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Big 12 Conference: 2010 Preseason Power Rankings

Posted on August 05, 2010 by JA Allen

This is the last year for the Big 12 Conference as we know it.

2010 will be a death knell for the current Big 12 Conference as the Nebraska Cornhuskers bolt from the dominance of the Texas-led South to head into new and decidedly different waters in the Big Ten Conference.

Colorado also makes a bow, heading meekly west into the Pac Ten conference.  That will leave the Big 12 with ten teams and the Big Ten with 12.  Anomalies anyway you look at it.

Nebraska looks to head out on a high note, leading the underdog Northern Division of the Big 12.  The Cornhuskers might exit, winning the Conference Championship outright for the first time since 1999 when Nebraska defeated Texas 11-6.  Last year Nebraska fell to Texas 13-12 on a controversial call.

Who is the Best Team in the Big 12?

  • Nebraska Cornhuskers (39%, 7 Votes)
  • Oklahoma Sooners (33%, 6 Votes)
  • Texas Longhorns (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Texas A&M Aggies (11%, 2 Votes)
  • Missouri Tigers (6%, 1 Votes)
  • Iowa State Cyclones (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Kansas Jayhawks (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Texas Tech Red Raiders (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 18

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Just how the Big 12 will be aligned after the 2010 season is yet to be determined.
For our purposes the Big 12 Conference teams will be ranked in their respective divisions.

Colorado suffered another disappointed season in 2009. This will be their last year in the Big 12 so they hope to end on a high note.

Northern Division: No. 6 Colorado Buffaloes

Last year at the end of the season, fans were clamoring for Coach Dan Hawkins’ head.  It was not pretty.  Disappointment reigned after another year of promise washed out, leaving Colorado with a 3-9 season.

Even though the Buffaloes return eight starters on offense, they cannot be proud of being dead last in that category in 2009.

There will be some division of labor, no doubt, at the quarterback position between last year’s starter Cody Hawkins and his mid-season replacement  Tyler Hansen who learned to scramble for his life as defense men poured through the Buffalo offensive line.  Vast improvement needs to occur and quickly.

The defense shows promise, returning seven starters but lacking depth and perhaps speed.

There is talent on this team but they lack discipline, suffering from turnovers, botched plays and penalties.  The coaching staff needs to emphasize fundamentals and demand assignments be filled.  This is a make or break year for Hawkins––perfect timing for this team as they move to the PAC 10.

2010 could be a better year for the traditional low-ranking Baylor Bears.

Southern Division: No. 6 Baylor Bears

With all of their walking wounded returning to the fray, the Baylor Bears have some potential to achieve an invitation to post season play for the first time in over 16 years.

QB Robert Griffin returns after going down in 2009 with a torn ACL.  His loss to the team last year was a devastating blow.

The offense also benefits by returning some stalwarts on the offensive line, which may also help to sustain and develop their running game.

Their real Achilles heel is the Bears’ defense which lost some key players from 2009.  Even with these key players Baylor ranked among the worst in the Big 12 allowing 405.6 yards per game and 27.3 points.

If the Bears cannot shore up the defense in the very competitive South, it could prove to be another long, joyless season for Baylor.

Iowa State returns many starters from last year and hope to build on their success from a year ago.

Northern Division: No. 5 Iowa State Cyclones

The Clones surprised everyone last year by producing a winning season with new head coach Paul Rhoades at the helm.

The Iowa State team even managed an upset win over Nebraska in Lincoln.

To cap off the most surprising season in Big 12 football, the Clones defeated Minnesota at the Insight Bowl in postseason play.

This year Iowa State brings back almost all their weapons on offense including QB Austen Arnaud who has a year of experience heading the new spread offense.  He will be aided by running back Alexander Robinson and an experienced offensive line.

The real question is the defense.  If their defense develops quickly they could well have another great season.  But, they lost seven starters from last year’s defensive unit and defense was not exactly Iowa State’s strong suit.  Until the Cyclones prove they can hold down the opposition, they rank No. 5 in the Big 12’s Northern Division.

Oklahoma State will be in a year of rebuilding in 2010 but may still be very competitive in the Big 12.

Southern Division: No. 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys

This should be a rebuilding year for the Cowboys.  A new offense in development under the supervision of new offensive coordinator Dana Holgorsen takes the field on September 4th as the season gets underway.

Additionally, a new quarterback junior Brandon Weeden replaces standout QB Zac Robinson––as the Cowboys start with many unknowns on offense.

Kendall Hunter will be back, however, to shoulder his load in the running game.  The offensive line is also reloading after losing most of their starters from 2009.

Defense, with only three starters back, is undergoing change. There is lots of talent here but also many questions about how quickly the defense will jell.

There is no easy competition ahead as the Cowboys seek to compete in the talented Southern Division in the Big 12.  But with an excellent coaching staff in place, don’t expect this OSU squad to stay down long.

New head coach Turner Gill will be busy getting the Kansas offense on track.

Northern Division: No. 4 Kansas Jayhawks

In 2009, Kansas wound down the season losing their last seven games.  It was the last gasp for Mark Mangino and his coaching staff.

In light of that, Turner Gill starts his tenure as the head coach at Kansas. The offense will begin the year without an established quarterback. But the offensive lines returns some key starters. So as long as the offensive strategy does not change radically, the line should be able to show some improvement in building the running game.

The defense also returns some stalwarts along with some new faces and promising recruits.  Should the unit jell, the defense could show real improvement but they need to do that quickly.  It is critical that the defense be able to hold down the opposition allowing the offense time to build.

With a favorable conference schedule, Kansas could do better than most expect.

Tommy Tuberville takes over the reins at Texas Tech with a few problems to iron out on defense.

Southern Division: No. 4 Texas Tech

Texas Tech fields an aspiring new head coach with complicated problems to solve.

Tommy Tuberville  succeeds former coach Mike Leach who was fired by the University in a controversy still simmering on the back burner as legal disputes are want to do.

But there are football issues beyond the obvious PR ones facing Texas Tech as they enter a new era of leadership.

Tuberville specializes in defense and needs to work his magic to rebuild a unit depleted by the loss of their top six defensive lineman from a year ago.  With a corps that was often sporadic and inconsistent, Tuberville will focus on building a first-class defense.

On offense there are questions over the starting quarterback.  Some tried and tested offensive players like running back Barron Batch and Eric Stephens, however, return to stablize the running game.

The receiving corps offers Alex Torres and Detron Lewis as well as others with experience. The main question remains the offensive line which could find itself wanting in the early going.

It is hard to predict how all the pieces will fit together behind Tuberville at this point.  More will be known after a  visit by Texas on September 18th.

With a few breaks Kansas State could improve its standings from a year ago under the leadership of coach Bill Snyder.

Northern Division: No. 3 Kansas State Wildcats

Bill Snyder resumed the helm at Kansas State last year and they broke even going 6-6 and 4-4 in conference play.

His second year guiding the Wildcats will hopefully see further improvement as Snyder continues to implement his winning strategies.

On offense the Wildcats return standout running back Daniel Thomas who rushed for over 1200 yards behind an offensive line largely intact for this year’s campaign.

The running game should prove to be the backbone of this team.  The question at the moment is who will head the offense at quarterback?  Hopefully the new QB will add to the passing game and help balance the offensive attack.

The defense, which proved to be quite a surprise last year, has some holes to plug but if the right personnel step up, the defense could be as efficient and productive as last year’s corps.  This team could be the surprise of the Big 12.

With a very potent offense, Texas A & M should be competing for the Conference Championship.

Southern Division: No. 3 Texas A & M Aggies

The name of the game for Texas A & M is offense with a capital “O.”

This year coach Mike Sherman could propel the Aggies to the top of the Big 12 behind QB star Jerrod Johnson who has the capability of lighting up the boards and taking home Big 12 honors at the end of the season.

The Aggies receivers are also lethal beginning with Jeff Fuller who remains an All American candidate. The Aggies also return running backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray to add to the offensive fire power.

The questions for this team center on the defense which allowed 426.3 yards per game last year––dead last in the Big 12.  But Texas A & M returns ten starters from last year’s team.  If they can present a solid showing on defense, this could be a really potent team vying for Big 12 honors by the end of the season.

With many returning starters offering experience and expertise, Missouri could be very good in 2010.

Northern Division: No. 2 Missouri Tigers

Missouri returns 15 starters from last year’s squad.

Their experience on both offense and defense promises better results than their 8-5 season in 2009––especially after their disappointing loss to Navy in the Texas Bowl.

The culmination of their campaign stung as the Tigers felt short-changed by the Bowl selection process last year.

They will be led by quarterback Blaine Gabbert who is healthy once again.  Their offensive line will be largely intact allowing the running game led by Derrick Washington to develop and flourish.  The Tigers’ running game will be enhanced by the speed and power of De’Vion Moore and Kendial Lawrence.

The passing game will miss some key receivers from last year so that aspect of the offense may take some time to develop.

On defense there is depth with DE Aldon Smith and DE Jacquies Smith as well as tackle Dominique Hamilton leading the charge.  But there is room for vast improvement in the secondary.

If a few holes are plugged on defense, Missouri could also prove to be a Big 12 contender for the Northern Division championship.

The Longhorns will be rebuilding in 2010 but they will not remain far off the pace.

Southern Division: No. 2 Texas Longhorns

Texas is rebuilding this year but with a caveat.

They still possess an awe-inspiring defense and the promise of a more balanced retooled offense.

With a tough schedule facing them including games at Oklahoma and at Nebraska, winning the conference championship is not a given and for some not even a likelihood.

Their No. 1 ranked rush defense from  year ago has some holes to fill before they can assume the lofty rankings in 2009. But behind the leadership of defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, it should not take the Longhorns long to reestablish their defensive prowess.

Mack Brown promises to rebuild the running game after surviving almost exclusively on Colt McCoy’s arm in 2009.  The new QB Garrett Gilbert was thrust into the spotlight after McCoy went down in the BCS championship game against Alabama.  This experience will help him offset those opening game jitters.

On offense, there is plenty of talent waiting in the wings.  So for the Longhorns it isn’t much more than reloading and pressing the trigger.  They will not be second banana for long in the Big 12 South.

Nebraska should finish No. 1 in the Big 12 North and maybe in the Conference.

Northern Division: No. 1 Nebraska Cornhuskers

Their last year in the Big 12 promises to be one of their best in many years.

The Nebraska Cornhuskers should finish No. 1 in the Northern Division with a chance to capture the Big 12 Conference Championship outright.

Their defense, even with the departure of All American Ndomukong Suh, will be among the nation’s best.  Coach Bo Pelini begins his third year coaching the Cornhuskers touting a strong defense.

But the Cornhusker want more.  They recall their days of winning National Championships and the Cornhuskers and their fans will not be satisfied until Nebraska reigns again.

That brings the focus on the offense which has been the missing link the last two years.  The Husker offense returns almost all its starters from a year ago but seems to miss the consistency and spark needed to be a national contender.  Unless the offense steps up significantly, Nebraska will be close but not a winner in the Big 12.

2010 promises to be a banner year for the Oklahoma Sooners.

Southern Division: No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners

In 2009 the Sooners suffered a myriad of injuries which kept them from competing at their top level––resulting by ending the 2009 season with an 8-5 record.

This year promises a return to national championship levels as the Sooners are expected to win the Big 12 and are ranked in the top 5 in many preseason polls.

The offense needs some fine tuning as Landry Jones settles in as quarterback.  He is joined in the backfield by RB DeMarco Murray who is hoping to be 100 percent fit as 2010 opens. Ryan Broyles at wide receiver should give opposing defenses some real headaches.

The main question is––will the offensive line jell early enough this year early to set the Sooners on the right path?  Certainly, the defense will return to top form even with the departure of so many high caliber defenders. For Oklahoma, with so much talent on defense, there will be no let up once the Sooners take the field.

Oklahoma will be tested by Florida State on September 11 and again when the Sooners host Texas on October 2nd.  At that time, the Big 12 championship outcome should be fairly focused.

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