2013 Big 12 Football Predictions: Blinding The Resumes

USA TODAY Sports

The numbers point pretty clearly in one direction. But Texas fans don't trust the program enough to proclaim it.

While it's easy to focus on every college football team's individual micro-issues - and as fans, we tend towards hyper-focus - big, broad meta-analysis can be useful to maintain the proper perspective.

Generally speaking, decent college football teams that return a lot of starters, their QB, all relevant skill players, their OL, and large numbers on defense tend to get much, much better in the following year. And teams with massive losses in same tend to see a decline.

To that end: If we blind the Big 12's 2013 football personnel resumes, which teams stand out? Who looks poised for a rise? Or a fall? Forget about our prejudices, assumptions, ideas about coaching staff quality, schedule - what does dispassionate football inference tell us? Scan these profiles and make some assumptions.

Listed in order of 2012 Big 12 finish...

(8-1) Team 1 - 11 returning starters. Key personnel: 4 OL starters, 2 starting RBs. Negatives: Replaces 4 year starter at QB. Loses 7 of 11 defensive starters.

(8-1) Team 2 - 8 returning starters. Key personnel: Brings back entire starting OL. 2 WRs. Negatives: Must replace 10 of 11 starters on defense. Loses starting QB who led team in rushing and passing attempts. Ranked #122 in returning starters in college football.

(5-4) Team 3 - 19 returning starters. Key personnel: 3rd year starting QB. Three top rushers. Top two receivers. Entire starting OL. Returns 9 Defensive Starters (3 DL, 3 LB, 3 DB). Tied for #1 in returning starters in college football. Negatives: Must replace two NFL level defenders.

(5-4) Team 4 - 14 returning starters. Key personnel: Return 3 QBs with starting experience. Balance: 7 returning starters on both sides of the ball. Negatives: Only 2 OL starters returning. Possible QB controversy.

(4-5) Team 5 - 15 returning starters. Key personnel: 2nd year QB. 3 OL starters. 9 defensive starters coming back, including entire secondary. Negatives: Must replace 5 starters on offense.

(4-5) Team 6 - 13 returning starters. Key personnel: Returns 7 on defense. RB stable. Negatives: Must replace starting QB, NFL WR.

(4-5) Team 7 - 13 returning starters. Key personnel: Returns 8 on defense, including 6 of 7 in front 7. Negatives: Must replace starting QB, 3 OL starters.

(4-5) Team 8 - 9 returning starters. Key personnel: Returns 5 of 7 in back 7. Negatives: Must replace multi-year starting QB, best offensive player, 3 OL starters. 117th in the country in returning starters.

(3-6) Team 9 - 9 returning starters. Key personnel: Returns 3 OL. Negatives: Replace starting QB, 7 starters on defense. Tied for 117th in country in returning starters.

(0-9) Team 10 - 11 returning starters. Key personnel: Returns RB stable. Must replace entire secondary, QB, 3 OL starters.

**

You probably figured out a number of these teams. Did Team #3 look appealing to you? The unblinded look (listed in order of returning starters) is this:

RK TEAM CONF TOTAL OFF QB RB/FB REC/TE OL DEF DL LB DB's K P















1 Texas BIG 12 19 10 1 1 3 5 9 3 3 3 1 0
24 TCU BIG 12 15 6 1 0 2 3 9 3 2 4 1 1
41 Oklahoma St BIG 12 14 7 1 0 3 2 7 2 2 3 0 0
58 Baylor BIG 12 13 6 0 1 2 3 7 2 3 2 1 1
58 Texas Tech BIG 12 13 5 0 1 2 2 8 4 2 2 1 1
98 Kansas BIG 12 11 5 0 2 1 2 6 3 3 0 1 1
98 Oklahoma BIG 12 11 7 0 2 1 4 4 1 2 1 1 0
117 Iowa St BIG 12 9 5 0 1 1 3 4 1 1 2 1 1
117 West Virginia BIG 12 9 3 0 0 1 2 6 1 2 3 0 0
122 Kansas St BIG 12 8 7 0 1 1 5 1 0 0 1 0 0

Comments:

KSU is headed for a major de-Klein. I hereby pre-acknowledge all of your cautionary Purple Wizard platitudes, but a 4-5 conference record would be a very solid achievement for the Wildcats in 2013.

OU has firepower on offense, but they're breaking in a new QB. They've had great success with 1st year QBs in the past, but the defense is starting from scratch in some key areas. OU's history of league dominance will give them a predictive uptick and it's deserved. They're a contender.

Texas is in a pretty enviable position and checks every possible box a preseason forecaster could want. 3rd year returning starter at QB, all of the top producing skill players are back, all 5 OL starters, plus another 9 defensive starters in all (layered 3-3-3 so that no unit lacks experience).

It also crystallizes something pretty plainly: the concerns about Texas are wearing headsets. As is Texas Fan reticence in proclaiming 2013 to be The Year of Return.

Oklahoma State and TCU are set up nicely for their own runs. Like Texas, they're the only other teams in the conference with returning starters at QB (OSU has three starters, TCU may have two) and a healthy distribution of talent and experience on both sides of the ball. In 2012, TCU was rocked by scandal and OSU by injury - and the positive upshot for both is better depth in 2013.

Baylor is potentially very dangerous, particularly at home. As I wrote last year, this is a program now, not just a pure RGIII creation. A solid #5 on the contender list.

Texas Tech looks like the conference gatekeeper for quality. Good teams should beat them, bad ones will lose to them.

West Virginia will experience Year 2 of Life Outside of The Big East.

Iowa State and Kansas. Oof.

**

Thoughts?

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