The Big 12 Conference:
The Big 12 Conference is still in business even though the conferences survival looked dire a few months ago. Nothing has changed for 2010 but it’s going be business unusual for the 12. It’s a lame duck year for Nebraska and Colorado. Texas A&M took charity from the desperate teams in the North to ensure their livelihood. There are some bitter feelings among the schools which might make for some interesting games in the league.
Big 12 fans, sit back and enjoy. It’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Big 12 North
1009 Record: 10-4
Things To Like About Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are poised to make their final season in the Big 12 memorable. Even though Ndamukong Suh moved on to the Detroit Lions, the Nebraska defense will be stout. DT Jared Crick should be the star of the Husker defense this year. The offense should be much better returning 9 starters including the running back duo of Roy Helu and Rex Burkhead. Hey it’s Nebraska, you know the offensive line will have five earth movers mowing down defensive lines. The entire offensive line returns for the Big Red.
Things To Not Like About Nebraska: It’s never good to be unsettled at quarterback heading into fall camp but that’s what the Huskers are looking at. It’s a three man race between senior Zac Lee, sophomore Cody Green and true freshman Taylor Martinez. Green and Martinez took all the snaps during spring practice while Lee missed spring ball with a shoulder injury. This is a huge decision for offensive coordinator Shawn Watson.
OSG’s Take: The schedule sets up perfect for Nebraska to make a national championship run. Texas must come to Lincoln (appointment TV alert) and Oklahoma is not on the schedule. Nebraska better be ready for everyone’s “A” game though in the conference because the other schools will want to take their shots at the Cornhuskers for bolting to the Big Ten conference.
Wilkie: As a fan of the old Big 8 I’m really disappointed that OU-Nebraska won’t happen this year and perhaps never again. With that said it would be great to see these old rivals play at the end of the year in the title game. I’m going to say 11-1 this year for Nebraska and in the BCS Championship Game hunt.
Phil: Nebraska will never be the Nebraska of the 70's, but this is the best team they've had in a while. They have a shot because Texas and Oklahoma won't be as good. 10-2 Good Bowl game.
Nelson: To settle this one, I have to say that Wilkie has lost his mind. While it's said that defenses win championships, Bo Pelini needs a settled offense to get within sniffing distance. It won't happen... a BCS bowl, but not the one most in Lincoln want.
2009 Record: 8-5
Things To Like About Missouri: With Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford in the NFL, Blake Gabbert now takes the reigns as the best quarterback in the Big 12. Gabbert is poised for a great year. With that said the Mizzou offense can’t ignore Derrick Washington who is a big time back in that offense. The Tigers will put points on the board. On defense Aldon Smith will create havoc for the opposition, he’s that good.
Things To Not Like About Missouri: The secondary gave up way too many big plays last year. For Mizzou to be successful that unit will need to make more plays. Mizzou’s Big 12 schedule is as rough as you can get with Oklahoma and Nebraska back to back. Thank god Texas is off the docket.
OSG’s Take: Mizzou has a reputation for some head scratching losses. This year the Tigers must win the games they are suppose to win. Mizzou found out during the lastest round of conference swapping that their football program, while on the rise, isn’t close to being the brand name Nebraska is for the Big Ten. The Tigers want to prove that wrong and they have the team and most importantly, the coach in place to change attitudes toward their football program. Mizzou will be a focused team this year.
Wilkie: I really think Missouri will win the Big 12 North and beat Nebraska at Lincoln. There I’m on the record. I’m just very nervous about their schedule.
Phil: Wilkie, did you just contradict what you said in the Nebraska summary? Good but not great team here. Unless they play "D", write down 8-4 and take it to a bowl.
Nelson: I'm with Phil again... can someone check the tape...? I like another shot in the Texas Bowl to get beat by Navy again. You see the ballpark I'm in here. Gabbert will have to create more than he wants, which will force some losses that may not look that way when you look at the schedule.
Things To Like About Colorado: Another year older and wiser. The Buffalos return 10 starters on offense including dynamic running back Rodney Stewart who has had a hard time staying healthy and on the field the last two years. Tyler Hansen has stabilized the quarterback position. On defense the linebacker corps looks to be improved led by B.J. Beatty.
Things Not To Like About Colorado: The defense didn’t make the big stop last year plus creating turnovers was a big issue last season. It would help to for the Buffalos to have some kind of pass rush too.
OSG’s Take: Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins is the luckiest man in college football. The Buffalos were expected to contend in 2009 but the season went to hell from opening kick-off yet Hawkins kept his job. So with a new lease on his coaching life and 10 returning starters on offense and seven on defense, this is the year to produce a winner in Boulder. If not the temptation to start fresh went the Buffs join the Pac-10 might be too much for Colorado to pass up and Dan Hawkins will be coaching intramurals.
Wilkie: I’m willing to bet the season hinges on the opening game against Colorado State. With Georgia coming to Folsom Field and conference road games at Missouri, at Oklahoma and at Nebraska, 5-7 is about the max.
Phil: Say goodbye Dan Hawkins. Man, how quickly did his career crash? Colorado hasn't been the same in years. They may be marginally better, but 4-8 or 5-7 if they catch a break is it.
Nelson: This ain't intramurals, brother. This season will prove that saying to Dan Hawkins once and for all. He never should have left Boise. See what coulda been in Division One Football...? Not even .500
2009 Record: 5-7
Things To Like About Kansas: If Turner Gill can turn the University of Buffalo into a winner just think what he do in Lawrence. There is offensive talent with Toben Opurum in the backfield and a solid offensive line. On defense the line has some players who can get to the quarterback and get in the backfield.
Things To Not Like About Kansas: There is no more Todd Reesing so quarterback is an issue. Kale Pick and Jordan Webb are competing for the job. The secondary loses two of its best players. KU’s defensive backs didn’t pick off many passes last year either.
OSG’s Take: With Turner Gill in charge there is a different vibe in Lawrence. The offense should be efficient and there’s enough defense to stay in games. Kansas won’t be a factor in the Big 12 North but they will determine who wins it and go bowling this season.
Wilkie: The Turner Gill era begins with a bowl game. 7-5 for the Jayhawks
Phil: Gill will be more successful than Mangino the Hut...and he wasn't bad. 6-6 this year, better days ahead.
Nelson: I like the idea of Gill leading the Jayhawks to a bowlgame- even without Reesing. If the people in Lawrence will be patient, you'll have long-term success. Just take it slowly...
Kansas State Wildcats
2009 Record: 6-6
Things To Like About Kansas State: Bill Snyder coming back as head coach proved to be a good move last year. Snyder will maximize his resources every year. Daniel Thomas returns after leading the Big 12 in rushing a year ago. The defensive line should be solid with the infusion of JUCO talent, especially against the run.
Things To Not Like About Kansas State: K-State needs consistent quarterback play from Carson Coffman. The Wildcats were dead last in the Big 12 in passing and that needs to improve. There was a significant talent drain at linebacker and that unit will need to be solidified quickly.
OSG’s Take: K-State will play hard and will be no push over but there are some deficiencies in some key areas. Snyder can get the maximum out of his talent but unfortunately that won’t be enough this year especially with the schedule. UCLA, Nebraska and Texas are on the docket and then closing the season with three straight road games will be tough.
Wilkie: Here’s a bold prediction for you. K-State will upset Texas on November 6th. You don’t want to play the Wildcats at the Little Apple in November. I love the heart of this team and think K-State will win six games and go to a bowl.
Phil: Not feeling the love here. There is no depth or experience here. Yeah, Snyder is a good coach, but smoke and mirrors will only get you so far. 4-8
Nelson: Wilkie, what did you eat before you started working on this...? I'm with Phil again... The schedule will catch up with them at the end, and I like Kansas in the Apple Cup.
Iowa State Cyclones
2009 Record: 7-6
Things To Like About Iowa State: Paul Rhodes was the perfect hire for Iowa State and is a perfect fit for this program. The offense has a go to back in Alexander Robinson. An offense line that’s strength is pass protection and a pretty good quarterback in Austen Arnaud.
Things To Not Like About Iowa State: The defense. The Cyclones haven’t sniffed the quarterback lately and with a defensive line that lacks size a consistent pass rush will be tough. Three new starters at linebacker doesn’t bode will either.
OSG’s Take: Iowa State was the feel good story in the Big 12 last year with a winning season including an Insight.com bowl win. The offense will get it done. The defense will be the issue for the Cyclones. With road games at Oklahoma, at Texas and at in state rival Iowa plus Nebraska and Utah on the docket, its going to be tough to match last years success.
Wilkie: It’s going to be a long year in Ames this year. 4-8 for the Cyclones.
Phil: Again solid, but unspectacular. Defense will bite them in the ass. 6-6
Nelson: Gotta go with Wilkie here for a change. I don't see a lot of wins here... at all... although I like Rhodes and what he's doing in the long-term if Ames will put up with him.
Big 12 South
2009 Record: 8-5
Things To Like About Oklahoma: Landry Jones comes back as an experienced quarterback. Say what you want about Sam Bradford going down last year but Jones was thrown into the fire and performed pretty well. The Sooners offense if full of playmakers and the defense is outstanding.
Things To Not Like About Oklahoma: If OU has any weakness is a proven playmaker at corner but that’s really, really being picky.
OSG’s Take: OU will be awesome this year, enough said.
Wilkie: The Sooners will be 12-0 and will go to the BCS Championship Game.
Phil: They will be good, but not as good as the last couple of years. But good enough to go 11-1
Nelson: I just don't see Landry Jones getting past the Red River Shootout in one piece. Jones has made, and will continue to make, strides-and-a-half as starting QB. Just not enough to get them past Texas.
A big New Year's Bowl is in their future, but not big enough.
2009 Record: 13-1
Things To Like About Texas: The defense will be tremendous this year. The Longhorn “D” will be almost impossible to run against. Sam Acho will get to the quarterback. The secondary is full of players that will play on Sunday. Yes Colt McCoy is gone but Garrett Gilbert is a QB Horns’ fans can hang the hat on. You know what Gilbert almost accomplished in the BCS Title Game against Alabama after being thrown into the fire.
Things To Not Like About Texas: While the offensive line is OK and there is depth issues at linebacker, and that’s being very, very picky, there’s not much to be concerned with.
OSG’s Take: Texas will be well, Texas again. The Big 12 South will be determined at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas October 2nd. Going to Nebraska this year with all the circumstances involved will be a huge test.
Wilkie: The defense might carry this team and its hard for me to see this team beating Oklahoma and Nebraska this year. I say 10-2.
Phil: Again, good, not great. This, while a great defensive team, will struggle on offense. They'll miss Jordan Shipley more than Colt McCoy. 11-1
Nelson: I think that Nebraska, OU, and Texas will all beat up on each other during the season- more than once. But when it counts, I gotta go with Mack Brown.
Texas A&M Aggies
2009 Record: 6-7
Things To Like About Texas A&M: The Aggie offense is explosive. Jarrod Johnson is a special quarterback with a live arm and tremendous size at 6-5, 243 pounds. With receivers like Jeff Fuller, Ryan Tannehill and budding superstar Uzoma Nwachukwu the Aggies passing game could be off the charts.
Things Not To Like About Texas A&M: The Aggies finished dead last in total defense in the Big 12 last year. While A&M’s defense has speed its not very physical.
OSG’s Take: Texas A&M could pose a challenge to the gang of two (Oklahoma & Texas) in the South if the defense improves. The offense will score points it’s whether the defense can stop someone from scoring points.
Wilkie: Its about time good things happened in College Station, in my book one of the best if not the best college football atmosphere’s. 9-3 but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Aggies pulled off 10 wins.
Phil: Prototypical 12 team. Light it up and hope you get a stop. They got screwed in the realignment thing, but that's there own fault. They'll score enough to be dangerous. 8-4
Nelson: Tremendous offensive talent plus mediocre defense equals 6-6. I'm just not all that impressed.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
2009 Season: 9-4
Things To Like About Texas Tech: The OSG HQ really likes the Tommy Tuberville hire at Texas Tech. Mike Leach put the program on the radar screen but how many championships did Leach win in Lubbock? Tuberville has been there, done that in the SEC. There is plenty of talent this year including Red Raider quarterbacks Taylor Potts and Steven Sheffield. The skill players are outstanding and the receivers will be a major weapon. The linebackers are the strength of the Red Raider defense.
Things Not To Like About Texas Tech: There is very little depth on defense and the secondary may get burned a few times. Only 2 starters return from an offensive line that wasn’t very good last year. With a new coaching staff it’s going to take some time to get that group to gel.
OSG’s Take: Bringing Neal Brown into Lubbock from Troy as offensive coordinator to keep the up tempo offense could be a brilliant move by Tuberville. There won’t be much disruption on that side of the ball. The Red Raiders catch a break with the Longhorns making the trip to West Texas this year (Upset alert!). The schedule sets up nice for a highly successful first season for the Tuberville era in Lubbock.
Wilkie: Texas Tech wins 9 games, perhaps 10 and upsets Texas or Oklahoma.
Phil: Without D, it doesn't matter how much you score. Tommy will pull some hair out this season, though better seasons are ahead. 8-4
Nelson: See A&M... but just the other way around. There's usually a year or so of transition when you're bringing in new coaches with old systems. If Neal Brown can equal the Evil Genius, then you've got something. Just not yet...
2009 Record: 4-8
Things To Like About Baylor: Robert Griffin returns healthy after blowing out his knee last year. Griffin flat out makes Baylor a bowl contender. The Baylor offense is loaded with speed especially at receiver.
Things To Not Like About Baylor: The Bear defense must be more consistent against the run and have some kind of pass rush which would take pressure off the defensive backs in the pass happy Big 12. The offensive line has had issues blocking the last two years but might get by with the ultra mobile Griffin under center.
OSG’s Take: Art Briles is one of the best coaches flying under the radar. Briles’ staff has stocked the program with some talented players that should begin to come into their own this season. With Robert Griffin healthy all year the Bears should go to their first bowl game in 16 years.
Wilkie: It’s going to be fun watching Baylor play this year. The Bears win six and go bowling.
Phil: As Robert Griffin goes, so goes Baylor. Dangerous team to play. 7-5
Nelson: Bowling, maybe New Mexico or Dallas... for the DFC- calm down...
Oklahoma State Cowboys
2009 Record: 9-4
Things To Like About Oklahoma State: There are athletes all over the field but that’s how they do things in Stillwater. Kendall Hunter is one of the best running backs in the Big 12 and should go over 1,000 yards. The defensive line may not be beefy but they are athletic and make plays.
Things Not To Like About Oklahoma State: The star power is gone and the Pokes lost a ton of talent. The offensive line only returns one starter and it will take time for this unit to gel.
OSG’s Take: Yes the Pokes had a significant talent drain but don’t write off the Fightin’ Gundys. Things will be just fine in Stillwater. Its tough when your homecoming game is Nebraska, you must make a trip to Texas and the annual Bedlam Series with OU though the Sooners must come to Boone Pickens Stadium. There are way too many athletes on the roster for a drop off in the win column.
Wilkie: The Pokes will win 8 games this year.
Phil: Last year was their shot at glory. Didn't happen. A somewhat undisciplined team that will never be more than what they are. 7-5
Nelson: Average team with an average bowl in their future... meh...
Big 12 Champion
Big 12 Offensive Player Of The Year:
Wilkie: Robert Griffin – Baylor
Phil: Griffin (If healthy)
Nelson: And a triple... Griffin...
Big 12 Defensive Player Of The Year
Wilkie: Jared Crick - Nebraska
Phil: Crick (I hate making the same pick)
Nelson:This was easy... Crick...