Big 12: Kansas Jaywawks
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The Sports Nation poll that went with my Big 12 spring wrapup had a few of the bigger questions involving the conference during the upcoming season.
I've gotten a bunch of e-mails from readers wondering how I think on the questions.
Here's a look at the results and my take on whether I agree or disagree with you, the readers.
1. Which Big 12 quarterback will be tougher to slow down in 2009
SportsNation results (15,721 votes)
Sam Bradford -- 41 percent
Colt McCoy -- 40 percent
Robert Griffin -- 10 percent
Zac Robinson -- 6 percent
Todd Reesing -- 4 percent
My take: I agree and by roughly the same margin.
It's a close decision for me, but I would think that Bradford will be the most productive quarterback - by a slim margin over McCoy. Bradford will be playing behind a rebuilt line with a new set of wide receivers. And McCoy will largely have the same returning cast from last season - with the exception of versatile wide receiver Quan Cosby. But I think that both will have big offensive seasons. We likely could see both in New York City again in early December at the Heisman Trophy presentation.
2. Which is the team to beat in the Big 12 this season?
SportsNation results (10,118 votes)
Texas -- 52 percent
Oklahoma -- 48 percent
My take: Agree.
Again, by a slight margin I favor the readers. I think Texas should be slightly favored because of a productive two-deep secondary, McCoy, Jordan Shipley and one of the nation's best offensive lines. Oklahoma has Bradford, DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown, Ryan Broyles, Jermaine Gresham and nine starters back on defense headed by Gerald McCoy and Travis Lewis. But I think the snub of not making the national championship game, along with Oklahoma's green offensive line , ill be the biggest differences in the two teams.
3. Will Baylor make a bowl game this season?
SportsNation results (10,315 votes)
Yes -- 63 percent
No -- 37 percent
My take: Disagree.
The Bears will be better this season with Griffin back for another season, the return of top rusher Jay Finley, leading receiver Kendall Wright and the arrival of massive transfer defensive tackle Phil Taylor. The Bears have starpower on defense with linebacker Joe Pawelek and safety Jordan Lake back. But they are playing in the Big 12 South. They haven't won at Texas A&M since 1984. Their game against Texas Tech -- a likely pick 'em contest if it had been played in Waco -- has been moved to the new Dallas Cowboys' Stadium in Arlington where Tech will have more fans. They lose experienced tackles Jason Smith and Dan Gay, who combined for 71 career starts. And their non-conference schedule is a tough one with games at Wake Forest and at home against Connecticut. Baylor could be significantly better than last season and still only have a 5-7 record to show for it. So I'm guessing they don't snap a bowl drought that dates to 1994 -- tied for the longest among teams in BCS-affiliated "Big Six" conferences.
4. Which of these teams has the best shot at moving up in the Big 12 standings?
SportsNation poll (10,060 votes)
Baylor -- 53 percent
Texas A&M -- 18 percent
Colorado -- 18 percent
Kansas State -- 11 percent
My take: Disagree.
As mentioned above Baylor will have a hard time jumping past Texas Tech if they don't beat them. My pick as the Big 12's surprise team among the four listed is Colorado, which could be just below Nebraska and Kansas among Big 12 North contenders if they can remain healthy. I'm not buying their 10-2 record that Coach Dan Hawkins predicted at the end of last season, but it wouldn't surprise me to see the Buffaloes winning seven or eight games and returning to a bowl game.
5. Which Big 12 defender will have the biggest impact in 2009?
SportsNation results (9,851 votes)
Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh -- 44 percent
Oklahoma DT Gerald McCoy -- 34 percent
Texas DE Sergio Kindle -- 23 percent
My take: Agree.
I think that Suh and McCoy are virtual equals at defensive tackle and easily the two best inside players in the conference. I give Suh a slight edge because of overall production. He'll also play some offense and likely stand out more for the Cornhuskers because his surrouunding teammates on defense won't be as good as McCoy's are with the Sooners.