Category Archives: Big 12
And the fun begins.
— FrogDog (@bloneyhuh) July 25, 2016
Conference realignment is the holy grail of offseason college football absurdity. Since about 2011, the Big XII has been the center of that conversation– from Chip Brown reporting the Pac-16 master plan, to Chip Brown reporting FSU and Clemson to the XII, to the formulation of the Longhorn Network. The handwringing is excellent and makes the summer months bearable. After six months of back-and-forth, Bob Bowlsby FINALLY announced that they would expand, depriving us of a summer of speculation.
After the “One True Champion” debacle kept them out of the playoff in 2014, unrest among the natives not named Texas, unrest AT Texas, and
the whole Baylor thing that we’re not discussing in this preview, the Big XII is a beautiful dumpster fire.
There are clear tiers here, which is nice.
10) Kansas. They’re going 1-11, an improvement over 2015. This isn’t football.
9) Iowa State. I think Matt Campbell was a sneaky-good hire. I thought about going all HOT TAKE-y and putting them above the rest of the bottom tier on the strength of home games against the next three teams, but man, its still Iowa State. Back to expansion, I bet they’d love to exile KU and ISU and pick up the four teams in the tweet above for a nice, even…well, 12.
The second tier is a group that could have one team emerge and replace Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU, or Oklahoma in the top tier with a breakout year. There’s precedent for all four.
8) Kansas State. They return only 12 starters from a 6-7 team and add a road game at Stanford in week 1. Unfortunately, I think this is the end of the road for BillSnyderDaGawd.
7) Texas Tech. Average score last year: 45.1-43.6. Average yardage: 579-548. That’s…amazing. Patrick Mahomes returns, so those numbers should hold. Given the leaguewide reputation of chuck and duck, there are a lot of surprisingly coherent running games that should be able to keep the offense off the field. Opponents AVERAGED 280 on the ground last year, with the Red Raiders only holding three teams under 227. Yikes.
6) West Virginia. The ultimate win the games you should, lose the ones you should team in the XII (other conference comps: N.C. State, Tennessee, like 8 B1G teams, Arizona).
5) Texas. So, they’re going spread after fielding a sad offense this whole decade. True freshman Shane Buechele won the job outright in the spring. I like Texas, I LOVE Charlie Strong (like if Texas fired him and hired Larry Fedora, I’d take a straight up trade love), and will cheer for them to turn the corner. The defense returns four true sophomores who were starters last year. They could make the leap…or fall flat and back up a Brinks truck to Nick Saban.
4) TCU. I still can’t buy TCU as a big winner, and I know that’s ridiculous. They just lose too much on offense for me to be a believer. IDK. I don’t have anything else to warrant this low pick. I’m just ready to watch Gary Patterson sweat again.*
*- You may recall their 31-point comeback win in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon, where Gary sweated through his purple shirt, changed into the black one you see above, and sweated right through it too. Indoors.
3) Baylor. Seth Russell returns, and the offense stays the same (read: awesome) with Kendall Briles still in the fold. Problem is, they lose basically their whole line on both sides of the ball. They’ll be 6-0 heading into a Halloween weekend showdown at Texas, and the nation is going to lose its collective shit trying to figure out how to develop a narrative around them.
2) Oklahoma State. In an ode to one of my favorite comedies, “17 starters returning, 42 lettermen. Lookin’ tough.” Mike Gundy and his mullet should be improved over last year’s 10-3 team, but the record may not indicate it. Or, ya know, they could win the league. They won’t because they play at all three of Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma.
1) Oklahoma. I’m so nervous about this pick, because of the Oklahoma corollary: low expectations, high ceiling, high expectations, disappointment. They’ll probably finish 7-5. On the other hand, this is a team that ran for at least 232 yards in every game after the Texas debacle (until Clemson), made Baker Mayfield a legit Heisman candidate, outscored conference opponents 425-184 (27 point margin per game– making them the only team over 400 scored and the only one under 250 allowed), and did not lose Lincoln Riley to a random head coaching job.
Five Games Worth Watchin’
- TCU at Baylor, Nov. 5: The “we’re not rivals” rivalry, there’s really only one likely combined loss between these two teams if they hold to the form of the past two years. That’s what we call fun.
- Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 8: In the hypothetical where Texas loses to Notre Dame and at either Cal or Ok. State, this is a must-win for Charlie Strong. They won the weirdest game ever last year, and have actually won 2 of 3 vs. OU despite, you know, sucking. Weird dynamic for our generation, who watched Bob Stoops skulldrag Mack Brown for the better part of the 2000’s.
- Oklahoma State at Baylor, Sept. 24: We learn so much about both of these teams early, after we learn nothing about them for three weeks (OSU/Pitt the week before notwithstanding).
- Houston vs. Oklahoma, Sept. 3: Future XII rivalry? I’m sneaky excited about this game, because Houston has everything lined up for a test case (or class action lawsuit) for a G5 team making the playoff. Beat Oklahoma, beat Louisville late, run the table…how do you leave them out?
- Oklahoma at TCU, Oct. 1: This is sandwiched between Ohio State and Texas for the Sooners. Between SMU and Kansas for TCU. One of those things is bad, the other seems manageable.
There are more awesome non-con games to watch: Notre Dame at Texas the Sunday of opening weekend, Ohio St. at Oklahoma and Pitt at Okie State on Sept 17, Arkansas at TCU week 2. El Assico, the annual Iowa/Iowa St. debacle takes place on Sept. 10, Kansas hosts Rhode Island and Ohio the first two weeks in genuinely winnable games, and…okay, I’m done.
Players to See
QB’s on random teams: Mason Rudolph, OSU, Patrick Mahomes, TT, Skylar Howard, WVU: I hate the term ‘video game numbers’, so let’s say these three will put up ‘numbers the average XII quarterback puts up against XII defenses.
Jordan Sterns, S, Oklahoma St: If you follow these previews closely, you know I’m a sucker for an in-the-box safety with some semblance of coverage skills. Sterns fits the bill– 108 tackles and 2 picks last year.
Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas: He was tasked with quarterbacking the defense from game 1, snap 1 last year. While he was a little inconsistent, he was the most electrifying freshman defender (non Derwin James edition) in football last year.
Seth Russell, QB, and K.D. Cannon, WR, Baylor: Cannon is better than Corey Coleman. Russell was en route to a 12-0 season and an easy Heisman** before last year’s neck injury. They’re going to be fun.
James McFarland, DE, TCU: Missed all of last season, but had 7 sacks as a reserve in 2014. If he is back at full speed, the TCU defense will be a problem and I’ll be wrong about picking them fourth.
Baker Mayfield and Samaje Perine, Oklahoma: Either could win the Heisman** and would not shock me.
**- Listen, I think the Heisman is a stupid award. Its a popularity contest of who has the best stats on the best team. I pay a lot more attention to the individual position awards, but hey. It’s the Heisman, and I’m generating web content. Its not hyperbole to mention the three players above in the early conversation. Especially when you consider the “great story” that Russell (recovery from injury,
overcoming program turmoil) or Mayfield (former walk-on) would be. Ugh.
The new rankings come out tonight at 7. Georgia likely won’t be a part of them, but who knows with the committee’s ever-changing criteria? Alabama was ranked 4th last week based on the new metric of ‘wins over teams with winning records’, which is absurd when teams buy 2-3 easy wins every September. The ‘eye test’ is subjective, at best. Listening to Jeff Long discuss the rankings on various programs each week is an exercise in futility of understanding what the committee does in their weekly meetings.
But, its what we’ve got, and what it lacks in transparency is more than made up for in intrigue. What storylines should you follow tonight?
All rankings cited, until the predictions at the bottom, are from last week.
The Big XII Cannibalism Race
With the SEC, ACC*, and Pac-12 North races all but salted up, the focus shifts to the crazy Big XII, where all of the games involving its exciting top 4 all take place in November.
*knocks furiously on wood
#14 Oklahoma State served notice that a little luck and an easy schedule weren’t a problem, as they housed #8 TCU in Stillwater, 49-24. They’ll move up, and deservedly so. They still go to Iowa State (which has been a problem before) this week before closing at home with #6 Baylor and #15 Oklahoma.
Gameday will be in Waco this week, as the Bears host the Sooners in an elimination game. Nothing comes easy for them, as they finish on the road against OSU and TCU, then hosting Texas on December 5. With true freshman QB Jaret Stidham at the helm, odds are they drop at least one.
TCU, despite being behind the eight ball with its loss to Oklahoma State, has the ‘easiest’ road. Kansas this week will be a laugher. At Oklahoma and home against to Baylor? not so much. I’d rank them last among the four contenders due to their 0-1 head-to-head record against the rest, and the fact that they’ve been more than fortunate to escape games against middling K-State and Texas Tech.
The odds that the XII has a team finish undefeated are looking extremely slim. Oklahoma is probably the most balanced, OSU is the biggest mystery, and Baylor is still the most explosive. If Oklahoma wins out, I think they’re in. But I expect chaos to keep the league on the outside looking in for the second straight year.
The Looming Notre Dame/Stanford Showdown
#11 Stanford hosts Oregon this week, and you never know quite what’ll happen. But this is an Oregon team that plays ZERO defense, and a Stanford team showing its most competent offense since the days of Toby Gerhart and Andrew Luck. After hosting Cal the following week, #5 Notre Dame comes to town.
Notre Dame plays Wake Forest and BC prior to this. One logically assumes they’ll win those.
What that will set up is likely a 4 vs. 5 or 5 vs. 6 game on The Farm on Thanksgiving Saturday. I don’t particularly care for either of these teams, and neither poses a threat to WIN the CFP…but a 12-1 Stanford or 11-1 Notre Dame is likely as deserving of that #4 spot as anyone.
Go Teams From Michigan
#7 Michigan State took its much-anticipated slide on Saturday in Lincoln. They just never performed relative to their rankings, and got by on an incredibly easy schedule. They, along with #17 Michigan, are no longer real contenders, but could play spoiler for #3 Ohio State.
Both will get their shot. State travels to Columbus on Nov. 21, and the Wolverines host the Bucks in their traditional Nov. 28 nooner.
Please, someone, beat Ohio State.
Extreme Long Shots
First and foremost, piggybacking on the B1G words, #9 Iowa is very much a contender if they somehow win out and take the East winner (sigh. Still likely Ohio State.) down in Indianapolis on Championship Weekend. I just don’t think the committee will be able to justify leaving out a 13-0 power five champ, as garbage as their schedule is.
#13 Memphis lost to Navy on Saturday, effectively ending the hopes of a Group of 5 team making a bid. But #25 Houston still lurks with games against both Memphis and Navy, the latter of which will decide who plays in the New Years Six. Could they make a run at the top 4? No, probably not.
And finally, delusional Carolina fan coming in hot. After (unranked last week, WTF?) North Carolina’s 66-31 dismantling of Duke’s acclaimed defense, the Heels should jump comfortably (given the chaos at the bottom of the top 25, which saw #18 Ole Miss, #19 Texas A&M, and #24 Toledo lose) into the back of the top 20. Were they to beat Miami, Virginia Tech, and N.C. State, it would set up a top 10 matchup vs. Clemson in the ACC Championship game. Is there precedent for a bad early season loss and subsequent dominant performance getting you in the playoff?
Yes. Yes there is.
Now watch them lose to Miami with me in attendance this week.
Projecting the Rankings
This will be useless in 4 hours. Oh well.
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- Oklahoma State
- Michigan State
- Mississippi State
- Florida State
- North Carolina
This is a big college football weekend! No, there are no glamorous, beautiful, (I hate this word) epic top-10 matchups that can shatter the playoff picture, but there are a TON of good games that will go a long ways towards shaking down divisions (Pac-12 North, ACC Coastal, SEC East), and even more upset potential in stupid conferences (looking at you, Big Ten). There are weird games, mid-majors against P5 teams, and everything else you could want for a Halloween weekend filled with overtly cheesy ESPN graphics. TO THE GAMES!
Thursday is of interest.
If you follow my work, you know why. North Carolina at #23 Pitt (7, ESPN) is the first of three consecutive weeks of the Coastal’s three undefeated contenders going head-to-head. We pair that with ‘sneaky could still be good but at this point likely aren’t good’ West Virginia at #5 TCU (7:30, FS1). For God’s sake, will someone go ahead and put TCU out of its misery?
Even the nightcap has some intrigue, as disappointing Oregon travels to disappointing Arizona State (10:30, ESPN).
Saturday nooners: I mean…not horrible?
The SEC has two entertaining ones, as #19 Ole Miss at Auburn (ESPN) and South Carolina at Texas A&M (SECN) both tee up early. Ole Miss still controls its destiny in the West, but has (this is amazing) lost 5 straight road games as the favorite. Texas A&M had glow-in-the-dark helmets for Halloween…but won’t be wearing them, because, you know…noon.
Otherwise, there are three B1G games featuring middle-of-the-road teams, and two ACC games doing the same, with one including #17 Florida State hosting Syracuse (ABC). Stick to your SEC roots here.
Cocktail Party Simulcasts: Possible fun, but eh.
If Verne chokes out any chance of a Georgia East title in the first quarter, your contingency plan is as follows:
#12 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 3:30, ESPN: Oklahoma State is probably number 2 in my fraud rankings to this point in this season (Iowa exists). Texas Tech should be able to score with them in Lubbock. If nothing else, the O/U is 79 and the spread is only 3. That’s your typical Big XII football right there!
#3 Clemson at N.C. State, 3:30, ABC: Clemson, by many metrics, has been the best team in college football this year. Dabo Swinney has attacked the ‘Clemsoning’ meme to an almost embarrassing extent. Weird things happen to ACC favorites in Raleigh, although State’s 5 wins (Troy, Presbyterian, Old Dominion, South Alabama, Wake Forest) are about as fraudulent as 5 wins can possibly be.
Maryland at #10 Iowa (ESPN2) and #12 Oklahoma at Kansas (FS1) are also mid-afternooners, but we’re talking some hot garbage by then. Switch back to Georgia/Florida at this point, and curse the injuries, Verne, and, of course, the Florida Gators.
Early evening, pre #PACtion: kinda weak.
A lot more ‘well, this could be fun, but probably won’t be’ games to note.
The headliner for SEC fans is Tennessee at Kentucky (7:30, SECN) in a game that will likely determine third place in the SEC East, project calls for Butch Jones’ head or annoying Tennessee hype heading into November, and Kentucky’s bid for bowl eligibility.
Beyond that? I hate to do it, but #9 Notre Dame is the headliner. They travel to Philly to take on undefeated #21 Temple with GameDay in the house. This at least caused my favorite Hatin’ Ass Spurrier quote of the season.
If GameDay needs help shooting in Philadelphia, they might wanna call Marvin Harrison.
#15 Michigan at Minnesota (7, ESPN): This just feels like a stupid one where Michigan could stumble.
Miami at #22 Duke (7, ESPNU): Hoping for a motivated Miami “it was Al Golden, not us” performance in front of the packed house of 32,000 in Durham.
Vanderbilt at #18 Houston (7, ESPN2): THIS GAME’S IN HOUSTON!?!?! It was bad enough for Vandy when we realized a) Houston was good and b) this more or less represents Vandy’s SoCon Challenge game for the year. Having said that, watch Vandy pull some BS and win.
Nightcaps are my new addiction.
And Washington State is 3-1 in the Pac-12. #8 Stanford at Washington State (10:30, ESPN) probably won’t be a game, but if it is…it decides the Pac-12 North (actually, probably not, because Wazzu has no chance of going 8-1 in that league, right?)
And actually, that’s it! Give me November, where all of the games are meaningful, the weather is cold, and the football is above average.
A win is a win is a win is the theme of this pod, with special guest Connor Tapp breaking down UGA, South Carolina, and all the craziness that is college football.
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We were probably too candid in expressing our hatred for Alabama and Tennessee. To turn the tide and get Georgia back in the win column, let’s say some nice things about Missouri!
Hey Missouri, you’re pretty neat. While you’re probably an odd cultural fit for the SEC, you’re DEFINITELY an odd geographic fit. But don’t sweat it! You’re just showing off your versatility. You worked just fine in the Big XII, and would be a perfect fit for the B1G (shhhhh. Don’t tell Jim Delaney he could’ve had you instead of Maryland or Rutgers). But here in the SEC, you’re our quirky in-law, the one that likes to watch PBS on Thanksgiving. And that’s fine.
What else is great about the Missouri Tigers?
- Y’all…how do I say this?… very politely won the SEC East the past two years, and were more than willing to let your opponents from the West curbstomp you on their way to playing for national championships. As the new guys, it was damn courteous.
- Gary Pinkel’s sideline demeanor and press conferences are the most boring and aloof among SEC coaches. If not for Gary, Mark Richt would be the leader in these categories.
- There are more than 6,000 caves in Missouri. This is just a random internet fact I stumbled upon.
- I have yet to have an unpleasant experience with a Mizzou fan. You join LSU as the only fanbases for which this is true.
- In coining Grown Man Football, you have, on occasion, reminded us Georgia fans that our team is capable of such a thing.
- There are Dawgs littering (no pun intended) your pro teams.
- You have a damn good journalism program, which is cool. I used to be a decent writer before joining this site.
- Back to the politeness thing: your demeanor has been characterized as “disturbing”
— Pete Scantlebury (@PeteScantlebury) October 7, 2015
- Between Dorial Green-Beckham and Maty Mauk, you’re adapting well to the SEC practice of possessing malcontent players.
There’s certainly more, but let’s stop here for now. You’re terrific, Missouri! Keep doing you.