2007 CFN Big 12 Preview

Posted Jul 20, 2007

The Big 12 is loaded with the usual suspects up top, Texas and Oklahoma, sure to be in the national title hunt, while Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State are just a few of the improved teams that'll make some national noise. Check out the predictions, All-Big 12 team, unit rankings and more in the 2007 CFN Big 12 preview.

2007 CFN Big 12 Preview

Team Previews, Offenses, Defenses & Depth Charts
Colorado | Iowa State | Kansas | Kansas State
Missouri | Nebraska

South Baylor | Oklahoma | Oklahoma State
Texas | Texas A&M | Texas Tech

- CFN All-Big 12 Team & Top 30 Players
- Big 12 Team-by-Team Capsules

Big 12 Unit Rankings

- Big 12 Schedules & Predictions

By Pete Fiutak

The SEC East is the best division in all of college football. Vanderbilt and Kentucky are each bowl worthy to go along with Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and South Carolina. The Big 12 South isn’t far behind.

Baylor screws things up with a rebuilding team (again) trying to find new pieces to fit into the Guy Morriss high-octane passing game (or at least an attempt at one), but the rest of the division is loaded with the potential for the best race since the Big 12 was formed.

As always, Texas and Oklahoma are the big dogs, but while their each going into the year as their usual national title contenders, they’re not quite jaw-dropping killers; each has various flaws. Texas Tech might be missing receiver experience, but the defense will be better and QB Graham Harrell has the time in the system to bomb away. Texas A&M gets almost all the key parts back from last year’s 9-4 team led by a tremendous backfield that’ll run on everyone. And then there’s Oklahoma State.

Always the second-fiddle in its state, the Cowboys are on the verge of having the type of team no one has any interest in playing. The offense could be the most balanced and explosive in the conference with a vast array of stars, while the defense is aggressive and athletic. As good as OSU might be, and it might be good enough to pull off a season-opening upset at Georgia, it still could turn out to be the South’s fifth best team.

The North isn’t the South, but it’s slowly bouncing back after years of mediocrity. Iowa State has major rebuilding to do under new head man Gene Chizik, but it still has one of the league’s best quarterbacks (Bret Meyer) to work around. Kansas was able to get to 6-6 with the nation’s worst pass defense, which should be a bit better, Kansas State’s young, young, young team has enough talent to beat anyone on any given day (just ask Texas), Colorado will be better, Missouri will be far better, and Nebraska appears to be just on the verge of being a national super-power again.

The league is finally back to being a killer again, even if it is, at best, number two behind the SEC. Whatever. It’ll be a week-in-and-week-out dogfight with plenty of wild games, upsets, and a fight to the last day for the spots in the title game.

Team That'll Surprise

Oklahoma State – QB Bobby Reid and WR Adarius Bowman will keep defensive coordinators up at night, while the 1-2 rushing punch of Dantrell Savage and Keith Toston will be among the fastest and most dangerous in America running behind a decent, veteran line. The defense, led by a potentially great linebacking corps, will be good enough to get by.

Team That'll Disappoint
Texas A&M – Dennis Franchione might have his best team yet, but the schedule is significantly more difficult than last season. How’s this for a road slate? Miami, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri. Getting Oklahoma State and Texas at home might not help the overall record.

Offensive Player of the Year
QB Colt McCoy, Soph. Texas – The Longhorns would’ve won the Big 12 title and possibly had a rematch with Ohio State had McCoy not gotten dinged up running for a touchdown early in the loss to Kansas State. He’s not going to be as dynamic as Iowa State’s Bret Meyer, Nebraska’s Sam Keller or Oklahoma State’s Bobby Reid, and Missouri’s Chase Daniel and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell will be in the hunt for All-Big 12 honors, but if he can play like he did last year, and not get hurt, he’ll lead Texas to the title.

Defensive Player of the Year
DE Ian Campbell, Jr. Kansas State – From out of nowhere, Campbell turned into one of the Big 12’s most dangerous defenders and fearsome pass rushers. He’s a do-it-all end with a high motor and quick burst into the backfield.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. CB Aqib Talib, Jr. Kansas
2. P Matt Fodge, Jr. Oklahoma State
3. DT James McClinton, Sr. Kansas
4. LB Joe Pawelek, Soph. Baylor
5. C Adam Spieker, Sr. Missouri

Coach on the Hot Seat
Dan Hawkins, Colorado – While Hawkins was amazing in the WAC, he put it best in his infamous outburst … THIS IS BIG 12 FOOTBALL. Of course he’s not going to be fired if there’s another disastrous season, but he’ll be on double-secret probation going into next season if there isn’t a healthy jump up in the win column.

5 Non-Conference Games the Big 12 had better take, very, very seriously
1. TCU at Texas, Sept. 8
2. Illinois vs. Missouri, Sept. 1
3  Toledo at Kansas, Sept. 15
4. Oklahoma at Tulsa, Sept. 21
5. Kansas State at Fresno State, Nov. 24

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. WR Adarius Bowman, Sr. Oklahoma State
2. TE Martin Rucker, Sr. Missouri
3. WR Limas Sweed, Sr. Texas
4. TE Chase Coffman, Jr. Missouri
5. DT Frank Okam, Sr. Texas

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. Jake Sherp or Brandon McAnderson for Jon Cornish, RB Kansas
2. Brandon Foster for Aaron Ross, CB Texas
3. Alonzo Barrett for Abraham Wright, DE Colorado
4. Sam Keller for Zac Taylor, QB Nebraska
5. Joey Halzle, Sam Bradford, or Keith Nichol for Paul Thompson, QB Oklahoma

5 Bold Predictions
1. Missouri will finally, finally, finally get over the hump. And if it doesn’t, Missouri fans will be ticked off at the coaching staff for not getting it done. The defense should be far better, the offense will be among the best in America led by QB Chase Daniel and his two star tight ends, Martin Rucker and Chase Coffman, and getting Nebraska at home will be enough to win the North berth in the Big 12 title game.
2. Oklahoma State will win at Georgia, but the league will take a hit after Kansas State loses at Auburn, Florida State beats Colorado, USC beats Nebraska, and Texas A&M loses at Miami.
3. Baylor will go back to being, well, Baylor. Guy Morriss might be one of the best head coaches in the league, but he doesn’t have the horses to handle the improved Big 12.
4. Colorado will be better, but it won’t come up with a winning record.
5. Sam Keller will be better than Zac Taylor. The Nebraska offense will explode, and old-school Nebraska fans will still want the old attack back when there’s yet another year without a Big 12 title.

What Will Happen
- Missouri will beat Nebraska in Columbia to win the North, Texas will beat Oklahoma to win the South (helped by the other teams in the division picking each other off), and Mack Brown will have his second Big 12 championship in three years …
- … and Brown still will get dogged for not being able to win a national title without Vince Young. The Longhorn fans will be a bit grouchy, despite winning the title, after losing two of the final three games of the year at Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
- Texas A&M will beat both Oklahoma and Texas … and won’t win the South. The Aggies will lose its share of heartbreakers on the road at Texas Tech, Nebraska and Missouri, but it gets the Longhorns at home to close out in what should be one of the most emotional games of the Big 12 season after the battles the two have played over the last two seasons. There has to be upsets somewhere. The Aggies will make amends for last year’s classic loss to the Sooners, when head coach Bob Stoops went for it on fourth down to seal the game.
- Texas Tech will lose to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma State will lose to Texas A&M, and Texas A&M will lose to Texas Tech.
- Texas A&M will average well over 200 rushing yards per game again, and will still finish second in the league behind Oklahoma State in rushing.


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