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Preview 2012 - Big 12 Predicted Finishes

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 16, 2012


The early summer look at where we think each team will finish.


Preview 2012

Big 12 Conference Picks


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Preview 2012 - Predicted Conference Finishes
- ACC | Big 12 | Big East | Big Ten | C-USA | Ind. | MAC
- Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC

1. Oklahoma
2011 Record: 10-3, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 11-1

Every year it seems like everyone wants to push Oklahoma as a possible national title contender, and almost every year comes the disappointment from out the blue. Last year it was Texas Tech and the collapse against Baylor that ruined any hopes of a national title run before the Oklahoma State debacle. This year, though, the potential is there to be far more consistent and far more effective with QB Landry Jones leading a high-octane offense that should roll behind a great offensive line and an emerging receiving corps. The running game will be a question mark, but Blake “Bulldozer” Bell should have a huge year and Jones should be good enough to pick up the slack. Defensive coordinator Mark Stoops should put the teeth back in the Sooner D that gets eight starters back. If the Sooners play like they’re supposed to they shouldn’t have a problem at home against anyone who has to come to Norman including Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Oklahoma State, but Texas will be tougher and going to West Virginia and TCU late in the year will be battles. Even so, OU will be better than everyone on its schedule, and while it might slip once, that should be it.

2. Texas
2011 Record: 8-5, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 10-2

Texas should finally be back to being Texas again because of a wee bit of an improvement on offense. The defense will be its same old dominant self after very, very quietly finishing 11th in the nation. The secondary is loaded, the line is fantastic, and there are four-and-five-star athletes across the board, but it’s the offense that’ll make the big difference. Assuming David Ash really and truly is the main man at quarterback, the offense will be more consistent and should have a stronger running game to rely on. Yes, this is the year when Texas gets back on track, but it still might not be enough to get back in the national title chase. Nothing can be taken for granted after the last few seasons schedule-wise, but the Longhorns should be 3-0 against Wyoming, New Mexico, and at Ole Miss before diving into Big 12 play head first going to Oklahoma State, facing West Virginia, and trying to get past Oklahoma. Road games at Kansas, Texas Tech, and Kansas State aren’t that bad, and if Texas is good enough to get past the early stretch unscathed, it’ll be strong enough to blow up the back half of the slate without a problem. Enough is enough.

The defense that led the Big 12, and finished 11th in the nation despite playing in a conference loaded with top offenses, will be fantastic. It’s deep, talented, and full of next-level playmakers even with tackle Kheeston Randall, MLB Keenan Robinson, and WLB Emmanuel Acho gone. End Jackson Jeffcoat should be in for a huge year, while Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom form a good corner tandem for a great secondary. And then there’s the offense. David Ash is expected to take the starting quarterback job by the horns, but he’ll have to fight to keep it. Malcolm Brown has the ability and potential to be the program’s best back since Cedric Benson, while the receiving corps of Jaxon Shipley, Marquise Goodwin, and Mike Davis could be the best Texas has had in a decade. The O line that started four underclassmen should be a rock. The biggest loss might be clutch kicker Justin Tucker.

3. West Virginia
2011 Record: 10-3, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 9-3

The drama is over and the Mountaineers are in the Big 12. The problem is that it they probably would’ve won the Big East going away and would’ve been in the national title chase. Instead they’ll have to go on the road to face Texas, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State, and while they’ll win their share of home games against the big boys, facing Kansas State, TCU, and Oklahoma won’t be easy. The offense is built for life in the Big 12 with QB Geno Smith and the Dana Holgorsen attack to be as explosive and as dangerous as any in the league. All the key skill players are back, and while the line has to replace a few starters, it’ll be fine. The defense is experienced, but its job will be to not be awful and let the offense do its thing. Fortunately for life in the Big 12, the secondary should be a strength.

4. Oklahoma State
2011 Record: 12-1, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 9-3

Oklahoma State is a machine that’ll keep on rolling, but no one gets better after losing a first-round draft pick quarterback like Brandon Weeden and an all-timer of a receiver like Justin Blackmon. Welcome to the Wes Lunt era, and while the true freshman will get a few games to figure out what he’s doing against Savannah State and Louisiana-Lafayette, he’ll also have to go to Arizona. The Cowboys will be good, but they’ll take just enough of a step back to have problems at times against Texas, TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech at home and Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Baylor on the road. Fortunately, the team around Lunt will be solid – and Lunt won’t be bad, either. The offensive line could be a bigger concern than quarterback by the time Texas comes to town in late September. Fortunately, there’s a nice running back in Joseph Randle to carry the attack for a while. The defense should be great at linebacker and good enough to get by in the secondary, but the big key will be to come up with the takeaways like last year’s D did. The Cowboys will win at least one game because punter and placekicker Quinn Sharp will be better than just about everyone else’s kickers.

5. TCU
2011 Record: 11-2, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 8-4

The team will be far better than the record. The offense will be built to keep up the pace with anyone in the Big 12 led by QB Casey Pachall and a loaded receiving corps, but the line will need a little time. The defense that struggled so much gets seven starters back with a front four that should be fantastic. But how much will the off-the-field scandal affect the program? Everything appears to be business as usual, but the Big 12 schedule will be a whole new world for the Horned Frogs. Virginia will be an interesting non-conference date, as will a home game against SMU, who should be the best team in Conference USA. Going to Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Texas in a four week span will be even rougher than it appears with the run ending with a regular season finale home game against Oklahoma. The wins are going to have to be built up over the first half of the season.

6. Kansas State
2011 Record: 10-3, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 7-5

It’s next to impossible for anyone to come up with so many close wins against so many great teams and get all the same great fortune twice. However, give Bill Snyder’s team credit for making its own good fortune game in and game out. QB Collin Klein will start getting the hype later this summer he deserved last year, while the defense has just enough talent to hope for a repeat performance. Watch out for a big start with four home games in the first five, but the road date is at Oklahoma and there’s a tough battle with Miami to deal with. Four road games in six weeks will make the second half rough before closing out against Texas, but two of the away dates are winnable against Iowa State and Baylor.

7. Texas Tech
2011 Record: 5-7, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 7-5

Tommy Tuberville’s team should be more dangerous and very, very desperate after last year’s collapse. QB Seth Doege is a veteran now who should be extremely productive with a loaded receiving corps to play around with and a decent line to work behind. The defense that was so miserable last year will be full of experienced veterans with ten starters returning, but the production has to be far, far better. Starting off 4-0 against Northwestern State, at Texas State, New Mexico, and at Iowa State is a must or else the season will be awful with so many brutal Big 12 games left to deal with. A home game against Kansas will be a late-season oasis, but it’ll take a few upsets to come up with a winning season. The team should improve just enough to get there.

8. Baylor
2011 Record: 10-3, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 6-6

Don't expect the offense to fall off the map after losing Robert Griffin III, Kendall Wright, and Terrance Ganaway from the high-octane offense that was so amazing in the breakthrough season. The Art Briles offense is still the Art Briles offense, and it'll put up big numbers. The awful defense gets nine starters back, but that might not matter too much in a Big 12 that'll be better than ever. Road games at West Virginia, Texas, and Oklahoma mean there can't be any slips at home against Kansas or Kansas State, and beating Texas Tech in Arlington is a must before finishing up with Oklahoma State. If the Bears blow the opener against SMU there will be plenty of scrambling to do to get bowling.

9. Iowa State
2011 Record: 6-7, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 5-7

The Cyclones always seem able to come up with a shocking performance or two out of the blew to be better than expected, but this year that might be tougher than ever with road games at Iowa, TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas to likely provide a base of losses that'll be tough to get past. Opening up with Tulsa won't be a breeze, and getting Kansas State, Oklahoma, and West Virginia in Ames isn't exactly a help. The quarterback situation between Jared Barnett and Steele Jantz will be up in the air for a while, but the line should decent and the linebacking corps could be terrific with A.J. Klein and Jake Knott as good a tandem as any in the Big 12. There are too many holes to expect a great season, but again, Iowa State will shock to keep the year from being miserable.

10. Kansas
2011 Record: 2-10, 2012 Roughly Projected Record: 2-10

Where are the wins going to come from? Charlie Weis is cleaning house and trying to get the right pieces in place to turn around the Jayhawk football program, but even with former Notre Dame QB Dayne Crist taking over the reins and with a better passing game sure to come, it'll take several major upsets to be within ten miles of a winning record. KU should be able to start out 2-0 against South Dakota State and Rice, but the other non-conference game is at MAC champion Northern Illinois. Iowa State on November 17th is the best possible shot at another win with a brutal Big 12 slate to deal with. Even the potentially manageable games against Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas Tech are on the road with six of the final nine games away from Lawrence. Big East