Friday, July 1, 2011

College Football Preview Part 2: Big XII

Enter part 2 of my 2011 College preview series: The Big XII, which is now ten, but still called twelve... No matter how you slice it, it's a UT leech conference. But that's a rant for another day. I am here to make predictions in anticipation for the upcoming season. So without further ado...

MY Pre-Season Rankings:

1. Texas A&M Aggies-
I know, if you're like me and you're not an Aggie, it pains you to see maroon at the top of this list. But I truly believe this Aggie team to be the class of the Big XII, no matter how overrated OU is. Without a doubt this conference will come down between OU and A&M. I give A&M the edge because of all their talent across the board. They have been building this team for a long time with some great recruiting classes, and 2011 is when it should come to a head. The Big XII sucks right now and I would not be surprised to see A&M go 11-1 if not undefeated...*vomit*

2. Oklahoma Sooners-
The Sooners will start AP #1 and be everyone's favorite. While they have some great talent (see Ryan Broyles) I believe they are considerably overrated. They will run through their schedule with ease until November 15th. That Texas A&M game will decide the conference championship. I'm giving A&M the edge though, I feel like they have more talent across the board. It's finally the Aggies time. OU can still likely expect a BCS Bowl with one loss. 

3. Oklahoma State Cowboys-
OSU will go into 2011 with a pretty solid team and can be far and away considered the "best of the rest" in this conference. Get used to hearing Brandon Weeden to Justin Blackmon, as the two of them will score a lot of points. If the defense was on par with the offense, you might be looking at an elite team in the 2011 'Pokes. Expect 2 to 3 losses and a 3rd place finish. If they could pull off the OU upset at home, it would make a huge difference in their season. Don't count on it.

4. Texas Longhorns-
The team that is responsible for the Big XII's continued existence is now writhing in mediocrity. Things won't get better any time soon. This team is young and undisciplined, not to mention Garrett Gilbert sucks. Enjoy this time everyone who is not a Longhorn! Texas should at least have a winning season this  year. 7-5 is the mark to expect. At least they should beat Baylor this year. Can I remain unbiased if I say their struggle makes me very happy?

5. Missouri Tigers-
Unfortunately for Mizzou, they can no longer rely on easy Big XII North competition to guarantee them a spot in the Big XII Championship. However, I believe the Tigers will remain competitive. Mizzou has proven to be consistent in replacing their top QBs. As for 2011, they will be breaking in a new QB with a tough road schedule, including Arizona State, Oklahoma, and A&M. A middle of the road season is to be expected, unless they can manage to beat Texas.

6. Texas Tech Red Raiders-
Rebuilding continues for the Red Raiders. Tommy Tuberville is doing a good job, but he has an uphill climb to try and 180 a program to go in the direction he wants. Air it out with no defense to run first and defensive focus is a huge change both in recruiting and philosophy. This could make for a long road. As for 2011, expect a record mush the same as last year, a good but not great 8-4. The schedule is benificial and the defense should begin to show marked improvement under Chad Glasgow.

7. Baylor Bears-
Congratulations Baylor, you are no longer in the Big XII's perennial cellar. But don't get too cocky. OSU and A&M will be brutal road games, and the last 3 games of the season will be a bit of a gauntlet, albeit at home (OU, Texas Tech, and Texas). The Bears will be 6-6 at best and possibly sneak into a bowl. Still, 6-6 should be good enough to place them in 7th place in this "elite" conference.

8. Kansas State Wildcats-
As evident by my rankings, the former North teams have a lot of work to do to be competitive in this conference. Of the "other guys"besides Mizzou, KSU is clearly best. However, they suffered considerable losses on offense which will set them back. The highlight of their likely 4 win season will be smashing their rival Jayhawks on the road. 

9. Iowa State Cyclones-
The battle for last place will come down to the November 5th "showdown" between ISU and the ever embarrassing Kansas Jayhawks. Give the Cyclones the edge because they're at home and have made minimal progress in the last few seasons. 3 wins max and ISU fans can start talking about 2012.

10. Kansas Jayhawks-
The 2007 season and the Orange Bowl feel like centuries ago. These Jayhawks are at the bottom and not getting up soon. Thanks to 2 FCS opponents, KU can be assured of 2 wins. There's not much else to say. Stick to basketball.

MY All-Conference Team:

Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
QB- Landry Jones, Oklahoma

RB- Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M

RB- Bryce Brown, Kansas State

WR- Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State

WR- Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

WR- Jeff Fuller, Texas A&M

TE- Michael Egnew, Missouri

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
C- Ben Habern, Oklahoma

OG- Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State

OG- Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech

OT- Dan Hoch, Missouri

OT- Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State

Kheeston Randall, Texas
DE- Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma

DE- Frank Alexander, Oklahoma

DT- Kheeston Randall, Texas

DT- Tony Jerod-Eddie, Texas A&M

LB- Travis Lewis, Oklahoma

LB- Keenan Robinson, Texas

LB- Emmanuel Acho, Texas

CB- Coryell Judie, Texas A&M

Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
CB- Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma

S- Markelle MArtin, Oklahoma State

S- Blake Gideon, Texas

K- Justin Tucker, Texas

P- Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State

Ret- Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma

5 Games to Watch:

1. Texas A&M @ Oklahoma: Slightly different than your traditional Red River Rivalry, but this game will decide the 2011 Conference Champion. Oklahoma will have the upper hand at home, but I like A&M in the upset. No matter who wins, it should be a great game to watch.

2. Oklahoma State @ Texas: Another variation of the Red River Game. These teams are fairly evenly matched as far as talent goes, but OSU has much better leadership. It will be interesting to see if the 'Pokes can truly assert themselves as the dominant team in Texas' backyard.

3. Texas A&M vs. Arkansas (Cowboys Stadium): I love old SWC rivalries and this one will make for a great game. The Ags have struggled with Arkansas a lot recently, but in what could be a charmed season, can Texas A&M pass this early season challenge. Although this is an OOC game, it could easily decide the fate of the rest of A&M's season.

4. Baylor vs Texas Tech (Cowboys Stadium): It's developing into a stronger rivalry. These are two fairly evenly matched teams trying to improve. Both will be jockying for position in the middle of the conference with the other being their primary competition. 

5. Texas vs. Oklahoma (Cotton Bowl): I almost didn't include this game on the list, but I might as well considering the history and intensity of the rivalry. I'd be surprised if it's a tight game though. Look for Oklahoma to smash Texas right after the opening kick.

Next time, I'll round out the rest of the Texas schools with C-USA! Rest of the Texas schools besides UNT that is...

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