2009 Spring Preview, Is The Big 12 Overrated?
Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
Oklahoma State QB Zac Robinson
Posted Mar 6, 2009

Ready to get fired up for the 2009 season that's still six months away? As spring ball kicks in, here's part five of the 20 big off-season questions. Did the bowl season expose the Big 12 as overrated? What players need to have the best spring sessions? This and more in the Big 12 pre-spring overview.

Spring Preview 2009

The 20 Big Questions ... No. 16

By Pete Fiutak 

2009 Big 12 Spring Preview

Spring Preview 2009
20 Big Questions

- No, 17 - Just how good is the ACC?
- No. 18 - Are we any closer to a playoff?

- No, 19 - Potential BCS Busters

- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 1 to 10)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 11 to 20)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 21 to 30)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 31 to 40)
- Top 50 Non-Conference Games (No. 41 to 50
With spring ball underway, it's time to start diving into the 2009 season ... no, it's not way too early. Here are the 20 Big Questions to start off the offseason.

16. Did the bowl season expose the Big 12 as overrated?

Not really, because to quote the man, they are who we thought they were.

The big question was whether or not the Big 12 offenses were rocking because they were great, or if they put up big numbers because the defenses were awful. As it turned out, it was a little bit of both.

Take the Oklahoma loss to Florida out of the mix. National title games are always a different animal considering teams with the better defenses almost always beat the teams with the better offenses. In the title game, OU had a chance to pull out with a good break or two late and it hardly deserves to be criticized for losing to a team as good as Florida was.  

Texas might have struggled a bit to beat Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, but Colt McCoy threw for 414 yards against a defense loaded with future NFL players. Kansas rolled up 446 yards of total offense in the easy win over Minnesota, Missouri woke up late to beat Northwestern, and Nebraska’s O came through when it needed to against Clemson.

Remember, Texas Tech struggles in bowl games, needing epic comebacks to beat Minnesota and Virginia in its previous two post-season games, and it faced an Ole Miss team with an NFL defensive line. Graham Harrell still threw for 364 yards in the loss. Oklahoma State wasn’t expected to show much in the way of defense in the Holiday Bowl against Oregon, and it didn’t in the 42-31 loss. However, the offense was fine rolling up 469 yards.

So no, the Big 12 wasn’t exactly exposed as overrated, but it didn’t come through as well as many expected meaning the league won’t automatically get the benefit of the doubt in the national respect department without a big non-conference season.

This year, it’ll be important to take a more critical eye when it comes to looking at the league considering the rebuilding job needed to be done by teams like Missouri and Texas Tech. It’ll also be important to keep an eye on Texas, a certain preseason top three-ranked team, and not just judge on its record. The schedule is light enough to make it a two-game season against Oklahoma and at Oklahoma State.

It’ll be vital to keep a record of how the North does in non-conference play to see how much it matters if and when the South fattens up on the lesser division. Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech don’t have anyone of note in non-conference play, unless you consider Tech’s date against Houston and A&M’s date with Arkansas impressive, so be wary of big, fat records by some of the South’s stars. However, there are several chances for the Big 12 to shine. For example …

- Baylor plays at Wake Forest and hosts Connecticut
- Colorado goes to West Virginia
- Iowa State hosts Iowa
- Kansas State goes to UCLA
- Missouri plays Illinois and goes to Nevada
- Nebraska goes to Virginia Tech
- Oklahoma plays BYU and goes to Miami
- Oklahoma State hosts Georgia

No, there aren’t a ton of great games, the Big 12 isn’t shy about fattening up on non-BCS teams, but there should be enough to establish early on just how strong the league is compared to the rest of the country. Out of those 11 games just listed, the Big 12 will probably be favored in five of them, maybe six. If the league wins six or more of them, and the offenses start to roll in conference play, then the hype machine might get rolling again. However, don’t be shocked if fans of other leagues will want to see more, and don’t be shocked if there’s a bit of an uproar if the Big 12 squeezes out teams like USC, or a hot team with a big record from the Big Ten or Big East when BCS title talk kicks in.

The Top 5 Players Who Need A Big Spring
1. Taylor Potts, QB Texas Tech
2. Blaine Gabbert, QB Missouri
3. Darrell Scott, RB Colorado
4. Paul Freeney, DE Texas A&M
5. Carson Coffman, QB Kansas State

The Top 5 Position Concerns/Battles
1. Oklahoma offensive line
2. Nebraska quarterbacks
3. Kansas linebackers
4. Oklahoma State safeties
5. Baylor offensive tackles

The 5 Biggest Big 12 Spring Storylines
1. Can the Oklahoma offense get back to its record-setting pace with a rebuilt offensive line that replaces four NFL-caliber starters?
2. Missouri’s lost stars. How will the team replace Chase Daniel, Chase Coffman, Jeremy Maclin, Stryker Sulak, William Moore, Ziggy Hood, and Jeff Wolfert?
3. Sergio Kindle potentially moving from linebacker to defensive end to try to replace Brian Orakpo as the new Texas pass rushing star.
4. Bill Snyder’s return to Kansas State. Can he ever get the program back to a Big 12 title level?
5. The Oklahoma State offense. With everyone back from one of the nation’s top attacks, will this really be a top ten team … maybe even top five?

The Spring Big 12 Team Rankings
1. Texas
2. Oklahoma
3. Oklahoma State
4. Nebraska
5. Kansas
6. Texas Tech
7. Missouri
8. Colorado
9. Texas A&M
10. Kansas State
11. Baylor
12. Iowa State

The Pre-Spring Call For Player Of The Year
1. Colt McCoy, QB Texas
2. Sam Bradford, QB Oklahoma
3. Todd Reesing, QB Kansas
4. Sergio Kindle, DE/LB Texas
5. Dez Bryant, WR Oklahoma State