Monday, August 2, 2010


This summer Dan Beebe went from delivering the eulogy to the Big 12, when Nebraska and Colorado decided to depart, to kick starting the conference back to life, after Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State all announced that they would stay. However, the conference does have some key departures this year to tend to. Gone are Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, and Ndamukong Suh, but there is still talent in the conference that produced the top four picks in this year's NFL Draft. Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has rekindled the "Blackshirts" mentality of old and they will be looking to take the North Division again, with Missouri being a dark horse. Sam Bradford's injury may have actually benefited the Sooners as Landry Jones got a chance to grow, while Oklahoma struggled last season. Expect them to bounce back, but in the South Division, any team has a chance.

1. Nebraska Cornhuskers (10-2, 7-1)
-The Blackshirts are back, and despite losing Ndamukong Suh, the Huskers have a lot of defense to cause havoc. Cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Alfonzo Dennard with safety Rickey Thenarse will make things difficult on average one-skill quarterbacks, while Roy Helu Jr. is a great running back who averaged 5.2 yards per carry last year. Nebraska has a score to settle on Oct. 16 at home with Texas en route to an easy defense of the North title.

2. Missouri Tigers (8-4, 4-4)
-Led by quarterback Blaine Gabbert, Missouri will be looking to electrify the Big 12 with its offense. However, scoring points against bad defenses is one thing. A team that has a good defense is the Tigers' kryptonite, as they were held to under 20 points in four of their five losses in 2009. They could start 5-0, but a murderous four-game stretch with trips to Texas A&M, Nebraska, and Texas Tech could hold off any chances of a Big 12 North title.

3. Kansas Jayhawks (5-7, 2-6)
-Jayhawk head coach Turner Gill stressed recruiting as a way to build Kansas to a Big 12 title, but this year, Kansas will try to right the ship that caused them to tailspin to a 5-7 record after starting 5-0 and being ranked as high as No. 16. Things are favorable this year as the non-conference games are relatively weak, and there is no Texas or Oklahoma on the schedule, but Kansas might need an upset to think bowl game or a 6-6 record.

4. Kansas State Wildcats (5-7, 2-6)
-The Wildcats always schedule a soft non-conference schedule, and this year is true to that form with Missouri State and a trip to North Texas on tap. Last year's team went 6-6, but missed out on a bowl game because they could only count one of those wins against an FCS team (and a narrow two-point loss to Louisiana-Lafayette hurt their chances as well.) Although Daniel Thomas will be looking to run for another 1000-yard season, Kansas State will fall short again despite having Texas and Nebraska come to Manhattan.

5. Colorado Buffaloes (4-8, 2-6)
-If I told you that Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins is part of the reason that Boise State is where they are right now, would you believe me? Based on his 16-33 in four years with the Buffs, you probably wouldn't. While Colorado struggles, Boise is 49-4 during that span. Expect the struggles to continue this year, as they have to travel to Oklahoma and Nebraska this year during conference play.

6. Iowa State Cyclones (4-8, 2-6)
-Rarely few coaches win right away in their first season at Iowa State, but Paul Rhoads managed to go 7-6 and win the Insight Bowl over Minnesota in 2009. The season was highlighted with a 9-7 win over Nebraska, but it might be hard to duplicate that success in 2010. Although they are a veteran team, the Huskers will be out for revenge, and the Cyclones have to travel to Iowa, Oklahoma, and Texas, a tall task for any team.

1. Oklahoma Sooners (11-1, 7-1)
-Landry Jones in 2009 may have been shaky, but it actually makes the Sooners prime candidates in the South and the Big 12 this season. He will get better, and the Sooners will be better than their 8-5 record indicated. Expect Ryan Broyles, DeMarco Murray, and a strong defense to also chip to another 10-win season that the school is accustomed to.

2. Texas Longhorns (10-2, 6-2)
-Even in an "rebuilding" year, you cannot forget about or mess with Texas. Colt McCoy's gone and Garrett Gilbert is now the new quarterback. Luckily for him, Texas plays an easy non-conference slate of games, but I don't think Gilbert is ready to beat Oklahoma or Nebraska yet. The team is loaded to churn out another 10-win season, though.

3. Texas A&M Aggies (9-3, 6-2)
-The Aggies seem to be everyone's dark horse this season, thanks to Jerrod Johnson. He accounted for 38 total touchdowns in 2009, and nearly led the Aggies to an upset of Texas. Big things could happen in 2010 for Texas A&M, but unless they improve their defense, they could be on the wrong ends of shootouts against teams that can pass at will.

4. Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-4, 5-3)
-Looks like Texas Tech fans might see the run a little bit than they are accustomed to with Tommy Tuberville. At Auburn, his teams were a little more balanced, so it could take a while for him to adjust or for his team to adjust. The defense is spotty at best, but the offense is still good and can score a ton of points.

5. Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-4, 4-4)
-Oklahoma State lost the most this offseason as quarterback Zac Robinson, running back Keith Toston, and wide receiver Dez Bryant (midseason of 2009) all left the team. The Cowboys still have a good running back as Kendall Hunter assumes the lead running back role, but unless they can finally beat Texas and Oklahoma, they'll finish at the middle of the pack.

6. Baylor Bears (5-7, 2-6)
-Poor Baylor, they can be a decent team but they play in the wrong division in the Big 12. Aside from Robert Griffin III, the Bears do not have anyone that is of NFL caliber, and even Griffin (who is coming back from ACL surgery) can't do it all. Don't expect the Bears to beat a South team, but they can take down the Kansas duo from the North.

Nebraska d. Oklahoma


Nebraska- Fiesta
Oklahoma- Sugar
Texas- Cotton
Texas A&M- Alamo
Oklahoma State- Insight
Texas Tech- Texas
Missouri- Pinstripe
At-Large- Dallas Football Classic

Jerrod Johnson (QB from Texas A&M)
-He nearly beat Texas last year and he passed for 3579 yards and 30 touchdowns along the way. In his last two games in 2009 (Texas and Georgia), he threw for 704 yards and six touchdowns, but what will 2010 hold? If the Aggies have a real chance at winning, he may need to throw and run a lot to keep them in games.

Big 12 Championship Game (Dec. 4 in Arlington, Texas)
Texas v. Oklahoma (Oct. 2 in Dallas)
Texas @ Nebraska (Oct. 16)
Texas A&M @ Oklahoma State (Sept. 30)
Missouri @ Nebraska (Oct. 30)

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