Big 12 Preseason Media Poll
All Big 12 Preseason Team
Last year's preseason forecast nailed the exact records of Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas. It came within 1 loss with its' game-by-game projections for Baylor, Colorado and Missouri. Even more amazing, the computer correctly picked the winner of 87.5% of all games involving Big 12 teams in 2008 as it turned in a record of 126-18. It was 64-8 with north division teams, and 62-10 with south division schools.
Even with all that success, it missed with its' selections of Kansas and Texas as champions of their respective divisions. Instead, Oklahoma and Missouri battled for the Big 12 crown for the second straight season and the Sooners prevailed.
Oklahoma has won the last three conference championship games by a cumulative score of 121-45, and the margin of victory has gotten wider each year. In 2006, the Sooners dumped Nebraska 21-7. Two years ago, they bested Missouri 38-17. And last year, they rolled over the Tigers 62-21.
Oklahoma's domination of the conference extends back to 2000 when Bob Stoops was only in his second season as head coach. The Sooners have appeared in 7 of the last 9 conference championship games, and won 6 of those. Comparatively, Texas has only appeared twice and won once during that same period.
In most years, the south division has been a two-horse race between the Sooners and Longhorns. Last year, however, Texas Tech matched Oklahoma and Texas with records of 11-1 overall, and 7-1 in the conference. As all three teams went 1-1 against the others, the final BCS Standings became the tie-breaker with the highest-rated team advancing to the conference championship.
After some debate, the conference opted to keep that tie-breaker rule in effect for this season.
Oklahoma is the computer's pick (about the computer) to repeat as champion in 2009. To accomplish that feat, the Sooners have to get past Texas in the Red River Rivalry on October 17 in Dallas. Both schools welcome back star quarterbacks in Colt McCoy (Texas) and Sam Bradford (Oklahoma). McCoy set an NCAA record last season by completing 76.7 percent of his passes, and Bradford is the reigning Heisman winner. The Longhorns have won 3-of-4 in the series after the Sooners took five straight from 2000-2004. The computer gives Oklahoma a 0.93-point advantage, making this the fourth time in the last five years that the computer has forecasted a margin of 1-point or less in the annual showdown.
If Oklahoma survives Texas and avoids any upsets, the Sooners would face Kansas as 17.78-point favorites in the Big 12 Championship game.
Next on the list - a rematch with Florida in the BCS title game. The Gators shut down the Sooners' high-powered offense in last year's match to claim a 24-14 victory for its' second title in three years, and the SEC's third consecutive national championship. The computer is expecting a similar scenario this year with the Gators favored by 3.83. It would be Oklahoma's 5th BCS title game appearance under Stoops as the Sooners look for their first national championship since 2000.
Texas Tech trails the south division frontrunners by over 10 power points, but is forecasted to go 10-2. Even without QB Graham Harrell and WR Michael Crabtree (2007 and 2008 Fred Biletnikoff Award winner), the only anticipated blemishes are a 13.79-point loss at Texas and a 8.73-point setback at home to Oklahoma.
The Red Raiders will have to stave off a stiff challenge from Oklahoma State as the Cowboys are only a 0.40-point home underdog in their November 14 meeting.
The computer puts Baylor in a distant 5th-place finish. The 5-7 projection would represent the best record for the Bears since a 5-6 performance in 2005.
Last place in the south is reserved for Texas A&M. The 1-11 forecast (1-7, Big 12), includes an 0-3 start at home against a trio of teams that should never be favored at Kyle Field - New Mexico, Utah State and UAB. If Texas A&M loses those games, Mike Sherman may not make it through the first month of his second season as head coach. On the other hand, a 1-7 record within the conference is a distinct possibility.
In the north, Kansas gets the nod over Missouri by virtue of a head-to-head win (-2.24) in the regular season finale at Kansas City. Todd Reesing returns at QB for the Jayhawks to improve on his stellar 20-6 career record as a starter. Conversely, the Tigers have to overcome the losses of QB Chase Daniel, WR Jeremy Maclin and TE Chase Coffman (2008 John Mackey Award Winner).
Nebraska's 7-5 forecast includes a pair of losses on tough road trips to Missouri (+2.74) and Kansas (+4.98), and a pair of home battles with north division stalwarts, Texas Tech (+5.03) and Oklahoma (+16.75). The 'Huskers are also a 12.11-point underdog in a non-conference battle at Virginia Tech on September 19 as they try to avenge last year's 35-30 loss in Lincoln.
Colorado is still trying to get over the .500 hump in Dan Hawkins' 4th season as head coach. His previous teams have turned in records of 2-10 in 2006, 6-7 in 2007, and 5-7 last year.
Kansas State is projected to go 4-8 as Bill Snyder returns to the sidelines in Manhattan. Snyder guided the school to a 136-68-1 record from 1989-2005. He replaces Ron Prince who was fired after a 52-21 loss to rival Kansas. Prince was permitted to finish out the season and went 1-2 down the stretch to conclude his three-year tenure with a 17-20 record. The computer's preseason projections nailed Kansas State's final records of 5-7 overall, and 2-6 in the Big 12.
Iowa State is expected to bring up the rear with its' fourth consecutive last-place finish as the Cyclones begin the season more than 9 power points out of 5th-place.