HOW THEY'LL FINISH
August 21, 2011
Best offensive player
JUSTIN BLACKMON WR, Oklahoma State, Junior
The acrobatic wideout has deceptive speed and is a nearly unstoppable game-breaker. His 111 catches for 1,782 yards and 20 TDs in '10 were all school records.
Best defensive player
KHEESTON RANDALL DT, Texas, Senior
The 6'5", 295-pound run stuffer (39 tackles last season) will have to become even more disruptive after the departure of star pass rusher Sam Acho.
True freshman to watch
RONNIE DANIELS RB, Texas Tech
A blend of size (6'1", 195 pounds) and speed (4.5 seconds in the 40), he brings even more balance to a ground game that gained 1,837 yards last season.
Coach on the hot seat
MACK BROWN Texas
With no clear starting QB and three new coordinators, Brown will find it even harder to rebound from his worst season with the Longhorns.
Coach on the rise
The second-year coach went 5--2 to end the season (including a 45--38 win in the TicketCity Bowl) and has a top-shelf recruiting haul, led by Daniels.
Players to Watch (Top performers from unranked teams)
ROBERT GRIFFIN QB, Baylor, Junior
The one-man wrecking crew (3,501 yards passing, 635 rushing and 30 touchdowns) hopes to build on last year's bowl berth, Baylor's first since 1994.
BRYCE BROWN RB, Kansas State, Sophomore
He's ready to boost the conference's No. 2 rushing attack after sitting out last season following his transfer from Tennessee, where he rushed for 460 yards in '09.
SETH DOEGE QB, Texas Tech, Junior
His arm isn't as strong as departed starter Taylor Potts's, but he should get the starting job over Jacob Karam because he can make more plays with his feet.
KELECHI OSEMELE G, Iowa State, Senior
A projected first-rounder in the 2012 draft, the 6'5" 298-pounder will slide to guard from left tackle, where he made 36 starts and developed a reputation as one of the country's best blockers.
CHANCE CASEY CB, Baylor, Junior
A tailback in high school, he made a big impact in the Bears' secondary in 2010, with 48 tackles, one interception and three pass breakups.
D.J. BESHEARS WR-KR, Kansas, Junior
The league's second-best kick returner (with an average return of 25.6 yards in 2010), he should play an expanded role on offense after gaining just 69 yards receiving and 213 rushing last season.
Because of the defections of Nebraska and Colorado there will be no championship game for the first time in the 15-year history of the conference. Only leagues with 12 or more teams can stage a title game under NCAA rules.... The Red Raiders hired TCU safeties coach Chad Glasgow as defensive coordinator to try to balance a team that gained the conference's fourth-most yards (5,983) while giving up the most (5,932).... He was Colt McCoy's heir apparent at Texas, but junior quarterback Garrett Gilbert is now fighting off a trio of youngsters. Among his rivals: sophomore Case McCoy, Colt's brother, who shone in the spring game and is making strides in the new pro-style offense.... James Sims, who led Kansas in rushing yards (742) and total touchdowns (10), was the lone bright spot in the Jayhawks' dismal 2010 season. He should be even more of a force in '11 thanks to the return of seven other starters, including 6'6", 325-pound senior left tackle Jeff Spikes.... Kansas State junior QB Collin Klein has made a compelling case not only to start but also to call his own plays. Given that freedom in the spring game, Klein—who threw for 138 yards as a backup in '10—wowed with a 358-yard, five-TD performance.