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December 12, 2006

Postseason breakdown: Big 12

Prior to the college football season we offered up an inside look at what to expect in the Big 12.

Predictably, we pegged some things right and were off the mark on a few others.

Here is our look back at the Big 12 season:

Big 12 Standings
Rivals.com's Preseason Predictions:
North Division South Division
1. Nebraska 1. Texas
2. Iowa State 2. Oklahoma
3. Missouri 3. Texas Tech
4. Colorado 4. Baylor
5. Kansas 5. Texas A&M
6. Kansas State 6. Oklahoma State
Final standings:
North Division South Division
1. Nebraska 1. Oklahoma
2. Missouri 2. Texas
3. Kansas State 3. Texas A&M
4. Kansas 4. Texas Tech
5. Colorado 5. Oklahoma State
6. Iowa State 6. Baylor
Offensive MVP: Zac Taylor set a Nebraska season record for total offense with 3,044 yards. He also passed for 2,789 yards and 24 touchdowns with only four interceptions during the regular season. Taylor helped lead the Cornhuskers to their first North Division championship since 1999.
Defensive MVP: Rufus Alexander was the top tackler on one of the best defenses in the conference. The senior linebacker recorded 101 tackles, including 10 for losses in helping the Sooners win the Big 12 championship. He also notched two sacks, an interception, three passes broken up and three forced fumbles. He recovered two fumbles.
Coach of the Year: Bob Stoops turned in his best coaching job since guiding Oklahoma to the 2000 national championship. He lost starting quarterback Rhett Bomar in August, starting tailback Adrian Peterson in October and had an offensive line that had lost four starters from a year ago. Yet Stoops guided the Sooners to the conference championship. They would perhaps be in the national championship picture if not for a controversial loss to Oregon.
Freshman of the Year: Texas was put in a position of defending its conference and national championship without star quarterback Vince Young. Turns out, quarterback was the least of the Longhorns' worries. Redshirt freshman Colt McCoy led the Big 12 in passing efficiency and was fifth nationally in that category. He completed 68.7 percent of his passes, threw for 2,262 yards and 27 touchdowns. The youngster threw only seven interceptions in 278 attempts.
Coordinator of the Year: Gary Darnell took over a Texas A&M defense which finished last in the nation against the pass in 2005. Darnell implemented a 4-2-5 scheme, showed a knack for making effective second half adjustments and presided over a unit that ranked fourth in the Big 12 and 39th in the country in total defense and pass defense this season. The Aggies reduced their points allowed from 343 (31.2 per game in '05) to 222 (18.5 per game) despite playing one more game. By the way, their record improved to 9-3 after a 5-6 campaign last season.
Surprise team: Kansas State had a first-year head coach in Ron Prince, a first-year quarterback in freshman Josh Freeman and was the first Big 12 team to knock off Texas. The Wildcats bounced back from consecutive losing seasons to post a 7-5 record and earned a spot in the Texas Bowl.
Disappointing team: Iowa State returned 11 offensive starters from a team which came within a field goal of winning the North Division in 2005. This seemed to be the year the Cyclones might break through and win their first championship. Instead, they lost seven consecutive conference games, finished 4-8 and coach Dan McCarney was replaced.
Team on the rise: Kansas State managed seven victories in its first year under Prince, and that included victories over bowl eligible Texas and Oklahoma State. The Wildcats, who won three of their last four, started nine underclassmen on offense and seven on defense in their regular season finale. That includes four freshman - with quarterback Josh Freeman and tailback Leon Patton among them.
Best game: After losing a big lead, Nebraska needed a blocked field goal and a clutch drive in the final two minutes to edge Texas A&M 28-27. The Cornhuskers led 21-7 in the second quarter, but the Aggies came back to take a 27-21 lead with two fourth-quarter touchdowns. A&M appeared on the verge of sealing the victory when Mark Dodge intercepted Nebraska quarterback Zac Taylor with less than three minutes left in the game. But the Cornhuskers blocked a 42-yard field goal attempt with 1:43 remaining. Taylor directed an 11-play, 75-yard drive for a game-winning 9-yard touchdown pass to Maurice Purify with 21 seconds remaining. The victory clinched the North Division championship.
Biggest upset: Texas was ranked No. 4 in the nation and was still harboring hopes of defending its national championship when it faced 6-4 Kansas State on Nov. 11. Texas took an early 7-0 lead, but lost quarterback Colt McCoy to injury. The Longhorns lost their composure in a third quarter in which they lost two fumbles and had a kick blocked. Kansas State scored three touchdowns in a little more than three minutes to take a 42-21 lead. Texas rallied, but Kansas State held on for a 45-42 victory.
Most likely to win bowl game: Oklahoma finished the season with an eight-game winning streak and draws mid-major Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. The Sooners defense allowed an average of 10.5 points per game during its winning streak. Offensively, OU All-American tailback Adrian Peterson has been cleared to return from his collarbone injury.
Most likely to lose bowl game: Missouri started the season with six consecutive victories over questionable competition then lost four of its last six to close out the schedule. Next, the Tigers go to the Sun Bowl to face Oregon State. The Beavers won six of their last seven. That's not a good sign for Missouri. Neither is the fact that opponents have been running roughshod over the Tigers, who allowed an average of 202 rushing yards per game in the second half of the season. Each of those opponents had a 100-yard rusher. Oregon State's Yvenson Bernard - who has rushed for 1,210 yards - figures to have a big game, too.
Worth noting: Oklahoma has won two of the last three Big 12 championships and four since 2000. Iowa State quarterback Bret Meyer completed his junior season with a school record 41 career touchdown passes and 7,979 yards of total offense. . Jon Cornish rushed for 1,457 yards to become the all-time single-season rushing leader in Kansas history. . Chase Daniel was the first Missouri quarterback to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a season. Josh Freeman's 1,651 passing yards are the most ever by a Kansas State freshman. Four of Oklahoma State's six losses were by six or fewer points. Texas A&M ranked third nationally in time of possession and had more than a 10-minute time of possession advantage in five games this season. Oklahoma (11-2) has notched its 29th season with at least 10 victories, which is the most all-time. Alabama is second with 28. Texas offensive lineman Justin Blalock became the first player in school history to start 50 consecutive games.
Season prediction record: 72-24. Season against the spread: 7-6.

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