The Big Twelve South is the rougher of the two divisions with more teams that have had historic success on the gridiron. They may not have the best team in the entire conference though. The North's Nebraska may qualify for that honor. That of course remains to be decided on the field. The Longhorns look to be the class of the South this year with perhaps Oklahoma sneaking up on them. Texas Tech has a new coach who I have just not ever been really impressed with and that will prove to be a detriment. The Aggies are still looking for some respect but will likely not find it this year. Oklahoma State is supposed to be in rebuild mode, but the Cowboys can be a surprise and should be taken lightly by no one. Baylor has a darn good QB, perhaps the best in conference, but probably will finish near (but not at) the bottom. Briles should have stayed in Houston, but so it goes. On the the predictions.
1. Texas: Mack Brown will have this squad ready to compete again for the honor of champion again in conference and perhaps have a shot at a national title. The only drawback is the QB has very little actual playing experience. If he can get it together then look for these guys to be a top 5 team and having a legitimate shot at the National Championship, if it takes him a while, look for them to be a top fifteen team and out of the BCS race. The non conference schedule is certainly manageable with only UCLA and perhaps Wyoming posing some problem. They do meet Oklahoma of course and the Aggies in the rivalry game along with the Cornhuskers of the North.
2. Oklahoma: If Texas should falter at all then look for the Sooners to take up the slack. Landry Jones has proven to be a pretty darn good QB and the Sooners return a decent number of starters. It is not a stretch that these guys find themselves meeting Nebraska in the Big XXII Championship. The non conference slate includes Florida State, Air Force and Cincinnati - dangerous teams all, along with Utah State of the WAC. They could go 4-0 in non conference play or at the very worst 3-1. They miss Nebraska this year but of course have to play the Longhorns and Oklahoma State in the rivalry game. Look for a possible BCS Bowl with an outside shot of taking all the marbles.
3. Oklahoma State: Mike Gundy is a winner in Stillwater. This school is in the unfortunate position of having to go head to head with the Sooners in the recruiting wars, but they have been pretty darn successful. Last year they only lost three games in regular season and were tripped up by the Rebs in the Cotton Bowl. No too shabby. They do not return a very large contingent of starters but should be competitive. The non conference slate is manageable with perhaps only Tulsa posing much of a problem. Troy can be dangerous of course, but they are probably not up to this level. The meet the Big Three in conference and it is hard to see that they will be victorious in any of these contests. Time will tell.
4. Baylor: Baylor not in the cellar? I think not. Briles has had time to at least make this a competitive team and this may be the year that the Bears escape last place and perhaps even qualify for a bowl game. The Bears do face TCU in non conference play and that will likely result in a loss, but they should be victorious in contests with Rice, Sam Houston State and Buffalo. They get to miss Nebraska this year also. QB Robert Griffen may well be the best QB in conference and one of the top ten in the nation. He needs to stay healthy though for the Bears to compete.
5. Texas A&M: If Baylor's Griffen is not the best QB then perhaps the Aggies' Jerrod Johnson qualifies for that billet. The Aggies have not had the kind of success that those in College Station think that they are entitled to and that sticks in the craw of A&M fans. If Mike Sherman does not get a move on pretty quick then he may be well, moving on. The Aggies won't give a guy long to prove himself. If the Aggies are to escape the dungeon they must rely on QB play. They have an interesting non conference schedule with the only loss likely coming from the Razorbacks, but they must watch out for a good IAA program; SFA. If they don't play the game, then SFA could sneak up on them and embarrass them. Louisiana Tech can sometimes prove to be tough also. Of course they meet the Longhorns in the rivalry game along with Oklahoma and Nebraska. It could be a tough year for the Aggies or it may be better than expected.
6. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders in the cellar? Yep. The program may be in disarray and it will be interesting to see if Tuberville can get things on track. He probably will come in with a different system that probably will not serve those in Lubbock well. The rest of the conference will thank him though. The non conference slate will certainly be dangerous with a June Jones coached SMU coming to town to start the season and a finale hosting the Cougars of Houston. They should be able to take New Mexico and Weber State. They miss Nebraska which is good and they meet some of the lessor teams of the North (Missouri excepted) along with the usual suspects in the South. Might be a long year in Lubbock.