2007 Big 12
- 2008 SEC Lookaheads
2007 Big 12 Season
The Buffaloes’ four-game improvement from 2006 and 15 additional
practices that came with an Independence Bowl berth were exactly
what Dan Hawkins needed in his second year in Boulder.
Colorado finished a respectable third place in the Big 12 North,
showing some life on offense, and beating Oklahoma and Nebraska in
the same year for the first time since 1990. Just when the
offense started to click in the second half, however, the defense
sprung unexpected leaks, allowing an average of 36 points over the
final seven games.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Cody Hawkins
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Jordon Dizon
Biggest Surprise: The Sept. 29 upset of No. 3 Oklahoma was a
blockbuster win for Hawkins and the entire Colorado program. The
Buffs stormed back with 20 unanswered points in the second half,
leaving the Sooners stunned after Kevin Eberhart booted a 45-yard
game-winning field goal as time expired.
Biggest Disappointment: The Buffaloes had absolutely no
business losing to Iowa State on Nov. 10, particularly after opening
up a 21-0 halftime lead on the 2-8 Cyclones. Colorado disappeared
in the second half, getting outscored 31-7 in a collapse that cost
the program a winning season.
Looking Ahead: Colorado will be looking to build on last
year’s momentum by adding another win or two to the final record.
While a winning season for the first time since 2005 will be another
brick in the wall, a Kansas-like leap into prominence isn’t likely
in 2008 with a schedule that includes trips to Florida State,
Missouri and Kansas, and visits from West Virginia and Texas.
The Cyclones may not have been very good in Gene Chizik’s debut in
Ames, but at least they never quit on their rookie head coach. Even
at 1-8 with no hopes for the postseason, Iowa State played its best
ball in November, upsetting Kansas State and Colorado in successive
weeks. It was obvious throughout the year, especially in the
secondary, that Iowa State was competing with less talent than the
rest of the Big 12, something Chizik and his staff have been
addressing on the recruiting trail since the end of the regular
Offensive Player of the Year: WR Todd Blythe
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Alvin Bowen
Biggest Surprise: After dropping the first two games to Kent
State and Northern Iowa, who could have imagined this Cyclone team
upending 2-0 Iowa. Well, it happened on Sept. 15 thanks to Bret
Culbertson’s five field goals, the last of which won the game for
Iowa State with one tick left on the clock.
Biggest Disappointment: With a little over five minutes left
in the Sept. 22 trip to Toledo, Iowa State was up 35-24, and well on
its way to reaching 2-2 after a horrible start. The Cyclones,
however, were unable to close the deal, allowing Jalen Parmele to
return a kick for a touchdown and Greg Hay to recover a botched punt
in the end zone for the game-winning score. It was losses, such as
the one to the Rockets, which set the tone for ISU’s 3-9 campaign.
Looking Ahead: Now that Chizik has learned more about the
job, and the players have a better understanding of the coach, Iowa
State fans will expect more than three wins in 2008. Three key
contributors to that improvement are expected to be QB Austen
Arnaud, RB Alexander Robinson, and WR Marquis Hamilton, a trio of
In a season surprises, Kansas was one of its poster children,
counting an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech as one of its
school-record 12 victories. Ranked an unthinkable No. 7 in the
final polls, the Jayhawks relied on a diverse offense and a no-name
defense that led the Big 12 in total defense, scoring defense, and
turnover margin. The absurdity of Kansas’ success was encapsulated
in first-year starter Todd Reesing, an undersized, lightly-recruited
quarterback that parlayed 36 touchdowns and 3,683 total yards into
one of the greatest seasons in school history.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Todd Reesing
Defensive Player of the Year: CB Aqib Talib
Biggest Surprise: The season was basically a wire-to-wire
shocker, but the Nov. 3 win over Nebraska still looks like a
misprint. No, a Jayhawk win over the Huskers no longer qualified as
an upset, but the 76-39 final score looked like something that
belonged at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas racked up 572 yards and six
Reesing touchdown passes, nearly eliminating decades of frustration
against Nebraska in one afternoon.
Biggest Disappointment: Losing the Border War to Missouri on
Nov. 24 ended the Jayhawks’ perfect season, and quests for a Big 12
and national championship. Although Kansas rallied in the second
half to make the game more palatable, Mizzou dominated, never
looking back jumping out to a 21-0 lead.
Looking Ahead: Gushing with goodwill after last year’s
magical 12-1 season, Mark Mangino needs to capitalize on the
recruiting trail right now. While there’s enough momentum and
returning starters to think big again in 2008, losing Talib and LT
Anthony Collins early to the NFL Draft are substantial hits.
While it sort of got overshadowed by Nebraska’s meltdown, Kansas
State was a major Big 12 disappointment in 2007. Coming off a
momentum-building bowl season, and littered with young talent, the
Wildcats failed to reach bowl eligibility four weeks in-a-row,
losing to Iowa State, Nebraska, Missouri, and Fresno State.
What’s worse, head coach Ron Prince appeared to lose his kids down
the stretch, meaning the honeymoon is officially over for the
Offensive Player of the Year: WR Jordy Nelson
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Ian Campbell
Biggest Surprise: For the second time in under a year, Kansas
State sucker punched Texas, 41-21, on Sept. 29. Last November, the
‘Horns played in Manhattan and without QB Colt McCoy for most of the
game. This season, however, the game was in Austin, and McCoy was
healthy, but the ‘Cats were just better, picking off four passes and
scoring two special teams touchdowns.
Biggest Disappointment: Kansas State’s inability to finish
meant there were plenty of disappointments in 2007, but none bigger
than a 30-24 loss to rival Kansas. Considered an upset at the time,
the Wildcats relinquished a fourth quarter lead, losing at home to
the Jayhawks for the first time since 1989.
Looking Ahead: All of the goodwill amassed by Prince in 2006
has been replaced by a growing feeling of concern and discontent
around Manhattan. With Mizzou and Kansas on an uptick, Kansas State
needs to patch up the defense, and regroup quickly around franchise
QB Josh Freeman.
A fashionable preseason choice to take the Big 12 North, Missouri
went a step further, winning 12 games for the first time in school
history, routing Arkansas on New Year’s Day, and boasting Heisman
finalist Chase Daniel. The Tigers’ only two losses came against
Oklahoma, the second one in San Antonio denying them a spot in the
BCS championship game, or any BCS bowl game, for that matter. Led
by Daniel’s accurate passing and the all-purpose exploits of
freshman Jeremy Maclin, the Mizzou offense was almost unstoppable,
scoring less than 30 points just once, and finishing No. 5
nationally in total offense.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Chase Daniel
Defensive Player of the Year: S William Moore
Biggest Surprise: Maclin. Although a lot was expected of
him, few thought he’d be this good, this fast. Maclin emerged into
a versatile force in his debut season, catching 80 balls for 1,055
yards and nine touchdowns, rushing for 375 yards and four scores,
and scoring three special teams touchdowns. Without much warning,
the freshman blossomed into one of the nation’s most dynamic
Biggest Disappointment: Taking the collar against Oklahoma.
Unbeaten versus the rest of the schedule, the Tigers were 0-2
against the Sooners, failing to successfully navigate their superior
speed. When the two met on Dec. 1 for the Big 12 Championship,
Oklahoma rolled to a 38-17 win, knocking Mizzou from No. 1 in the
country to the Cotton Bowl.
Looking Ahead: If you thought Missouri was trendy a year ago,
just wait until August. With Daniel and a bunch of other key
starters returning, the Tigers will be expected to take the next
step, and win a conference championship for the first time since
Long before the Huskers narrowly escaped Ball State at home, and
skidded to a 1-6 finish, they were actually seriously considered
contenders for the Big 12 title. However, instead of a return
to glory under Bill Callahan, Nebraska was just plain gory
throughout October and November, yielding an unimaginable 428 points
over the final 10 games. The high-profile collapse of the once
mighty Huskers brought legendary former coach Tom Osborne back into
the fold as interim AD, while Callahan was ushered out after four
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Marlon Lucky
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Steve Octavien
Biggest Surprise: Although the toe tag had been on the
Huskers for weeks, they somehow mustered up the energy on Nov. 10 to
obliterate Kansas State, 73-31. The irony of the rout was that just
seven days earlier, it was Nebraska that allowed more than 70 points
in a loss to Kansas. At least for one afternoon, Husker fans got a
glimpse of Callahan’s spread offense at its finest, producing a
school-record 510 yards and seven touchdown passes from QB Joe Ganz.
Biggest Disappointment: Losing to Missouri, 41-6, on Oct. 7.
At a time when they were still considered a threat in the Big 12
North, the curtain got pulled all the way back on the Huskers in
front of a national TV audience. Chase Daniel & Co. lit up Nebraska
for more than 600 yards of total offense, setting off the worst
second-half stretch in Big Red history.
Looking Ahead: Could Nebraska have attracted a more proven
commodity at head coach than LSU defensive coordinator Bo Pelini?
Yup. However, while no one knows for sure how Pelini will fare in
his first head job, you can bet that his teams will be far more
physical and tighter on defense than the last few playing in
Once again, the Big 12’s most predictable program couldn’t stray
from its time-tested script, finishing below .500 for the 12th
straight season, and running its conference losing streak to 12
games. Beyond just the mounting losses, Baylor was never even
competitive once the non-league portion of the schedule ended, a key
factor in head coach Guy Morriss’ ouster after five seasons in Waco.
The Bears became effective at winging the ball all over the field,
but turnovers too often stalled promising drives in enemy territory.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Blake Szymanski
Defensive Player of the Year: S Jordan Lake
Biggest Surprise: The Bears peaked in Week 4, nabbing a rare
road victory at Buffalo, 34-21. Getting to 3-1 behind the passing
and running of Szymanski, Baylor gave a brief hint of hope to those
long-suffering fans pining for a postseason game.
Biggest Disappointment: Baylor should have been more
competitive when it traveled to Manhattan to face a reeling Kansas
State team, but instead, got hammered by 38 points. Seven
turnovers, a year-long problem, nixed any hopes the Bears had of
snapping a four-game losing streak that would reach eight games when
the regular season ended.
Looking Ahead: Next in line to try and stop the bleeding at
Baylor is Art Briles, who did a nice job at Houston, and is a
respected figure in the state of Texas. Although he’ll be aiming to
supercharge the offense, the young defense offers more short term
stability with improving players, such as Lake, LB Joe Pawelek, and
DE Jason Lamb.
While the Sooners won a second straight Big 12 championship, beating
high-flying Missouri twice, many will remember their final game, an
uninspired Fiesta Bowl loss to West Virginia. Oklahoma’s fourth BCS
bowl loss in-a-row sort of overshadowed an otherwise solid season
that included defeats of Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, and Miami
to go along with the two wins over Mizzou. The past season
also marked the debut of freshman QB Sam Bradford, the nation’s
passing efficiency leader and a young cornerstone of the program.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Sam Bradford
Defensive Player of the Year: LB Curtis Lofton
Biggest Surprise: Bradford. He was a blue-chipper coming out
of high school, yes, but even the most optimistic Sooner fan didn’t
expect him to throw a freshman-record 36 touchdown passes, while
playing with the poise of a third-year starter. Although it’s
early, Bradford has the stuff to be the best ever to play
quarterback in Norman.
Biggest Disappointment: After steamrolling through the first
four opponents, Oklahoma’s season veered off course with a
head-scratching 27-24 loss to Colorado. Even worse than the loss
itself was the fact that the Sooners blew a cushy 17-point bulge in
the second half, allowing an unsure Buffalo offense to score the
final 20 points of the game.
Looking Ahead: With as much returning talent as any team in
the league, Oklahoma will be right back on track for another Big 12
championship and a run at a national title. After sharing carries
and getting hurt late in his freshman season, dynamic RB DeMarco
Murray is set to make a national splash in 2008.
More than seven wins were expected this season from Oklahoma State,
who became best known for head coach Mike Gundy’s unhinged rant to
the press following a win over Texas Tech. The Cowboys scored
plenty behind a balanced offense, but it often wasn’t enough to
compensate for a defense that couldn’t stop the pass or get pressure
on opposing quarterbacks. Gundy hit a homerun in September by
handing the offense over to sophomore QB Zac Robinson, an exciting
dual-threat that set the single-season school record for total
offense and rushing yards by a quarterback.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Zac Robinson
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Nathan Peterson
Biggest Surprise: Robinson. A backup to Bobby Reid to start
the season, Robinson grew into a franchise quarterback by the end of
it. Showing all of his moves in the Insight Bowl, the sophomore
gashed Indiana for 372 total yards and five touchdowns in an
unexpectedly easy 49-33 rout of the Hoosiers.
Biggest Disappointment: The Cowboys had Texas dead to rights
on Nov. 3, but inexplicably allowed the ‘Horns to engineer one of
the biggest comebacks of the season. Trailing by three touchdowns
heading into the fourth quarter, Texas scored 24 unanswered points
behind an epic performance from RB Jamaal Charles, winning on a Ryan
Bailey field goal as time expired.
Looking Ahead: If Oklahoma State can solve a few problems on
defense, look out, Big 12 South. The offense will be downright
scary, with stars-of-tomorrow RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant
getting expanded roles alongside Robinson.
After back-to-back three-loss seasons since winning the national
championship in 2005, some have begun wondering if complacency has
crept into the Texas program. Although the Longhorns won 10
games, few were of the quality variety, and the program lost to
Kansas State and Texas A&M for the second straight season. It
took until December before Texas really had a statement moment,
pounding No. 12 Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl to finish an
up-and-down year ranked in the top 10.
Offensive Player of the Year: RB Jamaal Charles
Defensive Player of the Year: S Marcus Griffin
Biggest Surprise: The ease with which the Longhorns handled
the Sun Devils in San Diego was a mild surprise, considering how
they’d struggled with lesser opponents throughout the year. Charles
was typically explosive, but it was the nifty feet of QB Colt McCoy,
who ran for 84 yards and a touchdown, that really ignited UT’s
Biggest Disappointment: McCoy. Rather than building on his
Freshman All-American season, he regressed, throwing seven fewer
touchdown passes and 11 more interceptions than a year ago. He did,
however, rush for 424 yards and four touchdowns, most of it late in
the year, a wrinkle in the offense that we’ll see more of in 2008.
Looking Ahead: With Oklahoma winning the last two Big 12
titles, and Texas slipping a bit, 2008 shapes up as an important
year for the ‘Horns and head coach Mack Brown. The offseason got
off to a nice start when the program hired defensive coordinator
extraordinaire Will Muschamp, who’ll be asked to fix a broken
defense that’s been especially leaky against the pass the last two
The season Dennis Franchione had to have in order to save his job
never materialized, pulling the plug on the Coach Fran era after
five forgettable seasons. After starting the year 5-1 against sub
par competition, the Aggies retreated once the schedule got tougher,
finishing 2-5, including an Alamo Bowl loss to Penn State. Texas
A&M was only able to get so far with one of the nation’s top rushing
attacks, needing more from a toothless defense that couldn’t stop
opposing quarterbacks or make enough plays behind the line.
Offensive Player of the Year: QB Stephen McGee
Defensive Player of the Year: DE Chris Harrington
Biggest Surprise: After going six straight seasons without
beating Texas, Texas A&M has now won two straight against its bitter
rival. Playing their best game of the year, the Aggies amassed 533
yards of offense behind a career passing day from McGee to outpunch
the Longhorns, 38-30.
Biggest Disappointment: In a marquee opportunity to pick up
some national swagger, A&M barely showed up in a Thursday night game
with Miami. Looking like the same old Aggies, they fell behind 31-0
and managed only 240 yards of offense before scoring a couple of
meaningless touchdowns against the Hurricane backups.
Looking Ahead: The job of lighting a fire under the program
now belongs to Mike Sherman, a former Aggie assistant who’s spent
much of the last decade in the NFL. Although the returns of McGee
and backs Jorvorskie Lane and Mike Goodson should bring the new
coach comfort, they won’t help depth issues on both lines that are
going to crop up in 2008.
It was a familiar tale for Texas Tech in 2007, highlighted by plenty
of offense, a bowl invitation, and an inability to break through the
glass ceiling in the Big 12 South. The Red Raiders did add one
twist this season, a rare New Year’s Day bowl game against Virginia
that they rallied to win with 17 unanswered points in the final four
minutes. QB Graham Harrell continued his assault on the record
books, throwing 48 touchdown passes and uncovering a new partner in
crime, freshman WR Michael Crabtree.
Offensive Player of the Year: WR Michael Crabtree
Defensive Player of the Year: S Joe Garcia
Biggest Surprise: For the second time in three years, the Red
Raiders upset Oklahoma in Lubbock, knocking the nation’s No. 3 team
out of the national title hunt. Yeah, it helped that Sooner QB Sam
Bradford lasted less than a quarter, but the way Harrell and
Crabtree were hooking up all night, Tech might have won the game no
matter the circumstances.
Biggest Disappointment: Even 646 yards from Harrell and a
pair of 200-yard receivers weren’t enough for the Red Raiders to
outscore Oklahoma State on Sept. 22. Tech held the lead late in the
final quarter, but relinquished it for good when Cowboy TE Brandon
Pettigrew rambled for a 54-yard touchdown reception with 1:37 left
in the game.
Looking Ahead: The Red Raiders lose very little from last
year’s Gator Bowl team, and developed a lot of young kids, so
they’ll be thinking real big in 2008. The offense is fine, but to
win that elusive Big 12 South crown, Tech must plug up some holes on
defense, especially against the run.