Dallas Colleges: 2013 Big 12 team preview capsules

Baylor season preview

August, 20, 2013
Today, we break down Baylor, which finished the 2012 season as one of the hottest teams in the country.


Coach: Art Briles (67-58 overall, 10 seasons; 33-30 at Baylor, five seasons)

2012 record: 8-5 (4-5 Big 12)

Key losses: QB Nick Florence, WR Terrance Williams, WR Lanear Sampson, C Ivory Wade, S Mike Hicks

Key returnees: RB Lache Seastrunk, RB Glasco Martin, WR Tevin Reese, TE Jordan Najvar, G Cyril Richardson, DE Chris McAllister, LB Eddie Lackey, LB Bryce Hager, S Ahmad Dixon

Newcomer to watch: The Bears return two starters at defensive end, but Penn State transfer Shawn Oakman is going to be a factor. Oakman is massive at 6-foot-9, 270 pounds. Defensive coordinator Phil Bennett calls him “violent,” which is not the worst thing for a D-end to be termed.

[+] EnlargeBaylor's Lache Seastrunk
Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY SportsBaylor ran away from opponents at the end of 2012, and running back Lache Seastrunk is back as the Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year.
Biggest games in 2013: Two games loom large on Baylor’s schedule. If the Bears can escape Manhattan, Kan., on Oct. 12 with a win, they have a very good chance to be undefeated going into a Thursday night clash with Oklahoma in Waco on Nov. 7. Baylor also plays host to Texas in the regular-season finale Dec. 7.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The Bears had the second-worst defense statistically in college football last season. But the defense in late November was a far cry from the one that got torched for 70 points at West Virginia in September. During the Bears’ four-game winning streak to end the season, they forced eight interceptions and 18 tackles for loss.

With all the returning firepower on offense, the Bears are going to score points. But can they keep playing solid defense? That answer will determine whether Baylor can finally emerge as a viable Big 12 title contender.

Forecast: Few teams finished the 2012 season hotter than Baylor did. The Bears routed No. 1 Kansas State, outlasted Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, then annihilated UCLA in the Holiday Bowl.

Going into this season, the Bears feature the Big 12 preseason offensive player of the year (Seastrunk), return seven defensive starters and have a favorable start to the schedule. Maybe it’s time to take Baylor seriously as a Big 12 title contender. ESPN’s new advanced stats metric, EPA (expected points added), certainly appears to.

According to EPA, which accounts for the opposing unit's strength, Baylor had one of the top two offenses in college football in 2012, along with Texas A&M. The Bears also rapidly improved their defensive EPA late in the season by forcing negative plays against top-tier offenses.

There’s no reason Baylor can’t roll the momentum of last season into this one, either.

After topping 100 yards in five of his final six games in 2012, Seastrunk enters this season a Heisman hopeful. He and Martin, who added 15 touchdowns last season, supply the Bears with a lethal one-two punch out of the backfield.

The receiving corps appears loaded, too. Williams is gone, but Reese seems primed to take over as a viable No. 1 threat. Speedy freshmen Robbie Rhodes and Corey Coleman have been dynamic so far through fall camp, too.

The only unproven part of the offense is quarterback Bryce Petty. But Briles is confident Petty can keep his offense humming. Petty has prototypical size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds), an NFL arm, and three years in Briles’ system learning from Robert Griffin III and Florence. What is a reasonable expectation for Petty? Briles answered, “To break every Baylor record there is offensively.”

If Petty is as good as Briles advertises -- and the Bears keep playing opportunistic defense -- Baylor will be a force to be reckoned with. And a legit conference title threat.

Oklahoma season preview

August, 15, 2013
Today we take a closer look at Oklahoma, which enters the season looking to win its ninth Big 12 title under Bob Stoops.


Coach: Bob Stoops (149-37 overall record, 14 seasons; 149-37 at OU, 14 seasons)

2012 record: 10-3 (8-1 in Big 12, co-champions)

[+] EnlargeBlake Bell
Michael C. Johnson/US PresswireBlake Bell, who has rushed for 24 touchdowns in his career, is the favorite to start at quarterback for the Sooners in 2013.
Key losses: QB Landry Jones, LT Lane Johnson, WR Kenny Stills, S Tony Jefferson, CB Demontre Hurst, S Javon Harris

Key returnees: WR Jalen Saunders, CB Aaron Colvin, RB Damien Williams, C Gabe Ikard, RT Daryl Williams, DT Chuka Ndulue, LB Corey Nelson.

Newcomer to watch: S Hatari Byrd. The California native was so impressive early in camp that the Sooners played him at three different positions in three days, clearly looking to find a way to get the true freshman on the field this season.

Biggest games in 2013: A three-game stretch could define the Sooners' season as they travel to Notre Dame (Sept. 28) before hosting TCU (Oct. 5) and battling Texas in the Red River Rivalry (Oct. 12). Road games at Baylor (Nov. 7) and Oklahoma State (Dec. 7) are the biggest games down the stretch as OU plays three of its final four games away from Norman.

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: It’s easy to assume replacing Landry Jones is the No. 1 priority. But the Sooners have three quality candidates in Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson, making the defensive line the biggest question mark at OU.

A lot of the Sooners’ defensive struggles in 2012 were rooted in their lack of a pass rush. OU doesn’t have proven playmakers at defensive tackle or defensive end but several youngsters like Jordan Phillips and Charles Tapper have plenty of upside.

Forecast: Watching OU's offense struggle to score touchdowns while Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel ran circles around the defense in the Cotton Bowl didn’t sit well in Norman. Coach Bob Stoops replaced three assistant coaches, adding new faces in the trenches with offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery joining the program.

Bell is the favorite to start at quarterback and could bring a run-pass threat at the position that was absent during Jones’ tenure. A veteran offensive line and a bevy of talented ball carriers, led by Damien Williams, should provide a strong running game that makes the transition easier for whoever is named the starter at quarterback. And top receiver Jalen Saunders is one of the Big 12’s most explosive players.

Defensively, the Sooners will need several young players to grow up quickly with just four starters returning. All-Big 12 cornerback Aaron Colvin provides a foundation for the secondary and will be counted on to slow the Big 12’s top pass catchers. Linebacker Corey Nelson hopes to have a breakout senior season and junior Geneo Grissom could finally fulfill his potential at defensive end.