I think that maybe I lumped these two proud conferences together because of how funny it will be next season when the Big 10 has twelve teams and the Big 12 has ten. Or more likely, it is that when I was growing up as we got into November the two college football games I most looked forward to were Michigan/Ohio State and Oklahoma/Nebraska. The first is a little down right now and unfortunately the latter is being removed from the landscape. As you will see in my picks, I do think the Sooners and Huskers will get one last big stage to show their disdain for each other. Plus these are exiting conferences because I’d put down quite a few dollars that one of the two teams in Arizona on January 10th will hail from one of these two.
FINAL BIG 10 STANDINGS
1. Ohio State
2. Penn State
4. Michigan State
Ohio State is the top dog yet again. I don’t think Terrelle Pryor is as good as he was supposed to be, but he’s improved and he has plenty of weapons anda staunch defense to help him. Behindthe Buckeyes are 4 teams all capable of finishing second and claiming a BCS bowl spot. I know Penn State has to replace QB Darryl Clark, but I love the potential of Kevin Newsome and I think their 1-2 punch at running back ( Royster and Green) is explosive. Most will have the Iowa Hawkeyes higher, I just see how many close games they’ve eked out the last two seasons andfigure karma has to catch up sometime. I like the direction Michigan State is going with Mark Dantonio, as long as he shores up the defense this year. The coaches at Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana all could see this be their last season.
Offensive MVP: Evan Royster, RB Penn St.
Defensive MVP: Adrian Clayborn, DE Iowa
Best TE in the league: Lance Kendricks, Wisconsin
Best ILB in the league: Greg Jones, Michigan St.
Top Assistant: Norm Parker, DC Iowa
Royster will not get as many yards as Wisconsin’s John Clay, since he has to share carries with Stephfon Green. The ones he does get will be more exciting, though. Adrian Clayborn registered 11.5 sacks for the Hawkeyes last season andwith the help of coach Norm Parker’s schemes; he’ll terrorize Big 10 QB’s again this season. His only real competition for defensive player of the year will come from the tackling machine and future Sunday star Greg Jones.
FINAL BIG 12 STANDINGS
1. Oklahoma Nebraska
2. Texas Missouri
3. Texas A&M Kansas State
4. Texas Tech Colorado
5. Oklahoma State Iowa State
6. Baylor Kansas
Championship Game: Oklahoma over Nebraska
I think that one main stat gives Oklahoma the edge over Texas in the Big 12 South. They are very evenly matched teams in most regards. Oklahoma has slightly more offensive weapons, but not much. Texas has a bit stingier defense, but not by much. Garrett Gilbert will be making only his 5th start when the 2 teams meet up on October 2nd. Landry Jones will be making his 15th. It is the one plus Oklahoma brings with them from last years disappointment. They’ve already broken in Sam Bradford’s replacement. That will set up one last glorious battle between long time rivals Oklahoma and Nebraska before the Cornhuskers head east into Big 10 country. Sooners win by 10. Don’t look now, but Mike Sherman is quietly getting Texas A&M back to respectability and Bill Snyder is doing the same at K State (again!). Tommy Tuberville may do just fine at Texas Tech, but you know the Big 12 defensive coordinators are still partying over Mike Leach’s dismissal.
Offensive MVP: DeMarco Murray, RB Oklahoma
Defensive MVP: Jared Crick, DT Nebraska
Best TE in the league: Travis Tannahill, Kansas State
Best ILB in the league: Garrick Williams, Texas A&M
Top Assistant: Will Muschamp, DC Texas
DeMarco Murray will benefit from the extra workload, now that Chris Brown is gone. He will run for well over a thousand yards, but is equally dangerous out of the backfield where he caught over 40 ball last year. Jared Crick won’t be Ndamukong Suh, especially without Suh beside him like he has last year; but he will still be a devastating force in the middle. His play and that of a few of his defensive mates will be the main reason Nebraska wins the North division again. I normally am completely against the coach-in-waiting nonsense. If Friedgen gets fired this year what does that do to Maryland’s James Franklin. The whole thing is silly, but in this case Will Muschamp will be the best person to take over for Mack Brown. The only problem for Will, is when will that be…. heck maybe not until 2015 or so.