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Big 12 football: Predicting the final conference rankings

The Oklahoman's writers take a shot at predicting the final Big 12 Conference standings.
by Berry Tramel and John Helsley and Jason Kersey Published: July 23, 2012

The Oklahoman's writers take a shot at predicting the final Big 12 Conference standings.

John Helsley

1. West Virginia

The Mountaineers' offense projects as the best in the Big 12, with QB Geno Smith and WR Tavon Austin each boasting All-American caliber. A staff with heavy knowledge of the conference will aid the Year 1 transition.

2. Oklahoma

OU has the talent to win the league, highlighted by a key requirement: a talented and experienced QB in Landry Jones. Still, questions from a year ago — a lack of wide receiver playmakers, a scarred secondary among them — need answers.

3. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys will miss Weeden2Blackmon, for sure. Still, the overall talent remains strong. And even with a rookie quarterback, the offense figures to keep producing. Think Texas Tech of the Mike Leach era, with better defense.

4. Texas

Sure, everyone expects Texas to be Texas again. But with Missouri gone from the league, the Longhorns are the new “Show Me” squad. Until UT prove it's got a quarterback who can keep pace in the new Big 12, we're skeptical.

5. TCU

The Frogs have a premium QB and a bunch of returning starters and lettermen for their maiden voyage in the Big 12. Oh, and a massive chip on their shoulder. TCU's got the talent and the motivation to make a run at the title.

6. Kansas State

Never underestimate a Bill Snyder team, which we might be doing here. And these Wildcats have a big-time quarterback in Collin Klein. But what happens when they get behind and need Klein to pass and not run?

7. Baylor

Oh what a year it was in Waco, and football got it all rolling, with Robert Griffin III directing a memorable season for the Bears while winning the Heisman. But RG3 is gone. And so is the No. 1 wideout and playmaker.

8. Iowa State

The Cyclones have improved incrementally under Paul Rhoads, improving athleticism and fostering a toughness that had been missing. They've even picked up some benchmark wins. Now, can they do more?

9. Texas Tech

Beyond their stunning — and unexplainable — win over Oklahoma, the Red Raiders failed to do anything remotely interesting in 2011. How's that Mike Leach parting look now, Tech officials?

10. Kansas

Yeah, the Jayhawks made an eye-catching coaching hire (Charlie Weis) and brought in more Notre Dame exes to fill serious holes. But none of the former Irish are missed in South Bend, meaning the rebuild continues at KU.

Jason Kersey

1. Oklahoma

Landry Jones' return, a strong offensive line and a revamped defense under Mike Stoops makes the Sooners the Big 12 favorite. Most years, a suddenly depleted receiving corps might be catastrophic, but not with the talented group coming in headlined by Trey Metoyer.

2. West Virginia

Dana Holgorsen's bunch is dangerous and will contend for the Big 12 title in its first year in the conference. Quarterback Geno Smith leads an offense among the nation's most prolific.

3. Kansas State

Quarterback Collin Klein is a Heisman sleeper, and coach Bill Snyder knows how to win. K-State won't sneak up on anyone like it did last year, but it will be near the top of the conference standings at year's end.

4. Texas

A stout defense and strong running game will help UT improve on last year's mark, but until someone takes control of the quarterback position it's tough to see Texas making any major noise nationally or in the conference. The season finale at Kansas State could have major conference title implications.

5. Oklahoma State

There will be growing pains for true freshman QB Wes Lunt, but with a defense that continues to improve, a strong receiving corps and the conference's best back (Joseph Randle), OSU will end the season much stronger than it starts it.

6. TCU

TCU will start the year strong, but its last five games of the regular season are as brutal a stretch as anyone has (at OSU, at West Virginia, vs. K-State, at Texas, vs. OU). The loss of running back Ed Wesley, who left the team for family reasons, will hurt what could have been one of the deepest backfields in the conference.

7. Baylor

The loss of Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III will be tough to overcome, but I still like Baylor to make some noise and win some games it isn't supposed to.

8. Texas Tech

Tech's surprising five-game losing streak to end the season was one of the more head-scratching stories of last year's Big 12 season. The Red Raiders return some solid starters, including QB Seth Doege.

9. Iowa State

Iowa State's linebacking corps, led by seniors Jake Nott and A.J. Klein, is among the best in the conference. But it's tough to see the Cyclones bowl eligible this season without a couple major upsets.

10. Kansas

Charlie Weis seems to be changing attitudes in Lawrence, but it'll take time to get the on-field product turned around.

Stephanie Kuzydym

1. Oklahoma

Landry Jones is back. Mike Stoops is back and the Sooners signed the second-best recruiting class in the conference that will include a much-needed boost to the offense with 17 new offensive players. With Jones' stats and experience and Stoops' defensive resume, the Sooners are bound for Big 12 glory.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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by John Helsley
OSU Reporter Sr.
John Helsley grew up in Del City, reading all the newspapers and sports magazines he could get his hands on. And Saturday afternoons, when the Major League Game of the Week was on, he'd keep a scorecard for the game. So the sports appeal was was...
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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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