We are going to find out very soon whether not having a conference championship will be a hindrance. I personally think, with the College Football Playoff upon us, it won’t make a difference as a committee picks the teams, not a computer. Saying that, the pressure to add teams will be upon Bob Bowlsby and the Big XII. Expect questions about BYU, Cincinnati, Boise State, and maybe even others, especially with more autonomy for the Power Five conferences. As for this season, there are two teams who are a head above the rest. Prediction time!
- Oklahoma Sooners (9-0 conference, 12-0 overall) – And this is why it won’t matter (this season at least) whether the Big XII has a conference championship or not. I fully expect the Sooners to run the table. Lucky them, they get Baylor at home which will be the key game for them. Trevor Knight will look like a million bucks, while Bobby Stoops will make more than a million bucks but he may very well deserve every penny this season.
- Baylor Bears (8-1 conference, 11-1 overall) – As I said earlier, the Bears have to travel to Norman to face the Sooners in early November. Otherwise I would have picked Baylor to win the Big XII and run the table. Main reason? They have what the Sooners don’t: a legitimate Heisman contender. By my calculations, Bryce Petty should throw the ball about 81 times a game and might smash all sorts of Big XII (and possibly NCAA) records this season.
- Kansas State Wildcats (7-2 conference, 9-3 overall) – As I always say, never count out a Bill Snyder team. Papa Snyder always seems to find a way to reload rather than rebuild. Arguably the best JUCO recruiter in the land, he always seems to get some great experienced players to come play for him in Manhattan. And you never know…yes they have to go on the road to both Oklahoma and Baylor but one upset throws the entire conference into disarray.
- Texas Longhorns (6-3 conference, 9-3 overall) – Charlie Strong (yet another college coach I would not want to piss off) says his Horns are not contenders this year. Be as that may, Texas should be a bit better than last season and they are trending in the right direction. The only wrinkle could be the health of David Ash. Without him at 100%, this could become a very interesting few months in Austin.
- TCU Horned Frogs (4-5 conference, 6-6 overall) – Many experts have Gary Patterson’s Frogs winning 8, 9, or even 10 games. I mean they’ll be improved but come on. Let’s be serious here. Are they better than any of the four teams above them here? I don’t think so. They may pull an upset this season but don’t expect much more than a middle-of-the-standings finish for this squad.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (4-5 conference, 6-6 overall) – Since Mike Gundy IS A MAN he can take my prediction LIKE A MAN. The Cowboys won’t come close to last year’s performance when they were a Bedlam victory away from a BCS bowl. The worst part is that this team should start 6-2 and look like a contender. But a closing stretch of KSU, Texas, Baylor, and OU would send any team to its knees.
- Iowa State Cyclones (2-7 conference, 4-8 overall) – The return of Mark Mangino. What I wouldn’t give to see him on Brady Hoke’s staff. That alone would intimidate opposing teams. I feel a bit bad for Paul Rhoads. Being in such a difficult conference and having to play every team so no schedule breaks makes even getting to a bowl a tough road. It wouldn’t even surprise me if Rhoads doesn’t make it next season but if they can pull off an upset or two it should save his job.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (2-7 conference, 5-7 overall) – Oh my, is this going to be an unpopular pick…especially with the ladies. I get it, Kute Kliff Kingsbury is young and easy on the eyes I guess but he still has to, you know, coach his team, and try to help them get victories. I do think Davis Webb will be a college star and may throw approximately 74 times a game in Kliff’s high-octane offense but they have to stop teams as well and therein lies the problem in Lubbock.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (2-7 conference, 3-9 overall) – Speaking of unpopular picks, here’s another. It seems like almost every team not named Kansas is expected to go to a bowl this year. I have this bad feeling about the boys from Morgantown and their drunk uncle Dana. I just don’t see how this team is any better than the eight teams I listed before them. I think the hot seat will become cool quickly as the one-time heir apparent and future saviour, Mr. Holgorsen, will be unceremoniously dumped at the end of the season.
- Kansas Jayhawks (1-8 conference, 3-9 overall) – I think even Evil Nick Saban would have difficulty getting this program to a bowl game. They just have nothing going for them. I don’t really think Charlie Weis is a good head coach but I do feel sorry for him here. Basically, the students of Kansas are waiting for basketball season to begin.
So yeah…no conference championship. We will hear this constantly all year. Everyone bemoaned realignment but yet most desperately want the Big XII to go back to, you know, XII teams. I do believe at some point in the next three to four years you will see two new teams. But who do you pick out of Boise State, BYU, Cincinnati, and potentially others? As for this season, Oklahoma is an easy pick for the College Football Playoff and expect Baylor to get to one of the major bowls as well as there’s very little drop-off in Waco under Art Briles’ watch.
And, just to let you know, college football starts in 8 days!!!!!!