The magazine rack at booksellers is filled with them--football magazines which follow the many year tradition of predicting NCAA football top 20 teams, conference champions, All-America teams and potential bowl matchups.
This is the first year for the newly reconfigured Big 12 (i.e., the merry band of 10 minus Nebraska and Colorado) which means a true round-robin schedule where every school faces another, and the non-conference schedule moves from four games to three.
I checked out the usual mags--The Sporting News, Athlon, Phil Steele--and there are several key themes heading into pre-season practice next month, and the season openers in September:
- Oklahoma will win the Big 12. Every magazine predicted that the Sooners would win the conference title. Phil Steele wrote, "The Sooners have the most talent of any team in the nation."
- Kansas will finish last in the Big 12. Just as OU was universally picked number one, Kansas was unanimously picked last. Most figure that the Jayhawks will be better this year but will suffer from the new round-robin schedule coupled a non-conference road game at Georgia Tech. KU's best chance for a conference win is Kansas State at home.
- Missouri will win the Big 12 North. Oh, wait...there is no Big 12 North. So, let's frame it differently--MU will finish highest among former Big 12 North schools. The Tigers are picked to finish behind OU, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas.
- Kansas State is picked 8th and 9th by The Sporting News and Athlon but Steele predicts the 'Cats will finish 6th in the league.
- Nationally, TSN's top 10 is LSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Stanford, Oregon, Boise State, Florida State, Ohio State, Texas A&M and Nebraska. Steele has Alabama first followed by OU, Boise State, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia and Florida State. Athlon's top 10 is Alabama, Oklahoma, Oregon, Florida State, Boise State, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, LSU, Ohio State and Nebraska.
- Big things are expected at Texas A&M. The Aggies are picked 8th nationally by Steele, 9th by The Sporting News and 11th by Athlon. A&M's momentum coming out of last season (they won their last six games before losing to LSU in the bowl game) is the cause for optimism in College Station. They will struggle to win at OU but get Texas, Missouri, and Oklahoma State at home.
Look for more to come in this space as we get into practice timing in August.