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Big 12 Auditing: Crystal Ball, Revisited

Nebraksa on the one hand and Kansas on the other wrecked everyone's guesses in the Big 12 North, but even considering that transposition, I think the ledger in forecasting the conference was particularly bad. From the preseason consensus of 18 publications at Stassen.com, from most underrated to most overrated:

Big 12 Preseason Consensus vs. Eventual Reality
Preseason Actual Finish +/- Rightest Wrongest
Kansas 4th North T-1st N. (7-1) + 3 J. Feist (3rd) SureFire (6th)
Colorado 5th North 3rd N. (4-4) + 2 SCS, SureFire (3rd) SportsForm (6th)
Texas Tech 5th South T-3rd S. (4-4) + 2 TSN, SportsForm (3rd) Thirteen 5th Place Picks
Missouri 2nd North T-1st N. (7-1) + 1 Five 1st Place Picks SureFire (T-3rd)
Oklahoma 2nd South 1st S. (6-2) + 1 Five 1st Place Picks SureFire (T-3rd)
Okla. State 4th South T-3rd S. (4-4) + 1 SureFire (T-3rd) TSN (5th)
Baylor 6th South 6th S. (0-8) - All None
Iowa State 6th North 6th N. (2-6) - All None
Texas A&M 3rd South T-3rd S. (4-4) - Eight 3rd Place Picks SureFire (2nd)
Kansas State 3rd North 4th N. (3-5) -1 SCS (T-4th) SureFire (2nd)
Texas 1st South 2nd S. (5-3) -1 Four 2nd Place Picks GoldSheet (3rd)
Nebraska 1st North 5th N. (2-6) -4 Five 2nd Place Picks Thirteen 1st Place Picks

Nebraska and its atrocious defense bit the dust in historically bad fashion, but the biggest loser in the Big 12 in retrospect was SureFire Scouting, the only mainstream outlet that picked Texas A&M or Kansas State second in their respective divisions, much less both, the only mainstream outlet that had either of the eventual division representatives in the conference championship game in a tie for third, much less both, and, worst of all, the only mainstream outlet that picked eventual Orange Bowl winner Kansas last in the North, behind Iowa State. I mean, what kind of frothing idiot do you have to be to pick a sleeper off a 6-6 season and facing a favorable schedule behind a team enduring a coaching transition after going 3-9? Seriously, you have to have really, uh, really lost...your...umm...

6. Kansas

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Right, about that. Even while predicting KU last in the division, I did recognize the Jayhawks did not look like a cellar-dwelling outfit:
I wish to stress at this point the extreme parity in the division behind Nebraska, especially in positions (as assigned by me, that is, in this specific post) three through six. There are no surprises. I go out of my way to say that because Kansas doesn't really deserve this when, after a solid decade of woe, it's actually starting the season at the point - off two straight years at/slightly above .500 - the teams I have immediately in front of it are trying to claw their way back to. KU has the coaching stability Iowa State does lacks, and unlike Colorado goes into the fall settled at quarterback. We're told ad nauseum by the summer magazines and whatever outlet has the chance that alliteratively-named cornerback Aqib Talib is one of the best defensive players in the country.
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The wrongest thing in that paragraph is the notion of Nebraska as the pacesetter (the "dead obvious frontrunner," to put it precisely from the top of the same set of predictions), which everyone got wrong, and my sentiment about Kansas and trepidation to drop it to the point I did coming into the year really only makes me about KU as wrong as everyone else. Right? Of course.

Damn, coach, I know, but see...it was July, and...
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Ahem. I was only a little less wrong about Kansas State overall - again, like everybody else - but had to throw in this specific line of doubt re: the Wildcats (following a recounting of KSU's six double-digit losses in 2006, one of them to Baylor) to ensure maximum foolishness:
That can be offset to an extent by the close wins against Oklahoma State and Texas, but though I don't have much comment on the first one (OSU, despite the understandable gushing over its offense, was still just a 6-6 team in the regular season, after all), I am positive having watched the game, looked at the numbers and judged the wild circumstances (untimely fumbles, trick plays, a blocked punt, injured quarterback, etc.) that the UT win is one of the genuine flukes of the decade, and given KSU's sorry record against other winners, nothing like it is on the horizon.
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Of course: KSU 41, Texas 21.

I thought Sam Bradford would suck, Missouri didn't have the defense to challenge Nebraska for first place in the North and Texas would play for the mythical championship. In short, I did an atrocious job of forecasting the Big 12. In fact, there are only two teams I placed correctly: Baylor, which was obvious, and Oklahoma State, which was less obvious. The best I can say of my Big 12 South predictions is that I was right about Texas A&M re: OSU and Texas Tech - the Aggies were overwhelmingly predicted in front of both, but I dropped A&M to fifth with the caveat all three were likely to be in a dead, indecipherable heat in the South. All three finished 4-4 and beat one another, round-robin style (A&M > OSU > Tech > A&M). After that, I hope you hung on to your money.