After looking at four of the BCS conferences, our previews and predictions move on to the Big 12.
We start by looking at the class of the Big-12 over the last few seasons in the South division. With Texas and Oklahoma in the division it can never be overlooked in college football.
The Big 12 is considered by many the second best conference in the country, behind the SEC. That was until the bowl season last year.
The Big 12 was laughed at for its tiebreaker formula that kept Texas, who beat Oklahoma, out of the national championship game. The result was Oklahoma lost to Florida while Texas beat Ohio State.
That is not to say Texas would have beaten Florida, but they should have gotten the chance over Oklahoma. Even so, it didn't help that the rest of the conference laid an egg in the bowls.
While the PAC-10 finished 5-0 in the bowls and the SEC finished 6-2, the Big 12 was exposed defensively, finishing 4-3.
Still, it’s a new season in the Big 12 and with Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford back, there is a lot to like. It will get respect until bowl time where they will have to show more than last year.
Before getting caught up in the post season let’s look at the upcoming season. So here is are our Big 12 preview and predictions alphabetically for the South division.
Baylor Bears: Prediction 3-9
This could be the most talked about 4-8 team ever. Baylor is the sexy pick this year to break a bowl drought since 1994.
Since Robert Griffin came off the bench in the first game and had a solid season as a true freshman, Baylor has been a bowl pick. The Bears fans are excited by the results from Art Briles who is entering his second season.
For a school that has not had much to be happy about in a long while so any publicity is a good thing. One problem though, the Bears still play in a loaded Big-12 South division.
Texas, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State did not forget how to play football over the summer while Texas Tech and Mike Leech will have the pirate ship righted by the end of September.
In Baylor’s own division only Texas A&M could be a weak team. The North division is not as strong as the South but has only one pushover in Iowa State.
The offense will be in Griffin’s hands. For it to be better he will have to become a better passer and not just a runner. Baylor will also have to find someone to help carry the offensive load.
The defense will have to do better on third down. The Bears allowed nearly a 50 percent third-down conversion rate to opponents.
The defense does have linebacker Joe Pawelek and free safety Jordan Lake who could be the best in their position in the conference. Still, Baylor will have to find some other playmakers on defense.
The non-conference schedule has two games that they should win and two real tests. Baylor should get wins against Northwestern State and Kent State.
The Bears will find out how good they really are in the first game of the season at Wake Forest and at home against Connecticut. The bears could drop both these games since these two programs have been building longer then Baylor.
The conference schedule will not be a walk in the park either. I see only one conference win on the road against Iowa State. The other teams in conference are either too good to beat at home or too tough a test on the road.
The home loses will come from Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas, and Texas Tech. The away loses will come from Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas A&M.
The bears will likely be, at worst, 2-10 and at best can only manage a 5-7 to 6-6 season. Everything would have to go right for the Bears to make it to .500.
I think the Bears will go 3-9 but it is not a knock on this team. They still have work to do to gain ground on the rest of the conference.
I cannot buy into the fact that the defense has come on in huge leaps and bounds this season. It might look like a step back but next season the Bears will have a much better chance to make noise in the conference.
Oklahoma Sooners: Prediction 11-1
Oklahoma has been very good under Bob Stoops. The only problem that remains is he and his team cannot seem to win the big games anymore. The Sooners have lost their last five BCS games counting last year’s BCS Championship game.
One has to wonder if “Big Game” Bob has lost his touch. He will get another chance this season and with last year’s Heisman winner Sam Bradford returning at quarterback the Sooners have reason to believe.
Now let’s really get down to what could happen. Oklahoma has to replace four starting offensive linemen.
While the players are there, the line will have to jell quickly. If not, Bradford might be running for his life and the running game could struggle.
The defense will be solid once again and loaded with great players. The only problem until the Big 12 proves otherwise in the bowl season, is the Sooners still have a Big 12 defense.
Out of conference, Oklahoma will get an early season test at a neutral site against BYU and a road trip to Miami. The Sooners should get two hard fought wins.
The other two non conference games are at home and against Idaho State and Tulsa where the Sooners will have way too much talent to lose to either team.
In conference Oklahoma will get wins on the road against Kansas, Nebraska, and Texas Tech. They should also get home wins against Kansas State, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State.
While Nebraska and Oklahoma State could be prove difficult, the Sooners will win. Where Oklahoma will stumble once more is at the Texas State Fair against Texas.
The Longhorns will beat the Sooners for the second straight season, leaving the Sooners with a 9-3 season, at worst.
On the other hand Oklahoma could run the table and finish undefeated. Still the Sooners always seem to give one away at some point in the season.
I believe the Sooners will finish with an 11-1 record.
Oklahoma State Cowboys: Prediction 11-1
If Oklahoma State is going to break into the top of the South division this will be the year. The Cowboys return Dez Bryant at wide receiver, Kendall Hunter at running back, and Zac Robinson at quarterback.
The offense should not be a problem. Oklahoma State scored 20 or more points in every game last season.
Scoring points should not give the Cowboys trouble. Keeping other teams from scoring points could give the Cowboys trouble.
Defensively is where Oklahoma State’s season will be decided. If the defense is better the Cowboys could have a great season.
If the Cowboys hope to have the best season since their coach Mike Gundy was handing off to Barry Sanders, the defense will have to play as good as their offense.
It will not take Oklahoma State long to figure out how good they will be. The Georgia Bulldogs come to Stillwater for the first game of the season.
The Cowboys get a Georgia team that has lost a lot of starters but is not completely without talent. Oklahoma State should beat the Bulldogs and the rest of the out of conference games.
The other non-conference games are at home and they win them all against Houston, Rice, and Grambling State.
The conference schedule should have the Cowboys winning away games against Texas A&M, Baylor, and Iowa State. They should get home wins against Missouri, Texas Tech, and Colorado.
It might be going out on a limb, but Oklahoma State could take Texas at home but a loss on the road against the Sooners will prevent a perfect season.
If the defense is better I could see the Cowboys winning against every team they face. The worst they will do is 9-3.
Still, the Big-12 will become more muddled with the Cowboys beating Texas Tech and finishing 11-1. The games line up perfectly for Oklahoma State to make that run.
Texas Longhorns: Prediction 11-1
One night in Lubbock could haunt Longhorn fans for a long time. After beating Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, Texas looked to be smoothly sailing to the Big 12 Championship Game.
Then came that night in Lubbock where Micheal Crabtree’s touchdown grab stunned the Longhorns. Next came the Big-12’s tiebreaker system that screwed the Longhorns.
I will say it. Texas got screwed. Mainly because, out of the three teams a top of the Big-12 South division, only Texas won its bowl game.
The Longhorns not only won their bowl game but beat a good Ohio State team. The SEC teams Oklahoma and Texas Tech lost to were not bad teams. I just think Texas would have given both SEC teams a tougher test.
So we move to 2009 and Texas want to finish what it started in 2008. Good thing they will have Colt McCoy back behind center and Jordan Shipley returning kicks and catching passes.
The question mark is can Texas find a running game to help out McCoy who was last season’s leading rusher. Running back by committee might work but the Longhorns will be happy if they can find a feature back.
The defense will have to fill some holes after last year's departures but has the talent to do so. The main concern will be the pass defense.
Last season the Longhorns were 104th in pass defense. That will have to improve with all the quarterbacks returning in the conference.
Texas was solid in run defense last fall but cannot slip up while also improving the pass defense. If the Longhorns can do this they will go a long way to finishing what they started in 2008.
The non conference schedule has no team on it to scare Texas. The Longhorns should beat Louisiana Monroe, Wyoming, UTEP, and Central Florida.
In conference the Longhorns should get home wins against Colorado, Texas Tech, and Kansas. They should also get away wins at Missouri, Baylor, and Texas A&M.
The Red River Shootout at the Texas State Fair should go to Texas over Oklahoma, but Texas will slip up and fall on the road to Oklahoma State.
The worst the Longhorns could finish this season is 9-3, but they could also go undefeated as well.
I think the Longhorns will finish 11-1. That collective scream you hear is coming from Austin. It will be another three way tie in the Big 12 South.
Texas A&M Aggies: Prediction 5-7
Mike Sherman enters year two with the Aggies trying to rebuild Texas A&M into a winner after being average during the last head coaching administration.
Getting the Aggies good again will not be a quick turnaround. It will take time to get into the same class as the top teams in the Big 12 South.
The offense is slowly putting all the pieces together. Sherman has recruited well and has the Aggies headed in the right direction.
There is talent on both offense and defense. While it might not seem like much this year there is hope for the future.
Next season should be when Texas A&M break out. This season will have a few more bumps in the road.
The bright side to this season for the Aggies is that the non conference schedule is pretty easy.
Out of conference games against New Mexico, Utah State, UAB should all be wins. The Arkansas game in Dallas will show the Aggies how far they have come, while Texas A&M will not beat the Razorbacks.
In conference the Aggies will lose to Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Kansas State. They will beat Iowa State and Baylor in conference.
I could see Texas A&M going 7-5 at best and 3-9 at worst.
I think the Aggies will finish 5-7 with fans looking to next season for what they have been waiting for.
Texas Tech Red Raiders: Prediction 7-5
For those thinking the Red Raiders will meet a sudden deep fall, remember this B.J. Symons, Kliff Kingsbury, and Sonny Cumbie and Gram Harrell to name a few.
No matter how many quarterbacks the program lose they always seem to find another one. Texas Tech might not have the stars from last season but they will reload the offense once more.
Texas Tech will fall back into the pack this season with the offense and defense needing to be rebuilt.
Still, that does not mean that there is no chance of a bowl game with Mike Leech working wonders while he has been at Texas Tech.
This season will be no different for the Red Raiders. The one coach who has broken out of the conventional ideas in college football will figure out how to make this program keep on winning.
The non-conference schedule is not tough by any stretch of the imagination. Texas Tech should get wins over North Dakota, Rice, Houston, and New Mexico.
In conference the Red Raiders will lose to Texas, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma. The conference wins should come from Kansas State, Texas A&M, and Baylor.
The worst the Red Raiders will be this season is 4-8 with 9-3 the best they could possibly be.
Still I have to think that Texas Tech will be a 7-5 team. As long as Mike Leech is at the helm the Red Raiders will always be competitive.
This season might be tougher than last’s years but next year could put Texas Tech at the top of the South standings again.
So we will have another three way tie again in the Big 12 South. Who will get luck this time out of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas?
Will Texas get the shaft once again? Will the three teams all will their bowl game?
I do not know who will get to the Big 12 championship game. What I do know is that they will beat the North champion, no matter who the North Champion is.
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