Predicting the Big 12's 2010 season

Welcome to game week. It feels good to be here. Finally. Everybody's excited and everybody's undefeated.

Iowa State will start things off for us on Thursday night, but the season won't feel like it's truly begun until Saturday morning's first kickoff -- scheduled for 12:30 p.m. ET between Missouri and Illinois in St. Louis.

Here are a few guesses, of the educated variety, on what the conference landscape will look like in December.

North division winner: Nebraska

The safe bet, but the right bet. No defense in the North can compete, and if the Huskers get some consistency from the quarterback position, they could be poised for a national title run.

South division winner: Oklahoma

Texas will start the season on top of my power rankings, but Oklahoma is my gut pick to win the division. Texas' defense might be better, but it won't be a lot better. On offense, Oklahoma has the more experienced quarterback, more talent and proven production at the skill positions and if the offensive line is as good as coach Bob Stoops says it is, Oklahoma will have a chance to run the table.

Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma

The Sooners can match the Huskers on defense. The same can't be said for Nebraska on offense, specifically at its most important position, quarterback. The gap between Zac Lee and Landry Jones will be much wider on a neutral field than it was in Lincoln last season. The Sooners send the Huskers to the Big Ten with a loss.

Offensive MVP: Jerrod Johnson, quarterback, Texas A&M

He's got the receivers. Plenty of them, in fact. He's got two good running backs for balance and two inexperienced but talented freshmen tackles. He's the most talented and productive quarterback in the conference and if the Aggies are going to upset the order, he'll need a big year.

Co-Defensive MVPs: Jared Crick, defensive tackle, Nebraska and Travis Lewis, linebacker, Oklahoma

Crick will prove himself without Suh this season, and Lewis will rebound from his "down" year in 2009, surpassing his 109 tackles from his sophomore season.

Surprise team: Kansas State

Picked by some to finish last in the division, the Wildcats will be improved, play in a bowl game, and maybe even be a factor in the North race late in 2010. They may have the least flash of any team in the Big 12, but they are among the conference's most disciplined. Only three teams had fewer penalties last year, and that number could shrink in 2010.

Team most likely to disappoint: Texas A&M

It's not the team's fault, but expectations are sky high in College Station for Year 3 of the Mike Sherman era, an era that's seen just 10 wins in two season. To fulfill those expectations, they'll need the defense to improve but the Aggies aren't immune from the bottom falling out. A 3-3 start is possible with games in Stillwater, against Arkansas in Dallas and against Missouri after an easy start to the schedule. The brutal November stretch could be a bitter end to close the season.

Surprise player: T.J. Moe, wide receiver, Missouri

The former high school quarterback had two catches last season. He's been impressive in the slot from spring through fall, and without Danario Alexander, he might be Blaine Gabbert's No. 1 target this season.

Newcomer of the Year: Toney Clemons, wide receiver, Colorado

I'll toe the company line on this one. Clemons is physically impressive and should have plenty of opportunities to make plays with Tyler Hansen at quarterback.

Freshman of the Year: Kenny Stills, wide receiver, Oklahoma

Oklahoma needs a reliable second option at receiver. The true freshman has shown enough to prove he can start, and be that option opposite Ryan Broyles.

Coach of the Year: Bo Pelini, Nebraska

The Huskers' defensive transformation under Pelini has been remarkable. In 2007, under Bill Callahan, they ranked 115th out of 120 teams in scoring defense. In 2008, Pelini's first season, they ranked 81st. Last year, they were the nation's best, allowing 18 (!) fewer points per game. That defense could be enough to put the Huskers back in the BCS.

Can't Miss Game: You shouldn't need help pegging this one. You helped name it over the summer. The Big Beef or The Quarrel at Memorial. They spent the summer pointing fingers. Now, barring a Big 12 title game rematch, Nebraska and Texas will have a chance to settle it on the field for the last time.