Big 12 Preview

By on August 8, 2010

NORTH

 
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Nebraska Cornhuskers

The Huskers will have a huge bull’s eye on them in 2010, not because they won the North last year or because they came within one second of knocking off Texas in the Big 12 championship game, the disdain towards Nebraska is because of their defection to the Big 10. With a monster defense coming back, the Huskers should role through the North and wind up in the conference title game, which they have a good chance to win. A title would be their first since 1999. Everyone thinks that losing Ndamukong Suh will severely diminish the quality of an outstanding Husker D. Fact is, this D returns six starters and could very well be even better in 2010. This is a top 10 defense that is deep at every position and is always in attack mode. The Black Shirts will dominate the Big 12 this year. Count on it. With Senior RB Roy Helu Jr. running behind a dominate offensive line, and Senior QB Zac Lee returning with some much needed experience, the Husker offense should be able to help out the D in 2010. If the offense, which returns 10 starters, can have any type of consistent success, Big Red Nation could be playing for a BCS title.

 

Missouri Tigers

The North is pretty weak, so the disappointing Tigers get this spot by default. They return 15 starters from a team that went 8-5 in 2009. It all starts with the passing game and Junior QB Blaine Gabbert. He was never the same after the Nebraska D put a whipping on him, and the Tiger passing game fell to second to last in the Big 12. If he really is back to normal, Missouri should see the win total go up. The Achilles heal of this team is defense, namely the pass D. They return seven starters, but that might not be good for a team that ranked 104 in pass D in 2009. If this unit can improve, eight wins is a given and 10 is a possibility.

Kansas St. Wildcats

 The Wildcats only return 10 starters in 2010, but luckily one of them is Sophomore RB Daniel Thomas. He also has four of his linemen returning, so look for him to improve on his 2009 numbers. The QB situation is unsettled, but it has to improve on its pitiful PYPG from 2009. The Wildcat D lost some big time playmakers, but they do return five starters. Bill Snyder always brought tough defenses to the table during his reign last decade, so look for him to bring smiles to the faces of the people in Manhattan. Expect about eight wins.

Kansas Jayhawks

Turner Gill will have the Jayhawks competing soon, if he doesn’t get hired away, but this is not the year. Gill will have a sophomore, Kale Pick, or freshman, Jordan Webb, replacing record setting QB, Todd Reesing. Throw in an inexperienced WR corps and Kansas just will not have the fire power to compete in many games. Just to pile it on, Gill brought in Chuck Long to institute a new scheme, too. The Defense returns five starters and should be, well, average. The secondary is strong and there is some talent on the line, but it is nothing overly special. Look for five wins, maybe six and bowl-eligible, if they get lucky and pull an upset. Don’t worry Kansas, things will get better. You just have to suffer through a transition year.

Iowa St. Cyclones

The cyclones are somewhat of a wild card team, as they should sport a potent offense this year. The problem is, they only return four starters on a defense that was lousy last year and doesn’t look to improve. The offense returns eight starters, including Senior QB, Austen Arnaud, and Junior RB, Alexander Robinson. Having a year of the spread offense under his belt and a loaded stable of WRs, should garner Arnaud some national attention, and the offense should be able to win a couple of games by themselves. The defense could very well lose plenty of games by themselves, too. The line can’t generate any type of rush, all the LBs are new and there is little depth anywhere. This team could repeat last year’s seven wins, or they could win just one or two.

Colorado Buffalos

This may be the year that Dan Hawkins hot seat erupts into flames. The Buffalo’s will be more experienced on offense. Eight starters return, including all the skill positions, but they where putrid in 2009, so that might not translate into success. They averaged an awful 2.8 YPC last season and the same ‘talent’ returns. If junior QB, Tyler Hanson gets the nod at QB, he might be able to parlay his natural playmaking ability into a couple more wins, but the Buffalo O is going to be hard to watch again. The defense returns seven starters from a unit that gave up nearly 29 ppg game last year. Looking at their schedule, it’s tough to see where that third win will come from this year, as their out-of-conference schedule doesn’t offer many ‘gimme’ games.

SOUTH

     Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies take advantage of their three straight, top 25 recruiting classes to snag their first conference title since 1998. This could be complicated, as the Aggies are not the best team in the South, but they will win it, thanks to the traditional powers being a little down. The defense, which was very young and inexperienced in 2009, returns 10 starters, and they have new defensive coordinator, Tim Deruyter. If he can do half of what he did with an Air Force defense, the Aggies are primed to shock the South. With the defense occasionally stopping someone, the potent A&M offense, led by Senior QB, Jerrod Johnson, won’t have to play keep up all the time, which will allow them to be more balanced. If they can split with Texas and Oklahoma, a title is not out of reach. Look for 10 wins and a rematch with Nebraska in the Conference championship.

Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners were better than their record in 2009, as four of their five losses were by one TD or less. Junior QB, Landry Jones, had more than his share of hard times last year, but it is that experience that will allow him to turn a couple of those losses into victories.  Multi-talented Senior RB, DeMarco Murray, is looking for a signature year and will provide plenty of help to the offense. The only question is the offensive line. They where average, to be nice, in 2009 and their best player is now in the NFL. The defense returns seven starters and should once again be formidable, even with the loss of Gerald McCoy. While the Sooners will compete for the title, they will slip up one too many times and fall just short.

Texas Longhorns

The old saying, “They don’t rebuild, they reload,” definitely applies to Texas, but Colt McCoy is a mighty big bullet to reload. Sophomore QB, Garret Gilbert, showed a lot of grit after McCoy went down in the National Championship game, but being a full time starter for the first time, over a full year, at a program like Texas, will be difficult and lead to a few unexpected losses, especially without a running game to fall back on. Replacing seven offensive starters may be a little too much to ask. Defensive coordinator, Will Muschamp, always trots out a strong defense, but they can only carry the horns so far. The rest of the Big 12 knows this is a year to take a shot at the Horns, so asking them to repeat as champs is asking too much. Don’t be surprised to see 9-4 and rumblings in Austin.

  Texas Tech Red Raiders

Mike Leach built the Red Raiders with enough talent to play with, and beat, any team in the country. Unfortunately, Leach was unceremoniously shown the door and the conservative Tommy Tuberville is in. Tuberville got the job by promising to keep Leach’s mad bomber offense, but if you remember Tuberville’s Auburn teams, his promise probably will be on the sidelines by week three. With that said, Tech returns pretty much everyone on offense. There might be a QB battle, but both candidates proved they can handle the job last year. The defense should be great, too, with a fantastic secondary and very strong LBs. They should get to a bowl game on talent alone, but ask Michigan fans how having the wrong players in the wrong system is working for them. If things go perfect, seven or eight wins is possible, but the dissension in Lubbock is not promising to anyone.

The Bears started out a surprising 3-1 in 2009, but then-stud Junior QB, Robert Griffin, went down and the Bears managed a meager one win after that. Griffin is back and healthy. There is some talent around him to work with, so they should be able to score. The defense was a problem in 2009 and will continue to be, after losing their two best players. They miss Nebraska and Missouri on the interdivisional schedule, so three or four conference wins is a possibility. Look for 6-6 or 7-5, and a minor bowl game.

Oklahoma St. Cowboys

No team will fall as far as the Cowboys in 2010, as they return only five starters, and none of them are stars. One chance for hope is that they have brought in former Houston offensive coordinator, Dana Holgorsen, to revamp the playbook. Problem is, the cupboard is bare and what is there, is inexperienced. RB Kendall Hunter is a star, but with the likely absence of a passing game, opposing defenses will stack the box to stop him. The defense will have trouble stopping anyone. Mike Gundy’s recruiting classes have been above, so there is talent on the roster; it’s just very young and inexperienced talent. Expect four wins in a disappointing season.

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