2012 CFN Big 12 Preview
Texas QB David Ash
Texas QB David Ash
Posted Aug 5, 2012

2012 CFN Big 12 Preview - There might be some big changes, but the league is stronger than ever.

Preview 2012

Big 12 Preview

- 2012 Baylor Preview | 2012 Iowa State Preview
- 2012 Kansas Preview | 2012 Kansas State Preview 
- 2012 Oklahoma Preview | 2012 Oklahoma State Preview
- 2012 Texas Preview | 2012 TCU Preview
- 2012 Texas Tech Preview | 2012 West Virginia Preview  

- 2012 Big 12 Preview
- 2012 Big 12 Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 Big 12 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish  

By Pete Fiutak

The Big 12 is bigger and better than ever, thanks to a miraculous comeback better than anything Robert Griffin III could've come up with.

Just when it seemed like the Big 12 was about to go the way of the WAC – with the SEC and Pac-12 making overt gestures to several of the league's power programs, and with the SEC snagging Missouri and Texas A&M – now the conference isn't just surviving, it's about to blow up.

The Big 12 was the best conference in college football last year, even if Oklahoma State didn't get to take its cuts at LSU in the BCS championship. Kansas stunk, but from the Cowboys down to Iowa State the league was competitive and exciting on a weekly basis thanks to RG3's Heisman season, Texas Tech's upset of Oklahoma, Iowa State's shocker over OSU, Kansas State's magical run and with Texas, Texas A&M and Missouri all solid, even if they were a bit disappointing. And that could be just the beginning.

The league might not have the killers up top like the SEC does, and it might not be as good this year Mizzou and A&M jumping ship, but the addition of West Virginia brings in one of college football's rising stars after the 70-point performance against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineer offense is perfect for the high-octane Big 12, while TCU is in the right league at the right time after so many years of success. The Big 12 didn't just stop the bleeding by getting WVU and TCU and keeping Texas and Oklahoma home, it showed that it's going to position itself as the No. 2 conference in college football behind the SEC.

With the new bowl alliance between the SEC for a BCS game, the Big 12 has its Rose Bowl. The Fiesta Bowl was always nice, but it always seemed to take a back seat to some of the other big bowls. The Rose Bowl will have the name, but the new SEC-Big 12 bowl will become the bigger deal. With that, the Big 12 will become a bigger deal.

Not willing to stay put after coming so close to being ripped apart, now Florida State and Miami – despite denials to the contrary – are being talked about as possible new additions. Louisville has been on the table for awhile, and even with their impending move to the Big East, SMU and Houston are the Big 12's for the asking. To take things up a whole other level – though it will never, ever happen – Notre Dame is even in the picture, even if it's just in theory. Even if the Big 12 doesn't expand further for the time being, the league is now a destination instead of a farm system.

And this year the league should keep on moving forward on the field, as well as in expansion talks, with even more improvements from the great 2011 campaign. Oklahoma is going to be Oklahoma again, with Landry Jones leading another high-octane offense. Oklahoma State appears to have reloaded in a hurry on offense, while the defense should be as aggressive as ever. Baylor might have staying power even with Robert Griffin slinging it around now for the Washington Redskins, and Texas Tech has a mix of experience and desperation which should make for some wild shootouts. Texas should finally be back to being Texas again, and Kansas State will be at least as strong as it was last year, even if the record doesn't reflect it.

And, of course, the spotlight will be on West Virginia and TCU week after week as they get at least a year before the novelty wears off.

Even the bottom feeders will be interesting. Iowa State loaded at linebacker and with the type of team that can pull off an upset in any given week. Kansas and Charlie Weis will be a regular story, even if the team isn't any good.

The league might moving forward and it might look far different in a few years, but for now, it's just fine. And it's still alive.

Team That'll Surprise
Texas Tech – It's all about the consistency. The offense will be the Texas Tech offense, and it should be better with veteran Seth Doege leading the way, but it has to work on a regular basis after going into the tank over the second half of last year. Nothing is a given considering the struggles, but if all goes according to plan, Tech should be able to start out 3-0 against Northwestern State, Texas State and New Mexico before getting a week off to prepare for Iowa State. With home games against Kansas and Baylor, six wins has to be a given to go along with a blowup game or two when the offense rolls to a win.

Team That'll Disappoint
Kansas State – No one gets on the right side of every close game two years in a row. Nine of the 13 games were decided by a touchdown or less with the Wildcats going 8-1 in those games. They weren't lucky last season, but they managed to come up with tight victory after tight victory with an offense that didn't show much through the air and with a defense saved by the O that dominated the time of possession. Collin Klein will throw more and the team will still be good, but another ten-win season is asking for a lot with five road games including trips to Oklahoma West Virginia and TCU.

Game of the Year
Oklahoma at West Virginia, Nov. 17 – Of course OU's dates with Texas and Oklahoma State will be special, but this could be the key to the Big 12's national title hopes. The Sooners get a week off before hosting Kansas State and they should be stronger than Texas and Notre Dame. If they can avoid a hiccup, they should be 9-0 going into mid-November for the rematch of the stunning 2008 Fiesta Bowl – a 48-28 Mountaineer win. West Virginia's high-octane attack will be a huge test for a the questionable OU secondary.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight
1. WR Terrance Williams, Sr. Baylor
2. RB Joseph Randle, Jr. Oklahoma State
1. LBs A.J. Klein & Jake Knott, Sr. Iowa State
4. DE Stansly Maponga, Jr. TCU
5. CB Nigel Malone, Sr. Kansas State

Coach on the Hot Seat
Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech – After the collapse last season, and considering there's still a sizeable portion of the fan base that's still wondering why Mike Leach is coaching at Washington State, Tuberville has to start winning. It's not like Leach cranked out a slew of Big 12 titles, but he gave the program an identity and put it on the national map. Tuberville has the offense in place, but he needs to the defense to do something, anything, while showing that the needle is pointing up.

5 Non-Conference Games the Big 12 had better take very, very seriously
1. Tulsa at Iowa State, Aug. 30
2. SMU at Baylor, Sept. 2
3. Louisiana-Lafayette at Oklahoma State, Sept. 8
4. TCU at SMU, Sept. 29
5. Wyoming at Texas, Sept. 1

Bold Statements
- Baylor will be more than fine without Robert Griffin III and Kendall Wright. The Art Briles offense works no matter who is under center and Terrance Williams is a better pro prospect than Wright.

- Iowa State's linebacking tandem of A.J. Klein and Jake Knott might be among the best in the country, and they'll combine for well over 200 tackles, but the run defense will still get gouged on a regular basis.

- Dayne Crist won't be any better at Kansas than he was at Notre Dame. The Jayhawks will be more interesting under Charlie Weis, but if they don't win at home against Iowa State on November 17th, they're going to go 0-9 in the Big 12.

- Kansas State's Collin Klein will do more as a passer. He looks like an NFL prospect with the right height and body, but he's a runner who has to prove he can be more of a downfield passer. After bombing away in the spring game, he'll add more to the Wildcat attack coming off his amazing 2011.

- Oklahoma's defense will take on its old snarl with Mike Stoops back as the defensive coordinator. The secondary will be okay, but the front seven will be a brick wall against the run.

- Oklahoma State will miss Brandon Weeden far more than Justin Blackmon. West Lunt appears to have all the tools and all the talent to be fantastic, but it's asking a lot for a true freshman to come in and keep up the pace with all the other high-powered Big 12 offenses. The Cowboy receiving corps has talent ready to shine in the passing-friendly attack.

- TCU QB Casey Pachall could turn out to be the best pro prospect in a league full of pro prospect quarterbacks. He has the size, arm and moxie to be special, and he also has a terrific receiving corps to work with. The Horned Frogs will punch their weight after stepping up in class.

- The Texas offense will do just enough to match the amazing defense. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor will dominate in opposing backfields, and even with a little bit of turnover, the Longhorn D will still be the best in the Big 12. The quarterback play will be steadier, and that will make all the difference.

- Texas Tech WR Darrin Moore will blossom into a star. The banged up Red Raider receiving corps needs playmakers, and Moore will come through with 75 catches after making 47 for 571 yards last season.

- West Virginia will be maddening. Remember, it took everything in the bag to get through the Big East with close call after close call before hanging 70 on the board against Clemson. Expectations will be through the roof, and there will be times when the Mountaineer attack unloads on someone good, but some of the close wins the team would've come up with in Big East play will be losses against the stronger Big 12 teams.

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. QB Landry Jones, Sr. Oklahoma
2. DE Alex Okafor, Sr. Texas
3. CB Quandre Diggs, Soph. Texas
4. DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Jr. Texas
5. LB Arthur Brown, Sr. Kansas State

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. Baylor QB Nick Florence for Robert Griffin III
2. Oklahoma State QB Wes Lunt for Brandon Weeden
3. Oklahoma State WR Josh Stewart for Justin Blackmon
4. Oklahoma DE R.J. Washington for Frank Alexander
5. TCU and West Virginia for Texas A&M and Missouri

- 2012 Baylor Preview | 2012 Iowa State Preview
- 2012 Kansas Preview | 2012 Kansas State Preview 
- 2012 Oklahoma Preview | 2012 Oklahoma State Preview
- 2012 Texas Preview | 2012 TCU Preview
- 2012 Texas Tech Preview | 2012 West Virginia Preview  

- 2012 Big 12 Preview
- 2012 Big 12 Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN Schedules & Picks
- 2012 CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 Big 12 Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish