1. Kansas (9-3)
2. Nebraska (8-4)
3. Missouri (7-5)
4. Colorado (6-6)
5. Kansas State (5-7)
6. Iowa State (3-9)
1. Oklahoma (11-1)
2. Texas (11-1)
3. Oklahoma State (10-2)
4. Texas Tech (8-4)
5. Baylor (6-6)
6. Texas A&M (4-8)


BAYLOR - Just getting the Bears into a bowl game would be a major surprise considering they have not seen action in the post-season in 15 years. A 4-8 team last year, Baylor lost three of those games by a touchdown or less in arguably the toughest division in college football. Robert Griffin is one of the youngest versatile quarterbacks in the country and is a perfect fit for coach Art Brile’s spread attack. The defense has a potent back seven where a few players could prove worthy of All-American mention, a great combo for this conference.
COLORADO - Head coach Dan Hawkins enters his fourth season. Hopes were that by now he could at least get his Buffs into the North Division hunt. But the defensive line goes through a major rebuilding effort and this offense, with some quality talent at running back, has not been able to keep up with the Big 12 high scoring affairs. If a quarterback does not step up to keep this defense off the field, Colorado could be left not only out of the division race, but also out of bowl contention again.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: LB Sean Weatherspoon - Missouri
TOP NEWCOMER: LB Ronnell Lewis - Oklahoma
TOP BLOCKER: Russell Okung - Oklahoma State

QB Sam Bradford - Jr. - Oklahoma
RB Kendall Hunter - Jr. - Oklahoma State
RB DeMarco Murray - Jr. - Oklahoma
WR Dez Bryant - Jr. - Oklahoma State
WR Jordan Shipley - Sr. - Texas
TE Jermaine Gresham - Sr. - Oklahoma
OL Chris Hall - Sr. - Texas
OL Russell Okung - Sr. - Oklahoma State
OL Brandon Carter - Sr. - Texas Tech
OL Adam Ulatoski - Sr. - Texas
OL Trent Williams - Sr. - Oklahoma
K   Hunter Lawrence - Sr. - Texas
KR Perrish Cox - Sr. - Oklahoma State

DL Gerald McCoy - Jr. - Oklahoma
DL Ndamukong Suh - Sr. - Nebraska
DL Jeremy Beal - Jr. - Oklahoma
DL Sergio Kindle - Sr. - Texas
LB Sean Weatherspoon - Sr. - Missouri
LB Joe Pawelek - Sr. - Baylor
LB Travis Lewis - So. - Oklahoma
DB Jordan Lake - Sr. - Baylor
DB Darrell Stuckey - Sr. - Kansas
DB Cha'pelle Brown - Sr. - Colorado
DB Dominique Franks - Jr. - Oklahoma
P   Derek Epperson - Jr. - Baylor
PR Dez Bryant - Jr. - Oklahoma State

1. Sam Bradford - Oklahoma
2. Colt McCoy - Texas
3. Todd Reesing - Kansas

Oklahoma (DeMarco Murray, Chris Brown, Matt Clapp, Brody Eldridge)

Kansas (Dezmon Briscoe, Kerry Meier, Johnathan Wilson)

Texas (Chris Hall, Michael Huey, Charlie Tanner, Kyle Hix, Adam Ulatoski)

Oklahoma (Auston English, Gerald McCoy, Adrian Taylor, Jeremy Beal)

Oklahoma (Travis Lewis, Ryan Reynolds, Keenan Clayton)

Nebraska (Prince Amukamara, Anthony West, Larry Asante, Matt O'Hanlon)


1. Oklahoma vs. Texas @Dallas, TX (Oct. 17)
2. Texas at Oklahoma State (Oct. 31)
3. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Nov. 28)
4. Oklahoma at Kansas (Oct. 24)
5. Nebraska at Kansas (Nov. 14)

1. Georgia at Oklahoma State (Sept. 5)
2. Nebraska at Virginia Tech (Sept. 19)
3. Oklahoma at Miami FL (Oct. 3)
4. Illinois vs. Missouri @St. Louis, MO (Sept. 5)
5. Colorado at West Virginia (Oct. 1 - Thursday)


1. Sheldon Richardson DT St. Louis, MO Missouri
2. Alex Okafor DE Pflugerville, TX Texas
3. Garrett Gilbert QB Austin, TX Texas
4. Christine Michael RB Beaumont, TX Texas A&M
5. Mason Walters OL Wolfforth, TX Texas
6. Jamarkus McFarland DT Lufkin, TX Oklahoma
7. Nick Kasa DE Broomfield, CO Colorado
8. Gabe Lynn DB Jenks, OK Oklahoma
9. Ronnell Lewis LB Dewar, OK Oklahoma
10. Calvin Howell DT San Antonio, TX Texas


STRENGTHS: The Buffs are stacked at running back. Demetrius Sumler, Rodney Stewart and Darrell Scott (who was widely considered as the nation’s top running back prospect in the 2007 recruiting class) form a stellar trio. Riar Greer is one of the better tight ends in the Big 12. Plenty of experience is available on the offensive line; center Daniel Sanders was the only departure. All-Big 12 honoree Jeff Smart leads a talented linebacker unit.

CONCERNS: The defensive line goes through a major rebuilding effort, where three starters need to be replaced. At least two freshmen are expected to compete for playing time there. The team's top return man and quality receiver, Josh Smith, decided to transfer, leaving the wide-outs in dire need of playmakers. Incumbent QB Cody Hawkins will benefit from two years as the starting signal caller, while Tyler Hansen has also logged significant snaps at the position. Still, this offense under either’s direction has not fared well in the statistical department. The kicking game will be looking for redemption after missing eight field goals in a row in 2008.

PROGNOSIS: This is the fourth year for head coach Dan Hawkins. His offense has to produce better numbers after ranking in the bottom third of the league the past three seasons. The running backs have superstar potential, so look for the Buffs to lean heavy on the ground game. Without this aspect, they could easily struggle, especially seeing how the defense is not expected to be as productive as they were last fall. Keeping up with the rest of the Big 12’s offensive fireworks does not appear to be what's in store…again. Colorado should be favored in their first three games, after that the conference schedule tightens which makes finally getting over the .500 hump a tough task.


STRENGTHS: QB Austen Arnaud has a chance to explode in this spread attack, the same one new coordinator Tom Herman used at Rice. Nine starters are back on this side of the football. The ball carriers are a talented group led by Alexander Robinson. This is a unit designed to compete by-committee. The receivers continue to show promise with last year's true freshmen, Darius Darks and Sedrick Johnson, still making strides.

CONCERNS: A defense that was shredded a year ago is still extremely young and lacking prime time players. The secondary got torched and will still have issues applying tight coverage, especially when the rebuilt defensive line continues to have trouble pressuring quarterbacks. It all spells trouble stopping the league’s high-octane attacks.

PROGNOSIS: New head coach Paul Rhoads comes to Iowa State after he was just Auburn’s defensive coordinator, and ironically takes over for Gene Chizik, who left to take the head-coaching job at Auburn. Rhoads will take over a program that went winless in conference play last fall. The experience on offense with Austen Arnaud at quarterback is going to score some points as they join their conference brethren operating a worthy spread offense. However, the defense is also going to give up its share of points once again. Producing more defensive stops is a must, ergo don't look for any major breakthroughs, or even a bowl bid in 2009.


STRENGTHS: Scrambling QB Todd Reesing returns for his senior season and has more talent around him than he has had at any time in Lawrence. Receiver Dezmon Briscoe (92 receptions in '08) is a preseason All-American and former QB Kerry Meier (97 receptions in '08) is back for another year of producing big time plays/catches. Senior RB Jake Sharp scored 12 touchdowns last year and is another weapon out of the backfield. The DBs had some issues last fall, but most teams’ secondaries struggled against the other Big 12 offenses. The good part is that all four starters return, led by another preseason All-American in Darrell Stuckey at safety.

CONCERNS: All three starting linebackers are gone, but especially missed will be Joe Mortensen’s and James Holt’s defensive leadership. The offensive line is young, inexperienced, and needs to make plenty of improvement in the run-blocking area. Moreover, Reesing is getting harassed way too much, which will not help his Heisman cause or his injury fate. The same was true last fall after Reesing’s stellar sophomore outing two years ago.

PROGNOSIS: After winning 20 games and two bowls in the past two years, there is plenty of confidence surrounding the program. However, both lines of scrimmage still have question marks in terms of matching up with other Big 12 heavyweights. If Kansas can find some consistency on defense, they should win the Big 12 North Division. They desperately need to beat one of the South Division powerhouses on the regular season schedule to be taken seriously on a national level. But KU looks to be 6-0 heading into the pivotal Oklahoma game.


STRENGTHS: Coach Snyder’s back, and the man who built this program from the ground up a few decades back has pointed to his linebackers out of spring camp as the best unit on defense. In fact, the entire front seven has a chance to make huge strides compared to last fall as the front line with three starters returning continues to grow. Getting Virginia transfer Jeffrey Fitzgerald to step in at defensive tackle and produce as expected will really help. Jeron Mastrud continues to man the tight end spot after starting 29 games. Smallish Brandon Banks (5'7) was last season’s Big 12 Newcomer of the Year after topping 1,000 receiving yards.

CONCERNS: Replacing rangy Josh Freeman at QB will be the top priority. Last year's back up Carson Coffman gets first shot, though, he will be pushed by three others, including JUCO transfer Daniel Thomas. All are drop back style passers, which leaves a running QB out of the equation. The running backs are all new faces and each is less than 6'0 tall. While there are a good many returning starters back on defense, this group ranked 117th (out of 120 teams) for total effort. This KSU D has yet to prove it’s able to stop either the run or the pass, and the better Big 12 foes will eat them up if this continues.

PROGNOSIS: Returning head coach Bill Snyder, who will turn 70 during the season, is idolized in Manhattan, KS. Realistically however, the expectations in his first year back won't be miracles, like they were in his initial “first year” of 1988. Just showing signs of hope and recovery should be sufficient for now. A good many starters return but the depth charts are thin in terms of back ups. The schedule is not too demanding, but this is also not the same conference Snyder left in 2005 when he first retired. A winning season will be difficult without a proven quarterback.


STRENGTHS: Linebacker Sean Weatherspoon is a front-runner for the Butkus Award. He can literally be a one-man show at times. The running backs appear to be the strength of the offense with All-Big 12 performer Derrick Washington backed up by talented De'Vion Moore. Losing a quarterback like Chase Daniel would be a blow to most, but replacement Blaine Gabbert was widely considered the nation's top pro-style QB out of high school. His 6'5 frame and accompanying strong arm are a plus, but he can also scramble too. How long Gabbert takes to develop could translate into more/less wins, depending.

CONCERNS: Losing Chase Daniel along with the solidity of receiver Jeremy Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman (NFL) is enough to take Mizzou off of many top 25 radar. The biggest problem, however, will be rebuilding what was an already marginal defense; coaches have to replace seven starters. The secondary has been extremely erratic, giving up way too many big plays. That has to (and can) change with new faces. Also needing replaced is Jeff Wolfert, the most accurate kicker in NCAA history.

PROGNOSIS: If QB Blaine Gabbert can perform as he did for most of spring camp, the offensive drop off most are expecting won't be too dramatic. With talent in the backfield a more balanced approach will be the order, taking some of the pressure off a passing game missing most of the components from last fall. A duplication of the 2008 defensive struggles would prove devastating. Not many will see Mizzou as the same threat, but there is more than enough talent to surprisingly compete with Kansas and Nebraska for the North Division crown.


STRENGTHS: All-American senior defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is the poster child of a much-improved Husker defense under the Pelini coaching brothers. The entire defense finished ranked in the top three of every conference statistical category last fall. The secondary has a chance to genuinely improve with four returning starters back in this five-back (nickel) set and they are all veterans. Marlon Lucky is gone at running back, but Roy Helu Jr. and Quentin Castille continue to give Nebraska an edge in the ground game. Alex Henery is the most accurate kicker in school history.

CONCERNS: Husker fans will hold their breath when a new QB takes the field. Zac Lee gets the early nod, haing thrown only two career passes. Unfortunately he is the most experienced hurler they’ve got. The big time loss of receivers Nate Swift and Todd Peterson leaves a huge void that won't help the new signal caller. The linebackers will all be new to their full-time roles.

PROGNOSIS: The “Blackshirt” defense is beginning to turn to corner towards the better, an issue that has killed this program the past five or so seasons. The defensive line and secondary look to be even stronger, and depth is no longer a major issue. They will have to play their best as the offense likely goes through major growing pains. Classic Husker power football with the talented backs will be the order until some new receivers mesh with (whoever becomes) the new quarterback. Nebraska is nowhere close to matching the likes of those lethal South Division powers, but they are a favorite by many to win the North.



STRENGTHS: Robert Griffin is one of the most versatile quarterbacks in the country and was a Freshman All-American in 2008. His legs and arm make him a perfect fit in coach Art Brile's spread option attack. His passing numbers will only get better with all the receivers back again. All-American Joe Pawelek is the hub of the defense from his middle linebacker spot, while safety Jordan Lake is the fiercest tackler in the Big 12. The whole defensive back seven will have a chance to really take some huge steps forward.

CONCERNS: The Bears are rebuilding the offensive line. The search for two new tackles, especially at the spot where first round NFL draft pick Jason Smith lined up, could lead to a few problems. The interior of the defensive line gains Penn State transfer Phil Taylor at DT, and looks fine so far. But the ability to produce sacks on the outside is sorely missing, and two untested sophomores assume the starting roles.

PROGNOSIS: This easily could be the best Baylor team in 15 seasons, the last time they went bowling. Granted the Bears were only 4-8 last season, but three of those losses were by a touchdown or less, and this is arguably the toughest division in college football. The offensive line needs to gel quickly, for the first two games against Wake Forest and Connecticut will set the tone. Griffin is an explosive quarterback and makes this system extremely efficient at gaining both yards and points. The defense has eight starters back and is looking to be much improved. Baylor is no longer a push over by a long shot. Don't be surprised if they play a big time spoiler role against one (or more) of the big boys.


STRENGTHS: The Sooners have a Heisman Trophy winner in QB Sam Bradford, a consensus All-American at tight end in Jermaine Gresham, and two 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield with DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown. The front seven on defense could be the story in Norman for 2009 - every single starter returns. Five of them (English, McCoy, Beal, Reynolds and Lewis) are widely considered to be All-American candidates by season's end.

CONCERNS: No doubt the offensive line is the biggest question mark. Four longtime starters are history. There is always plenty of talent running around in this secondary, but they have had their difficulties stopping the big play, lacking consistency overall. Two unproven safeties will have to change these fortunes. The wide receivers rotate outside of talented Ryan Broyles. Bradford's accurate arm, though, likely makes them proven commodities pretty quickly.

PROGNOSIS: This no-huddle, ever-more-efficient offense – that seemingly has too many stars at the skill positions – will be lighting up scoreboards once again. Whoever steps in to do the blocking almost won't matter, but the OL gelling will be the key for OU to continue scoring at 2008’s record-setting pace. This is huge news as the defense with nine starters back should be twice as good compared to a year ago when they started playing much better football towards the end of November and into the title games. There is no question this lineup is filled with future NFL talents. OU is looking for its fourth-consecutive Big 12 title. That won't be enough since this year’s motto of “BCS title game or Bust” is the true state of mind in Norman.


STRENGTHS: Looking for offensive balance? The Cowboys gained more than 3,000 yards both on the ground and through the air in the last two falls. Through these feats three players are now seriously in the early 2009 Heisman Race. Senior QB Zac Robinson stirs the pot and is one of the best dual-threat signal callers found anywhere. Kendall Hunter rushed for 1,555 yards, while receiver Dez Bryant hauled in 1,480 yards receiving. Bryant is also an electric return man. Both offensive tackles are solid, led by preseason All-American Russell Okung. Defensively, their strength comes from all three starters at linebacker returning.

CONCERNS: The Achilles Heel could easily be in the secondary, where only Perrish Cox returns. The defensive line produced the conference's worst sack totals last fall...not a good combination for Big 12 play. Someone else other than Dez Bryant needs to take up some of the slack running routes, especially with NFL bound Brandon Pettigrew gone at tight end.

PROGNOSIS: With almost the entire offense – one that ranked among the Top 10 nationally in every major offensive category - returning, the upstart Cowboys become this year's version of Texas Tech. The games in Stillwater, which includes the two huge home openers against tough non-cons Georgia and a rising Houston ball club plus monstrous visits from conference competitors Texas and Texas Tech, will surely be entertaining. New defensive coordinator Bill Young faces a daunting challenge slowing down the league’s offensive powerhouses with limited talent and experience in the defensive backfield. OSU starts the season in the top 10 of most every preseason polls, they won't be able to surprise anyone.


STRENGTHS: Four-year starter Colt McCoy continues to lead the Longhorns in both rushing and passing. Such was good enough for his second-place finish in last year's Heisman Race, and production levels won't change. Getting preseason All-American Jordan Shipley back for a sixth year of eligibility at receiver makes this bunch both extremely experienced and deep. What could make the offensive fortunes even better is a front line with major expectations. Center Chris Hall and tackle Adam Ulatoski are some of the league’s best. The secondary has a chance to be much improved; though young, all have seen plenty of snaps.

CONCERNS: While talented, the defensive line that finished last season as the nation's No. 1 sack producer should see a drop off after losing so many quality players, especially physical freak Brian Orakpo. Sergio Kindle has been moved from linebacker to end in an effort to duplicate similar numbers. The tight end position is unsettled, as Greg Smith is mostly used for his blocking skills.

PROGNOSIS: Can they beat Oklahoma? The debate just will not go away. Even the winner of this Red River Rivalry in Dallas can't be assured of a spot in the national championship game as the Horns sorely found out last fall. For Texas to overcome the Oklahoma hurdle, they need to get more out of a talented secondary as the pass rush isn't quite as fierce. There is an abundance of deep riches at most every position in Austin, and this Colt McCoy-led offense will continue to outscore (most) every opponent. Look for the running game to be a more integral factor as this offensive line has the potential to be lethal. Like it or not, the song remains the same with the same faces and places...Texas or Oklahoma?


STRENGTHS: Being short on offensive skill talent won't be a problem. If Jerrod Johnson continues to elevate his game, the passing arsenal is in good hands (were 27th nationally throwing the ball). Johnson also set a school record with 21 TDs. A pair of exciting targets exists in Ryan Tannehill (also playing a dual role lining up at QB) and Jeff Fuller while the experience lining up on the outside with them is deep. Three different ball carriers each offer something positive; Cyrus Gray broke the school's freshman record for all-purpose yards

CONCERNS: Simply put, no one is blocking or tackling. The Aggies offensive line was swamped last fall allowing 39 sacks, 23 more than their defense managed. The running game has suffered and the quarterback is running for his life. The bigger challenge will be getting more out a defense that was one of the nation’s worst in almost every category.

PROGNOSIS: The defense is far removed from the ole Wreckin' Crew days when A&M physically punished opponents. Expect some improvements on this side, as the final outcome can't get any worse. Like most Big 12 teams, the offense has serious potential assuming the offensive line can block somebody. But that is a big "IF". More likely, when both lines of scrimmage are uninspiring, such would make for another long season. This team will be better than last year, but that still will not be enough to get the Aggies bowl eligible. even when the light non-conference schedule allows for a 3-0 start.


STRENGTHS: Taylor Potts, head coach Mike Leach’s latest QB phenom find, is the new kid on the block. The 6'5 strong-armed signal caller takes over where the previous five signal callers left off, thriving in a system built for raking up offensive (passing) numbers. Depth at receiver leaves plenty of room for optimism despite the loss of Michael Crabtree. Veterans like Edward Britton and Detron Lewis will make sure these crazy receiver sets continue the traditions. Both senior tackles Brandon Carter and Marlon Winn are as good as any in the league. The ray of sunshine on defense will be all three starters returning at LB.

CONCERNS: In this conference, no player turnover (from an offensive standpoint) was as big - only four starters return. The offensive line has plenty of holes right up the middle. Expect Brandon Carter to shift inside (to guard) in an attempt to remedy the situation. Two star safeties need be replaced as the secondary goes through a rebuilding phase. The pass rush has a few questions of its own since Brandon Williams bolted early for the NFL and McKinner Dixon still sits out due to suspension.

PROGNOSIS: The overall number of starters coming back is pretty small, and Texas Tech is predicted to take a conference back seat this time around, compared to the likes of Texas, Oklahoma and Okie State. Ho, hum...per usual, coach Mike Leach and his new $12.7 million contract says, "Bring on the doubters!" Tech will continue to find numbers success on offense, but they cannot afford to settle for shootouts as the defense has major questions concerning their ability to slow down opposing aerial attacks. Rebuilding is not an option, but repeating another 11-1 regular season is not a reasonable expectation.



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