Sunday, September 27, 2015

Checking in on my Big 12 guesswork

Last week I made a number of prognostications about the Big 12 that I think it'd be interesting to follow up on and take note of where assertions where confirmed and where we learned new information that should alter how we view the league.

I'm going to check list these various guesses here and make notes where I nailed it, missed something, or we just learned something new.

Point #1: The Big 12 doesn't have a playoff team in 2015

This was a point I made over at Football Study Hall and it was largely about the fatal flaws evident in both Oklahoma schools and TCU, which were all pretty obvious over the weekend or in previous games.

TCU surrendered over 600 yards of offense to Texas Tech and are looking much shakier on defense than we are accustomed to seeing from them. Oklahoma St should have lost to Texas and Oklahoma has already shown plenty of warts.

The chances of a team from this conference coming out with only 1 loss seems low, particularly when you consider that the league is stacked in the middle with K-State, Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, and Texas all demonstrating that they could all beat just about anyone on the right Saturday.

The Big 12's great hope for a playoff team is probably Baylor, whom I suspect will be held back by some combination of the following 3 factors:

1) The selection committee has a ready-made excuse to disqualify them in their abysmal strength of schedule. I'm pretty sure that the reason the committee keeps talking about SOS is that it's the qualifier that gives them abundant political cover for restricting access to the top dogs.

2) Seth Russell's decision making on the road. Petty needed a second year in the system to have answers for opponents that could disguise coverages and match-up reasonably well with Baylor's athletes and even in year two struggled against Texas and West Virginia. Russell seems to be a poorer decision maker than Russell and will face a few real challenges that could trip him up and ruin Baylor's attempt at a perfect season.

3) That defense, they still look vulnerable but we'll see what happens when Groot, Rocket, and Stewart are all healthy and eligible. Perhaps they'll be stronger than they've appeared so far.

Point #2: Those week 4 picks

Rutgers covering +13.5 vs Kansas

Blah blah, who cares?

Baylor covering -34.5 vs Rice

When I saw that Rice couldn't keep up with Texas' WR tandem of Armanti Foreman and John Burt I was reasonably sure that they would get ripped to pieces by Baylor's offense. Their attempts to slow the game down and grind it out were doomed to failure against the Bear DL...too easy.

Maryland to cover -17 against West Virginia

I don't know anything at all about Maryland, but clearly the Mountaineer offense isn't struggling to get going and Shelton Gibson and Wendell Smallwood are amongst the class of the league at the offensive skill positions.

West Virginia's 3-deep/5-under, Tampa-2 style coverage is going to be a challenge for offenses this year, but the big question is regarding their pass rush. They got three sacks against the Terrapins, this will be something to watch closely when they face Oklahoma next week in what will be a huge weekend for the Big 12.

STAY AWAY from OSU -3 at Texas


Tech to win outright +7 against TCU

WRONG! Close though. You had to know TCU's defense was going to be eviscerated by Tech, the Raiders are absolutely rolling on offense right now. However, Boykin had himself a game and so did Josh Doctson.

TCU will drop some games this year, you can't win 50-50 shootouts every week in the Big 12, and they aren't likely to be able to fix their defense in time. That offense is playing very well though, it'll be interesting to see how far they drop in the polls after that close call.

New conclusions

1. There probably aren't any great defenses in the Big 12 this year

The closest may be Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor, and West Virginia and each seem likely to fall short of having a top 10 or even top 15 unit by the end of the year.

Oklahoma State was soft up the middle against Texas' young OL, they have a solid unit overall but they can be pushed around in the trenches and that always makes greatness harder to come by unless you have a couple of NFL guys roaming around in the backfield. They don't.

Baylor, we've already mentioned. Let's see what they make of Tech next Saturday.

West Virginia we've also discussed, again we need to see them face a real test.

Kansas State might be the closest as they have a great secondary, a LB corps with a solid role player and a weapon (Elijah Lee), and a very strong DL with multiple guys that may prove to be impact performers and good depth behind them.

Even still, it seems doubtful that they'll be better than top 20 or top 15 in the nation.

Should be some more exciting shootouts this year.

2. The Big 12's future is one of even more great offenses

Seth Russell, Jerrod Heard, Mason Rudolph, Skyler Howard, Pat Mahomes, and Baker Mayfield are all returning to their respective schools next season.

When a college offense can build around an established starter at QB it has a multiplier effect on the entire roster. Role players can find roles where their talents shine, coaches can hone schemes that they know have potential, and the entire team has extra confidence and benefits from player leadership.

Also worth noting, Kansas State may see one of their athletic QBs take over next year and TCU has transfer Kenny Hill waiting in the wings to take over for Boykin. 2016 is going to feature more exciting offenses and shootouts, with so many returning starters at QB the smart money will be on the teams that can play defense winning the league next season.

Keep a careful eye on whether traditional defensive schools like TCU, Texas, OU, etc have young players that show some real promise in 2015 in the midst of getting pummeled on a weekly basis by these loaded offensive units.

1 comment:

  1. So who do you have winning in Norman this weekend?