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2011 CFN Big 12 Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 1, 2011


It's a new world for the Big 12 with ten teams, no title game, and no Nebraska or Colorado. The high-powered offenses stay the same in what should be another wild year. Check out the unit rankings, All-Big 12 Team and top 30 players, thoughts on the season, predictions, breakdowns, and more in the 2011 CFN Big 12 Preview.


Preview 2011

Big 12 Preview


- 2011 Baylor Preview | 2011 Iowa State Preview
- 2011 Kansas Preview | 2011 Kansas State Preview 
- 2011 Missouri Preview | 2011 Oklahoma Preview
- 2011 Oklahoma State Preview | 2011 Texas Preview 
- 2011 Texas A&M Preview | 2011 Texas Tech Preview  

- 2011 Big 12 Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Big 12 | 2011 Big 12 Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Big 12 Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Big 12 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 Big 12 Preview

- Be Somebody ...  Blog About Big 12 Football.
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By Pete Fiutak

What's more important, Texas wanting to keep the rest of the Big 12 or the Big 12 needing to keep Texas?

The new Texas Longhorn TV network changes the game, and it's not for the better of the Big 12. That became very, very clear during the Big 12 media days and in various comments by representatives of the nine other members of the conference, and now, even with bigger and better TV deals in place, the league is still on shaky ground.

Last year there appeared to be a reasonable shot that the Big 12 would blown out of oblivion by expansion. Nebraska and Colorado were already gone, Missouri was rumored to be going to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 appeared to be looking into Kansas, Oklahoma was supposedly gone to the Pac-12, Texas A&M was talked about as an SEC team, and even the Mountain West was getting into the act by poaching Kansas State, Iowa State, and anyone else who wanted to jump ship. And why? It was all because of Texas.

First the Big Ten was talking about looking into thinking about asking Texas to join – but there wasn't anything formal about the discussions. Then the Pac-12 was going to get the Longhorns, and then the SEC was sniffing around, and all of a sudden, without Texas, the rest of the Big 12 wasn't looking so hot. While the league powers are trying to change that, it's not really working.

As we know now, Nebraska couldn't get out of the Big 12 fast enough. The prestige of being in the Big Ten was one thing, but there was full-blown anger at the Big 12 and the way the league was ruled by the Longhorns. When the Big 12 was formed, the power programs were in the North – Kansas State, Colorado, and Nebraska – and when Mack Brown and Bob Stoops changed that, the attitudes changed across the board. Nebraska could do something about it; Missouri couldn't. At least not yet.

Mizzou would almost certainly bolt to the Big Ten for the asking, and if the Longhorn Network really does turn out to be a major advantage, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and everyone else will be sick of being the little sisters of the conference, just like Nebraska felt like it became.

Baylor head coach Art Briles and Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville have the same attitude; Texas is a monster anyway, and a TV deal isn't going to make that much of a difference. And while that's true, the resentment is there across the board. To paraphrase the colorful way Bob Stoops put it, considering Texas has won two Big 12 championships under Mack Brown, and three overall, and Oklahoma has won seven conference titles, where's the Sooner Network?

Stoops might have a bigger beef after this year.

Out of the last 11 Big 12 Championship games, nine were won by either Oklahoma or Texas, and the two other title winners – Colorado in 2001 and Kansas State in 2003 – were earth-shaking shockers over Texas and Oklahoma teams, respectively, that were deep in the national championship hunt. That was when there was a 12-team league when all you had to do was win a six-team division to play for the title. If the rest of the Big 12 couldn't handle Texas and Oklahoma then, why are they going to have any more luck now when they have to win a ten-team race and there's no ducking the big boys?

Oklahoma is loaded and ready for another run at a title and another chance at a national championship, but it's hardly the only team good enough to win the Big 12. Texas A&M might have the best team yet since joining the Big 12, and that includes the 1998 champion. Texas Tech should be better under Tuberville, now that he has more of his pieces in place, and Baylor should be just as strong, if not better, after its breakthrough bowl campaign. Missouri is flying under the radar, and it should be as good as any of the top teams under Gary Pinkel, Kansas State and Iowa State have improved, and Kansas … Kansas State and Iowa State have improved.

And yet, even with the improved conference across the board, it's all about Texas.

The Longhorns have as much talent as anyone in the conference, and the country, but do they have their stuff together again after last season's disaster? Has Mack Brown been able to shock his program back to form? Either way, the revolution is being televised, and the rest of the conference isn't pleased.

Team That'll Surprise
Missouri – There's always a sense that a team is going to take a step back when it loses a starting quarterback, especially a first round-caliber talent in Blaine Gabbert. However, Missouri is loaded with as much talent as Gary Pinkel has assembled, and if Gabbert was back, this would've been seen as a legitimate national title contender in the preseason polls. The receiving corps is among the best in America, even if there aren't any household names, the offensive line is terrific, the Aldon Smith-less defensive front is terrific, and the special teams will be fantastic. Getting Oklahoma State, Texas, and Texas Tech at home will be a huge plus.

Team That'll Disappoint

Texas A&M - It's only because the expectations are through the roof. Remember, After the 30-9 loss to Missouri on October 16th, one of the big Big 12 storylines asked who the next A&M head coach would be. Ryan Tannehill checked in at quarterback, the team got red-hot, and now this it the it team in the conference with so many top talents returning. But it's Texas A&M. Great Aggie teams have come up short before, and while this one won't go into the tank by any stretch, it'll have to deal with the weight of all the pressure and a schedule with a rough schedule. Again, it's all about the expectations; 9-3 might be disappointing to some.

Game of the Year

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Dec. 3 - Since shocking OU with a 38-28 win in 2002, OSU has lost eight straight in the series and has been bombed on time and again. Beating Texas A&M in College Station would be big, and getting by Texas in Austin is always something to get fired up about, but if OSU finally wants to come up with a Big 12 title, it needs to put a halt to the losses to the Sooners. The Cowboys have to get by road trips to Texas A&M and Missouri to make this game a monster, while the Sooners get break after break with the three conference road games coming against Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight

1. WR Jeff Fuller, Sr. Texas A&M
2. LB Keenan Robinson, Sr. Texas
3. TE Michael Egnew, Sr. Missouri
4. LB Jake Knott, Jr. Iowa State
5. SS Markelle Martin, Sr. Oklahoma State

Coach on the Hot Seat

Turner Gill, Kansas - It would be nice if Mack Brown came up with a rebound season, Texas Tech's Tommy Tuberville still has to sell the Mike Leach crowd that he can get the job done, and Texas A&M's Mike Sherman has to prove that the end of last year wasn't a fluke, but Gill has a long, long way to go to show that he's the right man at Kansas. Mark Mangino had his flaws, but he turned KU into a winner. Gill just has to start winning some games.

5 Non-Conference Games the Big 12 had better take very, very seriously

1. BYU at Texas, Sept. 10
2. Nevada at Texas Tech, Sept. 24
3. SMU at Texas A&M, Sept. 3
4. Oklahoma State at Tulsa, Sept. 17
5. Miami University at Missouri, Sept. 3

Bold Predictions …
Texas will rebound. It won't be back to national title-level normal, but the team will be far, far better. Remember, as bad as things were, the Longhorns finished sixth in the nation in total defense. ... The Baylor offensive line will be the best in the Art Briles era. The loss of Danny Watkins will hurt, but Cyril Richardson will turn into a special blocker. ... The Iowa State linebacker combination of A.J. Klein and Jake Knott won't get nearly enough credit or respect, but it'll be the most productive tackling duo in the conference. ... If Kansas wins a conference game, it'll be a massive upset. It'll take someone to collapse, like Colorado did in last year's shootout. ... Kansas State's Arthur Brown, a transfer from Miami, will be a First Team All-Big 12 performer. He'll do everything for the Wildcat defense. ... Missouri tight end Michael Egnew will win the Mackey Award. He should've won it last year. ... Oklahoma's running game will be more than fine without DeMarco Murray. Top recruit Brandon Williams will be a factor. ... Oklahoma State SS Markelle Martin will be the best safety in the conference. ... As great at Von Miller was, the Texas A&M pass rush won't skip a beat, even if it takes a few players to pick up the slack. ... Texas Tech really and truly will have a running game. Really.

5 Best Pro Prospects

1. QB Landry Jones, Jr. Oklahoma
2. WR Jeff Fuller, Sr. Texas A&M
3. WR Justin Blackmon, Jr. Oklahoma State
4. TE Michael Egnew, Sr. Missouri
5. SS Markelle Martin, Sr. Oklahoma State

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill

1. QB James Franklin for Blaine Gabbert, Missouri
2. LB/DE Damontre Moore for Von Miller, Texas A&M
3. DE Alex Okafor for Sam Acho, Texas
4. DE Jacquies Smith for Aldon Smith, Missouri
5. DT Nicholas Jean-Baptiste for Phil Taylor, Baylor

- 2011 Baylor Preview | 2011 Iowa State Preview
- 2011 Kansas Preview | 2011 Kansas State Preview 
- 2011 Missouri Preview | 2011 Oklahoma Preview
- 2011 Oklahoma State Preview | 2011 Texas Preview 
- 2011 Texas A&M Preview | 2011 Texas Tech Preview  

- 2011 Big 12 Preview
- CFN Thoughts on the Big 12 | 2011 Big 12 Unit Rankings
- 2011 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- 2011 Big 12 Schedules & Picks
- 2011 Big 12 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2010 Big 12 Preview

















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