No. 2: Where does Texas fit into this year’s Big 12 race?
Texas won the inaugural Big 12 championship in 1996 when it upset heavily favorite Nebraska to secure a Fiesta Bowl berth. It was a game for the ages for the tradition-rich Longhorns.
Since that day in St. Louis, a Big 12 title has been a huge source of frustration. The Longhorns have won only two (2005, 2009), with each title a step to a UT appearance in the national championship game.
Will this season be any different?
As always, Oklahoma is the favorite. But the Sooners have issues. Star running back recruit Joe Mixon was suspended for a year after he was charged with assault earlier this month. Top tackler Frank Shannon was suspended for a year for violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy. He’s fighting the suspension through the state courts. No one knows how much of a distraction this has been to the team. Quarterback b is generating national attention because of his sparkling performance in the Sugar Bowl against Alabama. But there are questions about Knight, because he also struggled at times last season and was injury prone.
The Sooners have the most conducive schedule to a conference championship. They play Texas in the Cotton Bowl and have Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State at home.
Baylor players have complained that no one expects them to repeat. The Bears play a super easy non-conference schedule, then face Iowa State on the road. They play Texas in Austin and have the Sooners in Norman, but they get Oklahoma State and Kansas State at their new stadium. Baylor’s offense should be superb, with quarterback Bryce Petty and receiver Antwan Goodley. But there are concerns with the defense with the departure of so many key players like Ahmad Dixon, Eddie Lackey and Demetri Goodson.
There’s no reason to think Texas can’t compete for a title since the favorites aren’t rock solid, at least in August. But it will take some magic. For one, teams usually get a bump in their first year of a new coach. Mostly, David Ash has to stay healthy at quarterback and show that he’s taken significant steps in his game maturity.
Here’s how the media ranked the teams in the preseason.
This year’s preseason Big 12 poll, as selected by the media:
(1) Oklahoma (47 first-place votes): 548 points
(2) Baylor (9): 508
(3) Kansas State: 377
(4) Texas: 376
(5) Oklahoma State: 312
(6) Texas Tech: 308
(7) TCU: 297
(8) West Virginia: 170
(9) Iowa State: 121
(10) Kansas: 63
How Texas has finished in recent Big 12 seasons, since the 2005 national championship year when the Longhorns swept through the Big 12 at 8-0:
2013: Tied for 2nd, with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, behind Baylor.
2012: Tied for 3rd, with Oklahoma State, behind Kansas State and Oklahoma.
2011: Tied for 6th, with Texas A&M.
2010: 6th — otherwise known as last place — in the South division.
2009: Won the South (8-0) and the Big 12 title game (Nebraska — by one second).
2008: Tied for 1st in the South (7-1) with Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
2007: 2nd in the South, behind Oklahoma.
2006: Ditto. 2nd in the South, behind Oklahoma.
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