Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 7:00 PM
It’s fairly obvious that the TCU Horned Frogs got hosed last year! They were better than Florida State by most objective measures. Then…FSU got rocked by Oregon in the Final Four while TCU crushed respected Ole Miss in its bowl game. If the Horned Frogs hadn’t blown a seemingly safe lead in Waco during the regular season, they would have been undefeated and surely a playoff team. Who knows how that might have changed things?
Though there have been some personnel changes, TCU and Baylor are once again heavy favorites to rule the Big 12. This is a 10-team league that we’re handling in one session…our FINAL session the summer previews. So, let’s jump right in.
2014 Record: 12-1
2014 Rankings: 5 on offense, 18 on defense
Returning Starters: 10 on offense, 5 on defense
Head Coach: Gary Patterson
Notebook: Wow…almost everybody’s back for what turned out to be a fantastic offense. Trevone Boykin is a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback. The defense has to rebuild. But, that’s often easy for defensive-minded head coaches. TCU should obliterate a soft early schedule…and will probably be undefeated heading into their season finale at home vs. Baylor. Can they stay focused in road testers at Kansas State, Okie State , and OU on the way there? Conceivably a legitimate #2 to Ohio State entering the season…though the media prefers to hype other regions at the expense of the Big 12.
2014 Record: 11-2
2014 Rankings: 1 on offense, 50 on defense
Returning Starters: 8 on offense, 9 on defense
Head Coach: Art Briles
Notebook: Baylor was lucky to rally past TCU, but then unlucky to blow a big lead vs. Michigan State in their bowl game. Defense is always an issue vs. quality opposition. New starting quarterback Seth Russell will have to show he can play within the system. Most Baylor QB’s do great with this system! The Bears literally don’t play a scary opponent until the second half of the season. Don’t be shocked if both TCU and Baylor run up the score a lot when they an because style points are going to matter.
2014 Record: 8-5
2014 Rankings: 23 on offense, 51 on defense
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 6 on defense
Head Coach: Bob Stoops
Notebook: The media has finally backed off hyping OU every Preseason because of what have seemingly become annual disappointments. You can see those stat rankings don’t impress. The 40-6 bowl loss to Clemson was humiliating. A good road test at Tennessee awaits in mid-September. Don’t trust the Sooners until they prove they can be trusted! The market took forever to sour on Coach Stoops in big games.
2014 Record: 7-6
2014 Rankings: 82 on offense, 91 on defense
Returning Starters: 7 on offense, 7 on defense
Head Coach: Mike Gundy
Notebook: Some pundits are picking the Cowboys as a big sleeper in the league this year. Sorry…but those stat rankings suggest a team that has a LONG way to go before they can scare TCU or Baylor. Beating disinterested OU in the regular season finale before taking out overrated Washington in a bowl may have tricked a few people. Keep an eye on them once they start playing real teams in Week Four at Texas. Too many soft September schedules for our taste in this league. You want respect in the selection process? Start playing some real teams in September!
2014 Record: 6-7
2014 Rankings: 110 on offense, 25 on defense
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 5 on defense
Head Coach: Charlie Strong
Notebook: Hey…Texas starts with Notre Dame! There you go. Coach Strong is a defensive whiz…but you can’t project big things for the Horns until the offense does more than punt or turn the ball over. Monitor the quarterback position against the Irish. If this offense ever gets things figured out…a sterling defense could make these guys the real sleeper.
2014 Record: 7-6
2014 Rankings: 12 on offense, 66 on defense
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 9 on defense
Head Coach: Dana Holgorsen
Notebook: Last year’s offense moved the ball well except against top defenses. But now a new quarterback will be thrown to the wolves. Holgorsen will always be a coach who can spring a big upset one week, then get embarrassed by a bad team the next. The high number of returning starters on defense might make these guys sleeper material too. Once again, no litmus tests in September! The season basically starts in October for the upper half.
2014 Record: 9-4
2014 Rankings: 47 on offense, 41 on defense
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 6 on defense
Head Coach: Bill Snyder
Notebook: The good thing about stability in the Big 12 coaching ranks is that you can pencil in fairly accurate reads on most teams even with those soft early schedules. Kansas State gets to host both TCU and Baylor…which gives them a real shot to influence the race even if they’re not in it themselves. You know…the middle of this pack is going to play some GREAT games against each other while pollsters try to figure out what to do with TCU and Baylor’s soft schedules.
2014 Record: 4-8
2014 Rankings: 10 on offense, 122 on defense
Returning Starters: 8 on offense, 7 on defense
Head Coach: Kliff Kingsbury
Notebook: A fairly disastrous season for the Red Raiders has taken the shine off of Kingsbury’s gloss. The four wins came against Central Arkansas, UTEP, Kansas, and Iowa State. So, they beat the four west teams on their schedule and lost to everyone else. Good luck competing in this league with such a bad defense! Kingsbury may peak as an offensive coordinator.
2014 Record: 2-10
2014 Rankings: 89 on offense, 125 on defense
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 4 on defense
Head Coach: Paul Rhoads
Notebook: Iowa State beat Iowa…but couldn’t beat Kansas! There were some close losses…because Coach Rhoads usually gets an effort from his players. Tough for an undersized team to stay competitive week in and week out in a high energy conference. The defense will probably be overmatched again given its limited experience.
2014 Record: 3-9
2014 Rankings: 115 on offense, 106 on defense
Returning Starters: 3 on offense, 3 on defense
Head Coach: David Beaty (first year)
Notebook: Who is David Beaty? He was the wide receivers at Texas A&M the past two seasons. You really have to go far down the ladder to find anyone willing to be the head coach at Kansas! Maybe he’s an up-and-comer. For now, he’s a young guy…probably in over his head…trying to compete with what is likely the least talented major conference roster in the nation. Assume the worst.
That wraps up the Big 10 as well as our entire summer series of conference previews. We hope you’ve printed them all out! If not, go through the archives and do so NOW so you can be prepared for the fast-approaching college football season.
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We’ll talk about the NFC North and the Vikings this weekend when we kick off our NFL divisional previews. Here’s what’s coming up in the NOTEBOOK…
Weekend: NFC North Preview to get you ready for the Hall of Fame Game (Vikings vs. Steelers)
Monday: MLB Series Preview…Washington Nationals at LA Dodgers
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals
Wednesday: MLB Big Game Preview…probably Houston Astros at SF Giants.
Thursday: AFC East Preview to get you ready for New England hosting Green Bay
Friday: NFC West Preview to get you ready for Seattle hosting Denver
Saturday August 15: AFC South preview to get you ready for Houston hosting S. Francisco
Sunday August 16: NFC East preview to get you ready for Philadelphia hosting Indianapolis
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