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PREVIEWING THE 2004 BIG XII
August 18, 2004

SCS.com
OU QB Jason White looks to make another run at both the Heisman and Big XII title.
courtesy soonersports.com
The Big XII has long been known as one of the most successful and exciting conferences to watch in college football. From the vaunted passing attack of Texas Tech to the impenetrable defense of OU, Big XII fans can always count on an exciting season. Whether it is the Red River Shootout or the Border War of the North, we always look forward to incredible matchups. This year does not seem to be any different. The southern division is stacked with awesome talent, and the north features some great teams as well. I have predicted how the conference will play out, but the only way to know for sure is to let the season play out. That leaves me with only one thing to say....Let's play some football!

Projected Big XII Standings

NORTH SOUTH
Team Big XII Overall Team Big XII Overall
Kansas State 7-1 10-1 Oklahoma 7-1 10-1
Nebraska 6-2 9-2 Texas 7-1 9-2
Missouri 4-4 7-4 Oklahoma State 6-2 9-2
Colorado 2-6 5-6 Texas Tech 5-3 8-3
Iowa State 2-6 5-6 Texas A&M 2-6 3-8
Kansas 0-8 3-8 Baylor 0-8 2-9
CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME : OKLAHOMA over KANSAS STATE

Big XII North

Kansas State - I started the Northern Division off with what I thought was probably the most explosive offense in this division. Darren Sproles ran wild last year and usually good backs are like a fine wine. They just get better with more age and experience. Weaknesses are in unproven quarterback Dylan Meier and in the defensive secondary. The d-line should be really solid and put lots of pressure on the opposing teams' QB and running game.

Nebraska - Under new head coach Bill Callahan, the Huskers will be looking to change from a smash-mouth running team into a "Spurrier-esque" west coast offense team. Although they will struggle at first, Nebraska will pick up the system quickly and respond. The quarterback should get plenty of time to throw, especially from center Richie Incognito. The defense looks as solid as it has in years, being anchored by DB Josh Bullocks and LB Barrett Ruud.

Missouri - I don't believe I have ever seen a player as over-hyped as Mizzou's Brad Smith. Smith is an excellent runner with Michael Vick running skills and a sporadic throwing arm; however, I do not think that Mizzou's receivers are talented enough to make up for the poor throwing arm of Smith. The defense should be in good hands if All-American Candidate James Kinney plays up to potential. The d-line should also be extremely solid.

Colorado - Just when Colorado fans thought things couldn't get any worse after becoming Baylor Bear fodder, your ex-kicker, a female, says she was sexually assaulted. This scandal rocked the CU football program to the core, prompting the transfer of many players. However, CU does return stars Bobby Purify and Joel Klatt. This should help the Buffs along with a weak North, but I do not think that this team, with all of the distractions, will be able to do better than fourth in the Big XII North this year.

Iowa State - Last year the Iowa State offense was about as unproductive as they could be. The quarterback couldn't get the ball to the receivers, and the running game imploded. The defense also allowed over 35 points and 440 yards a game, making Iowa State one of the worst Big XII teams. In order to be successful this year, the defense will have to step up and at least stop somebody every now and then. The offense must also attempt to be somewhat productive, putting some points on the board. If Dan McCarney doesn't start winning some games, he may be in trouble or on the job market.

Kansas - After a great season last year, Mangino's club appears to be in trouble. The loss of quarterback Bill Whittemore will probably hurt this team more than expected. The receivers are decent and the quarterback should have mediocre protection from his o-line. The defense should be improved with the only real question mark coming on the line with only one starter returning. The secondary and linebackers should be as good a set as Kansas has had in a long time. Charles Gordon and Rodney Harris are expected to bolster the secondary, providing some good pass coverage.

Big XII South

Oklahoma - Oklahoma returns probably one of the better teams of the past decade. The team is senior heavy and looks ready to regain its swagger after getting pounded by K-State and LSU at the end of last season. They also return the Heisman Trophy winner and deadly wide-out Mark Clayton. If the running game develops, then OU's offense should be extremely potent. The defense looks as good as ever with linebacker Lance Mitchell and d-linemen Cody and Dvoracek leading the attack. Look for OU to stumble in Stillwater though. Remember, Les Miles is 2-1 against Bob Stoops. That makes Miles the only coach in the conference with a winning record against Stoops, and this year Miles has him at home.

Texas - Texas is probably the most controversial team in the south. They usually have the talent but always seem to underachieve, leaving the fans with a bitter taste of disappointment in their mouths. This year seems to be no different as Texas returns the least amount of talent in years. The quarterbacks appear to be solid, but who will start? Mack Brown is notorious for shifting QB's, and this year should be the same with scrambler Vince Young and more traditional pocket passer Chance Mock. The running backs are also good, but the receivers, usually a Texas strength, are weaker than anytime in the last decade. Texas must have Benson and Young establish a ground game for them to be successful. The defense should be in good hands with LB Derrick Johnson and DL Rodrique Wright providing the star power.

Oklahoma State - A year after losing the most prolific offensive trio in school history, one would expect the Cowboys to take a step back. However, the offense should be in good hands if redshirt freshman Donovan Woods matures quickly. Woods, the youngest of the family, will have his older brother D'Juan to throw to. D'Juan Woods is comparable in talent to Rashaun, and with the offensive line being as good as ever, Donovan should have plenty of time to throw to him. The tailback position is also well off after the loss of Tatum Bell to the Denver Broncos. Vernand Morency returns after an explosive season last year and should run freely behind Sam Mayes and Shaun Willis. The defense looks to be solid with OSU maybe having the deepest set of linebackers in the south. CB Darrent Williams heads up a very solid secondary.

Texas Tech - With the quarterback position up for grabs, Tech appears to have some viable options. Sonny Cumbie is the pre-season favorite, but juco sensation Robert Johnson looks to give him a good run. Running backs Taurean Henderson and Johnnie Mack headline a strong backfield that will excel in both the running and passing game. WR Nehemiah Glover returns to provide some experience at the receiving end of the ball. The defense, however, should be about the same. The loss of Ryan Aycock to graduation hurts the secondary bad, but the d-line, anchored by DE Adell Duckett, should be exceptional.

Texas A&M - A&M needs to put last year's debacle behind them as they get ready for the upcoming one. The receiving corps looks to be very good, and they do return a good one in WR Terrence Murphy. Cortney Lewis takes over for the departed Farmer and seems to be a solid every-down back. Reggie McNeal will have to produce in order for the offense to go. Last year was a poor follow-up on his spectacular freshman season, and if he falters, Coach Fran may have to go to spectacular freshman Stephen McGee in order to salvage his season. The defense looks to be solid but for the most part is young and inexperienced. The d-line should be good with returning starters Johnny Jolly and Marcus Jasmin providing some protection against the run. FS Jaxson Appel looks to provide some leadership in the secondary along with good tackling ability.

Baylor - A year after a terrific upset over Colorado, Baylor looks about the same. The quarterbacks appear to be solid with Shawn Bell as the projected starter and with Jr. Dane King and Sr. Aaron Karas backing him up. They should provide solid leadership to a team that started nine true freshmen last season. The run game appears to be in a world of hurt after losing last year's starter, Rashad Armstrong. The o-line will be anchored by Quintin Outland and should provide some protection for the QB. Baylor's defense will once again be mediocre, but DB Maurice Lane should provide a spark in the secondary.

Preseason Conference Bests

Best Team - Oklahoma - Stoops' team returns one of the best defenses in conference history along with the Heisman Trophy winner. Look for them to have a very good season and receive a BCS bid.

Best Coach - Bill Snyder - K-State - Snyder took a college football flop and over his career has turned the Wildcats into a perennial powerhouse.

Best Player - Jason White - Oklahoma - How could we not count the former Heisman winner as the best player in the conference? With an experienced receiving corps around him, White should make another strong push for the trophy.

Best Stadium - Darrel K. Royal - Texas Memorial - Probably the nicest stadium in the Big XII, I have this one edging out Kyle Field for the best stadium.

Best Game of the Upcoming Season - The Bedlam Game - Usually I would have said the Red River Shootout, but the Longhorns are notorious for under-achieving and this year looks to be one of the better Bedlam matchups in a while. The Cowboys will have an inexperienced but extremely athletic QB, and if he can find his stride before this game, then Stoops may be in trouble. Remember, Les Miles is 2-1 against Stoops, and the game is in Stillwater this year.

Best Fans - Nebraska - I give the nod here to Nebraska because no other Big XII college has sold out every home game for the last 35 years. The Nebraska fans always pack the stadium regardless of the team's success and always show tremendous support for the Huskers.

Best Tradition - Texas A&M - Though it may seem cultish and foreign to us "non-Aggies," they have been doing the same things for many, many years. Whether it is the whooping or the hissing, the fans in College Station got it down.

Best Bet to Over-Achieve - Oklahoma State - Miles' teams are notorious for this. He always seems to take a team with lack-luster talent and get some good quality wins, but this year Miles might have the most talent he has had in his career. Look out Sooners!

Best Bet to Under-Achieve - Texas - Let's face it. This is a Mack Brown coached team. When do they not under-achieve?

Reed's Preseason All-Big XII

OFFENSE:
Jason White QB Oklahoma
Darren Sproles RB Kansas State
Cedric Benson RB Texas
Mark Clayton WR Oklahoma
Nehemiah Glover WR Texas Tech
Billy Bajema TE Oklahoma St.
Jammal Brown OL Oklahoma
Vince Carter OL Oklahoma
Richie Incognito OL Nebraska
Sam Mayes OL Oklahoma St.
Daniel Loper OL Texas Tech

DEFENSE:
Clay Coe DL Oklahoma St.
Adell Duckett DL Texas Tech
Dan Cody DL Oklahoma
Dusty Dvoracek DL Oklahoma
Derrick Johnson LB Texas
Lance Mitchell LB Oklahoma
Paul Duren LB Oklahoma St.
Darrent Williams DB Oklahoma St.
Donte Nicholson DB Oklahoma
Josh Bullocks DB Nebraska
Maurice Lane DB Baylor

SPECIAL TEAMS:
Daniel Sepulveda P Baylor
Dusty Mangum K Texas
Antonio Perkins PR Oklahoma
Terrence Murphy KR Texas A&M

The Big XII looks to be one of the best conferences in football this year, along with the SEC and ACC. If things go like I think they will, then the Big XII will have nine bowl eligible teams. This would show that the Big XII is indeed the best conference in football.

 > Talk about it in The College Corner...

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