Athlon's 2011 Big 12 Predictions
Landry Jones looks lead Oklahoma to another Big 12 title.
By: Steven Lassan | 6/14/11, 6:53 AM EDT
Big 12 Standings and rankings
Oklahoma did in 2010 what it always seems to do — win the Big 12 championship, a record seventh title in the relatively brief annals of the conference. And with starters returning seemingly everywhere and Nebraska gone and Texas down and few real road tests on the schedule, it’s easy to peg the Sooners as the league favorites yet again in 2011. Not that it’s going to be easy. Contenders are in place and the Longhorns can’t be that bad again … can they? Still, with Landry Jones at quarterback and Ryan Broyles leading a rising group of receivers and Travis Lewis spearheading another stout defense, the Sooners wear the favorite’s tag — again.
Texas A&M’s breakthrough of a year ago has the Aggies believing they’re Big 12 title contenders. And for good reason. Ryan Tannehill, who grew up steadily after his permanent move from receiver to starting quarterback, figures to thrive in his second season. Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael may be the league’s best running back duo. And the schedule is kind, stacked with favorable home games outside of a trip to Norman.
Oklahoma State maintained its contender status when Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon — the nation’s top returning pass-catch combo — came back for more. And there’s plenty to like around those two, including the league’s best offensive line. The defensive front needs an overhaul, but OSU’s overall talent and defensive depth are improved.
Is Garrett Gilbert the guy for Texas? Can the junior quarterback elevate his play and those around him to return the Longhorns to national prominence? That seems to be the lingering question. Texas will rely on several rookies to provide a desperately needed upgrade to the playmaking positions on offense. The defense, under new direction, must replace several standouts.
The North and South divisions no longer exist, yet the references won’t simply go away. And Missouri offers the best hope to break up the South stranglehold that has ruled the conference and still remains in place. The Tigers will have to do so with an unproven quarterback, but Missouri is solid at almost every other spot on the field.
Texas Tech will have a new signal-caller as well. Junior Seth Doege is the favorite to take over for Tommy Tuberville’s squad. Baylor has no issues at the most important position on the field. Robert Griffin is coming off a banner sophomore season and should be as good or better in ’11.
Iowa State, Kansas State and Kansas — the rest of the former Big 12 North — have enough holes to create deep concerns.
Athlon's 2011 Big 12 Previews
|Iowa State||Oklahoma State|
|Kansas State||Texas A&M|
Click here for all our college football team previews, rankings and predictions.
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