Branching Outside of the Southeastern Conference
As we endeavor to broaden our Southeastern Conference horizons, we shift the focus of this effort to the Big 12. While each team discussed below is geographically located in the south, “College Football Outside the South” is meant to indicate teams that do not play in the SEC.
This post will examine the top three teams in the Big 12 Conference, the order of which is determined by their ranking in the USA Today Coaches Poll.
#14 Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is a man, and his Cowboys begin the 2013 campaign as the highest ranked team in the Big 12. Oklahoma State returns a total of 14 starters, with seven on offense and seven on defense. The Cowboys won the Big 12 outright in 2011, and narrowly missed playing for the national championship at the end of that year.
Coach Gundy feels that the conference championship race is wide open and the fact that the Cowboys are the highest ranked team in the conference to start the season is an indication of how far the program has come. The Pokes have gone from pretender to contender under Mike Gundy, but Oklahoma State is still looking for a signature win to prove they belong with the elite teams in college football.
If experience is the key to success, then the Longhorns are poised for a big year. Texas returns a total of 19 starters (ten on offense, nine on defense) for a team that went 9-4 in 2012. According to the Orlando Sentinal Sports Blog Texas head coach Mack Brown is under pressure to increase his win total and sharpen the Horns to contend for a championship. Everything may be bigger in Texas, but losing nine Big 12 games over the past two seasons is too large for the person in charge.
It is hard not to wonder how the hell Oklahoma is ranked below Texas. The Sooners have dominated the Longhorns in their head-to-head meetings in the past two seasons by a combined score of 118-38. That margin has to be seen as comically large for everyone outside of the Lone Star State.
Bob Stoops has a career record of 149 and 37 since he took over the reins of the Sooner schooner. However, the man affectionately known as “Big Game Bob” has a mediocre record of 7-7 in bowl games. The bottom line is that Stoops has won a national title despite Oklahoma’s miniscule record of 3-5 in BCS games under Stoops.
The Sooners return a total of 11 starters, with seven on offense and four on defense. The biggest question mark for Oklahoma is at quarterback, as their most experienced passer Blake Bell has 20 career pass attempts thus far in his sooner career.
According to the dallas news sports blog, six teams received first place votes in the media’s Big 12 preseason pick. Looking at the conference from high on my SEC horse, that is an indication that the Big 12 may be in for a down year. Furthermore, as a football fan who is a bit of a purist, I find it pretty absurd that there are now ten teams in the Big 12, and twelve teams in the Big Ten. Quirks such as these are why Southeastern Conference football is so easy to love.
This blog must end with a classic photograph of my favorite Big 12 athlete ever, Adrian Peterson.