Big 12 Conference
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada
It is out with the old and in with the new in the Big 12 in 2012. Texas A&M and Missouri have left for the SEC and have been replaced by West Virginia of the Big East and TCU of the Mountain West. That trip from Morgantown to Lubbock for a conference game should be fun, huh?
Last season, the Oklahoma St Cowboys won the Big 12 for the first time in history and were an overtime loss at Iowa St away from playing for the BCS Championship. As it was, the Cowboys had to settle for a trip to the Fiesta Bowl where they beat Stanford 41-38 in overtime.
Let’s take a look at the Big 12 conference. We will start with the five favorites according to Bovada. We will discuss the other 5 teams in another article.I will give the odds to win the conference and the BCS Championship when applicable.
Oklahoma – (1/1 Big 12, 10/1 BCS Championship)
Oklahoma, coached by Bob Stoops, finished 10-3 last year, but it was a disappointing season. The Sooners were #1 in the BCS standings for a while but they had injuries to some key players and faded down the stretch. The Sooners suffered narrow losses to Texas Tech and Baylor, but still had a chance to win the Big 12 title. Oklahoma suffered a humiliating 44-10 defeat at in-state rival Oklahoma St, and had to settle for a berth in the Insight Bowl. The Sooners beat Iowa 31-14 in that game.
The big news in the off-season was quarterback Landry Jones decided to come back for his senior season instead of going to the NFL where he would have been a first round pick. He put up some gaudy numbers throwing for almost 4,500 yards with 29 touchdowns. However, he threw 15 interceptions, and struggled down the stretch after he lost his favorite receiver Ryan Broyles to injury.
Another key injury occurred to running back Dominique Whaley, a transfer from tiny Langston University. He ran for 627 yards and 9 touchdowns before breaking his ankle. He should be healthy by the time the season starts. The top receiver will be Kenny Stills, but some suspensions have left the Sooners thin at receiver. Recruits Trey Metoyer and Courtney Gardner are big and physical and should help. The offensive line returns 6 players with 102 combined games played.
The defense had to revamp almost the entire front 7 due to graduation and players leaving early for the draft. Mike Stoops returns to become the defensive coordinator under his brother, after 7.5 years as the head coach of Arizona. Despite the changes, Oklahoma’s defense should be among the best in the Big 12. Last year, some key injuries led to way too many big passing plays for the opposition.
Oklahoma opens the season at UTEP, and has other non-conference games at home against Florida A&M and Notre Dame. In conference, they get Kansas St, Kansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma St at home, and travel to Texas Tech, Iowa St, West Virginia, and TCU. The biggest game of the season is the annual showdown against Texas in Dallas, that could decide the Big 12 Championship. I think the Sooners win the conference, and could even play in the BCS championship if the cards fall right.
Texas – (4/1 Big 12, 28/1 BCS)
Three seasons ago, Texas was playing in the BCS Championship game against Alabama. After two seasons of rebuilding, Longhorn fans hope the program is back to those lofty standards. Texas, coached by Mack Brown, finished last year 8-5 and won the Holiday Bowl against California 21-10. That isn’t close to good enough for Texas fans.
The big question for the Longhorns is at the quarterback position. David Ash and Case McCoy split the snaps last year, and are locked in another battle for the starting nod. Ash had the better spring and appears to have a leg up in the competition.
The Longhorns have a strong running game with sophomores Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron returning. Freshman Jonathan Grey joins the Longhorns as well, to create one of the best backfields in the conference. The top two receivers also return in junior Mike Davis and sophomore Jaxon Shipley. The line returns 4 starters and should be a strength.
Last year, Texas had the #11 defense in the country, and was #6 against the run. They lost some players, but this defense will rival Oklahoma’s for the best in the conference.
Texas opens at home against Wyoming and New Mexico before traveling to Ole Miss. In Big 12 play, Texas hosts West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa St, and TCU, and travels to Oklahoma St, Kansas, Kansas St, and Texas Tech. As usual they play Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. I don’t think Texas can beat Oklahoma this year, but the Longhorns might get an at-large bid to a BCS game.
TCU – (11/2 Big 12, 50/1 BCS)
After years in the Mountain West, TCU finally gets a chance to swim with the big fish as they join the Big 12. Coach Gary Patterson has built the TCU program up to the point where they believe they can compete with anyone. However, The Horned Frogs will discover there are no UNLV’s or New Mexicos on the Big 12 schedule like they had in the Mountain West. They beat Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl two seasons ago. Last year they won the Mountain West with an 11-2 record, and then beat Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl 31-24.
Quarterback Casey Pachall had a great season last year, his first as the successor to Andy Dalton, now with the Bengals. Pachall set school records for yards and completions last season.
He has his top running backs and receivers back as well. Josh Boyce caught 9 touchdown passes and had almost a 1,000 receiving yards. Running backs Waymon James and Matthew Tucker combined for just under 1,500 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns. The offensive line must replace 3 starters and TCU had a small line last year. It wasn’t really an issue in the Mountain West, but could be a problem in the Big 12.
The defense returns only 5 starters but the other players had plenty of playing time last year even if they didn’t start. The front seven is solid, but the secondary got burned a lot last year. That could be a problem in Big 12 with all of their prolific offenses.
TCU has non-conference home games against Grambling State and Virginia, and travels to Metroplex rival SMU. In conference, TCU has road games at Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Oklahoma St, and Texas, and home games against Iowa St, Texas Tech, Kansas St, and Oklahoma. TCU will make a bowl game, but I don’t know if they are ready to win the conference yet.
West Virginia – (6/1 Big 12, 30/1 BCS)
Last season, West Virginia grabbed one last Big East title on the way out the door to the Big 12. The Mountaineers finished 10-3, including a 70-33 demolition of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. This year West Virginia, coached by Dana Holgerson, moves to a tougher and deeper conference. In fact, you could argue, that the Big East had so much parity that some said the Mountain West was a better conference last year.
Mountaineer quarterback Geno Smith should fit right in with the great quarterbacks in this conference. The West Virginia offense returns six other starters on offense. Receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey have explosive speed. There is a question at tailback as last year’s leading rusher Dustin Garrison tore his ACL late last season, and is likely out for this season. Shawne Alston will be the likely starter at running back.
West Virginia switches from a 3-3-5 defense to a 3-4, but will also run some 4-3 sets as well. The defensive line has some question marks, but the linebackers and secondary should be better if they can adjust to the new system.
West Virginia has non-conference games against Marshall, James Madison, and Maryland. In conference, West Virginia gets Baylor, Kansas St, TCU, Oklahoma and Kansas at home, and Texas, Texas tech, Oklahoma St, and Iowa St on the road. They should go to a semi-major bowl game.
Kansas St – (12/1 Big 12, 100/1 BCS)
Last season, Kansas St was the surprise team in the Big 12. They were expected to be a middle of the pack team, but finished the regular season 10-2 under coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats lost 29-16 to Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.
The Wildcats will go as far as quarterback Collin Klein will take them. Last season, he was one of the best dual threat quarterbacks in the country. He had almost 3,000 combined rushing and passing yards, and was second nationally in rushing touchdowns with 27 behind only Wisconsin running back Montee Ball. He does need to improve on the passing side though as he only had 13 passing touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
Chris Harper is his top receiver, but Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett will also get significant targets. Running back John Hubert is also back after rushing for just under 1,000 yards last year. The line must replace 3 starters, and could regress from last year.
K-State gave up a lot of big plays in the secondary last year, but the defense should be better this season. The front seven is solid especially the linebackers.
Kansas St opens with 3 straight home games against Missouri St, Miami-FL, and North Texas. In conference they travel to Oklahoma, Iowa St, West Virginia, TCU, and Baylor, and gets Kansas, Oklahoma St, Texas Tech, and Texas at home. I think the Wildcats make a bowl game and could surprise some of the elite teams in the league.
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