Big 12 Football: Gundy, Pokes find target on their back


Life at the top of the mountain is nice. Sooner fans should know this, but winning the conference year-after-year has one downside. The only direction the team can truly go is down.

Oklahoma State has been building its up program and finally got the monkey off its back. However, can Oklahoma State legitimately defend their first ever Big 12 crown?

Their run game could be the main threat this season on offense, but Oklahoma State always seems to produce quality quarterbacks. As pointed out by a good friend of mine, the Cowboys are almost the new Texas Tech. A system team that can produce results with the right guy under center.

Though, the Pokes are getting some love on the defensive side of the ball. This could be one of the best in the conference, but while the Pokes may feel like they are in the “elite” group of the Big 12, there might be too many teams challenging them for a title.

However, take a look at the Sooners. Oklahoma has never really encountered any big threats, other than Texas, when it comes to competing for a Big 12 title. The old Big 12 North was never able to match the level of an OU or Texas, and while a Kansas State came around every once in a while, the Sooners had to beat one team. Texas.

Then again, the Sooners have won two Big 12 titles in years they lost to Texas, so it wouldn’t be out of the question for Oklahoma State to win the conference, even if they fall in Norman.

However, this is one of those years where there are a few more teams with potential to take the conference. Oklahoma, Kansas State, and Texas will be in the mix, and newcomer West Virginia is getting a lot of praise before even taking one snap as a Big 12 member. TCU could be a threat, but I’m not banking on the Horned Frogs to do much in their first year.

Texas Tech and Baylor are on the outside looking in, although, the two could shock a few teams.

So while the Sooners may be the preseason favorite, Oklahoma State for the first time has the ‘X’ on its back as reigning Big 12 champion. They have played the role of hunter  for years, but when you win the conference title, you become the hunted. Will Mike Gundy and the 2012 Cowboys step up to the challenge? Or can Stoops or another Big 12 school dethrone them?