As College Football season draws closer everyone is wondering what their team will look like this year. The Big 12, particularly the Big 12 South is year in and year out one of the most exciting and competitive conferences in the nation. I'm going to break down each team in the Big 12 South while attempting to predict where in the conference they will finish.
6. Texas Tech Red Raiders
This Texas Tech team is the biggest wild card of any team in the Big 12. After the Mike Leach fall out and eventual firing Texas Tech is moving in a different direction with the hiring of ex-Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville. Tuberville will have Tech a little more defensive minded than his predecessor Leach, who always had Tech's offense clicking on all cylinders. I realize that this is a bold pick with as much talent as Tech will have (returning 9 offensive starters), but I think that it will take Tech a year or two to adjust to Tuberville's new offensive system.
Final Record: 6-6 (3-5)
Biggest Game: Texas at home on September 18th. Its an early game and will put a good barometer on what we can expect from Tech against strong teams.
5. Baylor Bears
Baylor's season relies heavily on Quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin is coming off of a season in which he tore his ACL along with the Bears 2009 bowl hopes. The Baylor faithful will again put their faith in Griffin and Wide Receiver Kendall Wright to break there 16 year old bowl drought. The Bears theme for the year is "Rise Up" and thats what they will have to do over the last four games of their schedule, because they might have to steal one win out of four to sneak into a bowl game. The biggest gap the Bears have to fill is at Center, where J.D. Walton was drafted by the Denver Broncos. All though taking the Bears out of the cellar is another bold pick, Baylor is bound to break that bowl drought sometime.
Final Record: 7-5 (4-4)
Biggest Game: Texas A&M at Floyd Casey Stadium on November 13th. The Bears could be fighting for a bowl game bid, and the Baylor fans seem to get more excited when the Aggies come to town than any other team.
4. Oklahoma St. Cowboys
26 year old Brandon Weeden who came back to college after playing baseball in the Yankees farm system has the burden of taking over for star quarterback Zac Robinson. Weeden however will have plenty of help in Running Back Kendall Hunter who had a great sophomore year before injuries hampered his performance in 2009. Defensively the Cowboys graduated 3 starting linebackers and will have to replace them if they want to continue improving their defense like they did between 2008 and 2009. Oklahoma St. will need to continue to force turnovers as they did last year (30), if they want to keep up with their high flying Big 12 opponents.
Final Record: 8-4 (4-4)
Biggest Game: Oklahoma on November 27th in front of their home fans. A win over in state rival Oklahoma would turn a good season into great season for any Oklahoma St. fan.
3. Texas A&M Aggies
These Aggies have a lot to prove after they finished their season losing 4 out of 5, only beating the Baylor Bears in College Station. The A&M offense should be clicking on all cylinders after finishing last year 5th in the nation in total offense (465 yards a game). The Aggies struggled defensively last year allowing over 33 points a game which came in as last in the Big 12, the question is can their new D Coordinator do anything to solve those problems. If the Aggies can tune up their defense, even just a little bit, then look for them to be a true competitor for everyone in the Big 12.
Final Record: 8-4 (4-4)
Biggest Game: At the University of Texas on November 25th. This is A&M's biggest rival, and because of that their is no doubt that the Aggies will be ready to go on Thanksgiving Day.
2. University of Texas Longhorns
We got a sneak preview of Garrett Gilbert in the National championship last year and though he struggled early on, he made good adjustments on the games biggest stage. Gilbert has to replace College Football's winningest quarterback Colt McCoy, so naturally Texas will have some growing pains. The toughest section of the Longhorns schedule will undoubtedly come win they play Oklahoma, snag a bye week, and then travel to Lincoln to play a Nebraska who wants revenge. The way Mack Brown has been known to reload, I would guess the Longhorns will have another great season.
Final Record: 11-1 (7-1)
Biggest Game: Oklahoma on October 2nd. The Red River Rivalry won't dissapoint this year as it is likely to decide the who goes to the Big 12 Championship game.
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Landry Jones got plenty of experience and playing time in 2009 after starter Sam Bradford missed plenty of time with injuries. After setting Oklahoma's single season touchdown reception record look for him to do even bigger things this season, and also keep an eye on Running Back DeMarco Murray who many people are expecting to have a breakout year. The Sooners have plenty of talent on the defensive side of the ball with Lineman Jeremy Beal and Linebacker Travis Lewis. The biggest question for this Oklahoma team is whether or not their O-Line will be able to hold up against the nation's elite teams.
Final Record: 12-0 (8-0) (Not Including Big 12 Championship)
Biggest Game: Texas on October 2nd. When the two titans of the Big 12 South clash again, a trip to the Big 12 championship game and keeping National Championship possibilities alive will be at stake.
Coming Soon: Big 12 North Preview