The Big XII is home to some of the most explosive offenses in the country, and as a result they gave us some of last season's most exciting games.
There looks to be a battle at the top of the conference with Oklahoma hoping to claim the throne atop the conference back from Baylor. Texas is looking to Charlie Strong to lead them back to the promised land, and then there's Kiff Kingsbury (and everything a rock star coach brings to the table - break ups with fake girlfriends, challenging Beyonce to the Ice Bucket Challenge, doing the 'Stanky Leg' with his team, flirting with recruits moms, etc.) and Texas Tech, who are looking to break through in Kingsbury's second season.
Safe to say, the Big XII is going to be fun in 2014. How will it all shake out?
The Bears are the defending Big XII champs, but they've been largely forgotten about after Oklahoma dismantled Alabama in last year's Sugar Bowl. Senior quarterback Bryce Petty returns to lead a historically high-powered offense, and while head coach Art Briles will have to replace Lache Seashrunk among other numerous weapons on offense, they have the depth and talent to do so.
Baylor has to face both Texas and Oklahoma on the road, but they have the talent to beat anyone. As long as they win one of those games and take care of business in the rest, the Bears will be knocking on the door of the College Football Playoff.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Petty is the catalyst behind Baylor's amazing offense, and he'll hope to improve on his 4,200 yard, 32 TD season from a year ago.
He's now the Bears' unquestioned leader, and whatever success or failure Baylor has this year can be placed squarely on his shoulders.
Many people like Sooner QB Trevor Knight to take this award after that breakout game against the Crimson Tide, but he and Oklahoma were so inconsistent last year, it's hard for me to imagine them suddenly becoming world-beaters.
Petty will be playing with a chip on his shoulder since he's being overlooked, and he'll use that to propel himself - and his team - to new heights.
This has less to do with Kansas State than it does the rest of the Big XII. The Wildcats were picked to finish third in the conference this preseason, ahead of teams like Texas and Texas Tech.
K-State is not better than those teams.
Their offensive line will be the strength of their team, but they have a bunch of young and unproven offensive weapons they'll have to rely on, and their defense returns fewer than half their starters.
The Wildcats will still be decent, but finishing in the bottom half of the conference isn't good for a team that's supposed to be contending for the league crown.
The Longhorns have a lot of talent, but they just needed someone to come in and harness all of it.
Charlie Strong was that guy.
He's changing the culture in Austin, and he'll have this team playing as hard as anyone in the country. It'll take Texas another year to get to the level of Baylor and Oklahoma, but they'll finish the year with around 10 wins and third in the Big XII - which is a whole lot better than many think they'll do.
K.D. CANNON, WR, BAYLOR
The Bears' offense is perhaps the most high-powered in the country, but Cannon has the talent to crack the loaded lineup right away.
He was the No. 30 overall recruit in the country and though he has a smaller frame (6'0", 163), he has an insane amount of speed and agility. Baylor head coach Art Briles said Cannon is the "smoothest and purest receiver at the high school level I've ever seen. When the ball's in his hands, he is as instinctive as anybody I've ever been around.”
COACH OF THE YEAR
CHARLIE STRONG, TEXAS
As mentioned above, Texas will get back to their winning ways this year, and Strong is the reason why. His Louisville teams were some of the best coached in the nation and they didn't beat themselves - something the Longhorns did a lot the past few seasons. If he can get Texas turned around quickly, he'll be getting a lot of recognition.
CHARLIE WEIS, KANSAS
Weis was supposed to help turn this Kansas program around and, well, we haven't really seen signs of that happening. He followed up a one-win campaign in his first season to three-wins last year. It's going to be tough going again for the Jayhawks in 2014, and if there aren't significant signs of improvement, Weis might be shown the door.
At least he left us with this gem last year:
BAYLOR at OKLAHOMA
In all likelihood, these two teams will finish at the top of the conference this year. Expect November 8 to serve as the de facto Big XII championship game in Norman.
Baylor absolutely destroyed Oklahoma last year, beating the Sooners 41-12 in Waco. The revenge factor will make this game just a little bit more interesting, especially with Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops hoping to shed his terrible big game reputation.
What do you think we can expect from the Big XII this year? How will your team do? Leave a response in the comments!
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