Big 12 Preseason Football Picks and Predictions

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Sophomore quarterback David Ash doesn't need to be great, but he needs to be better than his freshman form for the Longhorns to win a conference championship.
Sophomore quarterback David Ash doesn't need to be great, but he needs to be better than his freshman form for the Longhorns to win a conference championship.

If last year is any indication, then this will probably be wrecked by November. Anyhow, here's how I filled out the 2012 Big 12 Conference Media Preseason Football Poll.


First, a few thoughts:


Yes, yes, I am well aware Collin Klein is a quarterback and not a running back. But just like I couldn't possibly put a 57-percent passer with a 13-6 TD-INT ratio in the "QB" slot, I can't leave out the player who finished with 27 rushing touchdowns -- tied for second in the nation, among anybody -- or whose 1,141 rushing yards ranked third behind quarterbacks. Klein had to make my list, and he did so as a running back.


Is Wes Lunt a better player than Johnathan Gray? Noooo. But, Gray is going to be sharing carries in the Texas backfield, and Lunt is the new Oklahoma State quarterback. The last five seasons, the starter in Stillwater averaged 3,395 yards. So, based on statistical merit and impact, I think Lunt is the best preseason choice for Newcomer of the Year.


A few good receiver choices, and I had Oklahoma's Kenny Stills on the list as recent as a few hours ago. But without Ryan Broyles, the passing game sputtered, and I don't think Stills should be absolved of that blame. On the other hand, West Virginia's Tavon Austin is a one-man wrecking crew.


Offensive Player of the Year: Geno Smith, West Virginia

Defensive Player of the Year: A.J. Klein, Iowa State

Newcomer of the Year: Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State

 

Order of Finish:


1. West Virginia -- The conference's most dynamic offense, with perhaps the best homefield advantage (1,000-plus mile flight + 60,000 drunk Mountaineer fans) makes the new addition the early favorite.


2. Kansas State -- Gets Texas at home in the final week of the season to nail down the conference's No. 2 spot.


3. Texas -- Love the defense, love the running game. The schedule -- West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State, Baylor all at home -- is pretty favorable, too. But I don't think David Ash can beat West Virginia and Geno Smith in any sort of showdown, and I don't like Texas to beat Kansas State in the winter chill of Manhattan.


4. Oklahoma -- Landry Jones faded last season (one touchdown, six interceptions in the final four games) and that scares me. So does his possible dearth of passing options.


5. TCU -- The biggest thing here is the adjustment period from the Mountain West Conference. I know the Horned Frogs can beat the AQ schools -- Wisconsin and Oregon State in 2010, Clemson in '09 -- but I'm a bit skeptical as to whether they can survive a schedule that includes consecutive games at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, against Kansas State, at Texas and against Oklahoma.


6. Iowa State -- Paul Rhoads will take his team bowling for the second year in a row, but the Cyclones will have to do better against the conference's top-25 teams (2-5 a year ago) to challenge for anything more.


7. Oklahoma State -- Last season's feel-good story will sorely miss its quarterback and leading receiver.


8. Baylor -- See above.


9. Texas Tech -- Seth Doege has proven he can win a game single-handedly (441 yards, four touchdowns against Oklahoma) but it'd be nice if his defense -- third-worst nationally -- could help him out.


10. Kansas -- Serious thought to putting Charlie Weis' team No. 9, but the fact that the Kansas-Texas Tech game will be in Lubbock flipped the vote.


All-Conference Team, Offense:


QB: Geno Smith, West Virginia
RB: Joseph Randall, Oklahoma State
RB: Collin Klein, Kansas State
WR: Tavon Austin, West Virginia
WR: Terrance Williams, Baylor
TE: D.J. Grant, Texas
OL: Gabe Ikard, Oklahoma
OL: LaAdrian Waddle, Texas Tech
C: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OL: Lane Taylor, Oklahoma State
OL: Mason Walters, Texas
PK: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
PR: Quandre Diggs, Texas


Defense:


DL: Stansly Maponga, TCU
DL Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas
DL: Alex Okafor, Texas
DL: Toben Opurum, Kansas
LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Arthur Brown, Kansas State
DB: Carrington Byndom, Texas
DB: Nigel Malone, Kansas State
DB: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas
DB: Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State