Ubben’s Big 12 Mailbag: Bowl Games, Sleepers, and Bill Murray
It’s that time again, friends. Thanks for all your questions. We’ll tackle Texas teams’ bowl hopes, my Big 12 sleeper picks, Matt Joeckel’s impact on TCU, Bill Murray, hype videos and more in today’s Mailbag.
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Let’s get to it.
Remmi Zero asks: Which Texas team is most likely to miss a bowl? Rank ’em most to least likely to miss.
David Ubben: Good question. It’s entirely possible–perhaps probable–that every Texas team cracks a bowl, but here’s how I’d slot it.
1. TCU: The Frogs have big quarterback questions, even with Matt Joeckel joining the squad. The defense should be solid, but it was pretty good last year (third in the Big 12 in yards per play) and TCU still went 4-8. If you don’t have an offense capable of hanging 40 in any given game, you’re tempting fate in the Big 12.
2. Texas: Year 1 under Charlie Strong will be difficult, but mostly because of the QB questions. Like TCU, the Longhorns should have a strong defense, but if David Ash doesn’t stay healthy, Texas will either be scrambling at QB or relying on possible transfer Max Wittek, who I do think will eventually end up in Austin after months of flirting with the idea. What hurts Texas the most here? BYU is a tossup game and they’ll be underdogs against a top 10 UCLA team in nonconference. Play poorly in the opener and North Texas is capable of beating Texas, too.
3. Texas A&M: The Aggies’ life in the SEC isn’t getting any easier, and Kenny Hill won’t be quite the magic maker Johnny Manziel was as a redshirt freshman. Eight conference games and a pillowy-soft nonconference schedule helps the Aggies’ chances.
4. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders will put up a ton of points with Davis Webb slinging it around, but need to groom Patrick Mahomes this fall just in case Webb goes down. Disaster awaits otherwise. That’s the only thing that will keep Tech out of the postseason. The defense is improving and Kliff Kingsbury is building. This isn’t the breakthrough year, but another 8-9 win is likely, and 10 is a real possibility.
5. Baylor: The Bears are a legit Big 12 title contender and Art Briles is staking a claim as the state’s best coach. The defense could devolve into a disaster and Baylor would still be heading to a bowl.
Diego Galaviz asks: If Frank Shannon is gone, where does the OU defense rank?
David Ubben: It’s a big loss for OU if his legal issue keeps him off the field, but it’s still possible the Sooners could field the Big 12’s defense without him. I’ve said it all offseason: They may not have anything close to an All-American talent, but they have a ton of above average guys and defenders who’ll be close or on preseason All-Big 12 teams. Guys like Charles Tapper, Eric Striker and Dominique Alexander add up to a very, very good defense. The Sooners’ individual LBs, D-line and secondary may not be the best in the Big 12 or even the top two, but they’re probably in the top four in the league at every level of the defense. That’s going to pay off.
Garrett Boller asks: Which teams have the most holes to fill and which teams have the least?
David Ubben: Too few people are talking about Baylor’s defense. Replacing Ahmad Dixon and both corners (Joe Williams and K.J. Morton) along with LB Eddie Lackey is asking a lot. Baylor should be really strong on the D-line, so replacing Chris McAllister isn’t as big of a concern. Shawn Oakman and Beau Blackshear along with Byron Bonds and Andrew Billings give Baylor the talent to be one of the best and deepest D-lines in the league and maybe the country.
As for the least, Iowa State and TCU are both strong contenders. They both had some holes last year (both could use a deeper corps of dependable, offensive playmakers), but if you could Devonte Fields as a returning starter, both are bringing back 16 starters from last year’s team. TCU’s only major loss is a big one–CB Jason Verrett–but Ranthony Texada had a strong spring. He’s not going to be as good right away, but he won’t be a weakness, and the offense should be a little better, at the very least. The defense will be among the Big 12’s best. The defensive line with Chucky Hunter and Davion Pierson plugging up the middle will be beastly.
Jeremiah George and Jacques Washington are the only impact players they have to replace, and Aaron Wimberly and Quenton Bundrage return after breakout seasons in 2013.
Ricardo Altahif asks: Who do you think will have more conference wins next year, Kansas football or TCU basketball?
David Ubben: I don’t see a lot of improvement ahead next year for either team, but you’d have to go TCU hoops, wouldn’t you? The Frogs were absolutely destroyed by injuries last year. They were stuck playing walk-ons during league play at times. Karviar Shepherd will be better next year and Kyan Anderson is underrated. With 18 tries, I’m going with the Frogs.
Kansas football isn’t touching that.
Jake Surrite asks: Who is your sleeper pick to win the big 12?
David Ubben: I’d go with two teams. Kansas State is unlikely to begin the year in the top 25, but how many times does K-State have to return its QB and a bunch of impact players on both sides of the ball like Tyler Lockett and Ryan Mueller before people start remember what Bill Snyder can do? It’s like bouts of amnesia take over Big 12 country every offseason.
Beyond the Wildcats, Texas Tech reminds me a little of Baylor in the preseason last year. They won’t get much preseason pub, but they’re going to score a bunch of points and the defense has a lot of upside. They could contend in late November. The schedule sets them up for another possible 7-0 or 6-1 start and they learned how important depth is along the defensive line last year. That, more than anything, is why they lost the final five games of the regular season after starting 7-0.
Clay Shewey asks: Best Bill Murray movie?
David Ubben: I have a soft spot for the overlooked 90s classic What About Bob, but I’d probably go with a tie between Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.
Michael Darmitzel asks: Could Matt Joeckel give TCU a credible – enough offense to steal a Big 12 Championship from one of the favorites?
David Ubben: He’s probably an upgrade from Trevone Boykin, who TCU really needs to play some receiver, and incoming freshmen Foster Sawyer and Grayson Muehlstein.
It’s a cumulative win for the team, but I don’t really buy him as a guy who’s going to turn TCU from a fringe bowl team into a Big 12 contender. The offense just isn’t good enough right now. A lot of that starts along the offensive line, where the Frogs are thin.
Daniel Goree asks: What has been the best hype video since the dawn of YouTube?
David Ubben: If you’ve followed me on Twitter long, you know how much I love college football hype videos. Now that spring football is mostly over, it’s officially that time of the year. Send ’em my way all summer long, folks. I’d consider myself something of an aficionado of the genre. Baylor really stepped up its game last year, but Oklahoma entered a strong contender in the field a couple years back. I know Bob Stoops agrees.
I also stumbled across "Cowboys4Ever" while doing some research for my answer here. That thing needs be in a museum.
However, I assure you, my pick will never be topped. I like to think of it as the grandfather of all college football hype videos. Without it, who knows how many times in my life I would have forgotten a towel. You play an electric guitar with your teeth, you win. Period.