BIG 12 NORTH
The Big 12 North, for lack of a better comparison, is Dom DiMaggio. Yeah, he was a nice player, but he wasn’t nearly as good as his brother.
6. Iowa State
On offense: Gene Chizik’s team was bad and boring last year, and at least Paul Rhoads, the new HC, has decided to at least make them bad and exciting. He brought in OC Tom Herman, the architect of Rice’s offense, to make the Cyclones more interesting this year. Austen Arnaud is a good QB, and they have a decent stable of RBs and WRs. Their line isn’t particularly great, but they do have a lot of experience b/c people were forced to play last year due to injury.
On defense: This could be the area of concern. The defensive line is weak, the linebackers aren’t particularly good, and the secondary isn’t productive. The defense should be more aggressive. At least the special teams are good.
Prediction: 4-8, 1-7 Big 12
Key Player: Defensive line. They must get pressure on the QB and keep the secondary from being hung out to dry.
Movie Comparison: Pearl Harbor. It sucks. Badly. But at least it has some explosions.
On offense: How do you replace the best QB in school history and your top 3 receivers? Blaine Gabbert is the heir apparent at QB, and he has a lot of ability. The receivers, while not experienced, are pretty talented. The running backs are really good though, and the line is solid. Actually, Mizzou has a lot of talent on offense, but not much experience. Has a lot of potential.
On defense: Gutted by graduation, losing all but four starters, including 7 All Big 12 performers. Sean Witherspoon is an excellent player, though. The Tigers should be pretty strong at linebacker, and they are very athletic throughout, but much like the offense, they have little experience.
Prediction: 4-8, 2-6 Big 12
Key Player: Blaine Gabbert. He must put it all together quickly if the offense is to come close to what they have been.
Movie Comparison: Batman Forever. Lost a lot of what made the first two Batman movies so good (Michael Keaton/Nicholson/Christopher Walken/Tim Burton) but brought in some interesting pieces (T.L. Jones/Jim Carrey) that could make it interesting. But it will probably be terrible.
4. Kansas State
On offense: The offense will be killed by the loss of Josh Freeman. All the QBs this year are unproven prospects. The team has a lot of speed, led by WR/KR Brandon Banks and tight end Jaron Matstrud. On the bright side, the O-line os a pretty good pass protection unit. No proven RBs and the lack of QB make this a hard unit to project.
On defense: Brandon Harold and Jeffrey Fitzgerald are really good on the left side of the d-line, but other than that, there’s not too much to like. The linebackers are a weakness, and they probably will struggle to stop the run.
Prediction: 7-5, 4-4 Big 12
Key Player: Whoever replaces Josh Freeman.
Movie Comparison: Dumb and Dumberer. Tried to bring back a successful concept because it was great the first time, but without the same actors and writers (i.e. Michael Bishop, , it sucked.
On offense: Going to be really good. Todd Reesing is back again, the top 4 receivers are back, and the top 3 RBs are back. The only issue could be on the offensive line.
On defense: The d-line and secondary have the potential to be pretty good–maybe one of the best in the Big 12. At linebacker, though, they lose all three of their starters, who were really big….they replace them with a lot of speed and quickness.
Prediction: 8-4, 4-4 Big 12
Key Player: Linebackers. They have to replace the three lost starters.
Movie Comparison: The Mummy Returns. Lots of action, and for some reason, entertaining. You keep asking yourself…Why is this movie good again? But destined to suck in its future endeavors (The Scorpion King/Curse of the Dragon Emperor).
On offense: It all comes down to Cody Hawkins. Is the coach’s son ready to produce at a high level? RB Darrell Scott is going to be a star though. The receiving corps and o-line aren’t great, so Hawkins needs to get beter in a hurry to keep up with the offenses in the Big 12.
On defense: The linebackers and secondary should be pretty solid, but the d-line could be a big hole. They could struggle to stop the run, and they don’t have a proven pass rusher.
Prediction: 8-4, 5-3 Big 12
Key Player: Hawkins.
Movie Comparison: Every Star Wars prequel (Episodes 1-3). Movies with a lot of potential that you keep asking yourself…why isn’t this good? But for one reason or another, it never lives up to original.
On offense: The starting QB went 1-2 for 5 yds last year, so that is a question mark. Zac Green will start, but all eyes are on incoming freshman Cody Green, who eventually could be a star. The running backs are okay, but the receivers could be an issue. They have a lot of receiving talent on paper, but they haven’t produced. The offense won’t be the reason this team wins.
On defense: The defensive line is awesome, led by tackles Ndamukong Suh and Baker Steinkuhler, along with end Pierre Allen. The linebackers and corners are not a strength, but could be helped out by the strength of the defensive line. It’s going to be really hard to run on this team.
Prediction: 9-3, 6-2 Big 12
Key player: Wideouts…if they can produce, this team could be really good.
Hollywood Comparison: Batman Begins. Trying to recapture the magic of the glory days (Batman/Batman Returns), the team brings in a different director who has lots of talent in place. A rock solid film.
BIG 12 SOUTH
This is probably the best division in CFB, unfortunately for Baylor, who could probably compete with a bunch of teams in other conferences. I actually think it’s going to shake out exactly as it did last year, with three teams losing to each other. However, I believe this year a different team will be the representative in the Big 12 title game.
6. Texas A&M
On offense: They actually have a lot of talent on offense. Jerrod Johnson, a converted WR, showed flashes last year of being a really good QB. Christine Michael, despite being named Christine, is a really good freshman RB. Jeff Fuller and Ryan Tannehill (who’s also the backup QB), should be a nice WR tandem, with Fuller having a ton of next-level ability. The offensive line is a major question mark though. One of the worst in the Big 12.
On defense: DC Joe Kines wanted to create a more attacking defense last year, but had no talent to work with, and the result was disaster. This year, they have a lot of athleticism, but a lack of proven production. The d-line was horrible last year, barely ever getting behind the line. The linebackers have a ton of youth and no experience. They could start three true freshmen by the middle of the season. The two corners are polar opposites–Terrence Frederick is slow but productive, and Justin McQueen is a converted track star who has little experience.
Prediction: 4-8, 1-7 Big 12
Key Player: Linebackers. They have to develop quickly, or teams will run all over them.
Movie Comparison: The Devil’s Advocate. Could be a pretty decent movie, but you just can’t get past the fact is has Keanu Reeves as the lead. Much like you can’t get past the fact A&M’s defense sucks.
On offense: The potential to be massively explosive and very exciting. Robert Griffin is a hell of a QB, and Baylor was very competitive last year despite a really tough schedule. Robert Griffin is the fastest QB in college football, but as a true freshman, didn’t throw as much as Art Briles would like. Their RBs aren’t that great but they have a lot of speed at wideout. Replacing Jason Smith on the line will be difficult, but this team will be fun to watch.
On defense: DT Phil Taylor, a transfer from Penn State, should give Baylor the help at tackle that they need. They have a lot of talent on defense, and they probably will have the best defense Baylor has had in years, but they still have a lot of holes.
Prediction: 6-6, 3-5 Big 12
Key Player: Whoever replaces Jason Smith at LT.
Movie Comparison: Transformers. While it may not be all that great of a film, everyone will want to watch because of the excitement factor.
4. Texas Tech
On offense: Despite the loss of Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree, Texas Tech will put up points. They always do. QB Taylor Potts will put up massive numbers, just like Harrell, Kliff Kingsbury, Sonny Cumbie, and BJ Symons did.
On defense: They have no pass rush. Their linebackers, however…Brian Duncan, Bront Bird, and Marlon Williams–are a pretty good trio. The secondary is going to give up points, but every secondary in the Big 12 South will…the offenses are that good.
Prediction: 8-4, 4-4 Big 12
Key Player: Potts. If Potts gets hurt, they’re screwed…no experience behind him at all.
Movie Comparison: The Princess Bride. A strange movie that’s among the most beloved films of anyone who grew up during that time, but can never really be taken seriously.
3. Oklahoma State
On offense: They may have the best QB-RB-WR group in the country in Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter, and Dez Bryant. They also have a really good left tackle in Russell Okung. They’ve got good depth at QB and RB, but after Bryant, they have a lot of potential but nothing proven at wideout. Russell Okung might be the first tackle taken in the NFL draft, but he’s not the only really good lineman. Look for a very explosive offense.
On defense: Their linebackers are very good, and they have a lot of speed on the defensive side. Their pass defense is suspect at best, and that is partially due to their shaky pass rush. Their line and secondary are not great.
Prediction: 11-1, 7-1 Big 12 (loss at OU)
Key Player: Dez Bryant. He’s had some nagging injury problems in the past, but if he can stay healthy, look out.
Movie Comparison: Oceans 11. A wildly entertaining movie with a-listers all over the place. Very cool to be a fan of. But not quite among the pantheon.
On offense: One of the best QBs in America, the best rushing duo in America in DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown, and the best tight end in America in Jermaine Gresham. The big question is the offensive line, which was the best in America but has to replace four starters.
On defense: You’d better be able to pass against them, because you’re not getting any running yards against the front seven. They had 42 sacks and 106 TFLs last year. Their secondary is improved as well. It’s going to help getting Ryan Reynolds back…they might have beaten Texas last year if he hadn’t left the game.
Prediction: 11-1, 7-1 Big 12 (loss to Texas)
Key Player: Offensive line. this looks a lot like last year’s Georgia team, who had a ton of talent but replaced nearly their entire O-Line.
Movie Comparison: The Godfather, Part II. A tremendous film in its own right, one that many would argue is better than the original. But, despite being fantastic, is not quite the original. Which brings us to…
On offense: A Heisman contender in Colt McCoy, a running back by committee with lots of pretty good players, and Jordan Shipley is the steady veteran leading a lot of young, talented wideouts. Tackles are very solid on the offensive line too. A great offense.
On defense: Despite their decent ranking in the conference, the defense wasn’t that great last year. Now they lose Brian Orakpo, so Sergio Kindle is going to have to step up in that role. The linebackers are also good, but the secondary is a bit suspect.
Prediction: 11-1, 7-1 Big 12 (loss at OSU)
Key Player: Sergio Kindle. Has to get some pressure on the QBs to take some pressure off the secondary.
Movie Comparison: The Godfather. The class of the bunch. Slightly better than it’s sequel, and among the best films.