Big 12 football: The 5-minute guide to the season

BIG 12 5-MINUTE GUIDE: Here is Mike Baldwin's look at the major storylines, players to watch and predictions for what will happen this season in the Big 12.
by Michael Baldwin Published: August 26, 2012
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* Tony Jefferson, OU, S: A big hitter with good instincts, Jefferson sometimes is compared to former OU star Roy Williams. In the Sooners simplified scheme, Jefferson has vowed to be a leader on a defense that gave up too many big plays.

* Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas, DE: Two Longhorn defensive players on the list is why some believe Texas' defense might own a huge edge in an offense oriented league. ESPN's Todd McShay has Jeffcoat going No. 3 overall in the draft.

* Arthur Brown, Kansas State, LB: If the Wildcats stay in the Big 12 race, Brown probably has soared past his 101-tackle total from last season. A sideline-to-sideline monster will help offset a few speed disadvantages.

5 DATES THAT WILL SHAPE THE SEASON

* Oct. 6: We'll know more about the Mountaineers and Longhorns after West Virginia plays in Austin. Oklahoma will also be trying to end a three-game Lubbock losing streak. OU hasn't won in Lubbock since 2003.

* Oct. 13: In addition to the Red River rivalry in the Cotton Bowl, West Virginia visits Lubbock. TCU also travels to Waco, which might be a slightly more intimidating road game than in the past.

* Nov. 10: West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen returns to Stillwater for a telltale showdown. Kansas State plays in Fort Worth. Baylor also travels to Norman a year after ending their 0-for drought against the Sooners.

* Nov. 17: The Sooners' trip to Morgantown could decide the Big 12 race. But with two games remaining for each, it might be a stave-off-elimination game for one or both.

* Nov. 24: Bedlam tops the list. This one is in Norman after back-to-back games at Boone Pickens Stadium. TCU plays in Austin on Thanksgiving. West Virginia makes the trip to Ames when the weather can be a factor.

5 BOLD PREDICTIONS

* West Virginia and TCU will both lose at least three conference games: The Mountaineers' offense will keep them in a lot of games and win some shootouts. But they'll face teams that can also light up scoreboards. TCU has a lot of holes to fill on defense.

* Texas will win its final six games: The Longhorns face a brutal start: at OSU, West Virginia, OU in the Cotton Bowl. It will be interesting to see how Texas navigates those first three games because they could go 6-0 down the stretch.

* Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville will be fired after the Red Raiders get off to an 0-6 start in conference, their best shot being the opener against Iowa State in Ames.

* The Big 12 will produce only seven bowl teams: Iowa State, Texas Tech and Kansas won't play past the first Saturday in December. The Cyclones and Red Raiders have a shot but their margin for error is extremely small.

* The conference will go the entire year with zero defections or zero additions: First it was Colorado and Nebraska heading to the Pac 10. Then Texas A&M and Missouri bolted for the SEC. With TCU and West Virginia firmly in place and conference presidents pledging unity, the league will finally stand pat.

by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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