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2008 CFN Big 12 Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 15, 2008


Have there ever been so many great quarterbacks in the same conference? Zac Robinson, Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy, Graham Harrell, Stephen McGee, Todd Reesing, Chase Daniel and Josh Freeman will all keep defensive coordinators up at night. Check out the predictions, All-Big 12 team, unit rankings and more in the 2008 CFN Big 12 preview.

2008 CFN Big 12 Preview

North
- 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 Ten Unit Rankings

- Big 12 Schedules & Predictions

By Pete Fiutak

While it’s a reflex to automatically assume the SEC is the nation’s best conference year in and year out, there’s a contender to the throne this season. It took 12 years to get to this point, and now this should be the season when it all comes together for the Big 12.

It’s one thing for the usual stars like Oklahoma and Texas to be good, which they will be, but a conference really blows up when the normal also-rans become contenders. After a fantastic bowl season (outside of OU’s gaffe to West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl), the league is primed and ready to explode.

With Kansas and Missouri emerging as special teams last season, and with Texas Tech loaded with talented veterans on both sides of the ball, and with Colorado, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Baylor likely to all be better than they’ve been in the last several years, there won’t be a week off for anyone.

More than anything else, the coaching situations are more settled than they’ve ever been. No one is on any real hot seat, at least as far as possibly getting fired, and with a new breed of young, hot coaches like Iowa State’s Gene Chizik, Baylor’s Art Briles, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Nebraska’s Bo Pelini, Colorado’s Dan Hawkins, Kansas State’s Ron Prince, and even going to the assistants like Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who’ll be off to a big-time head coaching gig soon, this is the golden age of the Big 12. This is when it should all come together and the league should be special.

All the stability and all the excitement should lead to the wildest conference season yet. If you thought last year was fun when Kansas came out of nowhere to be a star, and when Missouri finally turned the corner, wait until this season when every week will be a test for all the projected top teams. Yes, the balance of power in college football really might be moving to the Midwest.

Team That'll Surprise

Iowa State – The team took a step back to possibly take a giant leap forward this year after playing several young prospects before they were ready, and now they have the experience to hit the ground running. Eight starters are back on offense, and that doesn't include QB Austen Arnaud, who's ready to take over for Bret Meyer, and hot young back Alexander Robinson and senior J.J. Bass. Seven starters are back on D. The schedule gets a huge break missing Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, who's loaded this year.

Team That'll Disappoint
Nebraska - This isn't the mid-1990s Huskers Bo Pelini is taking over. There are big losses in the defensive back seven, including the entire starting linebacking corps, while there still needs to be a talent infusion at some point on the lines. Step one is to get the team more physical and a whole bunch nastier, and while the new coaching staff will instill the will from the start, there's still a big question mark about the talent level from top to bottom. No, the team isn't bad, and it'll go to a bowl, but the star players aren't there at a national title level like the Big Red fans might want it to be.

Big 12 Game of the Year
Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 11 – While this is normally the no-brainer Big 12 game to circle on the calendar, it’s not a slam-dunk this season. Kansas vs. Missouri, played in Kansas City, the Texas Tech battles with the Sooners and the Longhorns, and a few tremendous interdivision games (Kansas at Oklahoma, Missouri at Texas and Texas at Kansas) should make this a fantastic conference season.

One Bold Prediction
Texas will finish third, at best, in the Big 12 South. Oklahoma is good enough to win the national title and Texas Tech is loaded from top to bottom. With the Longhorns having to travel to Lubbock to face the Red Raiders, and with at trip to Colorado and Kansas from the North along with the home game against Missouri, the schedule isn’t a plus. This isn’t Mack Brown’s best team. It’s good, and the coaching staff is the best it’s been in years, but the overall talent level is just above-average until the young talent kicks in.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. S William Moore, Sr. Missouri
2. TE Jermaine Gresham, Jr. Oklahoma
3. DT George Hypolite, Sr. Colorado
4. LB Joe Mortensen, Sr. Kansas
5. OT Phil Loadholt, Sr. Oklahoma

Coach on the Hot Seat
Mack Brown, Texas – Two years removed from the national title, and with Oklahoma taking back the South again on the way to two straight Big 12 championships, the pressure is on Brown to prove that he can win a championship without Vince Young. 

5 Non-Conference Games the Big 12 had better take very, very seriously
1. Texas A&M at New Mexico, Sept. 6
2. Western Michigan at Nebraska, Aug. 30
3. TCU at Oklahoma, Sept. 27
4. Troy at Oklahoma State, Sept. 27
5. Florida Atlantic at Texas, Aug. 30

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. FS William Moore, Sr. Missouri
2. TE Brandon Pettigrew, Sr. Oklahoma State
3. TE Jermaine Gresham, Jr. Oklahoma
4. WR Michael Crabtree, Soph. Texas Tech
5. OG Duke Robinson, Sr. Oklahoma

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. LB
Ryan Reynolds for Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma
2. WR
Deon Murphy for Jordy Nelson, Kansas State
3. RB
Vondrell McGee for Jamaal Charles, Texas
4. LB
Marcus Burton for Jordon Dizon, Colorado
5. CB
Kendrick Harper for Aqib Talib, Kansas

North
- 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 Ten Unit Rankings

- Big 12 Schedules & Predictions