The Big 12 Conference narrowly avoided a complete collapse following the 2011-12 football season as rumors quickly spread of schools changing affiliations. Big 12 football as we know it would have been devasted had tradional powerhouse football programs like the Texas Longhorns or the Oklahoma Sooners had bolted for greener pastures as many had feared. Fortunately for Big 12 fans both decided to stay. However, that is not to say the conference has not undergone some major changes since last season. The Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers both bolted for the SEC amid rumors of the conference folding. While those programs leaving certainly hurt the national competitiveness of the conference, two new school will hope to fill the void. The West Virginia Mountaineers and the Texas-Christian University Horned Frogs will both join the Big 12 this season and both are expected to make an immediate impact.
So how will the new-look Big 12 shape up in 2012-13? Well, below we will break down and rank each of football teams in the Big 12.
2012 Big 12 Football Rankings
The Oklahoma Sooners were the preseason #1 team in the country last season. However, injuries plagued the team and they fell short of their lofty expectations. The Sooners should be a much stronger and deeper team this year as many underclassmen should benefit from being thrust into action ahead of schedule last season. Oklahoma will return a strong core of players that include quarterback Landry Jones , running back Dom Whaley, defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland, corner back Javon Harris, and safetly Demontre Hurst.
It is a bit of a mystery as to how WVU will fare in the Big 12 especially considering the Run-and-Shoot spread offense run by coach Dana Holgorsen. However, its hard to see the Mountaineers struggle much on offense with QB Geno Smith and wide recievers Tavon Austin and Stedmon Bailey all returning. If their defense can improve they have an outside shot of challenging OU for the Big 12 Championship.
The Longhorns have certainly had a rough couple of years. However, the Texas defense appears to be back in full force (#1 in the Big 12 last season) and should keep them in every game. The running game should also be strong with Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron, and freshman Jonathan Gray carrying the load. The big question is at quarterback. If David Ash can become a legitimate threat in the passing game this team could compete for a Big 12 title.
OK State had an amazing run last season but they have been somewhat depleted on offense with Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon, and Josh Cooper all gone. With a ton of questions on offense and a pedestrian defense its hard to imagine they will be able to reload on the fly. That said, they are still talented and deep and should be competitive.
TCU is coming off a disappointing season in a weak conference. It’s hard to imagine things will get any easier for them in their first season in the Big 12. However, the TCU defense should be very good and could compete with the longhorns for the top squad. If they can keep their players out of trouble (ahheem drug dealing) they could sneak past OK State.
K State is pretty average across the board but they do play sound fundamental football. Throw in the fact that Collin Klein will be returning with his core running backs and wide receivers and the Wildcats could surprise some people.
The Baylor offense will be severely depleted after losing 9 starters (most notably Robert Griffin III). Throw in the fact that there defense was pretty terrible and the Bears likely have little chance at having a successful season. They do have some talent coming in so if things pan out they could finish at .500 or so.
Iowa State always seems plagued by inconsistency. They will play great one week only to live up to low expectations the next. ISU has a nice pair of quarterbacks with Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett returning but they will be hard pressed to find wins if a decent wide receiver fails to emerge.
The Red Raiders appear to be in rebuilding mode as they look to establish an offensive identity all while rolling out an entirely new defensive scheme. They do have some talent but it is unknown how the team will gel following all these changes. If things turn out well they could be a huge sleeper but don’t bank on it.
Charlie Weis will be taking over as head coach but he won’t have much to work with in his first season. It will likely take a few years before Weis can field a respectable team in Lexington but expect them to show improvement as the season progresses.
No matter who wins the Big 12 in 2012-13, it should be another exciting season. There is not much better than taking in a Big 12 college football game. If you are looking for tickets for any of these matchups be sure to check out our Big 12 Football Classifieds!