August 01, 2010
Twelve hyper-specific predictions. Wrapping up the Doc's Big 12 Week.
• Continuing on last year's theme, Nebraska will again lose multiple games despite holding opponents at or below 17 points. But the 'Huskers will also win multiple games despite scoring at or below 17 points themselves.
• Oklahoma's defense will allow at least a field goal more per game than it did in 2009 and fall outside of the top 10 nationally in total D, but the Sooner offense will increase scoring by at least a touchdown per game behind a 2,000-yard all-purpose season from running back DeMarco Murray.
• Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert will finish on the cusp of celebrated predecessor Colt McCoy's senior passing numbers (3,521 yards, 27 touchdowns). Most of the difference, though, will be due to an even more pass-oriented offense in the absence of a No. 1 tailback, and Gilbert's completion percentage and overall efficiency will fall well short of McCoy's sky-high tallies the last two years as he endures more than 30 sacks behind a largely rebuilt offensive line.
• After leading the nation against the run in 2009, Texas' defense will lead the nation (or at least finish in the top five) in pass efficiency D behind four veteran starters in the secondary, one of whom (most likely cornerback Curtis Brown) will show up at season's end as a finalist for the Thorpe Award as the nation's best DB.
• Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert will hit 4,000 yards passing without a 1,000-yard receiver (though juniors Jerrell Jackson and Wes Kemp will come very, very close). Gabbert will also diligently tweet pictures of the Tigers' pregame meal to a growing number of followers before every home game.
• Texas A&M will go over 30 points in each of its first eight games in September and October, but still find itself stuck at .500 with Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas waiting down the stretch thanks to a typically porous defense.
• True to word, Texas Tech will continue to "air it out," finishing as the league's most pass-happy team for the 11th consecutive season. But Tommy Tuberville's Raiders will also run as often as they throw in at least four regular-season games – that is, at least four more times than they leaned toward the run in a solid decade under departed "Air Raid" maestro Mike Leach, who called for more passes than runs in each and every one of his 128 games as Tech head coach, regardless of the opponent.
• Baylor's excruciating bowl drought will extend to 17 years despite a 4-1 start over the first five games.
• Kansas quarterback Kale Pick, owner of five career pass attempts coming into the season, will live up to his name by throwing more interceptions than any other quarterback in the conference. On the other hand, the Jayhawks will slightly improve on one of the league's worst ground attacks, but their scoring average will still fall below 28 points per game for the first time since 2005.
Certainly no team in the conference will benefit more from the cross-divisional schedule than KU, which rotates back onto the Texas/Oklahoma/Texas Tech-free slate that helped propel the 2007 Jayhawks to the Orange Bowl. No other team in the North misses both the Longhorns and Sooners, and poor Iowa State has to play both, on the road, in back-to-back weeks in October.
• Overly enthusiastic Iowa State coach Paul Rhoades will suffer a minor injury celebrating the Cyclones' karmic upset over Kansas on Oct. 30 (immediately following ISU's dates with Oklahoma and Texas), but refuse treatment or transport to the emergency room until the team has finished an especially emotional rendition of the ISU fight song.
• Neither Cody Hawkins nor Tyler Hansen will start more than two games in a row at quarterback for Colorado, and both will eventually give way to true freshman Nick Hirschman in a desperate November bid for .500 as the clock strikes midnight on the Dan Hawkins era.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.