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Monday, August 25, 2008
Big 12 morning links: Can the Big 12 finally match the SEC?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

How good will be the Big 12 be this season?

With an armada of strong quarterbacks and concentrated power at the top of both divisions, the conference could produce something really special this season. The Associated Press' preseason poll is stacked with five Big 12 teams among its top 14 teams. That respect is coming after four Big 12 teams finished in the top 10 last season and a Big 12-record eight consensus All-Americans were selected last season.

Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star speculates today that the Big 12 finally can come close  to matching the SEC this season. Keys, he mentions, will be the performance of the Big 12 in tough nonconference games like Missouri-Illinois, Kansas at South Florida, Kansas State at Louisville and Virginia Tech at Nebraska. The Big 12 should win its only matchup this season against the SEC when Arkansas visits Texas.

The conference's true reputation will be built in bowl games. After struggles early in its history in bowls, the Big 12's 5-3 bowl record last season was its fifth above .500 in history and third in four seasons.

That trend will have to continue to help the conference's burgeoning reputation to keep growing. And it probably wouldn't hurt for Oklahoma to win a bowl game, too.

But those games are more than four months away. The season is approaching in a mere three days.

To whet your appetite for that start, here's a power-packed stack of morning links. Enjoy them.