The RV is packed, the fridge has been replenished and we’re off to the Big 12 after getting the college football preview tour underway in Big Ten country.
Ah, preview season: a time when everyone says the same things in slightly different ways. That might be the case elsewhere, but not here. This Big 12 preview is "unique," and no word feels more appropriate.
Predicted records, breakout players, schedule analysis, strengths and weaknesses have been included for each team, but those are just a part of the package.
A Twitter analysis has also been provided—a 140-character summary of the season ahead for all Big 12 members. Yes, this includes hashtags (when necessary), because what would a Twitter preview be without hashtags? Oh, and snark. There's plenty of that, too.
Also included is a comparison of each team to a type of alcohol. Tailgating is on the brain, so why block it out? You undoubtedly need a brief beverage refresher for fall, so consider this a multipurpose exercise.
Predicted Record: 8-4
Toughest Game: November 23 at Oklahoma State
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: October 12 at Kansas State
Biggest Strength: Running backs (You hear that? That’s the sound of another pot of coffee brewing in a Big 12 defensive coordinator’s office. The combination of Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin will do that).
Biggest Weakness: Secondary (Baylor gave up more than 320 yards per game through the air in 2012, and that’s obviously not ideal).
Breakout Player: Bryce Petty, QB (Look, you could probably throw for 3,500 yards in Baylor’s offense, but Petty is intriguing. Big, athletic and a monster arm; he should jump right in and begin abusing box scores).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: Regardless of the record, Baylor is required Saturday viewing with Art Briles on the sideline. This is not optional.
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… Four Loko (the original Four Loko, not this FDA-approved nonsense).
“Will this be the night my heart explodes?” That’s exactly what you asked yourself before downing a second serving of Four Loko, energy and alcohol in a can. Unfortunately (or not), the original, cardiac-straining version has been modified, but the original version is still a black market collector’s item.
You were never quite sure if drinking it would lead to the best or worst night of your life, but, by golly, you were willing to find out.
Predicted Record: 3-9 (This schedule is really not all that much fun).
Toughest Game: November 16 at Oklahoma
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: Well, actually, pretty much all of them. (Well, not all of them. But most of them).
Biggest Strength: Running back (There are options here, and all of these options will be running behind a line that will return most of its starters).
Biggest Weakness: Linebacker (It may not be the team’s worst position, but replacing Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will be a challenge. Talent and leadership lost).
Breakout Player: Sam Richardson, QB
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: Paul Rhoads is a tremendous coach, but it probably won’t be a tremendous season. And the schedule, by Big 12 standards, is tough.
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… Franzia, or any other wine that comes in a box
No one’s first choice is ever drinking alcohol out of an enclosed cardboard rectangle, but then again, it’s far from the last choice, either. There’s just something intriguing about carrying wine into a party with use of a handle, so every now and then you try it.
Then you drink it, all of it, and you realize that you’ve made a bad decision when you wake up with a marching band performing a full set in your brain. Again.
Predicted Record: 4-8 (The Jayhawks were MUCH better than a one-win team last season. The only problem is, well, they finished with one win).
Toughest Game: November 2 at Texas
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: September 21 vs. Louisiana Tech
Biggest Strength: Running back (James Sims is a special player and requires more attention than he’s receiving).
Biggest Weakness: Wide receiver (Here's a stat: Kansas wide receivers caught zero—not a typo—touchdowns a season ago. That is startling bit of trivia that will win you a beer at your local watering hole).
Breakout Player: Jake Heaps, QB (His name and arm are known for his days at BYU. For Kansas to be better, he has to break out).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: A JUCO-infused Kansas team should easily eclipse the one-win mark. Now THAT is confidence. [crickets chirping goes here]
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… Sambuca.
If there’s any drink that fits the “pile of crap” genre that Charlie Weis is clearly angling for on the recruiting trail, this is it. The name sounds enticing, like you’ve been missing out on some mysterious luxury liquor all this time.
When it finally enters your system for this first time, however, you question the meaning of life shortly before drinking the closest thing in sight, which happens to be a candle.
Predicted Record: 7-5
Toughest Game: October 5 at Oklahoma State
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: November 9 at Texas Tech
Biggest Strength: Offensive line (The entire line returns, and this group was superb a season ago).
Biggest Weakness: Inexperience (Almost the entire defense has departed, as has quarterback Collin Klein. There are new faces all over the field).
Breakout Player: Tyler Lockett, WR (Not a big target, but dangerous. He should only improve).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: It’s difficult to doubt the coaching wizard that is Bill Snyder. 2013, however, will require true wizardry. #wizardcoach #youneverknow
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… An after-dinner Brandy.
There’s a reason after-drinks are so popular. It allows time for that 48-ounce bone-in ribeye you just engulfed to work its way through your digestive tract.
Will this vintage drink help nullify the post-meat discomfort? Do you actually enjoy Brandy? The answer to both of these is no, but the routine is strangely hypnotic and you don't doubt it.
Predicted Record: 9-3
Toughest Game: December 7 at Oklahoma State
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: November 7 at Baylor
Biggest Strength: Run game (Let’s split the praise between the running backs and the offensive line. Both return just about everyone, and both units should be outstanding).
Biggest Weakness: Front seven (Some key losses to replace, and the defense struggled throughout much of 2012).
Breakout Player: Trey Metoyer, WR (The buzz began last year, but it will be backed with his play in 2013).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: Depth on defense is a concern, but all eyes will be on quarterback Blake Bell. If QB play is stable, look out.
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… Airplane Vodka (The mini-bottle celebration 35,000 feet above)
Consistent and underappreciated, being able to drink on an airplane is one of life’s great pastimes. Is it the best vodka you’ve ever had? Of course not, but it’s better than the alternative of being stuck with a glass of Coke. Sheesh, not even the whole can.
You know exactly what you’re getting with in-air alcohol purchases. Although it’s far more costly than it should be, it almost always satisfies your reasonable (key word) expectations.
Predicted Record: 11-1
Toughest Game: November 16 at Texas
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: August 31 vs. Mississippi State
Biggest Strength: Wide receiver (Josh Stewart is one of the premier wideouts in the country, and he has company. An experienced, deep group).
Biggest Weakness: Offensive line (Perhaps the key cog to make this team go, and it will feature plenty of new faces).
Breakout Player: Clint Chelf, QB (In this offense, it simply has to be whoever logs the most snaps. Unless something changes, Chelf will be that guy).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: So many question marks on this team, and yet, confidence is soaring. It's hard not to back Mike Gundy (and a favorable schedule).
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… Long Island Ice Tea
Hear me out here. Despite the mystery and stigma surrounding this cocktail, it delivers. Not necessarily in taste—with each bar concocting a vastly different experience, none of which would be classified as excellent—but rather with the desired results.
It is the most consistent order on the planet, because it guarantees that you will be having a conversation with that fake palm tree in the corner of the room after a few glasses. Guess what? You’re a glass-and-a-half in, and you’re drifting right toward it. Exactly what you wanted.
Predicted Record: 10-2 (Higher than most, and we’ll find out Week 1 if this is off or not).
Toughest Game: October 19 at Oklahoma State
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: November 16 at Kansas State
Biggest Strength: Secondary (It is young, athletic and spectacular. And despite some late, unexpected losses, the entire defense has the chance to be special).
Biggest Weakness: Offensive line.
Breakout Player: LaDarius Brown, WR (A massive wideout with speed, and a potential red zone machine. With the depth chart opening, look out).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: If TCU can conquer the SEC out of the gate, the potential could be realized. Still, the young team that might not be ready just yet.
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… A mystery party punch.
The “what’s in it?” question you’re obligated to ask really doesn’t matter; you’re going to drink it anyway. You have your cup in hand, halfway into the bowl—heck, maybe a bathtub—when you ponder the ingredients. Before you can even process the answer, your cup is already to your lips.
What happens next varies a great deal. It could be a truly memorable night with the perfect, mystery fuel, or you can be out by 11:30 and wake up covered in Sharpie.
Predicted Record: 10-2
Toughest Game: October 26 at TCU
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: September 7 at BYU (Fascinating out-of-conference game against a defense that can really play).
Biggest Strength: Running back (Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron all have vastly different styles, and all of them can destroy defenses).
Biggest Weakness: Defensive line (You could have averaged four yards per carry against this front last year. Has to improve).
Breakout Player: David Ash, QB (He’s already broken through, but this could be the season he breaks out. Trend upward, way upward, appears likely).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: It’s BCS bowl or bust for Mack Brown. Given the offense and uncertainty of conference, not a bad year for it. #DontSayTheyreBackThough
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… Corona.
It’s not a perfect beer, and it’s certainly not as popular as it once was, but an ice-cold Corona in the warm sun is a dependable, delicious option.
The problem? The guy wearing his bright orange "YOLO" tank top at a nearby table just spent the last 10 minutes explaining how to get the lime to the bottom of the bottle without spilling. And he ruins it for everyone.
Predicted Record: 7-5
Toughest Game: November 28 at Texas
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: August 30 at SMU (It’s a game Texas Tech should win, but it’s not a layup, either).
Biggest Strength: Front seven (Yes, really. This defense was dramatically improved last year, and most of this front will return).
Biggest Weakness: Quarterback (Seth Doege was an ideal fit for this team, and replacing that production will be a challenge).
Breakout Player: Kliff Kingsbury, coach (I cheated, but he’s not that much older than the players, so perhaps it’s appropriate. Plus, his energy and influence should be obvious out of the gate).
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: Perhaps the most unpredictable team in the conference led by a head coach who just turned 34. What happens next... #weshallsee
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… An $11 IPA Hipster Beer with a Flashy Logo and a Catchy Name
It’s the hipster bar order of champions. And although the taste is pretty average overall, you like making your friends go to obscure bars many miles away to order it. What’s the specific name of this brew, you ask?
It doesn’t matter. You’ve probably never heard of it, bro.
Predicted Record: 4-8
Toughest Game: Outside of William & Mary and Georgia State, pretty much all of them.
Don’t Sleep On ‘Em Game: See above.
Biggest Strength: Running back (The late, surprising addition of Charles Sims gives Dana Holgorsen a really outstanding stable of backs. It'll be fascinating to see how he uses them).
Biggest Weakness: Defense, yes, the whole thing. (It allowed 40 or more points six times last season, and it’s hard to expect a massive leap forward in 2013).
Breakout Player: Jordan Thompson, WR
Season Synopsis in 140 Characters or Less: Dana Holgorsen’s hair could approach new rogue levels this year if the defense doesn't improve and offense starts slow.
If It Were an Alcohol It Would Be… Moonshine, of course.
Any liquid that is stored in a Mason jar, can take the stain off boats, power your lawnmower AND be consumed is something truly terri-awesome. The worst part isn’t when it gets past your throat, but rather feeling your insides start to melt five seconds later.
Also, this will be West Virginia's permanent comparison drink regardless of coach, players or conference until the end of time. It just feels right.