Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones led the Sooners to a 51-48 win in overtime against rival Oklahoma State last Saturday. But, the Sooners still need help from other schools to make a BCS bowl. 

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

1. Oklahoma State University

The Cowboys home schedule includes Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and Kansas State, with their only road challenge coming in Austin against the Longhorns. While the Pokes bounced between inexperienced signal-callers last year, the quarterback position figures to be a strength this year. That, combined with the usual slew of offensive threats and seven returning starters on defense, will make OSU a tough team to beat.

2. Texas

With 19 returning starters and the most experienced starting quarterback in the Big 12, Texas is, without a doubt, the strongest team in the conference on paper. But football isn’t played on paper and, as Longhorns Nation has seen over the past few years, a high preseason ranking and plenty of preseason hype doesn’t always translate into success on the field. However, youth and inexperience are no longer a factor in Austin, so expect big things from Mack Brown and his team this year.

3. Oklahoma

Bob Stoops and his staff surprisingly picked Trevor Knight over Blake Bell as the Sooners’ starting quarterback this year. There will be growing pains for the redshirt freshman, but, according to his teammates, Knight’s dual-threat ability makes him a great fit in Oklahoma’s new read-option offense. And if the offense can be great, an average defense should be enough for the Sooners to contend. Expect OU to be near the top of the Big 12 standings once again in 2013.

4. TCU

The Horned Frogs are expected to have the best defense in the Big 12, with nine starters returning from last year’s stingy squad. But TCU’s tough schedule begins with a neutral-site matchup against SEC powerhouse LSU. If the Horned Frogs survive that test and get consistent play from senior quarterback Casey Pachall this season, they could finish at the top of the Big 12.

5. Baylor

Baylor finished last season as the hottest team in the conference and once again features a high-powered offense, this year led by junior quarterback Bryce Petty. It will come down to their defense. Baylor returns seven starters from last year’s unit that was second in the Big 12 with 18 interceptions, including a conference-high three returned for touchdowns. If Baylor survives a late-season stretch that includes OSU, Texas, TCU and Oklahoma, they could win the conference.

6. Kansas State

The departure of Collin Klein and only two returning starters on defense would lead many to believe the Wildcats are destined for failure in 2013. Not so fast. A strong offensive line and some great playmakers on offense should keep K-State in contention. And with Bill Snyder returning for a 22nd season in Manhattan, the Wildcats will be well coached.

7. Texas Tech

33-year old Kliff Kingsbury’s success as a first-year head coach will depend on his quarterback. With Seth Doege out, sophomore Michael Brewer is set to take the reigns in 2013. But the Red Raiders may be forced to open the season with a true freshman behind center if Brewer’s back problems keep im on the sideline. If Texas Tech isn’t able to establish consistency at the quarterback position, it could be a long year.

8. West Virginia

After losing its three biggest offensive threats, Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, to the NFL this offseason, it will be a rebuilding year for the Mountaineers. The defense will be improved and the offense will rely on Houston transfer Charles Sims to carry the load on the ground. 

9. Iowa State

The inability to establish strong quarterback play and light up the scoreboard has defined Paul Rhoads’ tenure at Iowa State. Despite a poor 3-6 record against conference opponents last year, the Cyclones gave up a mere 248 points against Big 12 teams, trailing only Kansas State and Oklahoma. If sophomore Sam Richardson can’t turn things around, Iowa State will find itself at the bottom of the Big 12 again.

10. Kansas

Jayhawks head coach Charlie Weis said last month that Kansas didn’t deserve to be placed anywhere better than last. While fans in Lawrence shouldn’t expect much from their team this year, the Jayhawks are sure to improve on last year’s dismal 1-11 record. Led by junior quarterback Jake Heaps, a BYU transfer, Kansas will look to work its way out of the Big 12 cellar in 2013.

Women's Soccer

Junior midfielder Kristin Cummins (8) scored in the first half of the LonghornsÂ’ 1-1 tie against Oklahoma State on Oct. 14, it was the only first-half goal conceded by the Cowgirls all season.

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns take the field this evening looking to reach the final round of the Big 12 Championship as they take on top seeded Oklahoma State University.

Texas is hoping to build on top of the momentum from Wednesday’s victory when they shut out Texas Tech, 1-0, in the first round of the tournament.

The No. 2 Cowgirls, having just defeated the Oklahoma Sooners in the first round, come into the match undefeated, 18-0-2, and are looking to win their second-consecutive Big 12 tournament.

The Longhorns will need a strong defensive performance, especially from junior goalkeeper Alexa Gaul. Last week Gaul was named to the All Big 12 second team for her contributions on the field this season.

Wednesday’s shutout against the Raiders was Gaul’s seventh of the season and 19th of her career, which placed her in second on the Texas record books for career clean sheets.

Texas is one of only two teams to not have lost to Oklahoma State this season. During regular season action, they played to a 1-1 draw in Stillwater.

On offense, the Longhorns will be looking to junior midfielder Kristin Cummins and senior forward Kylie Doniak to step up. Both are tied for the team lead in goals with five.

Doniak, who had been the central figure in the Longhorn playbook earlier this season, is coming off a knee injury that kept her out of five games this season.

Texas leads the all time series against the Cowgirls 9-7-3.

Published on November 4, 2011 as: Gaul, Cummins give Texas a shot at conference title

The Board of Regents gave President William Powers Jr. the authority Monday to make any necessary decisions to align the University with the sports conference that will best suit its future needs. Since Texas A&M signaled that it will leave the conference next year, the Big 12 has started to look more like the Nervous 9, as it fired commissioner Dan Beebe on Thursday. Indeed, the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University are courting other conferences, while Baylor is publicly threatening to sue to keep the conference together. The mood is chaotic.

The University would greatly benefit from ending the confusion as soon as possible. Conference realignment negotiations, while diverting, are distracting administrators from much more important problems. Moreover, the University’s financial situation post-realignment seems to be the most important factor. This greed — the very force, embodied in the much-maligned Longhorn Network, which many argue prompted A&M’s departure and everyone else’s subsequent scramble — is threatening to make a bad situation worse. A desire to wring as much money as possible from any new conference partner, while somewhat understandable, is profoundly alienating.

And amid Powers’ recent speech challenging the University to increase its four-year graduation rates, it seems strange to not focus on the effects, particularly travel times, that aligning with another conference will have on the schedules of student-athletes, many of whom do not graduate at the levels the president has called for the rest of the University to reach. Student-athletes should be featured more prominently in these discussions.