A while ago Weller and I decided we’d do some previews for the upcoming college football season. Since we’re lazy we decided to do the only two conferences that matter: The Big 12 and the SEC. I’ll be taking the Big 12 today and Weller will do the SEC whenever he gets around to it. Maybe the Vandy fans will come back and give him crap for that too.
So let’s get started in the South. Obviously the stronger of the two divisions, the South boasts two true title contenders going into the season in Texas and Oklahoma plus the upstart Cowboys of Oklahoma State, rebuilding Texas Tech, up and coming Baylor and Texas A&M.
Just like last year, Texas and Oklahoma will battle for the top spot. Right now, I’m going to put Oklahoma in the top spot. The Sooners return the Heisman trophy winner (and future St. Louis Ram) Sam Bradford to run the most potent offense in history. They also return Tight End Jermaine Gresham and a pair of 1,000 yard rushers in DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown. They do have some questions at Wide Receiver as their top two on the depth chart have a combined 895 yards receiving in their careers. On the defensive side of the ball, Oklahoma should be solid. DEs Jeremy Beal and Auston English should give opposing QBs fits while Gerald McCoy will wreak havoc on the running game. OU does have a schedule that could produce some stumbling blocks as they face five teams who are in the preseason Top 25.
The Texas Longhorns could easily take the #1 spot in the south from their rival Sooners. Ask any Texas fan and they’ll tell you how they should have been in the National Championship game last year (and I tend to agree with them). They’re certain to have October 17th circled on their calendars. Other than returning a Heisman finalist Quarterback, the Longhorns are the antithesis of the Sooners. Sixth year senior Jordan Shipley will lead the receiving corps while the running back position is still up for grabs. The Longhorns don’t have the superstar names on defense that the Sooners have, but they won’t be slouches on their own right. Sergio Kindle will lead the Longhorns in the wake of Brian Orakpo’s departure to the NFL. Texas will have the easier schedule this year as they only have three Top-25 teams on their schedule.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys start the year ranked #9 in the preseason poll. They’re certainly a good team, but I’m not buying that quite yet. They have lots of talent on the offensive side of the ball led by QB Zac Robinson, RB Kendall Hunter, and WR Dez Bryant. For my money, Bryant is the best receiver in the Big 12 and he might only be behind Alabama’s Julio Jones for top honors in the country. Last year he went for 1,480 yards and 19 TDs. He’ll be a first round pick in next Spring’s draft. He won’t be the only first rounder as the Cowboys’ starting left tackle, Russell Okung, could potentially be the #1 overall pick. Still, I can’t help but think that they’ll be this year’s Texas Tech. They have a tough schedule as they open the year against No. 13 Georgia in what could be one of the better non-conference games of the year. They’ll also have to get by both Oklahoma and Texas if they want their chance to pummel the North in the Title Game.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders are faced with the task of replacing record setting QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree. The tougher of the two will be the uber-talented Crabtree who finished his college career with 3,127 receiving yards and 41 touchdowns. Junior Detron Lewis will do his best to ease the pain. He’ll be catching passes from Taylor Potts, the next in line to throw the ball all over Lubbock. They will have to play Texas early in the year and will face a brutal stretch toward the end. Consider this a rebuilding year for my favorite D-1 Coach, Mike Leach.
The Baylor Bears are a team on the rise. Quarterback Robert Griffith is as electrifying as any player in the country. The sophomore led the Bears to a 4-8 record, but they were competitive in most of their games which is something new for them. They will deal with the loss of tackle Jason Smith, who was the #2 pick in the 09 NFL Draft. Their defense will be led by LB Joe Pawalek who quietly put up some great numbers in in 2008. Art Briles has Baylor positioned to be a team to watch in the coming years.
Texas A&M is…well they’re not good. The only player on their team who I could name off their 2008 team was RB Mike Goodson who is now with the Carolina Panthers. They will have one of the most exciting freshmen in RB Christine Michael. Former Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike Sherman will take the helm for the Aggies, but don’t expect great things from them this year.
So there’s the South. This got longer than I expected so I’m going to break it up into two parts. I’ll come back later and do the North, it’s too nice of a day to be inside.
Filed under: NCAA Football Tagged: | Aggies, Big 12, Big 12 Preview, Big 12 South, Christine Michael, College Football, Colt McCoy, Cowboys, Dez Bryant, NCAA Football, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma St. Cowboys, Red Raiders, Robert Griffith, Russell Okung, Sam Bradford, Sergio Kindle, Taylor Potts, texas, Texas A&M, Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech, Texas Tech Red Raiders