Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Big XII Roundtable: Preseason Predictions

The Crimson and Cream Machine, an Oklahoma Sooner blog, decided to open up a preseason Big XII Roundtable. Like the Big Red Roundtables, each participating blogger will post their responses and link to each other for comparison. Much of my responses may seem to be repeats from last month's Big XII Blog Predictions.

Pick a team (other than the one you blog about) from the north and south divisions and explain why they may be the best team in the division.
In the South, I'll take the Sooners. Best coach in the Big XII and the best defense to boot. Yeah, he has to find a new quarterback, but at least this year, he had all spring and summer to find one. Last year, he lost Rhett Bomar days before preseason practice and still brought home the trophy.

In the North, the best team not named "Nebraska" would be the Missouri Tigers. I think Chase Daniel is the best quarterback in the conference, the best tight ends, and they'll have one of the top offenses in the conference, with Tony Temple as the featured back to keep defenses from thinking they are one-dimensional. They'll be a fun squad to watch this season.

If the Big 12 Conference had a Heisman trophy candidate who would it be and why?
I don't think the Big XII really has a Heisman trophy candidate this season. If one emerges, it will likely be a surprise, and I'll throw a couple of darkhorses. Nebraska QB Sam Keller was considered a darkhorse last season before his former teammates revolted. If Keller masters the West Coast Offense, he has the capability to post huge numbers if his receivers can get themselves open in big games, unlike at the end of last season when they went AWOL at key times. That's a big "if". Another name to keep an eye on is Oklahoma State's Adarius Bowman, who was named a preseason all-American by ESPN.com.

If you had to place a $100.00 bet on a current Big 12 head coach being fired at the end of the season who would you pick and why?
If I had to put money on anybody, it would be Missouri's Gary Pinkel. Pinkel tempts Tiger fans with some big wins, then befuddles them two or three times a season by losing games they shouldn't. He got an extension to keep his recruiting moving forward, but expectations are growing in Columbia. Guy Morriss at Baylor would be a candidate, but does anybody think changing coaches will make a difference in Waco? Some people think Bill Callahan could be on the hot seat, but his job is safe now that Steve Pederson got a five year contract extension.

The one non-conference game, not involving your school, you would pay money to see would be?
I'd probably have to vote for Miami vs. Oklahoma. Will Randy Shannon return the aura to South Beach? And how will Oklahoma's new quarterback deal with the spotlight.

Which of the four Big 12 schools currently ranked in the AP Top 25 doesn't belong there?
I'd have to go with Texas A&M. Last season, their conference games were only decided by 31 points. Their biggest margins of victory were against Baylor (10 pts) and Texas (5 pts without Colt McCoy) They got throttled in the Holiday Bowl.

Make a case for one of the 8 Big 12 schools not ranked as to why they should be.
Missouri. Granted, preseason rankings are just guesses, but they'll be loaded on offense and can't be much worse than last year on defense.

Tell us the offensive and defensive players who are going to make the biggest impact on the conference this season.

On offense, Chase Daniel from Missouri. That offense is going to be loaded. (My second and third choices are Keller and Bowman, who have the capability to explode.) But from a consistency perspective, I think Daniel is the conference offensive MVP.

On defense, I'll take Oklahoma's Reggie Smith. The entire Sooner secondary is outstanding, and Smith is the leader of the bunch.

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