Well, the Sooners deserve some credit for putting together a good season with all the personnel changes on the team. Thompson is a better quarterback than I originally gave him credit for. I've always thought that Stoops was a talented coach, but he really did a fantastic job this year. Now that I'm done giving out the props, the Sooners crawled in the back door to the Big 12 Championship thanks to Texas failing miserably down the stretch. Now everyone's talking about the Oregon officiating again because OU would have a shot at the national title if they hadn't lost that game. Yes, the call was awful. Still, the Sooners should have put that game out of reach much earlier against a Ducks team that proved to be way overrated as the season progressed. The Sooners head to the Big 12 Championship for a shot at the Big 12 title and a Fiesta Bowl berth against Boise State. Next season for the Sooners is full of almost as many question marks as this one was. Quarterback is an issue, as the most experienced player, Joey Halzle, has received less than glowing reports. Sam Bradford has potential, but is young. Furthermore, it is up in the air if Peterson will return or not. Certainly, OU would like to have him back, but at least they have some decent depth at running back. Defense is the big problem, as they will lose most of their front seven. Can Oklahoma make lightning strike twice and pull together another good season with all these holes to fill? We'll have to wait and see.
Boy, did they blow it in their last two games. Finish out the regular season with wins over lesser KSU and TAMU teams, win the Big 12 championship, and they are likely headed to the national championship. Colt McCoy finally had his "young QB" game with three interceptions against the Aggies in the 12-7 baseball-esque game last week. Also, Greg Davis reminded us why he is a weak offensive coordinator, and Mack's coaching strategy of perpetually clapping didn't work as well as usual. I think the game against TTU took their opponents' fear out of the equation for the rest of the year, as we proved that they weren't invincible. Texas is now likely headed to the Gator Bowl, but could fall to the Alamo if not picked by the Gator committee. Next season, Texas loses some of the starters on both sides of the line, but I can't remember the last time UT had a bad offensive or defensive line, so I'm inclined to think that they will reload. McCoy's injury is fairly inconsequential if it has long-term effects, as Sherrod Harris and Jevan Snead are blue chips that can take over for McCoy with a likelihood of little dropoff in play. The question mark for UT is the secondary. After a relatively unimpressive year, the unit loses its two best members, Aaron Ross and Michael Griffin, as well as the other corner, Tarell Brown. Is it good to lose of most of a bad secondary and usher in a new era, or does it indicate that we should expect worse from the guys behind them? Maybe Ishie "Benedict" Oduegwu will get to play after all.
The Aggies finally got their big win under Franchione. Go 2-10 record against TTU, OU, and UT! The funniest part of this was how Fran went from being long overdue for a firing to the savior of the program overnight within the A&M fanbase. Also entertaining was the spin control that the Aggies used on Kellen Heard's completely unnecessary late hit on McCoy, as Heard went maliciously after the shoulder that Colt injured in the K-State game. What I'm wondering is why Aggies have already forgotten that field goal Fran has cost them a few games with boneheaded coaching moves this season. It's only the Aggie obsession with everything UT that this game will keep Fran around. A&M did have one of their better seasons, though. I'm not sure that this means that they're back. 2004 was like this to a lesser degree, and they followed it up with a 5-6 year in 2005. For next year, the already weak receiving corps loses two starters. This would suggest that they will become even more one-dimensional, as McGee's passing is suspect, and their only real target is the underwhelming Martellus Bennett. However, they have a star in the making in RB Mark Goodson, who has already more than filled in for Courtney Lewis. Their defense is young, so it would seem that they will only get better next year. On paper, A&M looks to keep the improvement going, but if I've learned one thing over the past several years, it is to never underestimate A&M's ability to turn a good collection of players into a mediocre team.
The Red Raiders finally had a year of a little underachievement. It was a year in which we were expected to have our best shot at challenging for the South title, but a myriad of problems kept us from having the year that we all thought. The Hicks eligibility issues, a few non-qualifiers, slower than anticipated quarterback development, and some coaching issues made the season a slight disappointment. However, if this is as bad as it gets, it's easier being a Red Raider football fan than it is at most places. After all, we finished 7-5 and are headed to a decent bowl game. Next year, we have a tough task on our hands. We will lose our three biggest receivers, which is going to be tough, if not impossible, to replace. Thankfully, L.A. Reed, Michael Crabtree, Eric Morris, Edward Britton, the Walker brothers, and Danny Amendola should all be ready to play a bigger role in the offense. The tough thing in the offseason will be finding out which positions best utilize the players' talents. The offensive line has some holes to fill, but plenty of talent there should help. The defense is young overall, which bodes well for the future. Graham Harrell will be ready to make some plays and win some games for us with his skills next season, as he finished out this year in a strong way. Shannon Woods is also going to be a huge part of our success over the next few season with his versatility. It will be interesting to see how the team responds to the new additions and ushers in a new era of receivers.
The Cowboys had a better year than their record suggests, as they lost several close games. Bobby Reid looked impressive and extremely underutilized on the year, as Zac Robinson got way too much playing time while OSU tried to pull a Tebow/Leak-esque one-two QB punch. It was wildly unsuccessful, and I would even argue that it cost them the OU game. They have an impressive stable of running backs for the future, with Mike Hamilton, Dantrell Savage, and Keith Toston. Breakout receiver Adarius Bowman returns next year, but they lose D'Juan Woods on their receiving corps. Former QB Donovan Woods returns for his final year at Safety next season, and he will be the last of the Woods brothers. That is, unless there's more of them that I'm not aware of. They lose a few players on the lines, but overall, the team is very young and has some real potential. If they can unleash Bobby Reid next year, watch out, because the Cowboys will be a force to be reckoned with. Also, don't be surprised if their recruiting continues to improve with all of the Boone Pickens cash floating around. Mike Gundy is a gutsy coach, but perhaps needs to use a little more self-discipline at times. He is a young guy, so he will likely settle down as he matures as a coach. Basically, the tools are there for Oklahoma State to turn into a good program if they can get it together. One thing is for sure, they won't be hurting for compensation for the next few decades. Hell, the water boy probably makes six figures.
This was supposed to be the bowl year for the Baylor Bears. C.J. Wilson was even talking national championship before the season started. A bit ambitious there, but perhaps they would have been able to get their bowl wish if Shawn Bell hadn't been hurt in the A&M game. We'll never know. Things don't get any better for the Baylor Bears next season, as they lose their two best wideouts, their QB, and their leading rusher. Blake Szymanski did not have the kind of quarterback debut that the Bears were hoping for, so who knows how well he will progress in the offseason. Baylor is still fighting that uphill battle, but they are recruiting better, at least so far. They may have some decommitments before signing day. For a team with 32 Seniors, you would think that the Bears would have had a stronger season. Oh, and the attempt to make a carbon-copy of TTU's offense didn't have the kind of production they were hoping for, either. It's like falling off a log, right GuyMo? The only thing falling off is the Baylor program. Maybe they will figure out the intricacies of our offense in the future, but their execution and preparation is nowhere near where it needs to be to have success passing the ball all over the field the way that we do. Furthermore, it seemed like their conditioning wasn't as good as it has to be, either, as the receivers appeared tired towards the end of several games from running all of those routes. It's still a tough road ahead for Baylor, and next year looks like it won't make it any easier on them.
(Questions, comments, praise, and constructive criticism can be directed to Trent within the forums or through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)