Monday, August 27, 2012
2012 Big 12 preseason predictions
By David Ubben
Time for one of my favorite posts of the year. Sometimes, you've got to go out on a limb.
To kick off the season, it's time for 10 fearless predictions to cover each team in the league. We'll grade these with a midseason checkup and return after the season for final grades.
Want to check how I've done in the past? Here are my grades for the past two seasons:
What about this season?
As it always goes in the Big 12, we'll start with the quarterbacks.
1. Landry Jones' interception total will be in the single digits. Jones has thrown 41 interceptions in almost three seasons as the Sooners' starter, including 15 last season. This year, though, Jones turns the corner and takes care of the ball better than he's ever done before, clearing 30 touchdown passes easily.
2. Wes Lunt will throw for 4,000 yards. Are we sure he's a true freshman? Can somebody get ahold of this kid's birth certificate? Lunt looks like that guy who came before him a whole lot more often than he looks like a kid who's in over his head. This is the beginning of a bright, bright future for the Illinois native.
3. David Ash will start 13 games for Texas. Ash was stuck in a rotation with Case McCoy last year, but this is the year the Longhorns quarterback takes control of the position and shows some signs of improvement. He's still no world-beater, but he's much, much better than he was in 2011, and the team's offense has its leader.
4. Trey Metoyer will lead Oklahoma in receiving. According to Oklahoma football historian Mike Brooks, only four freshmen receivers have ever led the Sooners in receptions. Malcolm Kelly (2005) was the last before Steve Rhodes in 1976. I don't know about receptions, but Metoyer narrowly edges Kenny Stills to lead the team in receiving yards. Lunt isn't the only impact freshman in the Sooner State.
5. Texas Tech will play Baylor for a chance to play in a bowl game. Both of these teams are better than this, but the Big 12's depth is going to hurt them. That's life playing in a league with six top-25 teams and three conference champions moving on in to the Big 12.
6. West Virginia will lose to an unranked team. You're fresh and new to the Big 12, but some of us have done our homework on the Mountaineers. Last year, it was Louisville and Syracuse. Syracuse and UConn got 'em in 2010. There were lots in 2008 and 2009. In 2007, a memorable (or was it forgettable?) loss to Pitt. South Florida in 2006. You have to go all the way back to 2005 for the last time WVU navigated a season without a loss to an unranked team. West Virginia's better this year, but not that much better. A word of advice: Look out for Iowa State in Ames.
7. TCU will reach the top five and then fall out of the top 20. There aren't many teams in college football that can get to 7-0. TCU will do it, thanks to its schedule, and ascend the polls. As the Big 12's most brutal finish to the season trudges on, though, the Frogs will find themselves outside the top 20. TCU must play at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, Kansas State, at Texas and host Oklahoma to close the season. Good grief. No favors there from the Big 12 office.
8. Kansas will win a conference game, and Baylor will qualify for a third consecutive bowl game. The Jayhawks are more competitive this year, and somewhere along the line, it pays off. Meanwhile, so do Art Briles' and Nick Florence's efforts. Briles has turned Baylor's program around, and sustaining a winning season the year after his franchise player leaves is no small accomplishment.
9. Iowa State's Jake Knott and A.J. Klein will rank first and second in the Big 12 in total tackles. The Cyclones duo combined for 231 stops last year, but both are healthy and stay that way (sort of) to go out in style as seniors in Ames.
10. Kansas State will finish in the Big 12's top two in rushing offense. The Wildcats finished fifth a year ago and must replace three offensive linemen, but I've got faith in the SnyderCats here. Collin Klein's improved arm makes defenses respect him, and the Wildcats contend with tough competition in this stat from Oklahoma State and Texas.