As a Gator fan who admittedly doesn't put much time and effort into what goes on in the Big 12, I'm doing my due diligence and getting to know each one of these teams prior to our upcoming season. So here's what I've discovered thus far:
- Missouri and Texas A&M have been middle dwellers (is that even a word?) for the past decade. http://www.soonerplanet.com/big-twelve-football-stats-infographic shows the number of victories by all of the the Big 12 teams since 2000 and it seems like the SEC could have done better (Texas/Oklahoma) or worse (Kansas/Baylor).
- The folks at Bleacher Report did a nice write up on the upcoming Missouri schedule and the waters get deep quickly as the first league game is against potential title contender Georgia. A lot of tough road games will really test this team.
- Texas A&M doesn't have it much better, though, as they get Florida in game number two and then South Carolina and Arkansas back to back a couple weeks later. On paper, this is one of the most brutal conference schedules I've seen, but at least they get most of the better squads at home.
- Texas A&M almost knocked off Arkansas last year and rolled up huge numbers on offense, but looked hapless against them on defense. However, stud quarterback Ryan Tannehill's dual threat ability left for the NFL and that void on offense might be very tough to fill. The Aggies do return three all conference players including WR Ryan Swope and tackle Luke Joeckel on offense and LB Sean Porter on defense. 17 starters return, so the cupboards aren't bare and a lot of prognosticators seem to think A&M will be able to keep their head above water right away.
- Things aren't as rosy in Missouri, as only 11 starters return for 2012. Missouri tends to be a little pass heavy on offense, and none of last year's targets return. The Tigers run a single back set, so how well they can get quarterback James Franklin in tune with three new wideouts and a new tight end will be key. Tailback Henry Josey ran for more than 1,000 yards last year, so how well he can carry the offense in the early going could be key. How a mostly new offensive line can handle SEC defenses will also be interesting to watch.