Monday, August 30, 2010
Fearless predictions for the Big 12
By David Ubben
Let's be clear about this: Would I bet on any of these things? Maybe some of them. Definitely not all of them.
But there are limbs that need to be stepped out onto. I'm here to oblige. Let's swing for the fences on some predictions for 2010, and maybe have some fun on the way out of the ballpark. (Metaphors!)
1. Oklahoma and Texas will play in another BCS bowl. Nebraska will be relegated to the Cotton Bowl. Whoever doesn't win the South will still have at least 10 wins and be ranked in the top 10. Nebraska won't be able to reach a BCS bowl without beating Oklahoma or Texas in Dallas. The second-place South team will slide in over the Big 12 runner-up Huskers.
2. Texas will throw the ball 35 times against Oklahoma. The Longhorns' commitment to the running game may make it past Texas Tech. It should make it past UCLA. It won't make it past the first quarter against Oklahoma's stout front seven. Texas may recommit to the downhill game in the weeks that follow, but running the ball 35 times at 2.5 yards per carry is a recipe for a Red River loss.
3. Baylor will make -- and win -- a bowl game. The schedule sets up nicely for the Bears to reach a bowl game without needing a massive upset. A 3-1 record in nonconference is very possible, but they'll have to beat Kansas and Colorado to set up a make-or-break game against Kansas State on Oct. 23. Lose that, and they'll need a win in Stillwater or a home upset against Texas A&M to notch their sixth win. Bears fans will flock to the Dallas Football Classic at the Cotton Bowl, where Michigan's Rich Rodriguez offers Robert Griffin a spot on his team after the Bears knock off the Wolverines. Griffin declines.
Missouri defensive end Aldon Smith could lead the Big 12 in sacks.
4. Missouri's Aldon Smith will lead the league in sacks. The scariest part? He'll keep getting better into 2011.
5. Daniel Thomas will win his second Big 12 rushing title in two years. Alexander Robinson has to face four teams with fearsome front fours. Roy Helu Jr. will split carries with Rex Burkhead. The same at Texas A&M. Kendall Hunter will be busy catching balls as much as he's carrying them. And I'll believe DeMarco Murray can handle a 275-carry load when I see it.
6. Kansas will finish as the Big 12's most improved team in November. They won't win either game, but they'll put a major, major scare into Nebraska or Missouri in one of the season's last three weeks.
7. Texas will lead the league in scoring defense, outdoing Oklahoma and Nebraska. They'll need big years out of defensive tackle Kheeston Randall and safety Christian Scott to do it. Both will deliver.
8. Brandon Weeden will lead the league in completion percentage. He'll be comfortable enough after three warmup games in Stillwater to start the season as the league's second-leading passer behind Jerrod Johnson through three weeks. His yardage and touchdowns will slip a bit as conference play hits, but he'll make smart decisions and give his receivers plenty of YAC opportunities.
9. Iowa State will be better than Kansas and Colorado. They will have a worse record overall and in conference. The schedule will get the best of the Cyclones in 2010. Jerome Tiller should be ready to fill in after Austen Arnaud in 2011, and with Paul Rhoads, the future looks bright in Ames.
10. Texas Tech will be in the top third of the league in turnover differential. They will be in the bottom third in scoring defense. How will that manifest itself in the win column? I have no idea. That's why we play the games, folks.