As promised I've returned for another lovely blog...so we won't delay...
THE HOT LIST:
1. Big 10 Divisions...its heating up
2. Big 12 Conference Preview: Baylor
3. Big 12 Conference Preview: Oklahoma State
1. The Big 10 is heating up with lots and lots of division talk. Reports have surfaced recently about Ohio State and Michigan being in separate divisions along with likely Iowa and Wisconsin are looking like being in different divisions too. What's becoming the major issue is where Iowa has rivalries with Minnesota and Wisconsin. They have voiced their opinions about staying in the same divisions to keep its long traditions with those two schools. You're beginning to see that teams with trophies are getting snippy about keeping their games with those schools going. The hot button topic has been what to do with Michigan and Ohio State...split them up...or keep them in the same division. I think you split them up because no matter how you look at it the Big 10 wants its 4 major programs to be playing each other as much as possible. I think you split it up where Nebraska plays Michigan and Penn State each year in a protected rival game. Penn State and Nebraska could be a great rival because they absolutely hate us for stealing the national title away from them in 1994. That also ensures that Nebraska will be playing Iowa and likely Minnesota each year as well. The lone school out is Wisconsin...they badly wanted to create a trophy game with Nebraska and likely won't get a chance to, as Wisconsin and Iowa have been tabbed as the next two teams in the tier just below the big four. No matter how you slice the teams in the new Big 10...Nebraska arguably will have a tougher schedule to go with in 2011...thus pushing the urgency to make some serious noise in the final year of the Big 12.
2. Our Big 12 preview continues today with the Baylor Bears. Expectations were through the roof last season after what Robert Griffin did at QB. I bought into the hype...I picked them to win 7 games last season. All that came crashing to an end when Griffin was lost for the season due to an ACL tear. He's back and states he's fully recovered.....but Dennis Dixon can certainly attest to what the impact of this kind of injury is to the psyche. He is the key to any success that this team could have. The return of Jay Finley at running back along with Kendall Wright gives Baylor weapons outside of Griffin. I think the key for them this season is simple...spread the ball around...Last season it became obvious that the team relied waaaay to much on Griffin's feet. Thus you saw what happened...he got hurt and their bowl hopes when crashing down. The defense returns playmakers at DT with Phil Taylor and Tracy Roberston. LB Antonio Johnson, CB Chance Casey and FS Tim Atchison give some mobile players behind their defensive line. The key with this unit is can they actually stop someone. You can't beat the big boys in your division unless you can stop them from scoring points. I don't think they can do that on a consistent basis but they will be competitive and shouldn't be taken lightly...just as Missouri from last year...
OUTLOOK: Baylor opens with one tough game in the nonconference with TCU on September 18th. They should be 3-1 after beating Sam Houston State, Rice, and Buffalo...Opening up with Kansas at home is win this year...the Jayhawks have a lot to deal with this season...Texas Tech exposes Griffin and uses that defense to contain him but playmakers help him win...5-1...At Colorado...win...6-1..congrats you're going bowling this year...then comes the meat of the schedule with K-State, at Texas, at OSU, and Texas A&M and OU at home to close it out...the beat K-State to get to 7-1 but four straight losses to end the season puts them at 7-5 and bowling this season....I thought I called it last year...don't make me look like a fool again Baylor...
3. Oklahoma State is an intriguing team this year...riding the high of being preseason in the top 15 with Zac Robinson a stud QB...he's gone...so is Dez Bryant who sat out all of last season due to lying to the NCAA..real smart guy...The biggest disappointments came with Kendall Hunter who was banged up all season and didn't perform like a first team All-Big 12 performer. Losing Russell Okung to the draft hurts on the OL as well. Brandon Weeder steps into the spotlight in a new offensive system ran by the same coordinator who let Case Keenum light up OSU last season. Weeder is older (26), more mature, and ready to lead OSU to a bowl win...getting trounced by Mississippi State has left a bitter taste in the Pokes mouth. WR Hubert Anyiam returns but must get the confidence to make the big time catch. At times last season he had a chance to make the play and dropped the ball. Now he's the leader...needing to perform like a leader. Defensive returns talent but second year defensive coordinator Bill Young still feels like this unit can make big plays but isn't ready to fully say they will every Saturday. Ugo Chinasa(DE), Chris Donalson(DT) and Jamie Blatnick(DE) help anchor an experience DL. SS Markell Martin has express wanting to make bigger plays from his position in 2010. He'll need to do it...the best teams in the Big 12 have a SS that can come up and knock running back on their back anytime they want....lofty expectations to fill there bud..
OUTLOOK: OSU opens with three straight wins against Wash St, Troy, and Tulsa. Getting A&M early on Sept. 30th is a trap game and I feel the Aggies are just too talented to be beaten...expect a lot of points scored in that game. Win against Louisiana puts them at 4-1 before playing Texas Tech. I'm not sold on Tubberville's system but this is one I feel they get at home...again...against the pokes...Nebraska the following week leaves a bitter taste as they lose again and again the next week to K-State....they get back to winning against Baylor but lose to Texas and beat Kansas to end the season...final record 7-5 and likely a bowl game. That will keep the angers of pokes fans quite...for now but Mike Gundy might have to get them back to winning 8+ games a season if he is to keep his job in the next 4 years.
Not planning to blog over the weekend but we'll see...I'll return Monday...enjoy...game week starts on MONDAY!!!! GO SKERS!!!!!