The Big XII in my opinion really has 4 teams that could win the conference with Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas and Missouri. I feel that Kansas should take a step back this year, but they should be a very solid team.
Big XII North:
1. Missouri-The Missouri Tigers had one of their greatest seasons ever last year, and for it they got screwed from a BCS Bowl, The Tigers return All America Chase Daniel, and Mr. Everything in now Sophmore Jeremy Macklin. They also return tight end Chase Coffman. The one glaring weakness for Mizzou is there running back situation, the Tigers don't have a set running back with Tony Temple graduating. Defensively is a bit shakey for the Tigers, last year it wasn't a huge problem with the Tigers averaging 40 points a game. This year though I think it could hurt them, but the thing for them is they don't have a hard schedule missing out on Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Mizzou is a favorite for the Big XII Title, they can win it, but only if their defense will improve.
2. Kansas-Last year the Kansas Jayhawks ended the season at 12-1, they won the Orange Bowl and now return 16 starters. So they should be a Big 12 favorite, right? Wrong! This team played a super easy schedule and despite the fact that they did beat a decent Virginia Tech team, remember the ACC last year was a joke, and Virginia Tech lost by 41 to LSU at the start of the year. They do return Quarterback Todd Reesing and 2nd leading rushed Jake Sharp from last years team, but they lose top reciever Marcus Henry and top rusher Brandon McAnderson. They also lose Offensive Tackle Anthony Collins to the NFL. The Jayhawks do return Reciever Dexton Fields to replace Marcus Henry. The defense looks like it'll be good with the return of 9 starters from last years team. The team does lose though, All American Aqib Talib to the NFL. I really don't know how good Kansas will be this year, they played a pathetic schedule and used the schedule to play in a BCS Bowl that they didn't deserve. We'll see how Kansas is this year, as they actually play a pretty tough schedule. They play at USF in the non conference schedule and then have to play at Oklahoma, Texas, at Nebraska, Texas and then at Missouri. We'll see if last year was a fluke, as the Jayhawks know they can't catch anybody by suprise.
3. Nebraska-There are many words to describe Nebraska's season, an easy way to describe it is disaster. The Cornhuskers offense should be very good this year led by Joe Ganz, who came on late to throw for 16 touchdowns last year. They also return steady running back Marlon Lucky who ran for over 1000 yards last year. The question mark on the offense will be, who'll Ganz be throwing the ball too. Nate Swift should be the top target after having over 500+ yards receiving last year. If the Huskers want to be a team that could make a January bowl they need the defense to transform to the Blackshirts of the great Nebraska teams. The defense should improve last year, but that's expected after how bad the defense was last year. Expect Pelini to improve the defense, but don't expect the defense to be improved enough to lead Nebraska to a Big 12 Title. The schedule should be tough again with V. Tech visiting Nebraska in non-conference play, and having to play Missouri, Kansas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma.
4. Colorado-Last year the 'Buffs were able to make a bowl game after having a terrible first year, but according to Colin Cowherd Colorado will never be good because of too many hippies in Boulder, interested heres a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6t3VKLL-OY . The offense will be lead by the coaches son, Cody Hawkins who had a solid first year as a starter throwing for over 20 touchdowns. The running game should be solid again as their lead by Hugh Charles, but he will be pushed for playing time by heralded freshman Darrell Scott. The 'Buffs return their top 2 recievers so Hawkins should have no trouble getting the ball to experienced receivers on the outside. Last year the defense struggled, but it should be helped by heralded recruits like Jon Major, Lynn Kotoa and Shaun Mohler. The defense shouldn't be great, but it should be decent enough to allow the 'Buffs to go bowling again. In non-conference they have to play WVU, and FSU. While in conference they play Missouri, Kansas, Texas and Texas A&M. Expect Hawkins to continue to lead a revitalization in Colorado, unless Boulder continues to have too many hippies.
5. Kansas St.-The Wildcats had a dissapointing year last year, many thought they could win the Big 12 North, but the team got off to a great start blowing out Texas on the road, but the season faded after that and after KSU got blown out by Fresno St. that guaranteed they wouldn't be playing in a bowl game. The Wildcats should have solid quarterback play with Josh Freeman at the helm, the running game should take a step back with the loss of 1000 yard rusher James Johnson. The Wildcats lose do everything receiver Jordy Nelson, and there hoping Deon Murphey to step up, and they do return 3rd receiver Jeron Mastrud. The defense has to improve drasitically after ranking 114th in defense. If they want to make a bowl game they need their defense to step up, their hoping the JC transfers to help out the Wildcats. The scheduling was easier after KSU backed out of a game with Fresno State, they do play Louisville though in non-conference play. In conference play they play Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas A&M.
6. Iowa St.-Last year was a really rough year for the Cyclones, Gene Chizik should be expecting another rough season. The Cyclones lose their top 2 offensive threats from last year in quarterback in Bret Meyer and receiver Todd Blythe, and the thing is their offense was pretty bad to begin with. The only real good thing for the Cyclones is that they return their top 2 rushers so they'll have to lean on their running game and hopes it produces with the Cyclones not having many experience at the other positions on offense. The defense wasn't much better, and that's bad considering that Chizik is known as a defensive coach, we'll see if Chizik can't move the defense in a postive direction, for his sake we better hope so. This should be another rough season for Iowa State, they are expected to struggle and if Chizik can't get this team to win 6 games that would be a great coaching job.
Big XII South:
1. Oklahoma-The Sooners once again chocked in a BCS Game getting blown out by WVU, and in this game the 'Neers made the Sooners look flat footed. OU this year returns the Best freshman in College Football History in Sam Bradford. In the backfield they still have Demarco Murray and Chris Brown. They also add stud recruits Jerime Calhoun and Justin Johnson. Though losing Kelley will hurt they still have Joaquin Iglesias and return that great group of Tight Ends. The defense will be good as always for the Sooners and the real key is will the Sooners not choke this year.
2. Texas-The Longhorns should be a lot better defensively this year and that's really the key. They were a joke last year and really couldn't do anything right. Enter Will Muschamp: Muschamp helped form great defenses at Auburn and should do the same at Texas. Expect a lot better defense in Texas, The offense should be good and expect improvement from Colt McCoy who had a sophmore slump last year. Vondrell McGee looks like the guy who'll be the new starting running back, but expect him to split time with Chris Ogbonnaya. The reciever aren't going to be as strong as last year, but they have two targets they can count on in Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley. Overall, the 'Horns could make a run to the Big XII Title, but it all depends on the defense. If the defense can play well, watch out because the 'Horns could win the Big XII.
3. Texas Tech-The Texas Tech Red Raiders return almost all the parts of last year, except for 2nd leading reciever Danny Amendola. They return Quarterback Graham Harrell, and Heisman darkhorse Michael Crabtree who set countless freshman records last year when he won the Biletnikoff Trophy as the countries best reciever. The offense will be able to put up tons of points, the key is how will the defense fair. Last year the defense allowed 25 points a game and if they want to be able to win a Big XII title they need to improve that significantly. The Red Raiders this year look like the best team Mike Leach has ever had at Texas Tech. They return a good quarterback in Graham Harrell and a very good reciever in Michael Crabtree. The key games for Texas Tech will be the road games at Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas A&M, while the key home game appears to be a date with in state rival Texas.
4. Texas A&M-The Aggies have a new coach in Mike Sherman and it should be interesting to see if Mike Sherman keeps the current offense intact or if he runs the offense he ran in the NFL. If he was smart he would continue to run the system that they ran last year because the Aggies have a two very good running backs, a dual threat quarterback and an inexperienced group of receivers. The running game should be so good led by the 270 pound bruiser Jovorskie Lane and the speedster Mike Goodson. The Aggies top returning receiver is running back Mike Goodson. The Aggies lose their top 2 receivers and their tight end Martellus Bennett. The defense struggled a little bit last year ranking 47th last year, expect improvement this year from the Aggies, and expect the Aggies to be a borderline top 25 team. The key games for the Aggies are the non-conference game with Miami and conference games with Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas Tech.
5. Oklahoma St.-The Cowboys season last year was best known for their coaches rant even a local toyota dealer made a commercial of it here's a link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QMGPnTNtyA . The Cowboys offense should once again be very explosive led by dual threat quarterback Zac Robinson. The running game should also be very solid once again despite the loss of their top running back Dantrell Savage. The reason is because they still have Robinson and a solid sophmore in Kendall Hunter. The receivers should be solid again even with the loss of Adarious Bowman. The reason is because they return their 2nd and 3rd receivers in Desmond Bryant and Brandon Pettigrew. The key for the Cowboys like always will be the defense because they can score with anybody, but they pretty much can't stop anybody. If the Cowboys could they could possibly win 10 games this year. They key games are non-conference games are Troy and Houston and conference games against Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Missouri.
6. Baylor-The Bears came off another bad season and they welcome new coach Art Briles. One thing for sure is that the Bears will have an experienced quarterback with Miami transfer Kirby Freeman and returning starter Blake Szymanski. The other key is to replace running threat Brandon Whitaker. Jay Finley and Jacoby Jones are the major challengers. The Bears do return though their top two receivers in Brad Taylor and Thomas White. The defense was fairly good last year ranking 30th in the country, if the defense can have a performance like that the Bears could win more then 3 games. The Bears have 3 tough non-conference games against Wake Forest, Washington State, and UConn. The conference games that are key are Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Missouri.
Badgers Ballers writes for http://www.onlinesportsfanatic.com/