The college football season is just around the corner with games set to kick off on August 30th. With the Big 12 having a new look the 2012 season will look a lot different than 2011, but this does not change the passion of Big 12 fans from supporting their favorite school. The 2012 college football preview gives all fans across the globe a chance to read up on the expectations for each school from their Alma Mater to their biggest rivals.
The Big 12 Conference is back to 10 members for 2011. As Missouri seems prepared to bolt for the SEC, the Big 12 has already acted to replace MIzzou adding the West Virginia Mountaineers as their 10th member. WVU, a member of the Big East since 1995, will join TCU as the newest members of the Big 12 in 2012 bringing a Top 25 caliber football and basketball program as well. With WVU leaving the Big East the conference has just 5 schools remaining after it was announced that Syracuse and Pittsburgh will leave the conference to join the ACC. While Big 12 merchandise will continue to be hot-sellers, the new-look Big 12 will now consist of Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia.
The 2011 college football season is about to enter the month of November, and as we start thinking about bowl games. Yes, those end of the season games that don’t even determine a definite national champion. While many have voiced their displeasure with the bowl system, it surely makes for fun, entertaining college football in December and into January. Matching the best of the SEC against the best of the Big 12 or Big Ten is always interesting for bragging rights, but it also gives schools from the MAC, Sun Belt Conference USA, WAC and more a chance to show their value on the national stage and face like competition on ESPN.
As we look at the 2011-2012 bowl projections from Football-Bowl.com, the bowl schedule lines up as always for the non-AQ conferences in the early going with the New Mexico and New Orleans Bowls played during the first weekend of the bowl season. The current projections show a BCS title game featuring LSU vs. Oklahoma State, but with both schools facing huge match-ups this season we all know that this could indeed change.
For the Big 12, Oklahoma State is in the driver’s seat as they control their own destiny meaning that if OSU wins out they could very well play in the BCS Championship game. But match-ups with ranked opponents Kansas State, Texas Tech and finally the December 3rd game hosting Oklahoma are all in Oklahoma State’s path leading up to the final BCS rankings.
For all other Big 12 bowl games the parity within the conference with Kansas State currently ranked in the Top 10 and Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Baylor all have solid years will cloud the specific bowl game picture. If Oklahoma continues to win their chances at getting a BCS bowl game are high given the program history and popularity.
Coming across the news wire on Friday was the latest chapter in the Missouri Tigers quest to leave the Big 12 Conference. According to ESPN.com, “The governing curators at Missouri unanimously gave chancellor Brady Deaton the authority Friday to move the school out of the Big 12 if he decides that is in the school’s best interest.”
So apparently Missouri, a school run by museum directors, is ready to bolt for the SEC, a conference that hasn’t even invited them to join. This is eerily similar to a year ago when Mizzou seemed ready to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten, except the Big Ten did not invite Missouri leaving them with no real option. Meanwhile the Pac 10 became the Pac 12 and yet again, the Missouri Tigers were left out.
Here is the deal. Missouri is a great school with a solid football program and strong athletics across the board. The problem here is that it seems that internally they think more highly of themselves than they really are. Missouri is no prize to be gained by any of the BCS automatic qualifier conferences; they are more of a middle-of-the-road team in a solid BCS conference. If they were a continued NCAA Football powerhouse like Oklahoma or Texas this would all make much more sense, but with those two schools committing to staying put in the Big 12 the insistence of Mizzou looking to jump ship is even more curious.
How will things play out in the coming weeks? That is unclear, and it should not impact the sales of Mizzou fan apparel & merchandise which is always a hot seller in the region. But the Big 12 sounds like they are looking to be more proactive rather than reactive now with a new commissioner in place and the college football landscape constantly shifting.
The Big XII’s divisional format and championship game are gone. With the departure of Colorado to the Pac-12 and Nebraska to the Big Ten, the Big 12 is now “twelve” in name only. The ten remaining members will remain as is; they’ll keep the now incorrect name and crown a champion without a conference championship game. No longer hosting a championship game is a welcome development for fans of perennial powers that have seen their schools lose chances to play for a national title based on an upset loss on the first Saturday of December. Others counter that with the exception of the SEC Championship Game, the Big 12’s own title game was the most popular and that its attention will accordingly be missed.
Ten teams or twelve, discussions about the Big XII always begin with the conference’s premier programs: Oklahoma and Texas. Oklahoma concludes spring drills as the early favorite to be the preseason number one team in the polls. The Sooners won the Big XII in 2010 and return most of that championship roster. Offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson left Norman to take over as head coach at Indiana, but new offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was a capable understudy to Wilson and will have plenty to work with in his first year on the job. Quarterback Landry Jones, wide receivers Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, and tailback Roy Finch will be a difficult group of skill positions players for any defense to handle. If the Sooners can win the annual Red River Shootout with Texas and a tough early season road game at Florida State, the stage will be set for the Sooners to play for yet another national title under Bob Stoops.
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Texas, on the other hand, has more questions than answers on the heels of a disastrous 2010 season that saw the Longhorns finish 5-7, miss a bowl, and turn over the entire assistant coaching staff. Lightning rod Greg Davis will no longer coach the offense and former defensive coordinator Will Muschamp is now the head coach at Florida. In their places, Mack Brown hired Bryan Harsin as the offensive coordinator from Boise State and Manny Diaz as the defensive coordinator from Mississippi State. Both men will now bring their distinctive attacking styles to Austin. The first order of business for Harsin will be picking a quarterback. Spring drills did little to settle that debate and the battle for the starting spot will continue into early September. Diaz, on the other hand, should find plenty to work with and provide the offense some cover in the early part of the season.
On the heels of Oklahoma and Texas are Oklahoma State, Missouri, and Texas A&M. All three schools showed progress in 2010, but they face unique challenges as they attempt to maintain their successes in 2011. Oklahoma State returns quarterback Brandon Weeden and stud receiver Justin Blackmon, but will be playing in a new offense with the departure of coordinator Dana Holgorsen to West Virginia. Texas A&M finally found its quarterback of the future in Ryan Tannehill, who returns for his senior season. If the Aggies are able to find suitable replacements for standout defensive players like Von Miller, they should once again compete for the league title.
Missouri loses likely first round pick Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, but the Tigers bring back multiple playmakers at the skill positions and now don’t have the specter of games against Nebraska and Colorado to keep it from competing for the top spot in the league. Coach Gary Pinkel has quietly built Missouri into a consistently winning program and though Gabbert will not be easy to replace, there’s enough around Columbia to put the Tigers in the postseason again.
Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor were improved in 2010, but with the losses of significant players of importance, could all be facing rebuilding efforts that keep them home for the holidays in 2011.
By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Senior College Football Correspondent
The Big 12 Tournament is in full swing today after four games yesterday. In today’s Quarterfinals action the #1 seed Kansas Jayhawks edged #9 seed Oklahoma State 63-62, a day after OSU barely moved on in defeating #8 Nebraska. In the other completed game of the day #5 Colorado topped #4 seed Kansas State 87-75 setting up a #1 Kansas vs. #5 Colorado match-up on Friday. Tonight’s action #2 Texas face #10 Oklahoma and #3 Texas A&M against #6 Missouri.
For the entire 2011 Big 12 Tournament schedule & scores tune in to Big12-fans.com.
Sports fans across the globe can agree that college bowl season is indeed “the most wonderful time of the year.” With 35 college football games and 70 teams looking to finish their season off with a big win, these bowl games can have a major impact on recruiting and the development of younger players as well as on tradition and pride. Because of all of this excitement around the bowl season, picking teams in the college bowl pick challenge has become somewhat of a tradition in offices and amongst friends.
The 2010-2011 bowl season will see 8 of the 12 schools from the Big 12 Conference extending their season with the bowl eligible minimum of 6 wins led by Big 12 Champion Oklahoma, a school that needs no introduction thanks to their always solid sales of OU football jerseys & gear. Here is a look at the 2010-2011 bowls for those eight Big 12 schools:
Week 9 has come and gone in the Big 12 with some interesting results. While the games did impact the standings, the Big 12 football scores alone do not tell the entire story. Iowa State used a big 3rd quarter to pull away from Kansas for a 28-16 win and improve to 5-4 and 3-2 in the Big 12. #17 Oklahoma State improved to 7-1, 3-1 with a 24-14 win over Kansas State and #9 Oklahoma thumped Colorado 43-10 to improve to 7-1, 3-1 as well. #25 Baylor beat Texas for the first time in 13 years with a 30-22 win that saw the Bears score 13 points in the 3rd quarter to improve to 7-2 on the season and 4-1 in Big 12 play. In another intra-state rivalry game Texas A&M was fueled by a 21 point 2nd quarter as they topped Texas Tech 45-27. The Aggies improve to 5-3, 2-2 with the Red Raiders falling to 4-4, 2-4.
In the big game of the day the #6 Missouri Tigers traveled to Lincoln, Nebraska to face the Cornhuskers for the final time with both members of the Big 12 Conference. Nebraska scored 24 points in the 1st quarter to take control of the game and held on for a 31-17 win to improve to 7-1 and 3-1 in the Big 12. Mizzou falls to 7-1 and is also 3-1 in Big 12 play.
Reports are swirling that the Big Ten is looking to expand with Texas, Missouri and Iowa State of the Big 12 and a few Big East teams all having been mentioned. But will the Big Ten’s decision to expand to 12 teams effect the Big 12? With recent rumors pointing at Connecticut becoming the next member of the Big Ten it seems the Big 12 is “safe” from the Big Ten stealing one of their members. However, Colin Cowherd mentioned this topic on The Herd today and mentioned the fact that the Pac 10 may then react with expansion of their own. Cowherd’s contacts tell him that Utah is one of the two teams they are targeting for Pac 10 expansion and Colorado, a current member of the Big 12, is the other stating that Colorado fits the West Coast, laid back lifestyle of most Pac 10 schools.
So what does the possibility of losing Colorado mean to the Big 12? Two obvious candidates would be Houston and TCU, both being schools that are dedicated to athletic success and right in the Big 12’s back yard. Boise State’s football program would be attractive, but their location seems to be too far out of the Big 12’s main geographic area. BYU would also seem to make sense but they, like Boise State, are a bit out of the Big 12’s area. The Big 12 could cherry pick a Conference USA school and it seems likely that the Big East, should they lose more than one or two schools in all of the shuffling, could also be looking at C-USA schools including East Carolina, Southern Miss and more.
At the end of the day, the Big 12 Conference needs to be ready to act and react should they lose a member to the Big Ten, Pac-10 or elsewhere, and there’s no doubt that if the Big 12 is forced to act that they will continue the chain reaction effect that we saw years ago with conference realignment.
After losing QB Colt McCoy on their first offensive series the Texas Longhorns seemed doomed. After a tipped shovel pass turned into a pick-six for Alabama at the end of the first half resulting in a 24-6 deficit most thought the game was over without their senior QB and leader in the game. But Mack Brown’s gutsy Longhorns fought back cutting Alabama’s lead to just 24-21 in the final 6 minutes of the 4th quarter as Texas fell to Alabama by a final score of 37-21 in the BCS National Championship Game.