2012 Big 12 Conference Football Preview, Predictions

7/18/12 in NCAAF   |   Tyler_Waddell   |   426 respect

Not too long ago, the Big 12 was fighting for its life: Missouri and Texas A&M announced last February they'd leave for the SEC, while rumors of Texas and Oklahoma moving to the Pac-12 gave commissioner Chuck Neinas nightmares.Blog Photo - 2012 Big 12 Conference Football Preview, Predictions

However, he recovered by stealing West Virginia from the Big East and TCU from the Mountain West, arguably making the conference stronger than it was before.

Both newcomers are high-profile programs will big expectations for 2012, making the Big 12 extremely competitive once again. They are expected to contend with Oklahoma for the conference title.

That said, here's a preview of the 2012 Big 12 football season with predictions.


STANDINGS

West Virginia Mountaineers: 12-0 (9-0)

It's premature, I know. But With Heisman contending quarterback Geno Smith returning, along with a ridiculously good receiving corps, a great running game and a new 3-4 defensive scheme that will allow its featured players to thrive, West Virginia has a really good chance to run away with the Big 12 in its first season as a member. The Mountaineers play just four road games: at Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Iowa State—all very winnable. And if their 70-33 annihleation of No. 15 Clemson in last year's Orange Bowl is any indication of this fall, this prediction isn't really all that rash.


Oklahoma Sooners: 11-1 (8-1)

We know the offense will be explosive. The only thing standing in the way between Bob Stoops and a national championship is his subpar defense, spotlighting on the defensive line. Mike Stoops enters from Arizona as the team's defensive coordinator, and it will be up to him to develop a D-line that lost both ends to graduation and the NFL. Can the Sooners work up a good enough pass rush to place them as contenders for the BCS title game?

TCU Horned Frogs: 9-3 (6-3)

Coach Gary Patterson returns just six starters on offense and five on defense after a campus-wide drug bust that rocked the depth chart in February. Player no longer with the team include defensive standouts Tanner Brock and D.J. Yendrey, making the TCU defense somewhat vulnerable in its first season as a member of the highest-scoring conference in the nation.

Kansas State Wildcats: 8-4 (5-4)

With an offensive line that loses three starters after allowing 3.3 sacks per game last year (115th overall) and a defense that is suspect, I can't see Kansas State overachieving like it did in 2011. Quarterback Collin Klein will be forced to throw the ball more this season (151.5 yards per game last year) and has the burden of carrying the team, so we'll see what he's really made of.

Texas Longhorns: 8-4 (5-4)

As an all-around unit, Texas will be an improved football program come this fall. The talent is there, along with experience at key positions and an outstanding coaching staff. But the burning question that remains: Will it be David Ash or Case McCoy under center in 2012? Neither outperformed the other last year, but it looks like Ash will probably be the Week 1 starter heading in. If the Longhorns want to stay competitive, they need to choose a QB and stick with him the entire season.

Texas Tech Red Raiders: 7-5 (4-5)

After a 5-2 start that featured a 41-38 win over then-undefeated Oklahoma, the Red Raiders dropped their final five games by an average score of 51-20. Injuries on both side of the ball played a large part in the fallout, but coach Tommy Tuberville is well aware of his hot seat circumstances. If he doesn't get Texas Tech back on track to how Mike Leach had things running, he could be on his way out very soon. TTU needs to find its identity in 2012.

Baylor Bears: 6-6 (3-6)

Welcome to the post-RGIII era in Waco. Let's put it this way: With Griffin in the lineup, the Bears allowed 37.2 points per game (113th in the NCAA). Fortunately, they outscored opponents with a ridiculous pass/run combination. However, with both the Heisman winner and running back Terrance Ganaway gone, Baylor will have to get a lot better on defense—and its 56 points allowed last December in the Alamo Bowl against Washington says that's unlikely.

Oklahoma State Cowboys: 6-6 (3-6)

Without quarterback Brandon Weeden and receiver Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State becomes an average team at best. Junior Clint Chelf is expected to take over for Weeden, while there is no real No. 1 receiver on the roster to replace Blackmon. Unlike the many questions looming around the offense, we know what we'll get with the defense, as it finished 107th in the nation last season.

Iowa State Cyclones: 3-9 (1-8)

Kudos to the Cyclones for pulling off one of the best upsets last year, knocking off undefeated Oklahoma State and shaking up the BCS standings. Aside from this outstanding feat, they weren't a good football team and probably won't do much differently this season, as the passing game is in shambles with a three-man quarterback battle—all which combined for 16 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 2011.

Kansas Jayhawks: 2-10 (0-8)

Let's face it—the Jayhawks just aren't meant for football. In the Big 12, at least. They've combined for a 2-23 conference record over the last three seasons, and with the additions of West Virginia and TCU, it's safe to say that'll drop to 2-31 after 2012. The coaching acquisitions of Charlie Weiss and Dave Campo may work over a long period of time, but it's doubtful that both will stay for longer than a couple of seasons.


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