08 July 2011

I rank the Big 12

Mizzou, OU, OKST, TAMU top my list
by MizzMatt 7/8/11
I'm a diehard Mizzou fan, there shouldn't be a question about that. I've even had Wes Kemp and Trey Hobson say that I'm possibly the biggest Mizzou fan ever (screenshots at right in case you don't believe me). That being said, for this post I'm putting my bias on hold to give you how I think the Big 12 will play out in 2011.

Dave Ubben over at espn.com, a Big 12 blogger in the Sportsnation section of the website gave the readers his predictions for the Big 12 layout at the end of the 2011 season:
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Texas A&M
  3. Oklahoma State
  4. Missouri
  5. Baylor
  6. Texas
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Kansas State
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas
I agree somewhat with these rankings, but given the performance of last season and the players returning this year, I'd have to rank them like this:
  1. Oklahoma State. We didn't play them last season, but Mike Gundy has a lot of returning talent in his roster, including returning Groza Award winner Dan Bailey. I think the Cowboys really could take it all this year.
  2. Missouri. We proved to never count Mizzou out last year with our upset of Oklahoma. If we can do it this year in Norman, we could be Big 12 Champs without any problems. Only thing I could see holding us back is the inexperience of sophomore QB and first year starter James Franklin. Still, watch out for Mizzou being the underrated, under-the-radar darkhorse of the Big 12 in 2011.
  3. Oklahoma. Really any of these top four could be the champs. OU went on to a BCS game last year behind the arm of Landry Jones. The Sooners could run the table in the conference, but the major tests will be against Mizzou as they seek revenge for 2010, Oklahoma State and also look for retribution against Texas A&M.
  4. Texas A&M. The Tigers traveled to College Station last year and routed the Aggies 30-9, but that was with the experience of Blaine Gabbert under center. After that loss, the Aggies won out the regular season, including a 9-6 win over Nebraska and a big 33-19 win over Oklahoma. They did give OSU a run for their money, losing by three 38-35. Again, any of these top four could be the champions in 2011.
  5. Texas. The Longhorns were in a rebuilding season last year, and after one of the most bizarre turnarounds in the NCAA (going from national runners-up to bottom of the South division), they'll show that the Iowa State game was a fluke. If they have another mediocre season as they did with last year's dismal 5-7 performance, Mack Brown could find himself in the hot seat.
  6. Baylor. Didn't really get a chance to see these guys a whole lot last year, but they do have a talented squad. If the top four are interchangeable as champs, these middle three are interchangeable for each other as well.
  7. Texas Tech. Ubben put the Raiders in the same position. Last year against Mizzou, they won the game in the first two possessions with long runs of 69 and 71 yards, respectively. The Tigers' D will try to show that they do know how to stop the run when they meet this year in Columbia.
  8. Iowa State. These two words can make any Longhorn fan be quiet in no time flat. Their 28-21 win last year in Austin was the first in school history against Texas. The Cyclones also took Nebraska down to the wire, but ended up falling short on a failed 2-pt conversion at the end of the game, losing 30-31. Them being shutout by Mizzou was a testament to the Tigers tenacity on D, but they'll probably post a couple touchdowns on the Tigers this season.
  9. Kansas State. Of course I'd have one of the "K" schools ranked toward the bottom. Sonny Coffman got his cage rattled last year against Mizzou in Columbia, but with the Tigers traveling to Manhattan this season, they could pull out an upset on their home turf. I have to give it to the Wildcats again for the Sunflower Showdown, because Kansas is just going to be that bad.
  10. Kansas. This is a no-brainer. Any Mizzou fan would want Kansas at the bottom. Second-year coach Turner Gill is still working the kinks out of his team, and after losing 6-3 against North Dakota State and nearly getting shutout against Mizzou in 2010, I really don't see those kinks getting worked out this season.
There are my picks, and a brief reasoning behind them. The Tigers could theoretically go undefeated this season, but opening conference play in Norman will be tough. If the Tigers can find a way to win there, we have a very good shot at a Big 12 championship. Beating Texas is a must for Mizzou, but the difficult games I can see will be the other three of my top four- OU, TAMU and OKST. I predict no worse than an 8-4 season, but anything from a 9-3 to an 11-1 can't be ruled out.

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