Click on each team’s logo to view their 2013 schedule.
Last week, I wrote a conference preview for the SEC, so now let’s turn our attention to what I believe to be the second best conference in the land, the Big 12. As recently as two years ago, it looked like this league might not even exist, but it’s now steady with ten members and they’re happy keeping it that way. I don’t think the quality at the top of this conference matches up well with the elites of the SEC, Pac 12 or Big 10, but the Big 12 is DEEP. Throw away Kansas and the other nine could all make a bowl game for the second year in row.
The Sooners can justify their claim as top dog in the Big 12 the last few years (total wins since 2008: OU – 52, OSU – 49, Texas – 47, KSU – 39), but they have had little late-season relevance in the national title picture since the 2008 BCS Championship game loss to Tim Tebow’s Gators. Oklahoma under Bob Stoops has always been great, but rarely elite. I like Stoops’ point from earlier this summer that the Big 12 is better than the SEC from top to bottom, but that’s mostly because the SEC has four more teams. OU is a great symbol for the Big 12 conference as a whole, because they do well against the good teams from every conference, but if they’re matched up against the four or five elite teams in a given season, they get stomped. After losing Landry Jones to graduation, the Sooners will likely hand the starting QB spot to Blake Bell, AKA “The Belldozer.” At 6’6” and 265 lbs., The Belldozer is one of the best short yardage backs in the country, but for his career he’s only completed 10 of 20 passes for just more than 100 yards, with one interception.
Hey, did you hear the news? The Longhorns are back, y’all. The media has been asking when Texas will return to national prominence seemingly forever, but this might be the year it actually happens. The Horns return their QB (David Ash, who is much better than you think), top three RBs, two best WRs, the entire offensive line, and NINE defensive starters. In total, 19 starting players from a 2012 team that went 9-4 will wear the burnt orange again this season. Following the 2009 title game loss, Mack Brown said he kinda lost his way as a coach. He now understands that you’re supposed to coach five-star recruits to WIN football games, and not just roll over against mediocre competition. UT has the pedigree to win the conference and potentially compete for a national title. I put them second because they have a bad habit of letting the Sooners beat their ass in the Red River Shootout.
The Horned Frogs had a mediocre season in their first year as a Big 12 team, but don’t blame it solely on the increased strength of schedule. TCU had multiple injuries, suspensions, and other turmoil last offseason, and their starting QB, Casey Pachall, left the team after four games to enter drug rehab. Prior to his departure, Pachall threw for nearly 1,000 yards with 10 TDs and only one pick. With his return this fall, and a crop of new passers in the rest of the conference, Pachall was selected as the Preseason All Big 12 QB. You know head coach Gary Patterson is always going to field a great D, a rarity in this conference where defense is as popular with the fans as abstinence is on college campuses. Big 12 followers and college kids both love scoring, but Patterson’s 4-2-5 formation is like a chastity belt against the pass-happy Big 12 teams. Even with many of last season’s starters being freshmen and sophomores, TCU still finished the year as the conference’s highest ranked team defense. Don’t be surprised when the Horny Toads finish in the top three of the final Big 12 standings.
Somehow this Cowboys program keeps chugging along, even after constantly losing top players and coordinators. Would you have guessed they have the second most wins in the conference since 2008? I say this is the year those constant talent losses come to bite them in the ass. Okie State has new offensive and defensive coordinators, the QB situation is up in the air following the transfer of Wes Lunt, and T. Boone Pickens’ funding of a wildcard genetics lab based in Guyana has not yet produced the half-gorilla, half-human football players of which he’s dreamed. The papers I’ve read say we’re at least three seasons away from seeing King Kong under center for the Cowboys. Papa Pickens’ money did just buy OSU a kick-ass new indoor practice facility. Check it out.
What the hell has gotten into Baylor the last few years? This was a team that won only eight conference games their first 14 years in the Big 12 (or something close to that, does anyone really care?), but has now become a dark horse candidate to win the conference. When you take a step back and really look at the Bears, with their fancy new stadium, the wild neon uniforms given to them by sponsor Adidas, and the focus on recruiting speed first, athleticism second, and skill third, Baylor is doing a solid Oregon impression in central Texas. What makes that comparison even more remarkable is the emergence of Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, a former Ducks signee who is, get this shit, amazingly fast. Bears fans have dreams of him winning the school its second Heisman in three years, but I say we’re more likely to see the rumored RGIII dick pics than a Baylor Heisman winner this season.
Ugh, I hate this school. I grew up hating the Wildcats far more than Kansas’ main rival, Mizzou. That’s changed, but I still get sick watching K State succeed in anything. That’s why the return of Bill Snyder is extra annoying. I assumed when his old ass returned he’d shit the bed like he did the last couple years of his first go-round in Manhattan. Instead, he took them to a conference title in 2012 (one of three the Wildcats won last season. What. The. FUCK!). How does he get these white farm kids fired up enough to beat teams with considerably more talent? Have you ever heard this guy talk? He’s dryer than a popcorn fart. Fortunately, not even the wizard Bill Snyder has enough magic in his purple windbreaker to replace Collin Klein next season. Besides leading the team in all passing stats, he had the most rushing yards and rushing TDs of any KSU player in 2012. As much as I hate EMAW (the KSU chant “Every Man A Wildcat,” or, as my friend says, “Eat My Ass Wildcats”), Preseason All Big 12 kick returner Tyler Lockett is sure fun to watch.
Man, did the Mountaineers ever disappoint me last season. They started out awesome, winning their first five, including two epic shootouts against Baylor and Texas. They, then lost five straight, before crapping out two wins in the next three for a 7-6 final record. This team will regress significantly. They lose an absolute stud of a QB in Geno Smith (73 TDs to 13 interceptions 2011-2012), and the fastest receiving corps possibly ever in Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey. Jesus, is there a team in the Big 12 who doesn’t have a new starting QB? When we’re talking about a TCU QB, who spent last season with Lindsay Lohan at the Betty Ford Clinic, as being the best passer in the conference, well, shit, that’s just sad.
Here’s a list of Bravo shows I’d watch before an Iowa State football game: Princesses Long Island, The Real Housewives of Miami, Eat Drink Love, and Tamra’s OC Wedding. Is every program on that network about rich, plastic hags who live in America’s most overrated areas? They should just change the channel name “Bravo” to “Women in Places.” Anyway, do yourself a favor and don’t watch any Cyclones games this year. I asked my Iowa State friend what I should say about them, and the response was, “Well, we have a redshirt freshman and true freshman competing for the QB job.” New players at nearly every position for a Cyclones team that finished 2012 at 6-7? That Tamra is fairly foxy for a broad who’s already gone through menopause.
You may think the all-time best highlight for Red Raider football was Michael Crabtree’s last second TD to defeat Texas in 2008. Oh, how quickly you’ve forgotten this incredible video of the Texas Tech bell ringer. Kliff Kingsbury aims to change things in Lubbock. Man, he is awesome. As a guy who is completely comfortable with his sexuality, I will admit that seeing Kliff on TV makes me swoon. He’s young, good-looking, cooler than permafrost, and, oh yeah, he can coach a little ball. He was the OC last year for Johnny Manziel, who only set fistfuls of records and toppled the Crimson Tide’s brick wall defense. Kliff (we’re on a first name basis) played QB at Texas Tech not too long ago, and after studying the up-tempo offense under masters Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia head coach) and Kevin Sumlin (Texas A&M head coach), he brings the Air Raid offense back to the west Texas desert. The Red Raiders fans, and me, look at this guy the same way tweens look at the Jonas Brothers.
It really hurts to rank my alma mater last, but coming off a 1-11 season in which our wide receivers scored exactly ZERO touchdowns (how is that even possible?!), I can’t in good conscious put them anywhere but the basement. The good news is the Jayhawks have a lot of new talent at several key positions in 2013. Five-star BYU transfer Jake Heaps is now eligible to put on one of these sweet new Kansas helmets and take snaps as the starting QB. Oklahoma transfer Justin Brown will elevate the worst group of receivers not lining up in a powder puff game. The good guys also return last season’s top Big 12 rusher, my brotha’ from anotha’ motha’, James Sims. The real question will be how much the 15(!!) JUCO players contribute to the team. It’s usually a risky strategy to pick JUCO players over incoming freshmen, as they’re only available for a couple seasons, but the Jayhawks needed a talent overhaul two seasons ago. One last note: please look at this picture, and then imagine Charlie Weis receiving oral.