Here is Campus Confidential's preview of the Big 12 conference.
Opening kickoff: Is this the final season for the Big 12? Colorado is gone, now playing in the new Pac-12. Nebraska, an original Big 8 school, is also gone, now the 12th school in the revamped Big Ten. Oklahoma and Texas are solid programs and still the marquee schools in the conference. But for how long? The creation of Texas’ Longhorn Network, a television sports channel devoted solely to Texas Longhorn athletics, has created plenty of controversy within the conference and around the college sports landscape. As a result, Texas A&M recently mulled a move to the SEC, which ultimately decided not to add the Aggies at the current time. However, Texas A&M on Thursday notified the Big 12 that it was exploring its options in terms of conference affiliation. Translation: Texas A&M’s days in the Big 12 are coming to an end. The Dallas Morning News reported this week that SMU has strong interest in joining the Big 12. Stay tuned. It will definitely be interesting times in the Big 12 this season. With just 10 teams this season, divisions and the conference championship game have been eliminated. On the field, Oklahoma returns quarterback Landry Jones and wide receiver Ryan Broyles, who caught 131 passes last season. The Sooners are the Big 12 favorite and a serious national title contender. Keep an eye on Texas A&M, which played very well over the second half of last season. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Cyrus Gray, who could be a Heisman sleeper, are back. Oklahoma State should be a dangerous contender with quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon returning. Missouri lost Blaine Gabbert, but the Tigers should be good. I expect Texas to improve on last season’s losing record.
CC’s predicted order of finish
- Texas A&M
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Texas Tech
- Iowa State
CC’s preseason offensive player of the year: Landry Jones, QB, Oklahoma
CC’s preseason defensive player of the year: Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis will miss eight weeks (roughly the first four games of the season) with a broken bone in his left foot. With Lewis out, I like Texas defensive tackle Kheeston Randall.
Best game: Texas A&M at Oklahoma, Nov. 5
Why Oklahoma will win the Big 12: Jones and Broyles lead what should be a very potent offense with other talented players back. The loss of Lewis hurts the defense, but the Sooners have enough talent until his return. Oklahoma has a tough stretch to start the season (vs. Tulsa, at Florida State, vs. Missouri). That stretch could set the tone early for the Sooners as they rev up their national title push. Plus, the Sooners get Texas A&M at home in November.