa Golden Hurricane 51 26-25
2 @Iowa Hawkeyes 49 23-24
3 Western Illinois Leathernecks 95 46-8
5 Texas Tech Red Raiders 48 25-25
6 @TCU Horned Frogs 26 21-29
7 Kansas State Wildcats 45 22-26
8 @Oklahoma State Cowboys 18 20-30
9 Baylor Bears 46 23-24
10 Oklahoma Sooners 19 18-30
11 @Texas Longhorns 26 17-25
12 @Kansas Jayhawks 59 24-23
13 West Virginia Mountaineers 20 21-31



The big positive is that head coach Charlie Weis is ultra-motivated. That's not to say he didn't care at his other stops, but the arrogance is dialed back a bit and he seems to come into the situation wiser and battle-hardened. He needs to show the world that he really can coach—it's not like Brian Kelly is knocking it out of the park at the moment in South Bend—and he'll get the chance to try to come up with the big turnaround.

The stable of running backs is great, and the line, while mediocre, has the bulk and the skill to blast open holes to keep things on the ground. If quarterback Dayne Crist can stay in one piece, he'll have a veteran and speedy receiving corps to play around with. There might not be a ton of talent on the offensive side, but there's enough for Weis to tinker with.

The defense was the worst in America last year and it could take a minor miracle to improve too drastically. Again, experience isn't a problem, but there's no proven pass rush outside of Toben Opurum, the linebacking corps is average around Darius Willis in the middle, and the secondary is a step slow and not all that deep.

On a nine-game losing streak there's nowhere to go but up. That goes for Weis, too, as this might be the last chance to be a head coach at a major level. He'll get plenty of time to make the program decent, but to do that he'll have to surprise and shock a bit. If nothing else, though, it'll be an interesting ride.

- Pete Fiutak, College Football News

Absolute Schedule/Records

2012 Kansas Jayhawks
Week Opponent Win% Avg Score
1 South Dakota State Jackrabbits 95 46-7
2 Rice Owls 69 29-24
3 TCU Horned Frogs 27 22-30
4 @Northern Illinois Huskies 56 26-24
6 @Kansas State Wildcats 28 22-28
7 Oklahoma State Cowboys 24 23-33
8 @Oklahoma Sooners 16 21-34
9 Texas Longhorns 17 18-29
10 @Baylor Bears 33 21-28
11 @Texas Tech Red Raiders 36 28-32
12 Iowa State Cyclones 41 23-24
14 @West Virginia Mountaineers 15 21-34


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