2011 Big 12 Football Predictions and Previews
Oklahoma Sooners – Let’s make one thing plainly clear. The Sooners have the most talented team in college football. HC Stoops has 8 starters back on each side of the ball from a team that went 12-2 and won the Fiesta bowl in a route. Junior QB LAndry Jones had a 38-12 ratio last year and completed a high 65.6% of his passes. His experieNCe will go a long way for the Sooners. Jones gets back his top 2 WRs in Kenny Stiles and Ryan Broyles. The latter is OU’s all time leading WR with 3,429 yards. The loss of Demarco Murray won’t be as tough as you might think given the pure talent of those replacing him. The defense is very strong in the secondary and will get plenty of INTs. The Schedule sends the Sooners to play at Florida State which could be the toughest Game of the year. If they win that then Oklahoma is an early favorite to win the BCS.
Texas A&M Aggies – This team started 2010 with a record of 3-3, but won 6 straight and ended up in the Cotton Bowl where they lost to LSU. Things really started to turn around when QB Ryan Tannehill took over. The now senior player passed for 1,638 yards and completed 65% of his passes. He will lead a team that gets back 10 starters on offense and 8 on defense. This Aggies team could be Fourth year HC Mike Sherman’s best yet. The RB tandem of Cyrus Gray (1,113 yards, 12 TDs, 5.7 AVG) and Christine Michael (631 yards, 5 TDs, 5.0 AVG) will fuel the offense. WR Jeff Fuller (1,066 yards, 12 TDs, 14.8 AVG) will be a great weapon for Tannehill and they should be in much better syNC this season. All of these skill players work behind what is considered by many to be the best offensive line in the Big 12. Senior LB GArrick Williams (112 tackles) is back to lead the defense. The Aggies have a tough Schedule which includes a Game against Arkansas as well as a trip to Oklahoma. Texas A&M is ranked preseason top 10 in most publications and for good reason. They can compete for the BCS Title.
Oklahoma State Cowboys – Man, this team came out of nowhere last year! Mike Gundy’s team went 11-2 with a win in the Alamo Bowl over Arizona. Gundy gets back 9 offensive starters and 5 defensive starters. Brandon Weeden (4,277 yards 34-13 ratio) is back for his senior year and will have WR Justin Blackmon (1,782, 111 RECs, 20 TDs) to work with. Weeden will work behind a good offensive line. The defense is adequate, but particularly strong in the secondary where they figure to get plenty of INTs thanks to CB Brodrick Brown , SS Markelle Martin and FS Johnny Thomas. A tough Schedule sends them to play at Texas and Missouri with home Games against Oklahoma and Arizona.
Texas Longhorns – Wow, fans of this team DID NOT like 2010 as they ended up a disgraceful 5-7. MACk Brown gets back 6 starters on both sides of the ball to try and turn things around. The road to recovery begins with QB GArrett Gilbert. He was downright awful last year with 2,744 yards and a very, very bad 10-17 ratio. If he doesn’t show he has turned around MACk may go to the younger brother of all time Texas passing leader Colt McCoy. Case McCoy is a sophomore this year. RB Malcolm Brown was a prized recruit of the offseason and will be donning Texas’s burnt orange. He will be a big boost on the offense. All in all this is a team that will likely make it back to Bowl play, but contending for a Big 12 Title is asking too much.
Missouri Tigers – It looked like GAry Pinkel’s Tigers would be 2010’s Cinderella team after a win over Oklahoma, but they then dropped back to back Games against Nebraska and Texas Tech. This team ended last year with a 10-3 record and lost to Iowa in the Insight Bowl. The loss of Blaine GAbbert at QB and a very tough Schedule means this team will regress. They should still compete and win 8 Games though.
Kansas State Wildcats – Bill Snyder is back for his 20th season at KSU. He returns 6 offensive starters and 7 on defense. 5 home Games within the Conference will boost their chances of success. The Wildcats could make their 13th Bowl under Snyder thanks to the Schedule and new players that figure to boost them.
Texas Tech Red Raiders – Tommy Tuberville did well to guide this team to 8-5 in his inaugural season as HC. The top returning player for this team is RB Eric Stephens who scored 6 TDs while rushing for 668 yards last year. The second year in the system is always better and Tuberville likely has his team believing they can win.
Baylor Bears – Art Briles gets back 9 starters on offense iNCluding QB Robert Griffin. The defense which was awful last year and gets back 5. Tough Games at Texas A&M and Oklahoma State as well as Games against TCU, Oklahoma, and Texas mean improvement on last year’s 7-6 record is unlikely.
Iowa State Cyclones – With 5 offensive starters and 7 defensive starters back this team isn’t likely to improve on last year’s 5-7 mark. Expect this to be a rebuilding year for 3rd year HC Paul Rhoads.
Kansas Jayhawks – Turner Gill has his work cut out for him. His Kansas team was 3-9 last year and doesn’t look much better this year. However, KU fans should relax. Let Gill get his guys in there before you condemn him.