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CFT predicts: the Big 12

Bob Stoops, Blake Bell AP

For the past two years, the Big 12 was dead. Or, so we thought.

But, throw in an interim commissioner, a new TV deal and a postseason partnership with the SEC, and suddenly the Big 12 is the cool conference in an ironic way that only a hipster would understand.

The additions of TCU and West Virginia help. What the Big 12 lost in TV markets and footprints with Missouri and Texas A&M, it gains in recent on-the-field success with the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers. Looking ahead to the 2012 season, here’s how the Big 12 should shake out.

(Let it be known that I reserve the right to change my mind at any time without notice.)

1. Oklahoma (last season: 10-3; won Insight Bowl)
From injuries to departures to losing defensive coordinator Brent Venables to Clemson, Oklahoma has experienced plenty of turnover this offseason. But, Oklahoma also returns quarterback Landry Jones and leading rusher Dominique Whaley, and new DC Mike Stoops is a solid replacement for Venables too. OU’s schedule this year is manageable, though perhaps its two toughest tests could come against the Big 12′s two newest members: at West Virginia on Nov. 17 and at TCU to close out the regular season.  If the Sooners can stay healthy — that’s already an issue along the offensive line — there’s little reason to think Bob Stoops‘ (pictured, with QB Blake Bell) team won’t win the Big 12.

2. West Virginia (last season: 10-3 in Big East, won Orange Bowl)
Placing the Mountaineers to finish second in the Big 12 is a bit risky, but we’re betting with house money, right?. Hanging 70 on Clemson in the Orange Bowl helps — points aside, it was the most cohesive WVU looked on offense all last year — and returning nine offensive starters helps even more. Still, the Mountaineers have two very important questions left to be answered: how will a young defense fare under new co-coordinators Joe DeForest and Keith Patterson, and can the team rise to the occasion in the face of stiffer competition? Remember, this is a team with a recent history of struggling unexpectedly against weaker opponents.

3. Texas (last season: 8-5; won Holiday Bowl) 
Texas’ Holiday Bowl win over Cal gave the Longhorns some momentum heading into 2012 and there’s a lot of upside in Austin. Until that upside is reached, though, I’m going to put the Longhorns at No. 3. In fact, Texas is still about a year away from realistically competing for a conference title. David Ash looks like he’s the guy at quarterback despite what Mack Brown says and the offensive line should be better. The Longhorns are scary talented on defense, but I’m not sold on the offensive consistency yet.

4. TCU (last season: 11-2 in Mountain West; won Poinsettia Bowl)
The Horned Frogs could easily have been No. 3 or even has high as No. 2, but given the offseason attrition, I’m going to put them at No. 4. Like West Virginia, I’m curious to see if TCU can succeed against better competition. The Frogs are 5-5 against Big 12 opponents under Gary Patterson, with a few of those wins coming against Baylor when the Bears were … not so good, shall we say.  That said, there are few coaches in college football better than Patterson, who is a big reason why TCU is even in the Big 12 to begin with. Though I don’t expect TCU to win the Big 12 in their inaugural season, I’m never one to count out Patterson.

5. Kansas State (last season: 10-3; lost Cotton Bowl) 
I’m going to have to agree with ESPN’s Big 12 blogger David UbbenThe Wildcats are the Big 12′s wild card, equally capable of either another 10-win season or a .500 record. Not coincidentally, K-State is my No. 5 team. Last year, K-State made a habit of pulling out close games, winning eight by a touchdown or less. This year’s schedule is a coin flip too. Bill Snyder‘s team has to play at Oklahoma (the Sooners almost never lose at home), at Iowa State (don’t laugh), at West Virginia, at TCU and at Baylor. Back is quarterback/tough guy Collin Klein, who needs to improve his passing game if he’s to become a true dual-threat.

6. Oklahoma State (last season: 12-1; won Fiesta Bowl) 
2011 was a memorable year for the Cowboys. Mike Gundy guided his alma mater to a Fiesta Bowl victory over Stanford after winning the first Big 12 title in school history. But boy, oh boy, does Oklahoma State lose some firepower with the departures of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Replacing Weeden will be true freshman Wes Lunt, who faces a backloaded schedule with games vs. West Virginia and at Oklahoma.

7. Texas Tech (last season: 5-7) 
The Red Raiders return plenty of starters on offense and should finally have a healthy backfield again with the return of Eric Stephens and DeAndre Washington; injuries were unforgiving to Texas Tech last season. I like Tech’s home schedule too and Lubbock can be somewhat of a Twilight Zone for opponents. Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas … I get the feeling Tech’s going to knock one of ‘em off at home.

8. Baylor (last season: 10-3; won Alamo Bowl)
Oklahoma State loses some key playmakers, but Baylor loses more in Heisman winner RGIII, receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway, all of whom were statistical leaders in their respective positions. 2011 was a dream season for Baylor, but it’s back to reality in 2012. The Bears’ defense needs to get significantly better too under defensive coordinator Phil Bennett. I like Art Briles, but he has a lot to work on this season.

9. Iowa State (last season: 6-7; lost Pinstripe Bowl)
By now, you should know I’m an unabashed Paul Rhoads homer. If for nothing else, the man grows a hell of a mustache. That said, it pains me to predict that 2012 will be a rough season for the Cyclones. There’s no frontrunner at quarterback, but ISU does have two All-America candidates at linebacker in Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. The schedule is balanced and you know the Cyclones are going to give some team much better than them a scare, if not a check mark in the loss column.

10. Kansas (last season: 2-10)
Charlie Weis will get some immediate help in his first year with the Jayhawks thanks to Notre Dame transfer Dayne Crist. Beyond that? Ouch. Kansas can’t get much worse, but road games at Kansas State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia won’t make getting better much easier. Weis may get it turned around eventually, but I don’t see it happening, or being anywhere close to happening, this season.

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Interested in our other 10 conference projections along with Division 1-A (FBS) Independents? View ‘em all below by clicking the individual links or our projections landing page HERE. And don’t forget to check out CFT’s preseason Top 25.

ACC
Big East
Big Ten
Conference USA
MAC
Mountain West
Pac-12
SEC
Sun Belt
WAC
Independents

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19 Responses to “CFT predicts: the Big 12”
  1. fcmlefty1 says: Aug 8, 2012 5:36 PM

    Pretty fair assessment. I think I’d flip TCU and Texas, but its probably a pretty small difference between the two.

  2. sportsdrenched.com says: Aug 8, 2012 5:43 PM

    I go with fair too. I can’t really make an argument to flip any of them. However, I have a feeling none of us will be right….which is why you watch sports.

  3. gopokes0714 says: Aug 8, 2012 6:19 PM

    wow utter moron. you don’t even have OSU in the top 25.

    we return the best secondary, the best running back tandem, good offensive and defensive lines, one of the best receiving cores, and a phenomenal kicker.

    we have the best record in the Big 12 over the last three years, and have the second or third best over the last 5 years.

    There has never been more talent in Stillwater before but because we lose two players we aren’t even in the top 25? I’m not saying we are winning the Big 12 but to not even be ranked is a slap in the face.

    is there any research put into this blog? what a joke.

  4. gopokes0714 says: Aug 8, 2012 6:24 PM

    oh and I understand that we have a freshman QB, but I bet my left nut that he is better than Ash, and you have them ranked pretty high.

    I guess whoever wrote this pays more attention to the logo on the helmet than a rosters resume.

  5. showerswithsandusky says: Aug 8, 2012 8:49 PM

    gopokes0714 says:
    Aug 8, 2012 6:19 PM
    wow utter moron. you don’t even have OSU in the top 25.

    we return the best secondary, the best running back tandem, good offensive and defensive lines, one of the best receiving cores, and a phenomenal kicker.

    we have the best record in the Big 12 over the last three years, and have the second or third best over the last 5 years.

    __________________

    Of course you fail to mention you guys got a gift in the schedule changes and played OU in Stoolwater in back to back years. Arrogant f#cking aggie.

  6. showerswithsandusky says: Aug 8, 2012 8:56 PM

    Hey gopokes0714!

    Debate this 82-17-7. I know your response…”We kick ass in wrestling and golf!”

    Directions to Stoolwater? I-35 north until you smell the cow shit. Go right and don’t stop until you step in it. Shit Kickers!

    John Blake > Hank Iba > Pat Jones > Mike Gundy

  7. gopokes0714 says: Aug 8, 2012 9:12 PM

    44-10

    Its the only numbers you need, because until bedlam this year they are the only numbers that count.

    real classy with the username, you represent the sooner fan base well.

  8. gopokes0714 says: Aug 8, 2012 9:15 PM

    but thank you, we do well in golf and wrestling. I am not sure why you want to minimalize those sports, athletes, and kids. Its ironic that you call me arrogant.

  9. showerswithsandusky says: Aug 8, 2012 9:37 PM

    I’m no Sooner you Rube! I’m a Langston Lion!

  10. gopokes0714 says: Aug 8, 2012 10:19 PM

    And how did I not catch this before?

    West Virginia comes to Stillwater. Seriously is there any research done at all?

    This is just really lazy reporting. But I guess you get to hide behind the “blogger” veil that keeps you from having to fact check. Does the #NBCfail hash tag apply to more than just the Olympics?

  11. RideSurf says: Aug 9, 2012 1:09 PM

    Sounds about right except I would drop Okie Lite a bit lower.

    heh.

    Boomer.

  12. indywvu says: Aug 9, 2012 2:30 PM

    I guess this is my welcome to the conference. I never knew that OSU fans were so angry and had such an inferiority complex. Or perhaps it’s the “little brother” thing, who knows.

    That’s about the order I would place everyone in and I can’t make any arguments. That being said, I’m usually wrong.

  13. gopokes0714 says: Aug 9, 2012 2:56 PM

    @indywvu

    You make a good point and it does read that way.

    I would like to say that I know we do not have the prestige of OU or Texas on football field, nor shoould we…..yet ;)

    My frustration is with the author. Very few schools have a better record over the last 5 years. For half a decade we have been a threat, and the last two years a contender.

    If we had sucked it up and then had one great season I would totally agree. But after five years of being in the top 25 and three consecutive years with weeks ranked in the top 10, its time we earn a little credit.

    Weeden to Blackmon is a loss, but last I checked we had 11 guys on the field. What happened when we lost Dez Bryant and Zac Robinson?

    I don’t think we are preseason #1 or anything but at least the USA today coaches poll has us #19.

    I know respect doesn’t come over night, nor should it. but after 5 years watching your team work their ass off, and continue to get disrespected after doing everything everyone said we need to do to earn respect.. just to be met with a eh, I doubt your good enough.

    Honestly on paper we aren’t all that different than OU. I am not comparing us to them because the “big brother” thing, but ironically we are very similar teams. The biggest differences being they have an experienced QB, but we have better O-Line, secondary, and RB tandem. But we have similiar styles of play, both returned about the same number of players, and both have about the same depth. They are pre-season top 5 and we can’t even get ranked.

    I AM NOT TAKING ANYTHING FROM OU. I am just pointing out a disparity.

  14. gopokes0714 says: Aug 9, 2012 2:56 PM

    oh and welcome to the Big 12. Really looking forward to you coming to stillwater. Should be a great game.

  15. poison66 says: Aug 9, 2012 6:35 PM

    Ok state will finish 2nd in conference, mark it down!!!!!

  16. gopokes0714 says: Aug 9, 2012 9:56 PM

    I have made a few comments without making my own predictions. So here it is…

    1. Oklahoma
    2. West Virginia
    3. Oklahoma State (I do feel OSU will finish 2nd, but I can’t put them ahead of of OU or WVU just yet.
    4. Texas (wont vote you up just on a logo)
    5. TCU (too many off the field distractions)
    6. Kansas State (They play better than they are. Klien is a warrior but will get beat up like Zac Robinson. Look at the Arkansas and OU games last year.)
    7. Iowa State (Paul Rhodes will keep them out of the bottom)
    8. Texas Tech (I will be surprised is Tommy is there next year)
    9. Baylor (I like Baylor and I hope I’m wrong)
    10. Kansas (I don’t think Weis knows just how hard its going to be)

  17. whalerpilot says: Aug 16, 2012 4:07 PM

    One thing stands out. There is not a lot of parity in the Big12 this year. Two tough games and the rest are cupcakes. It really could boil down to the OK/WV game and everyone else playing for third place. I predict WV pulling the upset at home over OK on Nov. 17 and OK/OK st. playing for second place Nov. 24th.

  18. txnative61 says: Aug 19, 2012 2:07 AM

    I agree that Oklahoma State is vastly underrated, but if that translates to opponent arrogance like last year should be an advantage, particularly with the Sooners who consistently under-perform in big games. Stillwater has little to recommend it except few player distractions and a long way to go to find trouble. I really enjoy them handing rest of Big 12 their much deserved comeuppance. Give it to SEC and PAC-12 this year too, will you Cowboys?

  19. wakiash says: Aug 22, 2012 9:53 AM

    Said the same thing last year.

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