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2010 Big 12 Conference Preview
Odds - Predictions
One thing looks certain. This will be the last year we will be previewing the Big 12. As of this writing Nebraska and Colorado are gone for sure. Nebraska to the Big 10 and Colorado to the PAC 10. The PAC 10 has extended invitations to 5 additional Big 12 teams. Most believe the Big 12 will dissolve. What a shame. It's amazing that this can happen in an area of the country where football is like a religion. As they saying goes, "Money Talks". That's what it's all about folks.
We don't particularly like change in college football. So for now, we'll ignore the issue and just go ahead and preview another exciting Big 12 football season. Below we will list the current odds to win the Big 12 courtesy of sportsbook.com and we'll preview each team in the North and South divisions.
As you can see from the current odds posted, the oddsmakers and bettors favor Oklahoma, Texas and Nebraska. No surprise there. Perhaps the only odds out of whack are Iowa State's who weigh in at 100/1. Hey, they did win at Nebraska last year. Here's a look at the 2010 Big 12 Conference.
Big 12 South Preview
Oklahoma Sooners - Odds to Win Big 12
1/1 - Last year was a disappointment for the
Sooners who were hoping to return to the BCS Title Game behind the strength of
Heisman winning QB Sam Bradford. Unfortunately, Bradford missed nearly the
entire season due to injury. They ended 2009 with a record of 8-5 and a victory
over Stanford in the Sun Bowl. 8 starters are back on offense, and 5 return on
defense. QB Landry Jones had an excellent year in 2009 passing for 3198 yards
and 26 TDs. He will be even better as a sophomore.
DeMarco Murray and Jermie Calhoun are both strong running backs. The running game for OU has the potential to pick up a combined 2,000 yards this season. The WR corps with Broyles and Miller and Stills looks good enough to make some noise. The offensive line won't be quite as strong as it was in 2008, but it will be improved from 2009. DT Gerald McCoy was selected #3 overall in the NFL Draft, so the defensive line won't be as good, but it will still be one of the best in the country. The defense on the whole looks very strong for the Sooners.
The schedule looks typical this year. They will face Florida State at home and Cincinnati on the road. Neither of those games will be considered freebies, but OU "should" win both. Playing Texas in Dallas will be a huge game for the Sooners. If they are able to get through their first 6 games without a loss then fans should be thinking of not only a Big XII title, but BCS Title. Bob Stoops has the weapons this year and OU could win 11 games of they stay healthy.
Texas Longhorns - Odds to Win Big 12 2/1 - Last year's magical season almost ended when QB Colt McCoy threw a pass out of bounds against Nebraska and time expired leaving no chance for a FG. The referees reviewed the play and put 1 second back on the clock and Texas booted the game winning FG. They then lost to Alabama when McCoy was injured during the BCS Title Game. Last year was a great year and the Longhorns won 13 games. Getting back to that number won't be an easy task.
Mack Brown will get back 5 starters on offense and 7 on defense. With the talent flowing into a place like Texas, that is enough for them to be in the conversation for Big XII top honors. QB Garrett Gilbert was thrust into the spotlight last year in the BCS Title Game. He played as well as can be expected for a freshman with no prior starts. Gilbert has great intangibles and on field presence. Gilbert has plenty of highly touted recruits to pass the ball to in the WR corps. The LB group at Texas is in the Top 10 of the entire NCAA. The secondary is the best in the Big XII and maybe the entire country. Offensive production will be the key to UT's season. Can they put points on the board?
An easy schedule will work to Texas's benefit. Their only truly tough games will be against Oklahoma and on the road against Nebraska. Look for another stellar season from the Texas Longhorns and likely yet another Big 12 title and beyond.
Texas A&M Aggies - Odds to Win Big 12 25/1 - This team is back after going 6-7 last year. 7 starters are back on offense and 9 return on defense. They boast one of the strongest offenses in the NCAA. Jerrod Johnson is one of the best QBs in the Big XII, and Michael and Gray are both capable of producing 1,000 yard seasons. Tough games against Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma may define the season. Coach Mike Sherman has no excuse not have this team playing a Bowl for the second consecutive year.
In College Football, you need to be "good" on both sides of the ball. Not great, but good. Texas A&M has the horses on offense but the defense is where the problem lies. With most of that unit back, the defense should be improved. But will they be "good"?.Look for another 6 or 7 win season from the Aggies.
Texas Tech Red Raiders - Odds to Win Big 12 15/1 - Mike Leach is gone and Tommy Tuberville is in town. Tuberville led Auburn to an undefeated season in 2004. He steps into a tough situation here with 8 starters back on offense and 6 on defense. The Red Raiders won 9 games last year, and they have the talent to do it again, but the coaching change is an x-factor. How will the players respond to Tuberville? If he can get the most from them they can compete in the Big XII. If not, prepare for a mediocre season. Tuberville needs to be careful not to change too much here. This is a team that was putting up 37 points per game while giving up just 22.
Mike Leach is a heck of a football coach. He's a winner. Tuberville will have his hands full full here trying to duplicate that success. We already know the talent is there. So when the year is over, look at the win column, and put it all on Tuberville. Good or bad.
Baylor Bears - Odds to Win Big 12 75/1 - A season opening win on the road against Wake Forest had fans hoping for big things, but the Bears ended 2009 with a record of 4-8. They return 7 offensive starters this year and 5 on defense. QB Robert Griffin passed with 65% accuracy in limited play last year. He along with Jay Finley will be assets on the offensive side of the ball. With some luck the Bears could make a Bowl game for the first time since 1994. But we can't see more than 6 wins from this team.
Oklahoma State Cowboys - Odds to Win Big 12 75/1 - Mike Gundy's team brings back 4 starters on offense and 4 on defense. Suffice to say this will be a rebuilding year after going 9-4 and losing the Cotton Bowl in 2009. The offense will be switching to the same spread that Texas Tech operates. Having said that, this is now officially Mike Gundy's team. In otherwords, he's been here 5 years. These are his players. Players he recruited. This is where a coach proves his worth in college ball.
Also note that new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen joins the team from Houston, where his offense was #1 in the nation last year. Can't hurt. This will be a very interesting team to watch. No reason not to expect 8 wins or more from this bunch.
Big 12 North Preview
Nebraska Cornhuskers - Odds to Win Big 12 2/1 - Bo Pelini's team stopped the hearts of Longhorn nation in the Big XII title game last year when time expired as Nebraska was in the lead, but referees put a single second back on the clock and Texas booted the game winning FG. Nebraska ended last year 10-4 and won the Holiday Bowl with ease over Arizona, 33-0. That team was good, but this team could be great. 9 starters are back on offense and 5 return on defense. The offense will be improved, but still won't be overly great. Defense will be the key. Losing Suh doesn't help, but the defensive line is still among the best in the country. Both CBs are back, and it is our opinion that Nebraska has the best secondary in the NCAA. Opposing teams won't but up many points against the Huskers. Last year they gave up 10 points per game. Pretty damn good huh?
The schedule is soft as can be this year for Nebraska. They will host Texas and Missouri in what will be their only tough games of the year. With average attendance of 85,000+ the home field advantage will be huge. Not only that, but the Huskers will have blood in their eyes seeking revenge against Texas. Their toughest road game will come against Texas A&M..
Missouri Tigers - Odds to Win Big 12 15/1 - After finishing 2009 with a record of 8-5 the Tigers are poised for better things. They have 8 starters back on both sides of the ball. QB Blaine Gabbert passed for nearly 3,600 yards and 24 TDs last year. He will be one of the best QBs in the Big XII this year. RB Derrick Washington looks poised to top 1,000 yards again behind a very strong offensive line. The pass defense will be improved. The defensive line and linebackers also look improved from 2009 to 2010.
The first half of the schedule works in the Tigers favor. They could feasibly be 6-0, no worse than 5-1 after their first 6 games. They'll earn their stripes however in the 2nd half of the season, particularly a 3 game stretch where they face Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas Tech all in a row. The way it looks going in, it would take a train wreck for this team not to win 9+ games and compete for the Big 12 North Crown.
Colorado Buffaloes - Odds to Win Big 12 75/1 - Coach Dan Hawkins is lucky to have a job after the Buffaloes finished 2009 with a record of 3-9. He is clearly riding his Boise St success as far as possible. It looks like he has the guns to produce a better team this year. 10 starters are back on offense and 7 return on defense. With the core part of the team intact, Colorado has no excuse not to improve.
Sadly for Colorado, they have a very rough schedule. They must play on the road against California in the second game of the year, and then host Georgia two weeks later. Not only that, but they will play host to Oklahoma and Nebraska in Big XII play. It won't be easy, but Colorado can make it back to Bowl play with some luck.
The pressure will be on Hawkins. He was on the right track initially, going 2-10 in his first year followed by 6 and 5 win seasons. A natural progression for a team on the rise under a new coach. But going 3-9 last year changed everything. Anything less than 7 wins is a problem for Hawkins and the way the schedule looks, that won't be easy.
Kansas Jayhawks - Odds to Win Big 12 75/1 - Turner Gill is the new chief in town after Mangino was ousted on allegations of player abuse. Mangino can be credited with turning this program around and he left Gill a nice team. 7 starters are back on offense and 6 return on defense. They are lucky because they dodge Texas and Oklahoma in Big XII play. Gill made great hires at OC and DC, and he should have these guys back in Bowl play this year. The schedule looks like maybe 6 wins can be squeezed out of it, but there's still a large talent gap between Kansas and the Big 12 Elite.
Kansas State Wildcats - Odds to Win Big 12 100/1 - The first thing that I think of when I think of K-State's 2010 chances is that they must play Nebraska, Texas, and Missouri. They are not as good as any of those teams. Bill Snyder is a good coach and he will work some magic with 11 returning starters. 7 wins is not out of the question here.
Iowa State Cyclones - Odds to Win Big 12 100/1 - Coach Paul Rhoads will be playing with house money this year after taking over a 2-10 team and producing 7 wins and a Bowl game. He may need the pass, as the schedule doesn't look cooperative. We can pencil in 5 wins. Anything more than that is going to take a big upset. They have Oklahoma and Texas on the road in back to back games. Ouch. But the rest of their games against the Big 12 Elite are at home, so don't count the Cyclones out.
Other Conference Previews by Bettorsworld