Big XII Preview

Projected Records & Standings

South Division
1. TEXAS              12-0  (8-0)
2. OKLAHOMA 11-1 (7-1)
3. TEXAS TECH 7-5 (4-4)
4. OKLAHOMA STATE 7-5 (4-4)
5. BAYLOR 6-6 (3-5)
6. TEXAS A&M 5-7 (2-6)
North Division
1. NEBRASKA            9-3  (6-2)
2. COLORADO 8-4 (4-4)
3. KANSAS 8-4 (4-4)
4. MISSOURI 6-6 (3-5)
5. KANSAS STATE 6-6 (3-5)
6. IOWA STATE 3-9 (0-8)
South Champion: TEXAS
The Longhorns shared the South Division title in 2008 and defeated arch-rival Oklahoma in the process. 2009 looks like it could follow a very similar script. Mack Brown has put together potentially his most talented team yet, so it’s only a matter of stepping up to the plate and giving a consistent performance every week for Texas to win the South again.

The secondary looks to be the best in the nation, and the receiving corps is a year older and should give Colt McCoy even more weapons to unleash on opposing defenses. On the other side of the ball look for Sergio Kindle to wreak havoc on offensive tackles much the way Brian Orakpo did a season ago. Freshman defensive end Alex Okafor has the potential to step right into a starting spot and make sure defenses pay if they concentrate too much on blocking Kindle. This defense is going to be really good.

North Champion: NEBRASKA
Bo Pelini is still in the building process at Nebraska, but luckily so is the entire North Division. The Huskers have the benefit of one of the brightest young defensive minds in football. Add to that one of the best interior linemen in the nation – defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh – and you have two big reasons why the Blackshirts will continue on the road toward rebuilding their battered reputation. There are some big questions offensively (WR? new QB?), but the offensive line looks to be a team strength – and that’s always a good place to start.

Could Surprise (South): TEXAS A&M
Everyone already knows Baylor is on the cusp of qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since 1994, thanks to the coaching of Art Briles and the play of sophomore sensation Robert Griffin at quarterback. So it should be no surprise when they meet their raised expectations.

Texas A&M, however, is getting dumped on by everybody. Even I’m picking them last in the Big XII South. Mike Sherman is on the hot seat according to some Aggie fans, even though he has only been in town for a single season. But don’t be surprised if they end up being one of the most improved teams in the conference - and that includes Baylor. Quarterback Jerrod Johnson is legit. He has an arm that A&M fans have never seen the likes of before. Throw in a pair of talented young tailbacks and a nice all-purpose threat in QB/WR Ryan Tannehill and you have what could be a solid offense.

There is still much work to do on the other side of the ball where Dennis Franchione left the cupboard completely bare. But Sherman is a good coach and they will improve in that area as well. For Texas A&M in 2009 the only question is how big a step they will take in their improvement.

Could Surprise (North): MISSOURI
Don’t expect the Tigers to disappear off the face of the earth just because Chase Daniel, Jeremy Maclin, and a host of other playmakers are gone. Don’t get me wrong, they will take a step back – but it won’t be a big one. Gary Pinkel knows his system and recruits to it well. Blaine Gabbert will be fine at quarterback, and in fact might even surpass Daniel by the time his career at Missouri is over. It’s a transitional season for Missouri, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop scoring points and qualifying for bowls.

Question the Hype: THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA
What has the state of Oklahoma done to deserve all this hype? Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are consensus top 10 picks, and many preseason polls have them both in the top 5! Somebody needs to fill me in on their credentials because I don’t consider wins over Missouri to be worthy of the kind of praise that is being heaped on these two teams heading into the 2009 season.

Bo Jackson Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
QB-Sam Bradford, Oklahoma
QB-Colt McCoy, Texas
QB-Robert Griffin, Baylor

Ten to Watch:
WR-Brandon Banks, Kansas State
WR-Dez Bryant, Oklahoma State
TE-Jermaine Gresham, Oklahoma
RB-Kendall Hunter, Oklahoma State
QB-Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
WR-Kerry Meier, Kansas
OT-Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
QB-Todd Reesing, Kansas
WR-Jordan Shipley, Texas
RB-Rodney Stewart, Colorado

Herzlich Trophy Candidates:
Top 3:
DT-Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
LB/DE-Sergio Kindle, Texas
DT-Gerald McCoy, Oklahoma

Ten to Watch:
DE-Jeremy Beal, Oklahoma
CB-Dominique Franks, Oklahoma
FS-Jordan Lake, Baylor
LB-Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB-Joe Pawelek, Baylor
SS-Darrell Stuckey, Kansas
SS-Earl Thomas, Texas
LB-Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
DT-Colby Whitlock, Texas Tech
CB-Aaron Williams, Texas

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