No Sleep Till Football

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2014 BIG XII PREVIEW & PREDICTIONS

RANK B1G EAST COMMENTS
#1 PROJECTED RECORD: 12-0 (9-0); OFFENSE: Oklahoma returns 5 starters from last year’s team which seems like it represent a step back from the 32.8PPG they scored in ’13, but the talent is ridiculous in Norman that Oklahoma’s offense might just improve! QB Trevor Knight carved up Alabama in the Sugar Bowl & replacing Blake Bell & giving stability to the position only helps OU. The O-Line returns 3 starters in Adam Shead, Daryl Williams & Tyrus Thompson who should all be all-B12 players. Keith Ford, Alex Ross & Joe Mixon provide incredible depth at RB while Sterling Shepard, Durron Neal, Derrick Woods & Taylor McNamara make for a dynamic receiving corps. Blake Bell moves to TE & all of these players will be in the running for all-B12! Expect fireworks! DEFENSE: Opposing offenses better strap it up because OU returns 9 starters from a defense that allowed 22.1PPG! That’s impressive considering how offense happy the B12 is! LB Frank Shannon is a potential All-American & I’m excited about the D-Line which returns intact with DE Chuka Ndulue, DE Charles Tapper & NT Jordan Phillips. Phillips is a true 3-4NT at 6’6/350lbs! LBs Eric Striker, Geneo Grissom & Dominique Alexander should be even better. The secondary returns 3 starters in CBs Zack Sanchez & Julian Wilson along with S Quentin Hayes. All are all-B12 candidates! SCHEDULE: OU’s toughest game will be at TCU but they get a week off before that game. They draw K-State, Baylor & Oklahoma St. at home & play Texas in Dallas. There is no reason for OU not to get to the playoffs.
#2 PROJECTED RECORD: 10-2 (7-2); OFFENSE: Baylor averaged a RIDICULOUS 52.4PPG last year en route to the school’s first ever Big XII title! They return 6 starters from that unit including QB Bryce Petty who completed 62% of his passes for 4200yds/32TD/3INT! Petty returns for his senior season & should wind up Baylor #2 all time leading passer! Six of Baylor top-7 receivers return so Petty will have plenty of weapons. The Bears do lose RB Lache Seastrunk who ran for 1177yds/11TD/7.4ypc but Shock Linwood (881yds/8TD/6.9ypc) is ready to step in with Johnny Jefferson & Terence Williams providing depth. Petty is the best QB in the B12 & could be an All-American. WR Antwan Goodley (71rec/1339yds/13TD) is also an All-American candidate as is OT Spencer Drango. If you are being picky you could say the Bears return just 2 along the O-Line, but this team is going to score A LOT! DEFENSE: Baylor returns just 4 starters from the best defense they’ve seen in Waco in quite some time. There are some nice pieces like LB Bryce Hager & the D-Line led by Andrew Billings, Jamal Palmer & Shawn Oakman could be intriguing. Palmer (6’3/250lbs & Oakman 6’9/275lbs) make for a very interesting pair of 4-3DEs. Baylor might look more like they did in ’11 & ’12, but they were 18-8 in that period. If everyone stays, Baylor could be looking at 10 returning starters in ’15! SCHEDULE: Baylor gets unlucky getting Oklahoma on the road. They also get Texas on the road but outside of those two squads, it’s not too bad drawing Texas Tech, K-State & Oklahoma St. all in Waco.
#3 PROJECTED RECORD: 10-2 (7-2); OFFENSE: TCU brings back 8 starters from an offense that averaged 25.1PPG. The last time TCU had more than 7 starters return on offense was 2010 when they scored 41.6PPG & went 13-0! TCU pretty much brings the rest of the offense back. The O-Line returns 3 starters & every projected starter is an upperclassman. RB Aaron Green could be all-B12 & BJ Catalon ran for 569yds/6TD/5.3ypc last season. TCU brings back 5 of their top-6 receivers. The problem for TCU could be at the QB position. Casey Pachall & Trevone Boykin didn’t play well last season. Matt Joeckel has transferred in from Texas A&M & could be in the mix too. If TCU has troubles under center it could be a tough year, but they do return quite a bit. DEFENSE: HC Gary Patterson’s calling card, TCU hasn’t matched their typical dominant self since joining the B12, but that could change this year with 8 starters returning from a defense that allowed 25.3PPG in ’13. The Horned Frogs have DT Chucky Hunter, DE Devonte Fields, S Sam Carter, S Chris Hackett, LB Paul Dawson & CB Kevin White who could all be 1st Team All-B12! Fields & Carter could be All-Americans! DE Terrell Lathan (6’5/280lbs) could be amazing & look for LB Jonathan Anderson. When you have 9 defensive players who could make significant impacts, the defense is great. SCHEDULE: Not bad. They draw Baylor & Texas on the road which is unfortunate & get Oklahoma at home but the Sooners have a bye week. I think this is TCU’s coming out year as a B12 member. They’ll be really good.
#4 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-4 (6-3); OFFENSE: The Wildcats bring back 6 starters from an offense that scored 33.2PPG. QB Jake Waters returns after completing 61% of his passes for 2469yds & 18TD. HC Bill Snyder has always done a great job in Manhattan & it seems like KSU finds a way to average 30+PPG on offense no matter who returns. Waters is a good signal caller & KSU returns 3 of their top-4 receivers including Tryler Lockett who was Waters’ favorite target in ’13. There are some losses. KSU only returns 2 starters on the O-Line but all 5 projected starters are upper classmen. The Wildcats lose RBs John Hubert & Daniel Sams who combined for 1800+yds/21TD so they’ll definitely have to make sure the running game is decent, but they’ll score. Waters & Lockett should compete for 1st team All-B12. Lockett & C BJ Finney could be All-Americans. DEFENSE: The Wildcats bring back 5 starters from a unit that allowed 22.9PPG. Losing LB Blake Slaughter is tough but KSU returns 4 of their top-6 tacklers. DE Ryan Mueller is a beast & could be an All-American. He had 11.5 sacks last year & 18.5TFL! KSU has some other good pieces too in DTs Terrell Clinkscales & Travis Britz, LB Jonathan Truman, CB Randall Evans & S Dante Barnett. The defense looks OK & should be decent which is all KSU really needs. SCHEDULE: Kansas St. gets a very tough break with scheduling as they get road games against Oklahoma, Baylor & TCU. They also have a non-conference game at home against Auburn. If they can pull an upset of 1-2 of those 4 games, they could get to double digit wins.
#5 PROJECTED RECORD: 8-4 (6-3); OFFENSE: Charlie Strong walks into a solid situation in Austin as the Texas offense averaged 29.3PPG last season & returns 7 starters. QB David Ash played well last season before being injured & Texas gets him back. The Longhorns return 7 of their top-8 receivers & their top-8 rushers. RBs Johnathan Gray & Malcolm Brown should compete for All-B12 honors along with WR Jaxon Shipley. The one problem could be the O-Line in that it returns just 2 starters but the talent is RIDICULOUS & C Dominic Espinosa is an all-conference player. Strong inherits a MUCH better situation here than he did at Louisville & he took the Cardinals to the BCS in year 3. This offense will score more than 30PPG. DEFENSE: Strong’s background in defense should serve this team well as the Longhorns return 8 starters from a unit that allowed 25.8PPG in ’13. UT loses their top 2 tacklers in DE Jackson Jeffcoat & S Adrian Phillips but they return 11 of their top-13 tacklers. This is Texas so the talent is crazy & the guy I can’t wait to see is DE Cedric Reed who at 6’6/275lbs is a beast as a 43DE & had 19TFL in ’13. He should be an All-American candidate along with CB Quandre Diggs. If that isn’t enough, 6 other projected starters for Texas could be All-B12. UT returns 6 of their back 7 & I actually think the D-Line is the best part of the defense. Expect big things. SCHEDULE: I’m bearish because of the new coaching staff, but Texas gets BYU, Baylor, & TCU at home with Oklahoma & UCLA on neutral ground. I’ve got them at 8-4 but UT could go 10-2 easy.
#6 PROJECTED RECORD: 7-5 (4-5); OFFENSE: Texas Tech went back to the old Mike Leach passing ways when they hired Kliff Kingsbury & the new HC didn’t waste time. The Red Raiders went crazy with their passing attack & averaged 35.8PPG. What’s crazy is that TT returns 9 starters on offense including QB Davis Webb who completed 63% of his passes for 2718yds & 20TD. Webb was a true frosh by the way! He’s only going to get better. Texas Tech returns their entire O-Line & 6 of their top-8 receivers. Losing TE Jace Amaro hurts quite a bit, but there are a lot of balls to go around. Webb should be a consideration for All-B12 while receivers Jakeem Grant & Bradley Marquez could be all-B12 guys too. The Red Raiders have 3 O-Linemen who could be all conference & this really starts to remind you of the great Leach offenses. LT Le’Raven Clark could be an All-American & I wouldn’t be surprised to see TT score 40PPG. DEFENSE: TT returns 4 starters from a defense that allowed 30.5PPG. Maybe that’s good because better players can come in & contribute but the Raiders lose a lot of experience & production with losing 6 of their top-9 tacklers. Texas Tech has some interesting pieces like DT Rika Levin, DE Pete Roberton & LB Sam Eguavoen but I can’t help but think the defense will be down. SCHEDULE: A weird schedule for the Raiders. They draw road games against Oklahoma St., K-State, TCU & Iowa St. at home. They get home games against Arkansas, Texas & Oklahoma & neutral against Baylor. TT’s season will depend on how they play at home.
#7 PROJECTED RECORD: 4-8 (2-7); OFFENSE: Normally I would be a little concerned about an offense that only returns 4 starters with losing their QB to boot. On the other hand, this has actually happened to Oklahoma St. twice in the last 4 seasons. In 2012, Oklahoma St. averaged 45.7PPG and in 2010 they averaged 44.2PPG! There is no doubt OSU loses some players but they return QB JW Walsh who actually got quite a bit of run time along with RB Desmond Roland (811yds/13TD/4.6ypc) & WR Jhajuan Seales (39rec/571yds/3TD). Roland & Seales could be all-conference. It’s a Mike Gundy led offense so it’ll be potent but I don’t think this is the same as 2012 or 2010, but even if the offense regresses by 15pts they’ll still average more than 30PPG! DEFENSE: If the losses on offense are bad the losses on defense are BRUTAL! The Cowboys lose 8 of their top-9 tacklers! Like Texas Tech, there are some interesting pieces such as DT James Castleman, LB Ryan Simmons and CB Kevin Peterson but there is no way this defense comes close to last year’s unit which allowed just 21.6PPG. Keep an eye on DE Jimmy Bean. The 6’5/250lbs junior had 9.5TFL last year & could have a big year. Same goes for 6’4/270lbs soph Emmauel Ogbah. SCHEDULE: Opening up against Florida St. won’t be pleasant but OSU has bigger problems in conference as they draw road games against TCU, KSU, Baylor & Oklahoma! Home against Texas won’t be easy & neither will games against Texas Tech with a suspect defense! They must win at home to get bowl eligible. Can’t see it.
#8 PROJECTED RECORD: 4-8 (2-7); OFFENSE: Paul Rhoads is a helluva coach in an impossible situation in Ames. The good news on offense is that ISU returns 10 starters including QBs Grant Rohach & Sam Richardson. The bad news is that they return 10 starters from a unit that only averaged 24.8PPG! The only loss on offense is WR Justin Coleman but he’s replaced by true frosh Allen Lazard who at 6’5/215lbs gives the Cyclones a legit high end #1 receiver possibility. The receiving corps is the best part of the offense. Along with Lazard, ISU has D’Vario Montgomery (6’5/212lbs), Quenton Bundrage (6’2/190lbs) & TE EJ Bibbs (6’3/265lbs). It’s a mismatch nightmare waiting to happen if Rhoads can figure out his QB situation & find consistency at the position. The entire O-Line returns intact, but that is tough too because the O-Line only paved the way for ISU to average 3.5ypc & allowed 38 sacks! This offense should be much improved. DEFENSE: ISU returns 5 starters from a unit that allowed 36PPG in ’13! They lose 2 big players in LB Jeremiah George (133tkls) & S Jacques Washington (119tkls) but the other losses aren’t too bad. There isn’t a lot of talent here at all. DE Cory Morrissey should be pretty good, but for the most part this is an undersized & inexperienced defense. That’s not a recipe for success if the offensive minded Big XII. SCHEDULE: Lucky for ISU they get West Virginia at home and that Kansas is also a member of the B12! They do get Texas Tech & Kansas St. at home but I’m not sure the defense can keep it close enough for ISU to steal those.
#9 PROJECTED RECORD: 2-10 (1-8); OFFENSE: After averaging 38PPG in his first 2 seasons in Morgantown, HC Dana Holgorsen’s offense had the wheels come off in 2013 with WVU averaging just 26.3PPG en route to a dismal 4-8 campaign. West Virginia returns 6 from that unit which includes QB Clint Trickett. The offense has a chance to be really good. They lose RB Charles Sims but replace him with Rushel Shell who could be exceptional. WVU also returns their 3 top receivers so if Trickett & QB Ryan Millard can figure out a way to be more accurate & make better decisions, the Mountaineers will be much better than 26.3PPG. The O-Line should be better too as they’ll be in the 2nd year of new O-Line coach Ron Crook’s system. Things are trending up here but the difference between improvement & being excellent is the QB play. DEFENSE: WVU returns 7 starters from a unit that allowed 33.3PPG. There is good & bad associated with that & like the other bottom tier teams in the B12, there are some nice pieces such as LB Isaiah Bruce, LB Nick Kwiatkoski & S Karl Joseph. WVU returns 8 of their top-11 tacklers. I can’t wait to see Gardner-Webb transfer DE Shaquille Riddick! He’s a monster at 6’7/265lbs & could potentially give WVU an exceptional pass rusher from the 3-4 DE spot. SCHEDULE: NASTY! Big 12 teams only get 3 non-conference games so WVU plays a road game against Maryland & a neutral site game against Alabama! They get Texas, OK State & Texas Tech on the road. Luckily they get Kansas at home but play ISU on the road. Tough year.
#10 PROJECTED RECORD: 3-9 (1-8); OFFENSE: The Jayhawks return 7 starters from last year’s unit which scored 15.3PPG! This is a really tough situation to evaluate. Last year QB Jake Heaps was abysmal completing 49% of his passes for 1414yds, 8TD & 10INT. True frosh Montell Cozart was even worse in very limited action meaning Kansas enters the 2014 season without a real viable candidate to play QB. They also lost their best offensive weapon in RB James Sims who rushed for 1100+yds & 7TD last season. WR Nick Harwell & TE Jimmay Mundine are solid players but they need a QB to throw them the football. Cozart is a legitimate dual threat QB so he has the running ability to spread things out and take pressure off his arm. KU does have 3 starters returning on the O-Line with all 5 being upperclassmen. It won’t be a great offense but how can they not improve on 15PPG? DEFENSE: KU returns 9 starters from a unit that allowed 32PPG. Again you could take it that you don’t want such bad players or you could think a year of experience really helped and the defense will be better because of it. The Jayhawks do return 9 of their top-10 tacklers & I’m excited about LB Ben Heeney & CB Dexter McDonald who could be all-B12 players. McDonald is especially interesting because he’s a 6’2/205lbs corner. His counterpart at CB, Kevin Short, is also 6’2. SCHEDULE: Does it really matter? Kansas is 3-40 in conference play over the last 5 years. I have them winning 1 which is a stretch but who knows. Charlie Weis might simply be ill suited to coach NCAA football.

 

BIG XII OVERALL OUTLOOK: I think the conference is Oklahoma’s to lose especially with the Sooners getting Baylor in Norman and always playing Texas on a neutral field. The one hiccup that could occur is a road date against TCU, but as good as the Horned Frogs might be this season, they might have issues at QB. It probably won’t affect them against most teams, but against teams like Baylor & Oklahoma it will and I think that makes the difference. The one aspect of the conference that I’m unsure about is the role that Oklahoma St. plays. I have the Cowboys at 4-8 which would actually be the worst record Oklahoma St. has posted since Mike Gundy’s first year in Stillwater. What is troubling is how their season starts off. I don’t think OSU can beat Florida St., but I have them at 3-3 in their first 6 games which to me puts them in a state of disarray for the second half of the season. On the other hand I think Oklahoma St. could easily be 5-1 after the first 6 which I think propels them to an 8-4/9-3 record. To me I think Oklahoma St. loses entirely too much and I have them losing a shocker to Kansas in Lawrence. The key game to me is Week 4 against Texas Tech in Stillwater. If they win that game then they’ll be set but a loss there I think upends the season. Both teams are on bye weeks prior to this Thursday night tilt and given what TT has returning along with what Oklahoma St. doesn’t have returning on defense & I get the feeling this could be a 63-56 type of game Texas Tech wins on the road. Texas & TCU both have opportunities to win double digit games. I think TCU will anyway but Texas could as well if things go their way. The other interesting storyline is West Virginia. I have the Mountaineers finishing 2-10 and it’s mostly a product of scheduling. Phil Steele says WVU has the 4th toughest schedule in the nation & it’s going to show. I hope the folks in Morgantown are patient with HC Dana Holgorsen. I think he can be an excellent HC but moving to the Big XII has been a tough transition and he needs to adjust WVU’s roster to the more rigorous conference. He knows what it takes so hopefully he can pull a rabbit out of his hat in 2014 or else he can get a little extra time.

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August 26, 2014 - Posted by | Baylor, Big XII, Iowa St., Kansas, Kansas St., Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Predictions, Previews, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

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