Wednesday, May 12, 2010
An early look at the Big 12 bowl picture
By ESPN.com staff
BOOK YOUR TICKETS
New quarterback, questions at receiver and running back won’t be enough to put Texas in a down year. Chances for a 10th consecutive 10-win season in Austin are good with a great defense returning and loads of potential on offense.
Everything went wrong for the Sooners in 2009, and they still won eight games, including a bowl. It’s unlikely Oklahoma faces tougher odds in 2010, but if they do, they still won’t see a losing season.
The Husker defense will be back, and no amount of offensive woes will be severe enough to keep Nebraska at home for the holidays.
The Tigers have been to bowl games in the past five seasons, and with 19 starters returning from an 8-5 team in 2009, this season should make six.
STASH SOME MONEY AWAY FOR A TRIP
The only team from this group to finish last season with a losing record (6-7), A&M’s offense could be even better in 2010 and if the conference’s worst defense improves this season, A&M could be making an appearance on New Year’s Day -- or later.
The Red Raiders return plenty of talent from last season, but must weather an administrative overhaul with a proven coach, Tommy Tuberville, after 10-year coach Mike Leach’s firing.
SOMETHING TO PROVE
In theory, Kansas State should see improvement in Year Two, Round Two of Bill Snyder. To do it, the Wildcats will need to find some explosiveness on offense or special teams that went missing with Brandon Banks’ departure.
Mike Gundy is done calling plays, and if the Cowboys can patch together a line full of holes after last season and replace a handful of starters on defense, they should be in their fifth consecutive bowl.
The Bears are the wildcard on this list with by far the most to prove. Their hope in sophomore quarterback Robert Griffin III, whose return from a knee injury in 2009 could put Baylor in its first bowl game since 1994 in coach Art Briles’ third season.
MAYBE NEXT YEAR
Make no mistake, Iowa State is a good team. But it took a miraculous road win at Nebraska last season to put the Cyclones into the postseason. This season, a brutal nonconference schedule, along with the usual rigors of a Big 12 slate will make returning to a bowl game a difficult venture. Iowa State must also replace six players in its defense’s front seven.
Kansas won’t put a lot of players on the preseason All-Big 12 teams, and in Turner Gill’s first year, the postseason list will have to be full of Jayhawk overachievers for Kansas to reach a bowl game.
The Buffaloes lost plenty of tight games in 2009, but they’ll need to show they’ve learned how to win them -- something they haven’t done under Dan Hawkins, who has yet to coach Colorado to a winning season -- to make it to Hawkins’ second bowl game in Boulder.