For the latter half of the season I dutifully brought you reports from the other games around the Big XII. Now the Big XII's season is over. Let's take a look at the conference that went 3-5 in bowls this year.
Ah yes, supposedly the best the Big XII had to offer this season, the Sooners ended up 11-3 with their meltdown against a well-prepared Boise State team in the Fiesta Bowl. Some of the wackiest things came out of Oklahoma this season. The Sooners went 7-0 without Adrian Peterson and 4-3 with him, and they averaged 5.6 more rushes and 24 more rushing yards without him. Clearly Bob should have just kept Peterson out because he was hurting the team... Oklahoma made sure the Big XII ended up with a losing bowl record this season, losing a game everyone expected them to win.
The Future? Oklahoma loses starting QB Paul Thompson and, most likely, Adrian Peterson, but the only other member of the offense that's leaving is little used receiver Jason Carter, so if Heupel can groom a passable quarterback, the offense might not suffer too much, but I would look for another down year from the Sooners like last year as they will most likely be breaking in a freshman quarterback. The defense will still be solid though.
This year's second pick out of the Big XII fell in a tough game to Auburn in the Cotton Bowl. The Huskers had a season of close games that they sometimes won, enough at least to make it to the Big XII championship game. Senior Quarterback Zac Taylor won Big XII Offensive Player of the Year honors and ended with 3197 yards with 26 TDs to just 8 INTs. Nebraska still has a ways to go until they reach their goal of a return to national relevance, but this season was a good start.
The Future? Departures on the defensive side are worrisome. The Huskers lose both their starting defense ends, who were a serious force. I don't know the status of the men replacing them, but if the nice fellow from Corn Nation wants to fill us in, it would be awesome. The offense, on the other hand, despite losing Taylor, will be in good hands with Sam Keller who will do at least as well as Taylor, if not better, and be much cockier about it (though he will lose out on Big XII Offensive Player of the Year to Colt McCoy), throwing to a mostly intact receiving corps.
Who didn't see that Holiday Bowl coming? Brazos? Great season Aggies; it should keep Fran around a while longer, which is something that we all want.
The Future? I'm tempted to predict a fall back into mediocrity, but A&M returns all three of its running backs Lane, Goodson, and McGee, so I don't see any reason they couldn't have another season like this one, minus the win over Texas.
There's definitely talent at Missouri. Chase Daniel looked good all season and Tony Temple just torched Oregon State in the Sun Bowl, though it's hard to tell whether that was just a symptom of a week Pac-10 defense collapsing or of a strong running back having a breakout game.
The Future? The Tigers know how to play. Now they just have to learn how to win, and there's about a 50-50 chance they will, but Gary Pinkell's coaching, so all bets are off.
Awe inspiring comeback to beat Minnesota leaving Mike Leach in tears. My only question is how did Texas Tech get down by 31 to Minnesota in the first place?
The Future? The way this season ended is a great starting point for a good season next year. It's entirely possible that these Raiders could reach another Cotton Bowl next season.
The Cowboys picked up the pieces of last year's disastrous season to net a respectable win over Alabama in the Independence Bowl. Well done Cowboys.
The Future? Bobby Reid's only a sophomore...need I say more?
Not even uber-frosh Josh Freeman could halt the fury of a Rutgers team that beat the Orange Bowl champion, but still got relegated to the Texas Bowl. Another example of a team building well for next season.
The Future? Their not ready to compete for the Big XII North yet, but look for at least eight wins for Ron Prince in his second season.
Passable season for the fighting Manginoes, but didn't make a bowl despite being eligible.
The Future? Many other teams in the North seem to be on the upswing, so next season might see a dip for Kansas, who can play steadily but not spectacularly with little talent.
This was their year. If Enemy of the Nation, Shawn Bell, hadn't been injured, the Bears could well have made it to a bowl for the first time in a long long time. On Guy Moriss' wish list are a quarterback a Taurean Hendersonesque running back and a defense.
The Future? The Bears missed their chance. Next season will consist of a trial by fire for some poor quarterback, which could set them up for a good season in '08.
Incredibly disappointing season for Dan McCarney and the Cyclones. People saw the 'Clones as a darkhorse for the Big XII North title before the season. At least now they get a new, shiny coach to play with.
The Future? It all depends on how fast Chizik can take root in the program.
No one really expected magic in Dan Hawkins' first year, but they did expect a victory over Montana State. Some wins at the end of the season helped the Buffs save a little face.
The Future? Nowhere to go but up.