So for number 8 I decided to make an executive decision. The top ten list I'm going off of is from Athlon Sports. For those of you who don't know, Athlon is quite possibly the worst pre-season magazine publication ever created. When I started this list I couldn't find my Phil Steele magazine. (My dad stole it) and in a state of Yuengling induced trauma I decided to go off of Athlon's list. For this I apologize. Anyway for number 8 Athlon has Auburn. I don't want to cover Auburn for 3 reasons. 1. I hate Auburn. 2. I refuse to do 4 SEC teams in a top ten. 3. Auburn at 8 is a dumb fucking pick.
As a result, I decided to use this number 8 slot as a dark-horse slot for teams I felt needed some recognition. Only one problem. My two dark-horse teams are from Texas. In the end I chose the lesser of two evils and decided to talk about Texas football.
First up Texas Tech...
The first think you have to note about TT is the fact that they have this guy. For further research on Mike Leach look here. here. here. And of course here. Without a doubt the strength of Tech lies within Leach. Any guy who can call a mesh route 25 times a game, and uses a call sheet the size of a napkin is alright with me. You could argue about Graham Harrell's effectiveness, and whether Michael Crabtree will have a sophomore slump, but you're missing the point. TT's offense has been, and will be solid. The real question is whether or not TT's defense can become adequate enough to become major players in the Big 12. The thing is, the defense doesn't have to be lights out, in theory, they just have to stop the opposing teams offense enough to allow TT to run wild. You can debate whether or not Leach's Airraid offense actually hurts a defense, but the fact still remains that the defense, rather than the offense, is the key for Tech this year.
Looking at the schedule, Tech really only has one key stretch in the year. From Oct. 25th to Nov. 22nd they play at Kansas, Texas (H), OK state (H) and at Oklahoma. If they come out of this stretch with at least one loss, they can hope for Big 12 stars to align and a possible Big 12 championship appearance.
Which brings me to my next team... Texas.
I can't believe I'm saying this but I feel the longhorns are a legitimate Big 12 championship contender and a dark, dark, dark, dark horse NC contender.
The first key is the offense, specifically the maturation of QB Colt McCoy. This is the year McCoy shows whether he will continue last year's plateau in terms of development, or whether he turns into the QB everyone in Texas thought he could become. With the masterful recruiter, Mack Brown, you know the cupboard isn't bare and Texas will have the talent to compete. With two seniors returning at WR and the hopeful impact of RB's Vondrell McGee and Fozzy Whittaker, The weight rests solely on McCoy's shoulders to perform.
The schedule for Texas, however, is not so encouraging. Texas must travel to Colorado, followed with the Red River shootout. The Longhorns must then face the Missouri Tigers in which could turn out to be the most important game in Mizzou's history. (More on this in the Mizzou preview) Follow that up with OK state the following week , a trip to Lubbock, and ending the season with a game at Kansas and the ever dangerous A&M game in Austin.
With that schedule is Texas going to go undefeated? No. will they Fuck somebody's NC world up? Maybe. However, the only hope for Texas to make any type of Big 12 run rests on the shoulders of this guy.
As I said before, with Mack attack at the helm, you know the defensive talent will be there. While Texas returns 5 starters on defense, Muschamp will make the difference. The Big 12 is arguably the best offensive conference in FBS football, and the team that wins the Big 12 will have to possess a defense that, at the least, contains the potent offensive schemes and players in the conference. I believe Muschamp can be that guy. He knows how to deal with the wide open, spread, no huddle offenses seen in the Big 12. Which is, let those war daddy's work, send a shitload of firezones, and fuck up the pretty boy Qb's. You see, although Muschamp is a great defensive mind, like most great DC's he realizes the key to great defensive football. He demands all 11 players to play with a borderline psychotic craze. Pursue to the football and kill.
I'm not going to make a bold prediction on either TT or Texas, again these teams were outside of the list I'm going off of, but I felt like they needed some consideration. I also realize TT is the "hot" pick this year. It's funny though, while most people focus on the offenses, in my mind the fate of both these teams rests on the defenses,(Everything is about defense) and maybe once I start talking about Oklahoma and Mizzou these two will become an afterthought. However, I think the Big 12 is easily the second best conference top to bottom. After this year they may overtake the SEC as big boy on the BCS block. Regardless, TT and Texas require some consideration and are much more deserving than Auburn at number 8.