Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

College Sports

July 22, 2013

Changes bring new intrigue to Big 12 football season

DALLAS — Five things to know ahead of the Big 12 Conference’s football media days that will be held Monday and Tuesday:

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TITLE UP FOR GRABS:  Oklahoma State was the pick to win the Big 12 championship in the preseason media poll. By no stretch was it an overwhelming endorsement for a Cowboys championship. There were 43 votes cast, and six of the league’s 10 teams got a first-place vote. Oklahoma State got only about one-third of them (15) and TCU got nine. Oklahoma and Texas got eight first-place votes each. Consider the bunched-up standings last season, when Kansas State and Oklahoma were both 8-1 in Big 12 play. Texas and Oklahoma State were 5-4, while four other teams were 4-5. League coaches don’t do a preseason ballot.

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WHO’S UNDER CENTER?:  There will be a lot of new starters at the most visible position. Seven Big 12 teams had senior starting quarterbacks last season. Among those gone are Landry Jones, who started 50 games for Oklahoma, West Virginia standout Geno Smith and Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein from Kansas State. The league’s most experienced returner is Texas junior David Ash, who has started 18 of his 25 games. Casey Pachall is back for his senior season at TCU, where he has started 17 of 25 games. TCU coach Gary Patterson hasn’t said yet if Pachall or Trevone Boykin, who threw for 2,054 yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman last season, will be his starter. Pachall was still picked as the preseason All-Big 12 quarterback in the media poll.

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QB TO COACH: It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that Kliff Kings-bury was throwing touchdowns for Texas Tech. Now he’s the Red Raiders coach after Tommy Tuber-ville left for Cincinnati. Kingsbury will be 34 and the youngest head coach at a BCS-automatic qualifying conference school when Tech opens its season Aug. 30 at SMU. Kingsbury threw for 12,429 yards and 95 touchdowns in 43 games for the Red Raiders from 1999-2002. He threw for 473 yards and six TDs in his final home game, a victory over Texas. He was offensive coordinator last season at Texas A&M with Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.

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SEASTRUNK TO SHINE?: Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk has been quoted as saying he will win the Heisman Trophy, or at least get very close to that. He might be right if he can do all this season what he did over the last half of 2012. The former Oregon transfer averaged 139 yards rushing over the final six games last season, when he was the Big 12 offensive newcomer of the year and offensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl.

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EXTRA TIME: Another sign of how close things have gotten in the Big 12 is that five games went to overtime in 2012. Three of those games had multiple overtimes, including Texas Tech’s 56-53 triple-overtime win at TCU. There were a total of nine overtime periods, also a conference record.

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