The Big 12: Clamor for Penthouse, Escape from Outhouse
Texas A&M and Nebraska are long gone, but the Big 12 -- even though they have 10 teams -- is still a formidable conference.
Some pre-season projections, for example, have it with at least five Top 25 teams.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State may play for the league title when they meet for their 'Bedlam Bowl' on 7 December.
The Cowboys, depending on their quarterback situation, could take the conference's BCS spot this season. Clint Chelf finished the season at quarterback last year, and receivers Tracy Moore, Blake Johnson, and Charlie Moore will make any quarterback look good.
The Sooners' defense is suspect and Landry Jones is gone at quarterback, but Oklahoma is always near the top of the league. Blake Bell takes over at quarterback while Damien Williams and Brennan Clay return at running back.
Baylor's offense is always explosive, and although Bryce Petty will be a rookie at quarterback, he will have experienced receivers to throw to in Tevin Reese and Levi Norwood. The defense must improve, and with three easy games to open the season, it will have plenty of time to do it.
Texas has David Ash back for his junior season at quarterback with an experienced offensive line and steady receivers in Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley. The Longhorns have struggled the past couple of years, and the whispers have started about Coach Mack Brown's job.
TCU faded after quarterback Casey Pachall's substance abuse problems last year and hope to get the season off on a surprising note this season as they open against an imposing LSU squad at Cowboys Stadium. Pachall should make a big difference for the Horned Frogs, as will running back Waymon James, who missed most of the season due to injury. The Frogs again have their usual stellar defense and could sneak up on the favorites this season.
One team that the experts see dropping this year is Kansas State. The Wildcats must replace Colin Klein, but they do return running back John Hubert along with receivers Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett. And anybody who takes wily Bill Snyder for granted is just plain silly.
West Virginia also is replacing a great quarterback as Geno Smith has moved on to the Jets. No matter who wins that job, the Mountaineers will have to shore up a defense that could not stop anyone last season.
Iowa State is medicore every year, and this season should be no different. Texas Tech will get better as the season progresses, as they have an exciting new coach in former Red Raider hero Kliff Kingsbury. That leaves Kansas. The lowly Jayhawks, now coached by Charlie Weis, have just found out they're a pile of crap. Frankly, they are until proven otherwise. Kansas did not win a league game last year, and the rest of the teams are banking on defeating the Jayhawks again this season, giving each of them at least a 1-0 record.
That expectation, combined with Weis's comment, may make the Kansas game on every conference team's schedule interesting. Ironically so, but interesting nonetheless.