August 20, 2010
Big 12 Conference Report
Is Texas still top dog? Can Nebraska replace Ndamukong Suh? Will Oklahoma bounce back from a subpar 2009?'s 2010 conference reports continue with George Schroeder's Big 12 breakdown.
How They'll Finish
NORTH Conference Overall
Nebraska 7-1 10-2
Missouri 5-3 9-3
Kansas State 4-4 7-5
Kansas 3-5 5-7
Iowa State 2-6 4-8
Colorado 2-6 4-8
SOUTH Conference Overall
Texas 7-1 11-1
Oklahoma 7-1 11-1
Texas A&M 5-3 8-4
Texas Tech 4-4 8-4
Oklahoma State 1-7 5-7
Baylor 1-7 4-8
Conference Championship: Texas def. Nebraska
Offensive MVP
Jerrod Johnson
2009 Season Stats: 3,579 pass yards, 30 pass TD, 8 INT, 8 rush TD
2010 Projected Stats: 3,800 pass yards, 35 pass TD, 11 INT, 10 rush TD
Johnson averaged more than 300 total yards in 2009, when the Aggies' only chance to win most games was to light up the scoreboard. In his third year as a starter, Johnson is easily the Big 12's most experienced quarterback and seems poised to move into the star void left by Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy. He'll put up big numbers again -- and more importantly for the Aggies, he'll lead them back to winning.
GALLERY: Johnson headlines's All-Big 12 Team
Defensive MVP
Jared Crick
2009 Season Stats: 73 tackles, 9.5 sacks
2010 Projected Stats: 70 tackles, 12 sacks
Ndamukong Suh's departure leaves a big hole in Nebraska's defensive front, but Crick is an able candidate to fill the gap. Often overshadowed by Suh last year -- who wouldn't be? -- Crick was still an essential piece of the nation's top scoring defense. (He had a school-record five sacks against Baylor.) With Suh gone, the 6-foot-6, 285-pound junior is free to grab the spotlight. But he'll also draw more attention from blockers.
STAPLES: Agony of Texas loss still fueling Nebraska
Impact Freshman
Kenny Stills
High School Stats: 45 catches, 914 yards, 10 TDs
2010 Projected Stats: 41 catches, 659 yards, 6 TDs
Stills brings blazing speed, dazzling high-school credentials (he set San Diego-area receiving records) and a pedigree (his father, Ken Stills Sr., is a former NFL DB). He enrolled last winter and went through spring practice, but what really got the Sooners salivating was his six-catch, 84-yard performance in the spring game. Stills provides a big-play threat opposite star WR Ryan Broyles, something that was missing in 2009.
VIDEO: Was '09 a fluke for Oklahoma?
Coach On The Hot Seat
Mike Sherman
Last Season: 6-7 (3-5 Big 12)
Career at Texas A&M: 10-15 (5-11 Big 12)
Yeah, we know, Dan Hawkins isn't long for his job at Colorado. But that seat is beyond hot, so we went with a guy who needs to show very serious improvement in his third year. The Aggies are not known for their patience, and there's no sign A&M is ready to close the gap on Texas and Oklahoma. To earn more time, the former Green Bay Packers coach needs to show serious progress -- a bowl, and preferably an upper-tier one.
Three Key Nonconference Games
Florida State at Oklahoma
Saturday, Sept. 11
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles (boy, doesn't that sound strange?) bring Heisman contender Christian Ponder into Norman for a rematch of the 2001 BCS Championship Game, which the Sooners won -- and which sent these programs in different directions.
UCLA at Texas
Saturday, September 25
The last time these teams met in Austin, UCLA pounded Texas 66-3. But that was 13 years ago, and some things have changed. The Longhorns have returned to elite status, and the Bruins have fallen far from it. Still, it's a very nice name game.
Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington, Texas)
Saturday, October 9
Jerrod Johnson vs. Ryan Mallett should be fun. But the battle might be decided by which porous defense makes a tackle, eventually.
Three Key Conference Games
Oklahoma vs. Texas
Saturday, October 2
This edition of the Red River Rivalry carries the same stakes as always in recent years: control of the Big 12 South, and determination of the probable Big 12 champion. Bob Stoops once owned rival Mack Brown, but the pendulum has swung. The Longhorns have won four of the last five.
Texas at Nebraska
Saturday, October 16
Already big after the controversial ending to last year's Big 12 Championship, this one reached molten-hot status in June when the Huskers bolted for the Big Ten and blamed their exodus on Texas' heavy flirtation with other leagues. It's difficult to overstate what this game means to Nebraska fans, whose well-earned reputation as the nicest fan base among big-boy programs will be sorely tested when the 'Horns arrive in Lincoln.
Missouri at Nebraska
Saturday, October 30
This could be the deciding game in the Big 12 North race, and it could rank high on the animosity meter, as well, after Nebraska got the Big Ten invitation Missouri openly coveted.
Did You Know?
In an attempt to overhaul a shockingly bad defense -- didn't the Wrecking Crew once reside in College Station? -- Texas A&M brought in four new defensive coaches. Among the newcomers: former Aggies great Dat Nguyen, who knows a thing or two about tackling.
He's not getting as much publicity as some other running backs, but if you're looking for a Heisman dark horse, keep an eye on Kansas State's Daniel Thomas. The 6-2, 228-pound senior is a converted juco quarterback who led the league in rushing a year ago (1,265 yards and 11 touchdowns). He's big, but very quick -- which makes him a very good fit in Bill Snyder's offense.
Ndamukong Suh is gone after a dominant career at Nebraska, but he won't soon be forgotten. That's especially true among his former teammates, who will benefit from his largesse: Suh recently purchased 123 Apple iPads to be mounted in the Huskers' lockers.
Big 12 Video Preview
Top Contenders
Source: SI breaks down why Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska look like the top Big 12 contenders in 2010.

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