tBBC Conference Calvalcade: Big 12

Written August 21st, 2012 by Gary Russell II

We continue the journey across the nation to get you ready for kickoff in less than two weeks. Today, Gary weighs in on the newest incarnation of the Big 12 conference.

With all the Conference re-aligning going on it has been tough to keep track of what team is going where. Many conferences are taking on small changes while many are undergoing complete makeovers. Today, we take a look at the Big 12 conference, which has changed drastically over the last couple of years.

Baylor Bears
2011 Record 10-3
Pre-Season Rank: NR
Head coach Art Briles has his work cut out for him after losing all three of his stars from last year’s offense. QB Robert Griffin III, WR Kendall Wright, and RB Terrance Ganaway all lead the Bears at their respective positions and have all left for the NFL. The Baylor offense still returns three talented wide receivers in Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson, and Tevin Reese. All three had 1000+ yards last year. The question is can incoming QB Nick Florence get them the ball. Only time will tell if he can and that is why they will start this season outside of the Top 25 until that question is answered.

Iowa State Cyclones
2011 Record 6-7
Pre-Season Rank: NR
Last year was a very difficult season for the Cyclones as they struggled in every aspect of their game. The lone bright spot was the unexpected upset of the Oklahoma State Cowboys (their lone loss on the season). Head coach Paul Rhodes has very few things going for him in 2012 with a QB battle between Senior Steele Jantz and Sophomore Jared Barnett brewing which we all know is never a good thing this close to the season. Rhodes also lost his offensive coordinator Tom Herman to Ohio State. One things that is going for is the return of linebackers Jake Knott and A.J. Klein to lead their defense. Look for the Cyclones to struggle against a very strong conference and be towards the bottom of the standings again in 2012.

Kansas Jayhawks
2011 Record 2-10
Pre-Season Rank: NR
The Jayhawks are looking for first year head coach Charlie Weiss to pull off a miracle in the 2012 season. Kansas finished the 2011 campaign in dead last in the conference standings. They do return 7 offensive starters and 5 defensive starters. The problem, neither the offense nor defense were very strong last year. The loss of QB Jordan Webb leaves the offense with no real leader. Senior QB Dayne Crist looks to step up and try to lead the offense. A true freshman in Tre Parmalee will most likely be Crist’s main target in hopes of getting the Jayhawks out of the Big 12 cellar this year.

Kansas State Wildcats
2011 Record 10-3-1
Pre-Season Rank: 22
A very talented Wildcat team in 2011 looks to repeat their performance in 2012. Head coach Bill Snyder will have All American Senior QB Collin Klein retuning. Klein ONLY broke the FBS QB record for rushing TD’s with 27 while rushing for 1,141 yards and throwing for 1,918 yards. He also completed 13 passes for touchdowns. His two main targets are returning as well. Senior Chris Harper and Sophomore Tyler Lockett combined for 8 of the 13 TD catches and look to improve on that number in 2012. Their defense is also looking very strong as they return 6 starters, of which, 5 of them were in the top 8 in team tackles last year. This offensive and defensive combination has the Wildcats poised to make a run at the Big 12 title.

Oklahoma Sooners
2011 Record 10-3
Pre-Season Rank: 4
Boomer Sooner was a tough matchup for anyone in 2011 and 2012 looks to be even tougher. Bob Stoops has brought back his brother Mike Stoops to strengthen an already solid defense and go with a vaunted offense. The Sooners return 12 offensive players and 12 defensive players that combined to have 339 starts. QB Landry Jones has already started in 37 games and looks to lead an offensive that did lose some of their star power last year. The defensive is anchored by defensive end combo of David King and R.J. Washington and a backfield that returns 5 players that were either full time or part time starters. With only two real tough road games (@WVU and @TCU), the Sooner schedule is set up nicely for not only a Big 12 title but a possible National Championship birth.

Oklahoma State Cowboys
2011 Record 12-1
Pre-Season Rank: 19
Head Coach Mike Gundy has his Cowboy team one game away from a chance at a National Title in 2011 but in 2012 trips to Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Baylor combined with several key players departing for the NFL make a repeat of 2011 a very difficult task. QB Brandon Weeden and WR Justin Blackmon departed for the NFL leaving true freshman Wes Lunt some pretty big shoes to fill. One thing the offense has going for them is the return of RB’s Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith who combined for 1,862 yards and 33 TD’s. The defense ranked 107th in total defense in 2011 leaving Lunt, Randle, and Smith the tall task of outscoring all of their opponents.

TCU Horned Frogs
2011 Record 11-2
Pre-Season Rank: 20
Gary Patterson looks to lead his to Big 12 title in the Horned Frogs’ inaugural season. The offense will be loaded yet again with QB Casey Pachall looking to improve on his 228 completions and 2,921 yards in his second season as the starter. In addition to the passing game, TCU returns three RB’s that all had over 700 yards in rushing. Wayman James, Ed Wesley, and Matthew Tucker all look to match 2011 numbers. The defensive has lead the nation in total defense in 5 of the last 12 years and Stansly Maponga, Kenny Cain, and Jason Verrett intend on making it 6 of the last 13 years.

Texas Longhorns
2011 Record 8-5
Pre-Season Rank: 15
The 2011 Longhorn season wasn’t one that Mack Brown was hoping for in 2011 and unless things change 2012 may end up down the same road. Texas does have their WR trio of Mike Davis, Jaxon Shipley, and Marquise Goodwin (which all had 30+ receptions) returning. They big problem they have on the offensive side is that they still haven’t decided on a QB. Case McCoy and David Ash are still locked in a battle on who will start and who will play and unless Mack Brown picks one (hopefully the right one for his sake) and goes with it he may have the same results in 2012.

 

Texas Tech Red Raiders
2011 Record 5-7
Pre-Season Rank: NR
Texas Tech has fallen on some hard times in the last few years and getting out from under all the Big 12 bottom feeders in 2012 doesn’t look to be much different. Third year coach Tommy Tuberville is looking for leaders on both sides of the ball. QB Seth Dodge led the nation in 2011 in passing. He starts 2012 as a leading candidate for the Davey O’Brien Award. Problem is Dodge doesn’t have a lot of proven talent to throw to. There is hope but in a very stacked conference, the Red Raiders are going to be at the middle of pack at best.

West Virginia Mountaineers
2011 Record 10-3
Pre-Season Rank: 11
Dana Holgorsen is leading his team into a new conference this year but that doesn’t mean he will sit back and let the old Big 12 have their way with them. Senior QB and his 4,385 yards and 31 TD’s, returns along with his leading target in WR Tavon Austin. They look to lead this powerful offense in an attempt to battle Oklahoma for the top spot. Austin also brings his talent to the special teams as well as the kick and punt returner. He returned two kickoffs for TD’s last year. The defensive is led by lineman Julian Miller and his 27.5 sacks and Bruce Irvin and his 22.5 tackles. The secondary is led Terrance Garvin. This strong offense and decent defense make for a great chance at topping the Big 12 in their first year.

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