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Big 12, that only has ten teams Preview

The Big 12, that only has 10 teams.

The Big 12 not only suffers from short man syndrome, they only have ten teams but continue to demand everyone call them the Big 12! This means they can’t have a conference playoff game, hence at least one fewer games than the other power conference champs. Something to think about come selection time. The Big 12 (that only has ten teams) is top heavy and totally unpredictable. Oklahoma is coming off a great finish, they beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, (it’s hard to forgive ‘em for that) but Coach Stoops is mad because Alabama considered the Sugar Bowl a consolation bowl. Well, Coach Stoops, that’s SEC mentality. Last year Baylor didn’t see any real reason to play defense, and it only cost them two games;- one against Oklahoma State and the other against Central Florida. Will the Bears try the same thing in 14? More than likely. K-State is flying under everyone’s radar and that’s what Bill Synder wants. Texas is breaking in Charlie Strong, TCU is changing its offense, Texas Tech is going to throw the ball, Iowa State is going to upset someone (maybe two), West Virginia still needs a defense, and maybe Kansas will be able to win a game against a real Division I foe.

1.  Everyone is picking Oklahoma to win the conference and it’s a logical pick, only, is not picking OU, and, no, I’m not picking them just because they beat my Crimson Tide. Kansas State is the pick. How can K-State be number one? Last year the Cats were unstable, lots of question marks and at the start of the season nobody was stepping up. North Dakota State beat them, for cryi362ng out loud. KSU lost to the big boys in the Big 12, that only has 10 teams, but in each of those games they hung tough. The Wildcats enter 2014 with as much stability as anyone else. Jake Waters has emerged as the clear starter at QB with plenty of weapons and a rugged all-star offensive line. Last year, with all the problems they had, only the Bisons held this team to 24 points. This year, with stability, it’s going to be tough to hold the Wildcats down. Defensively, K-State can match up with anyone in the “Small Man Syndrome League”. They kept OSU and Baylor from running up the score and those teams only beat KSU by three. Texas and OU beat them by 10, doubt that’s going to happen this year. OU is the only team that looks like they’ll hang with Kansas State. The biggest tell-tale game will be Sept. 18th when Auburn comes to town. If K-State is able beat the Plainsmen of Auburn, then look out, the Cats are for real!

Toughest Games:

Sept 18thAuburn– The Tigers were seconds away from being National Champions in 2013, and they’re expected to make another run.

Oct. 18thOklahoma– KSU has to travel to Norman, OK, for this game but Synder-led teams have proven in the past they don’t care where they play.

Dec 6thBayor– This game could be the de facto Championship game of the Big 12….that only has ten teams.

2.  Oklahoma, the darling pick of everyone else to win the league. 2013 was not really a dominent year for the Sooners, but in their last two Oklahomagames they beat Oklahoma State, barely, and then they somehow came out in the Sugar Bowl and played like gangbusters. Who knew QB Knight could have that sort of game? Because of their performance in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama, everyone thinks OU is for real. And, truth be told, OU just might be for real. The question is, can Trevor Knight perform at Sugar Bowl level for the entire year? If he does, Oklahoma can look forward to a great year. If he plays like he did last year before the Sugar Bowl, the Sooners might make it to another BCS game, but, then again, they might not. OU has more than enough firepower to take the league and possibly a slot in the Four Finalist. Defensively, the fellows from Oklahoma appear to be stacked! Brother Mike Stoops has proven that he’s one heck of a D-Coordinator. With all the returning starters and players with experience, this Defense is going to be hard to penetrate. Should the offense sputter, they can rest assured that the defense should at least keep them in the game. And, for the record, No, I have not forgiven Stoops or OU for the Sugar Bowl. As a matter of fact, I still haven’t forgiven Brother Stoops for that brilliant fake punt when he had fourth and California to go for a first down. The Sooners beat the Tide then, too.

Toughest Games:

Oct 11thTexas– This game shouldn’t be on the list but the Longhorns didn’t just beat OU last year, they embarrassed them. Can OU survive the Red River Rivalry?

Oct 18thKansas State– After playing Texas, the next week the Sooners take on the Wildcats. Perfect situation for the team in Purple.

Nov 8thBaylor– the Bears had no trouble dismantling the Sooners last year and unless the defense can stop that high octane attack, it’s going to be another long game.

3.  The Baylor Bears won the conference last year, thanks to OU beating OSU right at the end, and the Bears revel in their championship. But, alas, is their glory fleeting? Remember what the slave whispered in the ear of conquering generals in ancient Rome, – “All glory is fleeting.” Baylor BearsIf it was up to the offense, Baylor would be more than likely win it. Bryce Petty returns to rule as QB. He is a proven leader who can sling the ball all over the field. The Bears have lots and lots of receivers who can catch the ball, and, once they do, they know what to do with it;- RUN, and run FAST! This has been their MO for the last couple of years. Throw the ball, watch the receivers outrun everyone, Touchdown! The Bears scored 70 points four times in a five game stretch. They love to score. What they don’t do well is stop the other teams from scoring. Baylor improved in this area, marginally, last year, but they didn’t actually stop anyone. UCF exploited the defense in the Fiesta Bowl and ruined the Bears coming out party. There are three things that will keep Baylor from winning the league again, Defense, K-State, and Oklahoma State. If their defense cannot slow some people down, the Bruins are going to suffer. They’ll win games, and they’ll put up a bunch of numbers, but in close contests their defense is going to cost them games. Lost Victories, the name of von Manstein’s book on WWII will be the Baylor mantra. It’s hard to score points when the other team is running the ball down your throat and eating up the clock. We’ve already talked about K-State. For some reason that CSF can’t explain, the Pokes of Oklahoma State have Baylor’s number. BU has a history of caving, OSU has no fear of the Bears. Baylor has to get past this tendency.

Toughest Games:

Nov 8thOklahoma– the Bears had no problem with OU last year, can they do it again.

Nov. 22ndOklahoma State– Can they shake the curse?

Dec. 6thKansas State– de facto Big 12 Championship game.

4.  Here is where we reach the drop off of the Big 12 that only has ten teams. Oklahoma State has had a good run and they’ve been in the OSU cowboysrunning for the championship the last couple of years. This year they’ve got waaaayyy too many questions. First would be the quarterback positon. OSU opens summer camp without knowing who’s going to lead the offensive, not absolutely critical, in itself- heck, Alabama’s Crimson Tide doesn’t know who their quarterback will be at this point, – but the Cowboys’ might be J.W. Walsh, who started some in the last two seasons. Even though he has experience, he wasn’t able to separate himself from the pack of other candidates. On top of that, there are no proven receivers. They have players with potential but none of them are proven. The worst part of the offensive, however, is the line. In the spring their two returning starters had to sit out due to injuries. The Poke line is going to consist of underclassmen with no experience. The defense might be in even worse shape. They lost seven starters in Stillwater, but the biggest problem is that they lost more than just the seven. When you factor in all the players that had experience and did play last year, their loss is multiplied. Both sides of the ball are weak, except for the two returning offensive starters. Coach Gundy says not to worry because they’ve recruited at such a high level that they’ll be able to reload instead of rebuild. Not sure we believe that but give the guy a break, he’s got to say something positive. What, is he going to say, “Our team is so young they still have yolk on their beaks”? That might not give the Poke faithful a lot of confidence.

Toughest Games:

Aug. 30thFlorida State– The defending National Champions will face OSU in Arlington, TX (Jerry’s World Stadium) might not be the best way to test a young team.

Nov. 1stKansas State–  For some reason I get the feeling these two teams don’t like each other.

Nov. 22ndBaylor– The Bears will be looking for revenge, but OSU has them buffaloed.

Dec. 6thOklahoma– Can the Cowboys ruin OU’s season like the Sooners ruined theirs last year?

5.  Texas is going to find out just how Strong they really are.  Get it? The new head coach, Charlie Strong, ….Strong….Oh come on! Fine, we’ll 160review the Longhorns. UT has talent, they have gobs of talent, they always have talented players. What they haven’t had is discipline, teamwork and purpose. Mac Brown was great at working the crowd and glad-handing, but getting the most out of his players, … let’s just say he lost that touch. Now Head Coach Charlie Strong enters the Forty Acres. He has already made a serious impact as dismissed seven players from the squad. Not suspended, not sitting out for a game, Strong kicked them off the team. The discipline part has arrived. Now the problem is what to do with all that talent? Quarterback is in a bad way. David Ash is supposed to return but he only had a couple starts last year due to injuries. When he’s been on the field it’s not like he’s been stellar. The Receiving corps will need some of that talent to step up and deliver as the Horns lost just about all the experience they had. The only shining part of the offense will be the running game, as senior Malcolm Brown will be lead the way. He has proven that he’s a tough-nosed running back. He better be, because he’s going to be relied upon all season long. The defense at times entered a black hole of ineptitude during last season, especially against the run. BYU ran all over UT and the very next week Ole Miss came into town and walked all over them. Three times the Longhorns lost and each time they allowed their foe to score over 30 points. Out of nowhere, they showed up and beat the snot out of Oklahoma, the highlight of Texas’ the season,

Toughest Games:

Sept. 13thUCLA– Another game being played in Jerry’s World stadium, but with UCLA poised to make a run at the PAC-12 title this could either end up being a great game, or a blow out.

Oct. 11thOklahoma- The Red River Rivalry, always a great game, only this year OU wants revenge

Oct. 25thKansas State– This is going to be far tougher than anyone thinks.

6.  Texas Tech, –  the Red Raiders are coming off a great win in the Holiday Bowl over Arizona State. Last year was considered a success for Texas Techfirst year coach Kingsbury. The Raiders began the year in fine fashion, then they fell off the face of the earth, only to resurfaced in the bowl game. QB Webb has solidified himself as the head ball slinger, he only has one returning receiver, but if there’s one thing Tech seems to always have, it’s receivers. TT has a running back or two but they don’t get used that often. Defense, was, well, let’s say it wasn’t as bad as WVU’s. The D-guys need to step up and stop folks. Instead of going out and getting a bunch of freshman, the Red Raiders went and got a bunch of Junior-college transfers. That might work! Might not, but at least we know Tech is going to move the ball.

Toughest Games:

Sept. 25thOklahoma State– Both these teams believe in a wide-open offense so it’ll depend on who can play any type of defense.

Oct. 4thKansas State– With the Wildcats poised to make a run, this might  be a memorable game.

Nov. 15th – Oklahoma – Tech will need to play so far above their heads they might have nose bleed.

 7.  TCU has spent the last two seasons in the Big 12 that only has ten teams and their introduction into league play has been less than cordial. TCULast year was worse than the first, as they went 4-8. To try and provide a spark, Coach Patterson hired Sonny Cumbie to change their offensive. Coach Cumbie is going to overhaul the entire offensive side of the ball in the model of Texas Tech and Oklahoma State where he’s spent his last eight years. But who’s going to run this new high octane offense? Tyler Matthews transferred from Texas A&M in hopes of becoming the man, but, whoever it is, it will all depend on their grasp of the new system. Defense has always been a staple of the Horn Frogs and it will be again this year. They appear to be stout but in league play they haven’t been able to keep up. As the new offense works out its kinks the defense is going to be relied upon more than last year.

Toughest Games:

Sept. 13th Minnesota– after a tune up against Samford, the Horned Frogs take on one of the up and coming schools in the Great White North conference.

Oct. 4th and every game after- On the 4th they start league play with Oklahoma, and every weekend after that will be league teams. Maybe Kansas and West Virginia might not be so tough.

8Iowa State –  the Scappers (my Daddy’s high school team, South Side, in Memphis, was called the Scrappers, and, according to him, they did!) of the “Little Man Syndrome League”. Even though this team went 3-8, they never quit, they never gave up, they scrapped all the way to the end. In the past few years they have upset a ranked team, except for last year. It’s tempting to rank the Cyclones higher but they need to prove themselves first, and this just might be the year. The offensive line has all five returning starters. They still need to figure out who will run the offense but the running backs seem to be settled. The biggest change on offense will be Offensive Coordinator  Mark Mangino who was the last successful head coach at Kansas. If he can find the same magic at ISU that he did at KU this team is going to be hard to stop. The defense has some holes to fill but they still have a couple of playmakers. The Cyclones may not look like much on paper, but I just have a feeling, this team is going to pull one or more upsets.

Toughest Games:

All league games.

9. West Virginia entered the Big 12, that only has ten teams, and they have been at the bottom every year. Last year they had a huge problem at Quarterback, where they started three different QB’s and none of them made any headway. Which doesn’t bode well for the start of this season. Under Holgorsen, WVU has been known for offense. Now it appears the bottom could fall out. If they can’t get the offense in sync, and that right early, like, the first game, it’s gonna be grim in Morgantown. Defense has  been an afterthought with the Mountaineers, it seems, and they need to change this mentality if they hope to challenge in the Big 12 that only has ten teams. Holgorsen is on the hot seat. If West Virginia doesn’t improve he’s going to need to work on his resume. Opening the season in Atlanta against Alabama is either a stroke of genius, if they beat the Tide, or a terrible scheduling error if the Mountaineers get drubbed.

Toughest Games:

Aug. 30thAlabama– might not be the best way to start off a season on the hot seat.

All the rest- WVU needs to win at least five of these games, it’s a tall order.

10.  Kansas,– poor, poor Kansas. They haven’t been a factor since they got rid of Mangino, might not have been their best move. Coach Charlie Weis was brought in with hopes of winning something, anything! But that hasn’t panned out well. In the spring game Weis had the starters playing against the reserves, and planned to flip the score at halftime so the starters could learn to play from behind. The only problem was, the reserves were ahead, 7-0!  Ooops! The Jayhawks do have several returning players, but, after last year, all they know is losing, and how good is experience at losing?

Toughest Games:

All of them, including Southest Missouri State

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