Big 12 Conference
All Odds Courtesy of Bovada
In part one of our Big 12 Conference Preview, we talked about the five favorites to win the conference. However, there are still some quality teams among the other five, including defending conference champ Oklahoma St and Baylor. Both are in rebuilding phases though.
All odds are courtesy of Bovada. I am including the odds to win both the conference and the BCS Championship.
Oklahoma St – (18/1 Big 12, 100/1 BCS)
Last season, Oklahoma St, coached by Mike Gundy, lost only one game all season. They lost in overtime at Iowa St. The Cowboys won their first ever Big 12 title, capped off by a 44-10 beatdown of in-state “big brother” Oklahoma. The Iowa St loss kept the Cowboys out of the BCS championship game, and OSU had to settle for a Fiesta Bowl win over Stanford 41-38 in overtime.
Gone from that team are quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blckmon, who were both first round picks in the NFL draft by the Browns and Jaguars respectively. There was a tight three way battle in the spring to replace Weeden between Clint Chelf, redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh, and true freshman Wes Lunt. Surprisingly, Lunt ended up with the job. Though he is the best pure passer of the three, many thought the job would have gone to Chelf, because he was Weeden’s back-up for the last 2 years.
The Cowboys will have one of the best backfields in the conference with Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith. The two combined for over 1,800 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns last year. Randle also caught a lot of balls out of the backfield and will help offset the loss of Blackmon. The receivers are still talented led by Tracy Moore, Isaiah Anderson, Charlie Moore, Josh Stewart, and tight end Blake Jackson.
Last year, Oklahoma St ranked 107 out of 120 teams on defense, despite being #1 in turnover margin at +21. The defense is expected to improve drastically this year, especially if they can force turnovers like last year.
OSU’s schedule isn’t too drastic. They open at home against Savannah St, before traveling to Arizona, and returning home to face Louisiana-Lafayette. In conference, they get Texas, Iowa St, TCU, West Virginia, and Texas Tech at home, and travel to Kansas, Kansas St, Oklahoma, and Baylor. This team could win 9 or 10 games if Lunt can handle the pressure of being the starting quarterback as a true freshman.
Texas Tech – (30/1 Big 12, No Line BCS)
Last season, Texas Tech, coached by Tommy Tuberville, started off 4-0, but lost 7 of their last 8 games to finish 5-7. The only win in that stretch inexplicably came at Oklahoma. They lost their last 5 games, giving up an average of just under 52 points a game in those losses.
Red Raider quarterback Seth Doege returns after throwing for over 4,000 yards and 28 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His top target is receiver Darrin Moore, battled some nagging injuries. The big question is at running back. Eric Stephens tore his ACL midway through the season last year, and was averaging 114 yards a game before the injury. It is nip and tuck whether he will be ready for the season opener, but he is expected to return sometime this season. DeAndre Washington, Kenny Williams, and JuCo transfer SaDale Foster will split the carries until Stephens is ready. Washington also tore an ACL last year.
Texas Tech was awful on defense last year, especially against the run. That was a big part of the losing record last year. I mean even if you score 30 points a game, it is hard to win when you are giving up 50 or more on a regular basis. Expect some improvement on defense, but I don’t know if it will be enough against the prolific offenses in the Big 12.
Texas Tech opens at home against Northwestern St, and then travels to Texas St. The Red Raiders complete the non-conference schedule by hosting New Mexico. In conference, Texas Tech travels to Iowa St, TCU, Kansas St, and Oklahoma St, and plays Baylor in Dallas. The Red Raiders host Oklahoma, West Viriginia, Texas, and Kansas. I see another 5 win season, but Texas Tech might get to six wins and steal a bowl bid.
Baylor – (40/1 Big 12, No Line BCS)
Last year, Baylor had the best season in school history. The finished 10-3 under coach Art Briles. The school beat Oklahoma for the first time in history. The Bears won the Alamo Bowl against Washington 67-56.
All of this was mainly due to quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin won the school’s first ever Heisman trophy, but left early for the NFL draft, where he was the #2 pick by the Redskins.
Nick Florence has the unenviable task of replacing the electric Griffin. He threw 12 passes last year in the second half of a Baylor blowout over Texas Tech. Baylor must also replace leading rusher Terrance Ganaway and leading receiver Kendall Wright. Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson, and Tevin Reese are talented receivers and should offset the loss of Wright. Jared Salubi, Glasco Martin, and Lache Seastrunk will split the carries at running back.
Baylor’s defense gave up almost 500 yards and 37 points a game. However, they still won ten games because the offense averaged 45 points a game. Put it this way, Baylor didn’t play a lot of defensive slugfests. The defense is expected to be much better this year.
Baylor has home games against SMU and Sam Houston St and travels to Lousiana-Monroe in non-conference games. In Big 12 play, the Bears travel to West Virginia, Texas, Iowa St, and Oklahoma, and plays Texas Tech in Dallas. Baylor hosts TCU, Kansas, Kansas St, and Oklahoma St. The Bears should make it to a third straight bowl game for the first time in school history.
Iowa St (65/1 Big 12, No line BCS)
Last year was a roller coaster ride for Iowa St, coached by Paul Rhoads. The Cyclones won their first 3 games, then lost 4 in a row, then won 3 in a row, then lost their last 3. The second 3 game winning streak included a 37-31 overtime win over then #2 and undefeated Oklahoma St. Iowa St lost the Pinstripe Bowl 27-13 to Rutgers.
Quarterbacks Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett are competing for the starting quarterback spot. Barnett took over when Jantz was injurted last season. Both won games, and the battle won’t be decided until late in fall camp.
James White, Jeff Woody, DeVondrick Nealy and Rob Standard will split the carries at running back. Josh Lenz and Aaron Horne are the top receivers.
The Cyclones arguably have the best linebacking corps in the Big 12, but the line and secondary have significant losses. Overall, the defense might struggle against the high octane offenses in the conference.
Iowa St hosts Tulsa and Western Illinois and travels to Iowa for non-conference games. In conference, the Cyclones host Texas Tech, Kansas St, Baylor, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, and travel to TCU, Oklahoma St, Texas, and Kansas. I think Iowa St will struggle to make a bowl game, but they usually pull off at least one upset at home.
Kansas – (100/1 Big 12, No Line BCS)
Last season, Kansas won their first two games of the year, and then went 0-10 the rest of the way. Coach Turner Gill was fired, and the school hired former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis.
Weis needed a quarterback, and convinced Dayne Crist to transfer from Notre Dame. Since Crist already graduated, he can play immediately and will be the quarterback. Kansas also signed BYU transfer Jake Heaps, but he must sit out a year.
Leading rusher James Sims returns but will miss the first 3 games of the season due to a suspension. Running backs Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon will split the carries until Sims gets back. The top receivers are D.J. Beshears, Daymond Patterson and former quarterback Kale Pick. The offense was terrible last year averaging only 22 points and 167 passing yards a game, but should improve under Weis.
If possible, the defense was even worse than the offense ranking dead last out of 120 teams in the FBS. The defense gave up 44 points a game. There is nowhere to go but up for the hapless Jayhawk defense.
Kansas opens with 3 straight home games against South Dakota St, Rice, and TCU. They then travel to Northern Illinois and Kansas St, host Oklahoma St, and travel to Oklahoma. The rest of the schedule includes home games against Texas and Iowa St, and road games at Baylor, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. Kansas should get more than 2 wins this season, but 5 would be a stretch.
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