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Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Big 12: Preseason polls vs. final finish

By David Ubben

You hear it every year, but let's take an official look back at the Big 12 preseason media poll, compared to actual finish by season's end.

Each team's finish is compared with its preseason projection in parentheses.

1. Oklahoma (-3): Oklahoma received 41 of 43 first-place votes, but suffered its first loss at home against Texas Tech on Oct. 22, in its fourth conference game. It finished 6-3 in Big 12 play and 9-3 overall, tied for third with Baylor, but Baylor held the tiebreaker over the Sooners via its 45-38 win on Nov. 19. The Sooners had one final chance to win the Big 12, but lost 44-10 to Oklahoma State on Dec. 3.

2. Texas A&M (-5): Texas A&M earned one first-place vote and was just two total points ahead of Oklahoma State. Essentially, if one more voter had placed A&M No. 3 and OSU No. 2, the teams would have tied for second. The Aggies lost the inside track to what they hoped was a Big 12 title when Oklahoma State erased a 17-point halftime deficit to win at Kyle Field. That was just the start of a season-long trend. A&M would lose four more games with a double-digit halftime lead and another (Texas) with a double-digit first-half lead. The Aggies finished 6-6 and 4-5 in the Big 12, good for seventh in the Big 12.

3. Oklahoma State (+2): The Cowboys were a contender in the preseason, but Texas A&M and Oklahoma looked like more complete teams. Nope. OSU ascended to an outright Big 12 title, beating Oklahoma and Texas A&M in the process. The lone loss to Iowa State (on the road in double overtime) kept them out of the BCS National Championship Game, but didn't keep them from making history.

4. Missouri (-1): Missouri's defense was good, but perhaps not as good as expected in the preseason. Offensively, the passing game missed Blaine Gabbert's arm, but James Franklin's legs filled in nicely. Kansas State and Baylor overachieved, and kept the Tigers from landing right where most expected. The Tigers' 4-1 finish put them fifth in the conference at 7-5 and 5-4.

5. Texas (-1): This was no 5-7 campaign, but Texas slid to a 1-3 finish in part due to offensive injuries. The defense was solid once again, leading the Big 12 in total defense for a fifth consecutive season, and by a wide margin (67 yards per game) this year. Texas got a win against A&M, but finished sixth in the Big 12 with its 7-5 record and 4-5 mark in conference play.

6. Baylor (+3): Robert Griffin III and the Bears did things few thought possible. I was one of a few who had the Bears fifth (Texas was 71 points ahead of Baylor in the preseason poll) and thought they'd finish above the Longhorns, but a third-place finish in the Big 12 surprised just about everyone. That's what happens when you have a Heisman winner at quarterback, and the Big 12's leading receiver and rusher.

7. Texas Tech (-2): The Red Raiders looked like a seven-win team to me in preseason, but injuries knocked them down to a 5-7 team, the first losing season since 1992. Texas Tech amazingly finished just three total points below Baylor in the preseason poll, but then again, Tech had never lost to Baylor in Big 12 play. The Red Raiders bring back a lot next season, but this season was just short of a disaster.

8. Kansas State (+6): Here is your big overachiever this season. The Wildcats lost a heartbreaker in Stillwater to OSU and were blown out at home by Oklahoma. They won the other 10 games for the first double-digit win season since 2003 and an outright second-place finish in the Big 12. They nearly won a share of the Big 12 title, but Oklahoma's Bedlam loss stuck Kansas State in second. The Wildcats will be Big 12 title contenders next season, but will try and shake off a BCS snub to beat Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

9. Iowa State (+1): Iowa State is the big testament to the Big 12's depth. The Cyclones knocked off No. 2 Oklahoma State in the biggest win in school history, storming the field to celebrate bowl eligibility along with the nationally televised upset. Three seasons under Paul Rhoads could have equaled three bowl trips if not for one failed fake extra point that was this close to working. Unbelievable run for the Cyclones, who once again, were given no shot to go 6-6 this season.

10. Kansas (0): The Jayhawks were amazingly the only team in the Big 12 that finished where it was picked in the preseason, though they did underachieve by a bit. Kansas started 2-0 before losing its final 10 games, including six losses by at least 30 points. Not pretty. New coach Charlie Weis' first task is simple: Get the Jayhawks out of the basement. Right now, they're buried way, way down there.