Conference Preview: Big 12

West Virginia wideout Tavon Austin (Getty Images)

Projected Order of Finish

1. Oklahoma Sooners

2. West Virginia Mountaineers

3. Texas Longhorns

4. Kansas State Wildcats

5. TCU Horned Frogs

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys

7. Baylor Bears

8. Iowa State Cyclones

9. Texas Tech Red Raiders

10. Kansas Jayhawks

Conference Champion: Oklahoma Sooners

Offensive Player of the Year: Wide Receiver Tavon Austin – West Virginia

     This 5’9 175 pound burner caught 101 passes for 1,186 yards and 8 touchdowns last season while also starring as one of the Big East’s best punt returners. Barring injury, Austin will have a great chance to win the Biletnikoff Award (nation’s top receiver) at the end of the season.

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

     Few players have had a more productive Big 12 career than Klein, who has compiled 228 tackles over the past two seasons with the Cyclones (117 last year). Klein, along with fellow senior Jake Knott, form arguably the best linebacking duo in the conference and one of the top units in the country.

Surprise Team: Baylor Bears

     Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III may no longer be at Baylor, but talented offensive weapons still remain plentiful in Waco. Senior quarterback Nick Florence has proven to be effective in spot duty over the past two seasons, and he’ll have three great receivers to throw to in Terrance Williams, Lanear Sampson, and Tevin Reese. Oregon transfer Lache Seastrunk could be the answer at running back, and eight starters return on a defense that should be much better than the 37.2 points per game they allowed last season.

Best Game: Oklahoma at West Virginia – November 17th

     A traditional Big 12 power meets a conference newcomer in a game that could decide the league title. This game has the looks of a classic, high scoring Big 12 shootout as both teams are absolutely loaded with offensive talent.

     Honorable Mentions: Texas vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas) – October 13th

     TCU at West Virginia – November 3rd

     Oklahoma State at Oklahoma – November 24th


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