2010 FINAL BIG 12 STANDINGS
Nebraska 10-4 (6-2)
Missouri 10-3 (6-2)
Kansas State 7-6 (3-5)
Iowa State 5-7 (3-5)
Colorado 5-7 (2-6)
Kansas 3-9 (1-7)
Oklahoma 12-2 (6-2)
Oklahoma State 11-2 (6-2)
Texas A&M 9-4 (6-2)
Baylor 7-6 (4-4)
Texas Tech 8-5 (3-5)
Texas 5-7 (2-6)
2010 Championship Game: Oklahoma 23 Nebraska 20
RETURNING STATISTICAL LEADERS
Returning Leaders: Passing
Brandon Weeden, OSU, Sr (342 of 511 for 4277, 34 TD, 13 INT)
Landry Jones, OU, Jr (405 of 617 for 4,718 yds, 38 TD, 12 INT)
Robert Griffin III, Baylor, Jr (304 of 454 for 3,501 yds, 22 TD, 8 INT)
Ryan Tannehill, TAMU, Sr (152 of 234 for 1,638 yds, 10 TD, 7 INT)
Garrett Gilbert, Texas, Jr (260 of 441 for 2,744, 10 TD, 17 INT)
Returning Leaders: Rushing
Cyrus Gray, TAMU, Sr (200 carries for 1,133 yds, 5.6 ypc, 12 TD)
James Sims, Soph (168 carries for 742 yds, 4.4 ypc, 9 TD)
Cody Johnson, Texas, Sr (134 carries for 592 yds, 4.4 ypc, 6 TD)
Eric Stephens, Jr (127 carries for 668 yds, 5.2 ypc, 6 TD)
Robert Griffin III, Baylor, Jr (149 carries for 635 yds, 4.2 ypc, 8 TD)
Returning Leaders: Receiving
Ryan Broyles, OU, Sr (131 rec for 1,622 yds, 14 TD)
Justin Blackmon, OSU, Jr (111 rec for 1,782 yds, 20 TD)
T.J. Moe, Missouri, Jr (92 rec for 1,045 yds, 6 TD)
Michael Egnew, Missouri, Sr (90 rec for 762 yds, 5 TD)
Kendall Wright, Baylor, Sr (78 rec for 952, 7 TD)
Returning Leaders: Tackles
Jake Knott, Iowa St, Jr. LB (130 total, 10.8 tackles/game)
AJ Klein, Iowa St, Jr, LB (111 total, 9.25 tackles/game)
Keenan Robinson, Texas, Sr, LB (106 total, 8.83 tackles/game)
Garrick Williams, TAMU, Sr, LB (112 total, 8.6 tackles/game)
Steven Johnson, Kansas, Sr, LB (95 total, 7.9 tackles/game
Returning Leaders: Sacks
Brad Madison, Missouri, Jr, DE (7.5 sacks)
Frank Alexander, OU, Sr, DE (7.5)
Damontre Moore, TAMU, LB/DE, Soph (5.5)
Jamie Blatnick, OSU, DE, Sr (5.5)
Jacquies Smith, Missouri, Sr, DE (5.5)
Returning Leaders: Interceptions
Jamell Fleming, OU, Sr, CB (5 interceptions)
Jake Knott, Iowa St, Sr, LB (4)
Dustin Harris, TAMU, Jr, CB (4)
Jarvis Phillips, Texas Tech, Soph, CB (4)
Coryell Judie, TAMU, Sr, CB (4)
BREAKING DOWN THE BIG 12 WITH THE ZEALOTS
To help us out with our Big 12 Preview we reached out to Jay Beck from the Big 12 Blog Turfburner. Make sure you follow him on the Twitter Machine @JayBeck12. They've got great Big 12 info and some great writers in addition to Jay so make sure you drop by and visit them during the college football season. Now onto the team-by-team zealot-by-zealot thoughts (and make sure you click on the team name if you want to read their pre-season preview):
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #7): I'll be the first to admit, this seems a little low to me when ranking the Bears. That's probably a testament to the strength at the top of the conference versus anything against Baylor. There is no question, Art Briles has things heading in the right direction in Waco.
Robert Griffin will once again lead a very, very good offense which in my opinion features one of the more underrated wide receivers in the country, Kendall Wright, as his top target. The offensive line is experienced, although replacing running back Jay Finley could prove to be a challenge with no one yet stepping up to fill that role.
Overall, the offense is in good shape. It's the defense that needs fixing which is why Phil Bennett was brought in from Pittsburg. Just the attitude alone that Bennett brings to the table, should provide immediate results. The Bears have to replace its top five tacklers from last year including first round defensive tackle.
Baylor should make it two-for-two in bowl appearances, but will it will be an uphill battle to finish outside the middle of the pack in the Big 12.
Ross (Prediction: #8): Baylor looks like a poor man's Okie State in 2011: a dynamite offense full of returning starters but a potentially porous defense with few familiar faces. Unfortunately, their talent level isn't on par with Okie State's. They do get most of the Big 12's toughest teams at home (Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri), but as always, they're only going to go as far as Robert Griffin's prodigiously talented legs can carry them.
Kevin (Prediction: #7): Baylor is the wild-card in the Big 12. And this is where I talk about Robert Griffin but actually it's not. It's where I talk about Phil Bennett. No not the Rugby player, the football coach. You know, the guy from Pitt? In 2007 Pitt gave up 24 points per game, but in each of Bennett's years in Pitt they decreased ending up at 19.0 in 2010. Baylor has consistently been a bottom performer in the Big 12 in terms of defense (not the worst, but among them) and if Bennett can get them turned around then Baylor could make some noise this year. Look for Baylor to beat the teams they are supposed to beat this year and they will step up and surprise a team or two along the way.
Jay/Turburner (Prediction: #9): The Cyclones will run a high-tempo offense this season hoping to catch some defenses on their heels. When the talent level isn't quite up to that of your opponents, anything you can do help level the field is smart choice and no one in American has done that better job of that than Paul Rhoads during his two years in Ames.
The offense will be led by dual-threat junior college transfer, Steele Jantz, who is still learning the offense but will be a dangerous weapon in Tom Herman's attack, both with his arms and legs.
On defense, ISU returns a very solid pair of linebackers in A.J. Klein and Jake Knott. Upfront they'll need to improve a pass rush that was abysmal last year totaling only 11 sacks.
This team will have its moments as has come to be expected in a Rhoad's coached team. But overall, it is still is a few playmakers short from moving up a rung on the Big 12 ladder. Six wins and a bowl game should be considered a very successful season.
Ross (Prediction: #10): Paul Rhoads is a nice guy, but he's got a tough task in 2011: on top of one of the nation's nastiest schedules (Phil Steele ranked it second toughest in the nation), they return relatively few stars from a year ago and have to find new producers at QB and RB. Their defense may actually be OK, but you need offensive firepower to keep up in the Big 12 and it's not clear where they're going to find some in 2011. Looks like another bowl-free year in 2011.
Kevin (Prediction: #9): Iowa State has some talent on defense and they will needed because they will be spending a lot of time there this year. I think Iowa State is a team that will continue to improve but their record won't show it. They have out-of-conference games against Iowa and UConn and then they have to play the murderous Big 12 schedule. Oh yeah, they also replace their QB, their top two rushers and their top two receivers. Not to mention that, according to Phil Steele, they have the second least experienced team in the Big 12. Give Rhoads some time, this will not be his year.
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #10): The good news for Kansas fans is this season will be better than last year. It simply can't be any worse. Now weather that amounts to more wins remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, KU will be much more competitive than it was in Turner Gill's first season.
Jordan Webb has shown dramatic improvements at the QB position this fall and Kansas will also feature one of the better running games in the Big 12.
Vic Shealy will take over the defense for the departed Carl Torbush but will have his hands full trying to stop Big 12 offenses. But they overall team speed is much better and Steven Johnson is in for a huge year at linebacker.
Is a bowl game a possibility? Not yet. What about more than three wins? Hmm, it'll be close, but I'll lean towards four. Either way, Kansas has more tools to work with this year which should make for much better football in Lawrence this fall.
Ross (Prediction: #9): Just about everything went wrong in Year 1 of the Turner Gill Era, and it's unclear how much better things will be in Year 2. They return a lot of starters (7 on offense, 8 on defense), but it's not clear if they're actually good enough for that added experience to be able to put them over the hump.
Kevin (Prediction: #10): Hang in there Turner Gill, better days are ahead. I think.
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #8): It will be a different look Kansas State team this year without Daniel Thomas lining up in the backfield. K-State will also be breaking in a new full-time starter at quarterback (Collin Klein) and three new offensive lineman. The running back situation figures to be a by-committee approach with Bryce Brown yet to fully seize the opportunity.
So yes, there are questions on offense, but it is the defense that really needs to step up its game. Miami transfer and middle linebacker Arthur Brown figures to have an immediate impact in that area. He'll be joined by former safety, Emmanuel Lamur, and Tre Walker at the position forming what could be one of the better linebacking corps in the conference by season's end.
I would never count out a Bill Snyder coached team, but this year's squad will likely be fighting to get to that six win mark for bowl eligibility, something that won't be helped out by the Big 12's new nine game schedule.
Ross (Prediction: #7): K-State is in a curious position in 2011. They return a decent number of starters (6 on offense, 7 on defense) and they have an intriguing schedule: they could pretty easily open up 6-1 or 7-0 if they can handle Missouri at home and Texas Tech on the road (and if Miami proves to be the mess they could be this year). After that fairly easy start, though, things get tough: home against Oklahoma, away to Okie Sate, home to Texas A&M, and away to Texas. Right now, that stretch looks like it will torpedo their season and put them on a course for another 6-7 win season, but if they can pull an upset or two, things could get very interesting.
Kevin (Prediction: #8): I don't dislike Kansas State, I just don't like them as much as the seven teams ahead of them. A positive for K-State is that they always fill up their non-conference schedule with cupcakes (this year they have Eastern Kentucky and Kent State). This year they decided to schedule up and take on Miami. Then the Nevin Shapiro controversy hit and now they might get a seriously impaired Hurricanes team. What I don't like is that they get my three top Big 12 teams at home but then have to take on my 4-6 teams on the road. That could be disasterous.
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #3): All the talk around the Big 12 has been focused on Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and Oklahoma State. Don't forget about the boys up north in Columbia. Yes, Blaine Gabbert is gone but nearly everyone else returns. If James Franklin proves to be a better than average quarterback, there's not a team on the schedule Missouri can't beat.
The Tigers made huge improvements on defense last season giving up only 16 points per game. There's no reason to believe the Tigers will take a step back this year, either. Even without defensive end, Aldon Smith, the Tigers will feature one of the best passing rushing teams in the country, something that shouldn't be understated in the pass-happy Big 12.
It won't take long to learn exactly how good Missouri will be this year. In two of the season's first four weeks, the Tigers travel to Tempe to take on Arizona State and Norman to face the Sooners. If the Tigers can get out of September at least 3-1, they have the talent to exceed everyone's expectations when all is said and done.
Ross (Prediction: #4): We may find out just how much of a "system offense" Missouri has this year; the transition from Chase Daniel to Blaine Gabbert was pretty smooth a few years ago and this year nearly the entire offense returns (except Gabbert). The onus is on James Franklin to take the controls without skipping a beat. The defense takes a hit from a year ago (most of the secondary is gone), but should still be pretty solid. Road games at Oklahoma and A&M look rough.
Kevin (Prediction: #3): I thought I was going to be all smart and stuff and take Missouri at #3 but the guy that actually covers the Big 12 beat me to it. There is a lot to like about this Missouri team and I think they are flying under the radar. Let's start with the OL. They have the most career starts in the Big 12 back on their OL. That bodes well for breaking in a new QB. They also have two of the top 5 leading receivers in a conferences stocked with great receiving talent. And about that QB...he's good enough that he ran off Blaine Gabbert's little brother so I think they will be just fine at QB. Defensively you might be surprised to learn that Missouri (not Nebraska) was the best team last year in terms of points allowed and they had the best red zone defense in the league (right ahead of TAMU). I like Missouri and you should to! Do it know before all of your friends jump on the bandwagon.
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #1): There is a lot to like looking at the 2011 Oklahoma Sooner roster. It starts with the trigger man, quarterback Landry Jones, who leads the fast-paced, high powered Sooner attack. He'll also be throwing to one of the best receivers in the country in senior Ryan Broyles who passed up a paycheck from the NFL to come back for his senior season.
Defensively, there are still a few questions at defensive tackle and no one knows yet if defensive end, Ronnell Lewis will be eligible this fall. Overall however, this figures to be a typical Bob Stoops coached defense - aggressive and they can run in the back seven.
The conference schedule shapes up nicely with the lone tough road game coming at Stillwater to end the season. Texas A&M, Missouri, and Texas Tech all have to travel to Norman. There is of course the trip to Florida State in the nonconference portion of the slate, which in my mind, may end up being their toughest game all season.
Barring any major injuries, Bob Stoops should be putting Big 12 title number eight in his trophy case come December while getting prepped for another BCS game.
Ross (Prediction: #1): They've had a rough off-season with the tragic death of LB Austin Box and the season-ending injury sustained by LB Travis Lewis, but they still return a stunning amount of talent, particularly on offense, where Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles should put up mind-numbing stats. They also have a favorable schedule, with a road trip to Oklahoma State at the end of the season looking like their most significant test. They won that game in Stillwater last year, though, so it's not hard to see them repeating the feat this year.
Kevin (Prediction: #1): Let's make this one unanimous. I just think their offense will be too much for opponents to overcome this year. They get TAMU and Missouri at home and I think that's huge. Look for the Sooners to push for an undefeated season and a BCS National Championship Game birth. The biggest question marks for OU will be the LB corps and who will emerge at the RB position but they just have so much overall talent that Stoops has a lot of options. I really like certain things about TAMU, Missouri and OSU and I could see them beating the Sooners in a one game scenario but I just can't see them beating them out for the conference (but hey, we picked the Huskers last year right?).
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #4):It is a long list if you're writing downreasons to be optimistic about the 2011 Cowboys. How about Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon for starters? The duo was the most explosive in the country last season and figure to be again this season, even with defenses focusing solely on containing Blackmon. The offense will also be operating behind what could be the best line the Big 12.
If you're looking for a weakness, you won't find it on offense, but the defense still has questions it needs to answer. The first being can they defend the pass? Giving up 275 yards a game through the air as they did in 2010 isn't exactly the way to go about winning championships.
Then there is the Cowboy schedule. If the Cowboys hope to win the Big 12, they are going to have to prove they can win on the road. Trips to College Station, Austin, Missouri, and Lubbock await. And then there is the annual Bedlam game which will be played in Stillwater for the second straight season.
The combination of a shaky (yet improving) defense and that road slate leads me to think Oklahoma State will fall short of some of the lofty expectations the Cowboys face this season. But look at the bright side Cowboy fans, it wasn't but a few years ago when another nine win season wasn't falling below expectations, but rather one of the better seasons in school history. That's a strong testament to the job Mike Gundy has done in Stillwater.
Ross (Prediction: #3): Okie State should have one of the top offenses in the league (virtually everyone is back except RB Kendall Hunter), but the defense is full of holes (only five returning starters), which slides them below Oklahoma and Texas A&M. They also have a tough schedule with road trips to A&M, Texas, and Missouri.
Kevin (Prediction: #4): The big question here is just how important was Dana Holgersen and what can Brandon Weeden and the boy retain from him so that they can stay status quo without him. There is no doubt that CFBZ man-crush Dana Holgersen had a big impact on OSU in just one year. They improved from 28 ppg to 44 ppg and improved from 367 yds total offense to 520. Those are huge jumps. They have Weedon and stud Justin Blackmon returning but can they continue to be as dominant and explosive this year under a new OC? OSU also goes on the road for four out of their five biggest conference games this year and that's something that will end up biting them on the back end.
Jay/Turburner (Prediction: #5): There are no doubt a lot of questions surrounding the Longhorns heading into the season following last year's collapse. Several of those questions will answer themselves with better quarterback play. Who will play the position is yet to be determined, but last year's starter, Garret Gilbert appears to be the favorite to get the first crack at running new offensive coordinator, Bryan Harsin's, offense.
If Gilbert plays like many thought he was capable of when he was recruited to Austin, there's no reason Texas can't expect a major turnaround just a year later. That means completing more than 59% of your passes and not throwing 17 interceptions. The second number is critical and caused Texas to finish last in the Big 12 with a -12 turnover ratio in 2010.
The defensive secondary also has a lot of questions after losing their three best players to the NFL draft. The talent is there, but that talent is young and will have to learn under the gun with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both on the schedule in early October.
Can Texas make it all the way back with a revamped coaching staff? Not all the way, but this team figures to look more like previous versions of Mack Brown coached teams than the 2010 team ever did, at least when it comes to the win-loss columns.
Ross (Prediction: #5): It's Texas, so obviously there's talent there, but that 5-7 record last year still looms large. It's unclear if Texas has a quality QB or RB yet and there's bound to be some struggles with new coordinators on both sides of the ball. It's highly unlikely they'll have another losing season, but it's hard to see them rebounding into immediate Big 12 contenders in 2011.
Kevin (Prediction: #6): I like the addition of Manny Diaz on defense and Bryan Harsin on defense. And as a UGA fan and alum I would personally like to take this time to thank Mack Brown for taking OL Coach Stacy Searles off of our hands. THANK YOU! I think Texas will be better this year but when your biggest question marks are RB and QB it's tough to predict too much success for this team. Out of conference they have an early tilt with BYU that will be problematic and they go to Missouri and TAMU. I see them with at least four (maybe five) conference losses. I think Texas starts the road back this year but it's not going to be easy.
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #2): Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Fuller, Cyrus Gray, and Christine Michael. There might not be a team in the country more loaded at the skill positions than A&M is in 2011. Each guy has the potential to be star in his own right; together they figure to have one the best offenses not only in the Big 12, but the country.
Combine that with a defense that will be working in defensive coordinator's Tim DeRuyter's system for the second season and the Aggies are set up for what could be a championship season.
The game that will decide whether or not Texas A&M will be talking about championships comes in Norman on November 5th against the Sooners. If they can find a way to give Bob Stoops only his third career loss at Memorial Stadium, the Aggies may have a chance to play for something more than just the Big 12 title.
Ross (Prediction: #2): Drinking the Aggie kool-aid may prove to be a decision to regret in a few months, but at the moment they look irresistible, even without their best player from a year ago (OLB Von Miller). They return loads of other talent (18 returning starters, total), including nearly everyone on offense -- most notably QB Ryan Tannehill and RB Cyrus Gray, who spurred their late-season charge a year ago. The defense takes a hit with the loss of Miller, but they should still be one of the Big 12's best units. A road trip to Oklahoma looks imposing, though, and a November trip to Kansas State could be a sneaky-tough game, especially if the Aggies have a letdown after the Oklahoma game.
Kevin (Prediction: #2): Another unanimous selection here on CFBZ. After Tannehill took over for Jerrod Johnson last year TAMU just took it to another level. This year he has all off-season to actually work at QB so the expectations are that the offense will improve even more. Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael represent the best 1-2 punch at RB in the league and Jeff Fuller is one of the best WRs in the best league in the country for WRs. The defense loses Von Miller but I'm a fan of Tim DeRuyter and I think they will be consistent to what they were last year on the defensive side of the football. Another reason to like TAMU is that they get Missouri and Okie State at home.
Jay/Turfburner (Prediction: #6):Tommy Tuberville enters his second season with a new quarterback as well as a new defensive coordinator. Seth Doege will be the man to take over the Red Raiders offense which will operate behind an experienced offensive line and have several weapons at the skill positions.
On defense, Chad Glasgow will bring the same defense with him that made TCU so successful during his tenure in Fort Worth. So long as the they can avoid the injury bug that bit them last season, big improvements should be on the horizon, although it may take another season or two to get all the pieces in place before Tech is truly a dominate team on that side of the ball.
Tech's schedule should allow the Red Raiders to start 4-0 before hitting the meat of their schedule. That's never a bad thing when you are breaking in a new starting quarterback. Overall, Texas Tech will be one team capable of pulling off a couple upsets, but still figure to be a year or two away from being among the best in the Big 12.
Ross (Prediction: #6): Texas Tech looks like a thoroughly average Big 12 team this year: they return seven starters on offense and defense but have to find new starters at QB and RB and their schedule looks tailor-made for a ho-hum season: tough road games (Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri) and winnable home games (Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor). Pencil them in for 7-5 or so.
Kevin (Prediction: #5): Count me in as one who thought that the Tommy Tuberville hire was strange. As bedfellows go, Tommy Tuberville and a team full of spread offensive talent just didn't match. That being said, the Red Raiders didn't take a big step back on offense last year (only 10 yds less in total offense and 4 less points per game). The defense has to be better this year as they gave up 35 points or more 5 times last year (four of those were losses). I'm giving them a revenge win over Texas this year and that's why I'm putting them one spot above the Longhorns.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR PREDICTIONS:
Jay/Turfburner:Offensive- Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor. There are a lot of obvious candidates who could win this honor at season's end, mostly those with the last names Jones, Weeden, Broyles, Blackmon, Tannehill or Fuller. They are all great, no question. But the best and most versatile player in the league calls Waco home and that is Robert Griffin.
His ability to throw the ball has increased tenfold since his freshman season. And there's no denying he can and will hurt you with his legs given the chance. The only thing holding Griffin back from winning the award may be the team as a whole. Post season award winners often times come from the best teams. I don't know how many games Baylor will win necessarily, but I know Griffin is the best the Big 12 has to offer on offense.
Defensive- Brad Madison, DE, Missouri. In most circles, Oklahoma linebacker Travis Lewis was the most obvious player of the year candidate. He's now injured and will miss the beginning of the season so let's go a different direction.
Whatever the case may be with Lewis, Brad Madison will be making a name for himself in Columbia. He finished last year with 7.5 sacks in limited duty backing up Aldon Smith. With Smith's departure to the NFL, Madison will inherit the job full time and figures to spend a good portion of his time on the field in the opponents backfield. He's fast, strong, and is going to be a nightmare for offensive tackles this season.
Ross: Landry Jones, Oklahoma QB. If he stays healthy, he'll put up video game numbers in Oklahoma's offense.
Kevin: Landry Jones, OU, QB. I've got Oklahoma as the top team in the conference so there is no reason not to think that the top player on their team will be the Player of the Year. Landry took a huge step forward last year and I just see him continuing to improve in his junior season.
TUFRBURNER'S BREAKOUT PLAYERS OF THE YEAR:
Breakout Player of the Year - Offense:
Jaxon Shipley, WR, Texas
He may be only a freshman, but the Longhorns need help at receiver and Shipley could be the answer. The younger brother of former Texas standout, Jordan, should be a perfect fit in Bryan Harsin's new offense and make an immediate impact in just his first season.
Keep Your Eye On:
Kale Pick, WR, Kansas - last year's opening game starter at quarterback is now making name for himself as a wide receiver.
Breakout Player of the Year - Defense:
Arthur Brown, LB, Kansas State. Bill Snyder will be looking for some attitude to help improve a run defense that was the worst in the Big 12 last year. Brown should provide that and the ability to go sideline-to-sideline making KSU's defense instantly better than it was in 2010.
Keep an Eye On:
Ahmad Dixon, NB, Baylor - Phil Bennett is looking for playmakers on defense and Dixon will fits the bill. He'll play a hybrid linebacker/safety position and it wouldn't be shocking to see him approach 100 tackles on the season.
Corey Nelson, LB, Oklahoma - Nelson was so good in spring football that Bob Stoops was going to find some way to get him on the field this year, but with Travis Lewis' injury, the door is now open for Nelson to assume the WLB position. What they do when Lewis returns is unknown, but rest assured, the plan includes Nelson.
CFBZ PREDICTED 2011 BIG 12 FINISH
1. Oklahoma Sooners
2. Texas A&M Aggies
3. Missouri Tigers
4. Oklahoma State Cowboys
5. Texas Longhorns
6. Texas Tech Red Raiders
7. Baylor Bears
8. Kansas State Wildcats
9. Iowa State Cyclones
10. Kansas Jayhawks