Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Conference Blast: The Big 12 (but, really ten)
1. Texas - Let's get right into it here, this 'Horns ranking is the biggest surprise in this post. There's not much enumeration basis for this pick; I'm going on my gut. I took the Horns in the RRR and that should be enough to win the league, even though I do see them losing to A&M late. Yes, I know all the reasons I shouldn't pick them, but I just have more faith in them this season than the Sooners.
2. Oklahoma - The Sooners are going to inflict a lot of damage on this conference in 2012. But, as talented as the Sooners are, it's hard to look past the slips they usually make and pick them as outright league champs. I think they lose the RRR to Texas, bu then rip off some impressive, destructive, 2008-style wins to close out the year. However, they'll need the Longhorns to drop 2 conference games and I don't think they will.
3. Texas A&M - OK, Mike Sherman, we're looking at you; this is your time to shine. A&M has QB Tannehill and 9 other starters back on offense and 8 returners on D. They were vastly improved last year and will be looking to keep building on that success. But, I think they'll lose to Oklahoma and drop an odd-ball game somewhere like Texas Tech or Kansas State. Those two losses will be enough to keep the Aggies at third in the standings, despite a season-ending rivalry win over UT on Thanksgiving.
4. Oklahoma State - Man, will there be some serious fireworks in Stillwater this year, with Weeden, Blackmon, and 76 returning starts along the O-line. However, fireworks don't always win games and the Cowboys' defense should be fairly weak. I'll confidently pick losses in their trips to both Austin and College Station, but I could see them hanging around with the Sooners in the season finale.
5. Kansas State - Bill Snyder, a weaker league, and a bunch of JUCO transfers? I think the Cats'll be bowling again this post-season. I mean, they won't be strong enough to displace anyone in the top-tier above, but they should own the middle of the pack, with Texas Tech being the only lower placed team I'm worried about.
6. Texas Tech - The Raiders are kind of a wild card to me. A double digit win season wouldn't necessarily be a shock, but neither would a .500 year. I'm going to pick classic Tuberville and classic Texas Tech and shoot the gap. These 5-6-7 spot teams will be packed in pretty evenly, so any mistake could cause a slip in the standings, so the Raiders better be careful hosting Iowa State between the big boys OU and UT and a late trip to Missouri.
7. Missouri - I feel like Missouri will be a very good team...by November. Early on, however, I think they'll struggle to find themselves behind a new QB. The defense will be the key to whether the Tigers finish here or in the 4- or 5-spot. Obviously, I'm not jumping out on the limb that calls for a big season on that side of the ball. They get a bye week before K-State and host T-Tech, so they could split those, but I do not like that trap road game to Baylor in early November...
8. Baylor - Robert Griffin leading nine starters back on offense is good news. The bad news is, well, everything else. The Bears should be good enough to hang with the middle of the pack, but they have no chance with the big boys and need to be careful on their road trip to Kansas.
9. Iowa State - There's not much in the cupboard in Ames, but they at least get to host Kansas. I'll give them that win and maybe a surprise upset somewhere down the line.
10. Kansas - Ouch. Let's hope they at least beat McNeese State...