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Big 12 that only has ten teams preview

The Big 12, which only has ten teams, will kick off this season preview. Why? Because this league is on the endangered species list and we wanted to get our preview in before they become extinct. It’s just a matter of when, not if. It has become painfully obvious that the powers that be in this Midwest conference don’t read, because we’ve been repeating it ad nauseum that they need to add two more teams, (BYU, Colorado State, or Cincinnati), get a conference championship game, and catch up with the rest of the world! Could it be that the self-proclaimed overlord (we’re not mentioning any names “TEXAS!!!!”) is deliberately killing any idea of making this league relevant again? Why, Texas, what do you gain by eliminating the Big 12, even though it has only ten teams? So, before Oklahoma and Oklahoma State bolt elsewhere, effectively killing the league, light up a good cigar and enjoy the preview of the Big 12, that only has ten teams.

  1. Baylor Bears – Baylor thought they should be the sole conference champion last year and they had a good argument. TCU and BU both 571had one conference loss but the Bears had the head-to-head tie breaker since they beat the Horn Frogs. Tough to dispute the Bears’ logic, but the higher-ups (read, COMMISSIONER) thought they’d have a better shot of getting two teams in the Playoff if both were crowned co-champions. This in spite of their year-long motto and commercials preaching they were the only conference with a true champion. Does everyone but Texas (oops, wasn’t going to mention that) see the comic component they bring to college football? Anyway, the Bears should have been the champions and they are in great shape to be crowned the One True Champion in 2015. Baylor returns 18 starters and they have a ridiculously easy schedule. It’s pretty much clear sailing until November. Seriously they’re not going to face any serious competition until November, – ok, maybe Lamar might rise up and give them a game, but we doubt it. Then, in November they have to play at K-State, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State and at TCU. That’s a lot of ats. Not sure who is going to trip them up, but someone will. We’re picking Oklahoma State. But even with one loss Baylor still wins the conference. The ball-slinging Bears need to replace their quarterback, but in this plug- and-play system of Art Briles’, this shouldn’t be a problem. Seth Russell will take over and do just fine. Might not win the Heisman but he’s going to put up ridiculous passing numbers. The biggest concern, and the reason they won’t go undefeated, is the same reason as always, Defense. Baylor looks at defense as a necessary inconvenience. It’s something they have to do but they don’t want to. All the pass-happy Bears want to do is get the ball and score points. Score more than the other guy. In the Big 12, that only has ten teams, that works. Elsewhere, not so much. Oh, and Baylor does not do well when the spotlight is shining bright on them, see their bowl record.IMG_7790

2. Oklahoma State- The wheels fell off the Cowpoke chuck wagon last year, nothing went right, their QB situation never was stable and it effected everything else they did. Now they’ve greased the axles and supposedly discovered how to hitch up the team. If the Pokes are going to bounce back, this is the year to rebound. Look for QB Mason Rudolph to make big improvements since he knows the offense and should be more comfortable. OSU needs to find a good running game to complement their air raid offense. The infantry should be vastly improved as tackles Crabtree and Salako come back from injury and UAB, respectively. They will provide the bookends to anchor the O-line. Defense needs to be addressed, as in, the Pokes need to find one. The secondary was gashed last year and stopping the run wasn’t even on the radar scope. Even with a hyper-porous defense, OSU could be right up there fighting for the one (or two) true champions of the Big 12, that only has ten teams. Oklahoma State can beat Baylor, and probably will, but then they’ll lose to K-State and be upset by the likes of Iowa State…again.


TCU-Not very comfortable placing the Horn Frogs in third. Everyone and their uncle is picking them to win the conference (one true champion, IMG_7801make the playoffs, (even though they don’t play in a championship game like every other conference) and possibly win the National Championship, QB Boykin walking away with the Heisman Trophy, and Coach Gary Patterson saving a litter of puppies from a burning building and awarded the Nobel Prize as the hero of the year. While nearly (I had to put ‘nearly’ in there, because my editor isn’t giving TCU anything) everyone is already anointing their heads with oil, and crowning them king, CSF doesn’t believe it. Now, if it’s Alabama being anointed, then it’s just forth-telling. Why all the hype? TCU has ten returning starters on offense. Since there are only 11 offensive starters, that means only one guy from last year’s squad needs to be replaced. Ergo, the chances of the Horned Toads putting up ridiculous “O” numbers are good. But there is just something that bothers me about picking TCU higher. When I was at the TCU vs. Texas game last season where the Horn Frogs absolutely buried the Longhorns, the highly-vaulted passing game was not very vaulted at all. Mainly, it was just Boykin throwing the ball as far as he could in a huge loop and having a receiver run under it. It worked last year and everyone oohed and aahed. This year, all the defense has to do is push the receiver at the line of scrimmage and that scrambles the passing game. Trust me, a coach like Bill Snyder has already figured this out. TCU will take no one by surprise and the pressure will take its toll on that offense. The running game, which did great last year, will have far more pressure on them to carry the load and CSF just doesn’t have that much faith in the Horned Frog running backs. Another reason for doubt is because last year every fumble went TCU’s way. They were the luckiest team, outside of Auburn three years ago, when it came to turnovers. Yes, the Purple Toads work on getting the ball but when you review the games, it’s amazing how that ball bounced right their way. Without those fortuitous turnovers, they would have lost to Oklahoma, West “By Golly” Virginia, and Kansas! Yes, the Jayhawks actually gave TCU a tough game. But the biggest blow to this team making it to the Elysium Fields will be the holes in their defense. Besides losing just about all their starters, Defensive Coordinator Dick Bumpas retired last year. How big of hit is that? Good Question! Bumpas has been the DC with Coach Paterson at TCU since 2004. Before that they worked together at four other schools. How does one replace that much history, that much continuity, and that much trust? They don’t. TCU’s defense is going to suffer, they might not even end up at number three in the conference

4. Oklahoma- Didn’t want to put OU here, either, wanted K-State, but when it came time to pull the trigger, I balked on the Wildcats and placedIMG_7761 the Sooners in 4th. The reason is because OU has more returning starters and better talent. But that does not equal a great season, cite how the Boomer Sooners did last year if there is any doubt. What the heck is going on in Norman, anyway? Does anyone out there have an answer? CSF knows something is wrong but has no idea what it is. This is the same team that by beat my beloved Crimson Tide in the 2014 Sugar Bowl and Trevor Knight played so well that Katy Perry asked him out on ESPN GameDay! One would have needed to use smelling salts on me should Katy Perry ever mention my name, much less want to go out with me! Holy Moly! But what does Oklahoma do for a follow-up? They crash and burn. Knight isn’t even expected to be the starting QB this season. I hope he enjoyed that time with Katy Perry cause I don’t think he’s going to get another invitation. In the off-season Coach Bob Stoops cleaned out his assistant coaches’ house and replaced eight of his nine coordinators. His brother, defensive coordinator Mike, was safe, Mrs Stoops, the elder, must still be alive. Otherwise, I think Mike would have been invited to go fishing on Lake Tahoe (Godfather II reference). Now they have Lincoln Riley taking over the offense and installing the Air Raid, like, just about everyone else in the Big 12, that only has ten teams, only this one will be modeled after East Carolina, which was modeled after Texas Tech. This house-cleaning is either going to produce great results or Coach Stoops might want to think about retirement. To make matters worse, the three all-conference offensive lineman they had last year are gone, and it’s not like they recruited the best offensive lineman in the country, – Bama did. But with the talent that OU has, including on defense, this team is either going to “live in fame or go down in flame” – with apologies to the US Air Force. Not sincere apologies, mind you, just apologies. As long as they don’t play Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, I’m fine either way.

5. Kansas State- The Wildcats are supposed to be on the decline because they lost all their star power and everyone knows that Bill Snyder 468doesn’t recruit five star players to replace them. Poor K-State is going to be the whipping boy of the Big 12, that only has ten teams. Don’t you believe it. CSF doesn’t, and, as a matter fact, if you are smoking a cigar with someone and they don’t rate Coach Bill Snyder as one of the best College Football coaches ever, don’t join them for another cigar….as in ever. K-State is and has been the most disciplined team in the Midwest since Snyder arrived. Remember what he said when asked why his team doesn’t get penalties, “Because if one of our boys commits a penalty we take him out behind the barn and shoot him.” The Wildcats are going to be the most fundamentally sound teams in the league. The Cats have tackling practice. They will not beat themselves and they’re going to surprise some teams they shouldn’t. Yes, they have to replace their QB, and their outstanding WR, but when do they not? One of the main reasons they will surprise is because they believe in the power of defense. The Cats have tackling practice. Look for the K-State D-line to be far better than they were last year, and the secondary, that hardly gave up any big plays in ’14, will be even stingier in ’15. They have tackling practice. KSU kicks off the season relatively easy, have a tough middle, with a lighter finish. Good schedule for Coach Snyder to develop his less-than-five star recruits. In the middle stretch, if the Wildcats are able to upset Oklahoma State and knock off Oklahoma, they’ll be in great shape for a top-tier bowl as a reward. Not going to pick them to upset Baylor or TCU… can happen, stranger things have happened, ….. but don’t misunderstand;- pulling for the upset, yes. Picking it? Dang, that’s tough, but, sadly, no.

6. Texas- The daughter, who has already declared that Texas A&M is her choice for higher education, thinks the 160Longhorns should be picked at the bottom where they should live ever after. Since Auburn won’t live by my Disney story I see no reason why UT is going to live by hers. Charlie Strong took on a huge task when he accepted the job in Austin. He realized that the entire culture of Texas had to be changed, so he kicked out a bunch of prima donas and got everyone’s attention. Now he enters his second year and it’s looking like a doozy. First, they get Notre Dame in Illinois. May not be the ideal start, but if UT had a QB other than Swoopes, one who could actually be a passing threat, this could turn out to be a pretty good game. But it looks like Swoopes for another year;- not good. If the Longhorns have any chance of being invited to any ball they’re going to need their running game to produce. That means the Offensive line needs to be disciplined and adhere to the fundamentals. UT’s got running backs, if the line can block it’ll give them a good chance to win more than they lose. The Defense last year was not terrible, it wasn’t great, or even good, but they do have a core coming back, which could produce better results. The Horns have some tough games, after the Irish, they take on California, who will be far better, and in the conference they get only two tough games at home, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. All the rest will be on the road. Coach Strong might want to replace his scheduler. This is not going to be the UT Cinderella storybook year, nor is it expected to be, except, maybe, by all the UT fans in the Lone Star state. UT will be good again someday, they just need a QB, and receivers, and tacklers, and pass-defenders, and pass-rushers, and kickers. The Horns have running backs.

7. Texas Tech- has work to do. I talked to a Red Raider alum who is still hating Tommy Tuberville for TT being down. They might have a point, 557he didn’t do them any favors. Folks at Ole Miss still hate Tuberville, so do the folks at Auburn. But this is Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s team and this is his third year, improvement is expected. The Air Attack, which is pretty much the only way Tech knows how to move the ball, is very effective. QB Webb and Mahomes will battle it out in August to see who gets the starting nod, but it’s not going to matter much as both are very effective. There is no shortage of receivers who are fast and can catch the ball. The aerial offense is going to move the ball against everyone. Running the ball is an entirely different story. Do the Red Raiders have a running back or two? Seriously, I mean a real live, honest-to-goodness running back, not some receiver they just happen to put in the backfield? They do. His name is Washington and he is supposed to be pretty good. There’s a chance they may actually hand it off to him. Stranger things have happened – I suppose. The real reason Tech is ranked 7th is because they have no defense, none. Ok, they have players that line up “on” defense, but they don’t have tackling practice like K-State does. Should TT develop a real running game and halfway decent defense they could be a whole lot better, but as long as they just throw, throw, throw, don’t hold your breath for the one true champion to come riding in from Lubbock on a black stallion.

8. Iowa State- The Cyclones are a team that everyone likes, and all want them to do well and grab the brass ring but everyone knows that is not 516going to happen. This is what it must feel like to be a Chicago Cubs fan. ISU pulls the upset from time to time, they beat Iowa now and again, but they just can’t get over the hump that separates winners from losers. Take QB Sam Richardson, last year ISU ranked 90th in the passing game but he still had three games where he threw for over 300 yards, and in seven games he threw multiple TD’s. Then, in other games, the coaches could only stand on the sidelines scratching their heads and wondering what in the world was he doing? ISU would be much better if they had a running game – so would Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Kansas State, West Virginia, and Kansas, but you don’t know about the latter two yet – to help out but for right now, no one has stepped up to be the man. For an offense that struggles, the best news is that besides Richardson and the receivers coming back, four out of five O-lineman return. So the offense has experience, it may not be winning experience, but it’s something to build on. The defensive side of the ball was beyond horrible last year. It was bad. The D gave up an average of 5.67 yards per carry. It’s hard to stop the other team when every other play results in a first down. Very difficult indeed. But this is a team that is at least trying to improve. Maybe next year. Maybe



9. West “By Golly” Virginia- The bullies of the now defunct Big East conference have yet to live up to Big 12, that only has ten teams, 541expectations. Like just about everyone else in the Big 12 minus 2, the Mountaineers rely on a pass first, pass often, and do nothing but pass offense. They want to strike fast and keep striking. They might run the ball some this year, Ok…ok….hold on! I’m not saying it’s going to be a lot, but some. Running Back is about the only position where the Mountaineers are strong. With four returning RB backs it would be foolish not to use them. They have to replace their QB and receivers. They have three lineman returning, but, let’s be honest, the O-line is more concerned with pass blocking, not firing out and pushing people off the line. There are two reasons why I rank WVU 9th when most have them ranked higher. 1) they have an awful, terrible and even pathetic time trying to stop the run. They allowed the 5th most rushing yards in the nation last year. 2) Their first game out of the gates this year is against Georgia Southern. Haven’t put it together yet? Ok, Georgia Southern is supposed to be a cupcake game because they’re from a lower division. The Eagles don’t know that! This is the team that upset Florida at the Swamp and NEVER even attempted a pass! It’s possible that WVU is going to lose their first game of the season and they will not recover from that loss. No matter how well their offense operates it’s not going to matter when all the other team has to do is run the ball and chew up the clock. The offense sits and gets cold and loses its potency.


10. Kansas- Do you think KU might be regretting ever getting rid of Coach Mark Mangino? They should. The Jayhawks are at the bottom of 491the barrel….again, and they’re going to stay there for a while. First year Coach David Betty has a huge rebuilding task ahead of him. Running the ball, the Jayhawks were last;- passing, they were second to last. Defense lost just about all their starters. Rebuilding is not the word in Lawrence, Kansas, it’s more like just mixing up the cement for it to become concrete so they can pour a foundation. On the plus side, after Charlie Weis was released from his latest college football destruction project, KU had several games where they became competitive and caused people to sit on the edge of their seats wondering if this was going to be the game where they upset someone. Look what they did against TCU. This will not be the year of any upsets, but look for them to be competitive in more games. The Jayhawks won’t wow anyone with spectacular plays or offensive schemes, but what they will do, they’ll get better. Next year, maybe they’ll have tackling practice. Or a spelling contest.

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