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Early Look at Big XII Schedules

In case you missed them, I have already looked at the early schedules of the Big 10, SEC & Notre Dame. Today we are going to take a look at the Big XII, who much like the Big 10 & Pac 12 are going through some significant changes that will be readily apparent once the season begins.

A couple of thoughts about the Big XII before we look at the schedules. The first is that this should easily be the 2nd best conference in college football behind the SEC. In fact, I’m not sure it’ll be all that close. Oklahoma is probably just as good as Alabama, but keep in mind too that the conference has Texas, Texas A&M & Oklahoma St. who all could challenge for a national championship in their own right. It’s going to be fun to watch these guys.

The 2nd thought is that the Big XII gains some intimacy of their league. I think going to these big 12-14 team conferences allows the schedule for a little less familiarity amongst all teams within said conference. This is one reason why I have really like the Big East in recent years. They’ve only had 8 schools which breeds a particular wellspring of intimacy within the schools and the conference. To a certain extent, allowing TCU to join forces with the Big East destroys that intimacy. If the Big East keeps adding football teams, the Big XII could become the smallest conference and thus the most compelling during the regular season. I’m sure the conference wasn’t thrilled with losing both Nebraska & Colorado, but becoming a smaller conference is an unexpected benefit in my opinion.

Here come the schedules:

BAYLOR BEARS

Home: TCU, Stephen F. Austin, Rice, Iowa St., Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas
Road: Kansas St., Texas A&M, Oklahoma St., Kansas
Neutral: Texas Tech

You have to love what Art Briles is doing at Baylor, but with this schedule!? GOOD GRIEF! Baylor has 9 starters returning on offense including dynamic QB Robert Griffin. The only real starter they lose is 1st Rd. pick LT Danny Watkins. It’s a loss, but Baylor is going to score. They averaged 31.2ppg last season and return practically the entire offense. What gets Baylor a bit is their defense. They return just 5 starters and lose their best defensive player in 1st Rd. pick NT Phil Taylor. They also lose their top-5 tacklers. That’s hard to overcome in a league like the Big XII where scores come early & often. Because of defense alone I don’t think they can beat TCU, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma St. or Texas A&M. At best that’s 7 wins for Baylor. At worse I think they win their 2 non-conference games & beat on Iowa St. at home. I love what Paul Rhoads is doing in Ames, but ISU is rebuilding a bit too and Baylor’s offense should be able to exploit the defense on Baylor’s home turf. That puts their win range at 3-7.

IOWA ST. CYCLONES

Home: N.Iowa, Iowa, Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Oklahoma St.
Road: Connecticut, Baylor, Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas St.

Ouch. It’s not a good time to be a below average team in the Big XII. Let’s look at best case scenarios. I could see Iowa St. beating N. Iowa, Iowa & Kansas at home. I don’t think they have a winnable home game. That puts their best case record at 3-9 which is pretty terrible. I’ll give them a fighting chance against Iowa because this is one of my favorite in-state rivalry games and it always seems to be pretty tough. With Iowa rebuilding and the game being in Ames, I think the Cyclones have a shot. They get Kansas at home which is a plus and Northern Iowa is a FCS school although N. Iowa isn’t awful at time. I don’t think ISU can beat Baylor or Connecticut on the road. Baylor has too much coming back on offense and UConn has a veteran team returning. Worst case to me is Iowa St. goes 1-11 with their only win coming over Northern Iowa. This schedule is entirely too tough for a rebuilding squad that wasn’t exceptionally talented to begin with. Their win range is 1-3.

KANSAS JAYHAWKS

Home: McNeese St., Northern Illinois, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas St., Baylor
Road: Georgia Tech, Oklahoma St., Texas, Iowa St., Texas A&M
Neutral: Missouri

There are two ways to look at KU. The first is that they bring back quite a few players from last season so they’ll be a better more experienced team. Plus they are going to be in HC Turner Gill’s system for a 2nd year which means they’ll be more experienced with his schemes. The other way to look at this is that KU returns a lot of players from a team that went 3-9. That team averaged 17.1ppg and allowed 34.4ppg. The defense was atrocious and they lost 4 of their top-5 players from that unit. Things could get U-G-L-Y! Worst case for Kansas is that they manage to beat McNeese St. and that’s it for a 1-11 record. The rest of the schedule is simply too tough. The other bottom feeding Big XII schools this year are Baylor & Iowa St., but Kansas only gets Baylor at home and I don’t think the Jayhawk defense will be good enough to prevent Baylor from scoring 40 points. Remember that Baylor torched KU 55-7 last season. Baylor’s offense is better this year! Northern Illinois is certainly capable of beating Kansas. Best case I guess is 3-9? Maybe Kansas gets lucky and beats both Northern Illinois & Iowa St. That puts their win range at 1-3, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Kansas went 1-11 meaning Turner Gill’s 2-year combined record would be at 4-20 and the heat would be on. Remember that in Mark Mangino’s last 3 seasons, Kansas went a combined 25-13 including the 2007 season in which Kansas finished 12-1 and ranked #7 in the nation! Todd Reesing isn’t coming back.

KANSAS ST. WILDCATS

Home: E.Kentucky, Kent St., Baylor, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Iowa St.
Road: Miami-FL, Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma St., Texas

Bill Snyder is back to his old ways. He gets hurt a little bit by the Big XII going to 10 teams because it only allows him 3 non-conference opponents instead of 4, but I’d be surprised if KSU didn’t start scheduling 3 cupcakes to maximize victories. Snyder is also mining the JUCO ranks to bring in high quality talent knowing full well he can’t compete regionally with Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M & Oklahoma St. for top shelf high school talent. From a best case standpoint I think KSU can beat E.Kentucky, Kent St., Baylor, Iowa St., Miami-FL, Kansas, Texas Tech & Missouri. That’s 8 victories right there. The top-4 teams in the Big XII are just so strong. They play both Oklahoma St. & Texas on the road and I think they’ll lose those games. Oklahoma & Texas A&M are legitimate national title contenders and even though the Sooners & Aggies play in Manhattan, they are simply too strong for the Wildcats. Still, 8-4 would be a heck of a season in Snyder’s 3rd year back at the helm. Worst case I think KSU could lose to Miami-FL, Missouri & Texas Tech. I’m going to throw Baylor in there too just because I think their offense could be scary. That would put KSU at 4-8 giving them a win range of 4 to 8. They have a really good shot at 7-8 wins though.

MISSOURI TIGERS

Home: Miami-OH, W.Illinois, Iowa St., Oklahoma St., Texas, Texas Tech
Road: Arizona St., Oklahoma, Kansas St., Texas A&M, Baylor
Neutral: Kansas

Can you believe that for the last 9 years, the Tigers have had Brad Smith, Chase Daniel & Blaine Gabbert as QBs? GOOD GRIEF! That’s amazing. This year James Franklin takes over and his play combined with the defense’s ability to recoup from significant losses will determine how well Mizzou does in 2011. As I’ve written before, the Big XII is crazy top heavy with Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma St. & Texas A&M. Missouri does get OSU & UT at home, but I don’t think it’ll matter. I think for every team in the Big XII outside of the Big-4, they are all losses. That leaves every other Big XII game as winnable for Missouri along with their Miami-OH & W.Illinois games. That’s a best case record of 7-5. I can’t see Missouri walking into Tempe and beating Arizona St. It ain’t happening. Worst case could get pretty bad. I think Missouri definitely beats Miami-OH, W.Illinois, Iowa St. & Kansas, but drawing Baylor on the road was a tough break especially given Missouri’s losses on defense. That’s a win range of 4-7.

OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Home: Tulsa, Missouri, Ball St., Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Iowa St.
Road: Florida St., Kansas, Kansas St., Baylor, Oklahoma St.
Neutral: Texas

Just a ridiculous collection of talent. The Sooners went 12-2 last year and bring back practically their entire team lead by QB Landry Jones who passed for 4700+ yards, 38TD & completed 66% of his passes. If you are looking for a Heisman candidate early on, it’s Jones hands down. Oklahoma also brings back WR Ryan Broyles who caught 131 passes last season for 1,622 yards & 14TD. Brandon Williams & Roy Finch are going to run like the wind. The O-Line returns 4 starters. Defensively Oklahoma brings back 8 starters and 12 of their top-15 tacklers. Hands down this team is a legit 12-0. Worse case is 9-3. Florida St. & Oklahoma St. are good enough teams to knock Oklahoma off on the road if the Sooners aren’t at 100%. Texas is going to be better you can believe it so you can’t put anything past Texas and I’m willing to bet Mack Brown has a little something to prove after Texas’s 5-7 season last year, but Oklahoma is WAY too strong I think with Texas trying to rebound. Texas A&M is scary good and can get away with a win in Norman. It’ll be a shocker if Oklahoma & Alabama aren’t playing for a national championship. Oklahoma’s win range is 9-12.

OKLAHOMA ST. COWBOYS

Home: Louisiana, Arizona, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas St., Oklahoma
Road: Tulsa, Texas A&M, Texas, Missouri, Texas Tech, Iowa St.

Oklahoma St. had a miracle year last season going 11-2 despite many calling for a rebuilding year. Everyone is going to be focusing on Landry Jones & Ryan Broyles, but don’t forget that QB Brandon Weeden passed for 4200+ yards with 34TD completing 67% of his passes while WR Justin Blackmon caught 111 balls for 1782 yards & 20TD. Broyles & Blackmon are both 1st team All-Americans with both Jones & Weeden competing for 1st team All-American honors themselves. What could be the big difference between OSU & OU is defense. The Cowboys bring back only 5 starters from a squad that allowed 26+ppg last season. To be honest it won’t matter. Oklahoma St.’s offense is so good that it will be virtually unstoppable. Best case for Oklahoma St. is a perfect 12-0, but worst case is 9-3. The 3 losses of course coming against Texas, Oklahoma & Texas A&M.

TEXAS LONGHORNS

Home: Rice, BYU, Oklahoma St., Kansas, Texas Tech, Kansas St.
Road: UCLA, Iowa St., Missouri, Texas A&M, Baylor
Neutral: Oklahoma

This is a tricky one. Texas wasn’t as bad as the 5-7 record might have indicated a year ago. Keep in mind that the Longhorns were -12 in turnover margin and in close games their record was 1-4. That’s terrible luck. Keep in mind also that I don’t think Garrett Gilbert is nearly as bad as his stats looked last season. Gilbert threw 10TD passes to 17 interceptions and completed only 59% of his passes. Gilbert will be much better. Also keep in mind that nobody in the country will put out more talented players than Texas. Teams can be as talented as the Longhorns, but nobody is more talented. It’s that simple. What could get Texas though is the schedule. They don’t have easy non-conference games. Playing BYU at home and going on the road to UCLA won’t be easy. Plus they have the rest of the top-3 teams in the Big XII. I’m going to ding the Longhorns on Texas A&M though. I don’t think they can beat the Aggies on the road this season. I also will call for a loss to Oklahoma no matter what. They get a break with having Oklahoma St. at home so I’ll call for a win there in best-case mode meaning 10-2 is the best they can do. As for worst case, I think Texas could potentially lose to the other 3 powers this season plus UCLA & BYU. That’s 7-5 giving them a win range of 7-10.

TEXAS A&M AGGIES

Home: SMU, Idaho, Oklahoma St., Baylor, Missouri, Kansas, Texas
Road: Texas Tech, Iowa St., Oklahoma, Kansas St.
Neutral: Arkansas

If HC Mike Sherman can’t get it done this season then when can he? A&M brings back 10 starters on offense & 8 starters on defense from a team that went 9-4 last season. Losing LB Von Miller is going to hurt a bit because he was so good, but this is the Texas A&M team that could put the Aggies back on the map nationally with a legitimate run at a national championship. The schedule works out perfect except for one tiny game on November 5th when Texas A&M travels to Norman to take on Oklahoma. If that game were at College Station then this would be perfect. As it is, I think A&M definitely has the goods to go 12-0. Beating Oklahoma on the road will be a helluva test for them, but if they win out and beat the Sooners, then A&M will have earned the right to play in the BCS Championship. Their only legit losses come against Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. & potentially Arkansas. The Razorbacks are an SEC team and combining SEC talent with Bobby Petrino is always a tough proposition. This is an old SWC matchup and will be fun. Texas A&M’s win range should be 9-12, but if A&M can’t turn in 10-11 wins at the very minimum, how can Sherman keep his job?

TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Home: Texas St., Nevada, Texas A&M, Kansas St., Iowa St., Oklahoma St.
Road: New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri
Neutral: Baylor

The Red Raiders find themselves in the same basic conundrum as all the other Big XII schools outside of the power 4 this season. They can beat everyone on their schedule outside of those 4 meaning they get a best case record of 8-4. Their schedule is actually pretty good as they get teams like Kansas St., Iowa St. & Baylor not on the road. They do draw Missouri on the road which is a tough one, but Kansas even in Lawrence shouldn’t be too bad. This will be HC Tommy Tuberville’s 2nd year in Lubbock and the players have to be getting more accustomed to his style of play which is almost night & day compared to how Mike Leach ran things. Losing QB Taylor Potts is tough and the Red Raiders also lose their top-2 receivers but Tuberville likes to run more than throw and Tech does return 7 starters on defense. Worst case for Tech is ugly though. They definitely lose to the top-4 but they could also easily lose to Nevada, Baylor, and Missouri. Getting Iowa St. at home is a good thing. I’ll put Tech’s win range at 4-7.

WIN RANGES

Baylor 3-7
Iowa St. 1-3
Kansas 1-3
Kansas St. 4-8
Missouri 4-7
Oklahoma 9-12
Oklahoma St. 9-12
Texas 7-10
Texas A&M 9-12
Texas Tech 4-7

As you can see, the Big XII is insanely top heavy with Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas & Texas A&M. The conference legitimately boasts of 3 national title contenders with everyone in the big-4 outside of Texas with a shot to win out and be 12-0 at the end of the season. Iowa St. & Kansas should be terrible with everyone else pretty much in the middle. The more I think about the Big XII, the more I think this is going to be likely the most interesting conference in 2011 to follow. The Big-4 teams are going to be amazing to watch on a weekly basis, but I think Baylor, Texas Tech & Kansas St. could be pretty darn good too. Missouri could also be surprising given how great a coach Gary Pinkel is. Buckle your seat belts Big XII fans!
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June 15, 2011 - Posted by | Baylor, Big XII, Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., Missouri, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Schedule, Texas, Texas AM, Texas Tech

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