Mailbag: OU hype, WVU backlash, rivalry

Thanks for all the mail this week, everybody. Here's where you can reach me if you've got more to say.

On to your emails!

Justin Griffin in Durango, Colo., wrote: Hey David,I definitely feel as if the Big12 is up for grabs this year. I understand the hype about WVU and Texas... and I realistically give most (7 or so) of the teams in the league a shot at winning it all... but will you explain the OU hype? They have virtually the same team... which is a great thing when you're that stacked on talent. No doubt, they can easily beat anyone in the league. It seems to me the issue has been motivation... Texas Tech last year... OSU (not that we weren't better than OU, we were... but 44-10 really? At least show up...) My point is, it's the same team that had no chance of going undefeated last year do to lack of motivation. So what makes everyone think they'll push through this year with the exact same coaches? I see them having 2-3 losses again and the league being up for grabs with the top 4 teams having the same because it seems nobody will be hella-dominant this year. Am I way off?

David Ubben: I'd disagree. Oklahoma's got a few questions, mostly on the defensive line and at receiver, but this isn't the same team as last year. The biggest difference for me is a secondary that should be much, much better. That's huge for the Sooners, who clearly had a weakness at the defense's back line last year, especially in losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State. There were injuries Oklahoma can fall back on (And that's somewhat legitimate. If OU has Jamell Fleming, it beats Texas Tech) in the shocking home loss to the Red Raiders, but Javon Harris struggled, and Sam Proctor was just OK. I like moving Aaron Colvin back to safety, and putting arguably the team's best overall defender, Tony Jefferson, back there will be huge, too. That and the addition of Mike Stoops assure that this is absolutely not the same Oklahoma team from last year. Joseph Ibiloye is more than capable of playing well in that nickel back spot.

Another huge plus for Oklahoma? Bringing back four starters on the offensive line, including Gabe Ikard, who might be the league's best overall lineman. Jones will have time. Dominique Whaley, Roy Finch and Brennan Clay will have holes. Oklahoma's in great shape.

Dave Mac in Charleston, S.C., writes: Ubbs, you have me worried sick about this season, based on your predictions. As a life-long Mountaineer fan, I have seen the perils of being picked to win. Though I appreciate positive commentary, as opposed to the usual things we West Virginians have heard our whole lives about all things WV, I have to be concerned. We usually succeed when the whole country thinks we're going to choke. We often choke when...you get my point. I guess my question is, what are you going to say about WVU if we[hypothetically(knock on wood)] have a not-so-great inaugural season? And can I blame you for it after the fact?

DU: I've heard a few sentiments like this from WVU fans. You're showing off a high crazy quotient, folks. That's what happens when you write me angry emails about writing good things about your team.

WVU might have a rough year. The Big 12 is going to be deep enough this year where literally any of the so-called top teams in the Big 12 could have a disappointing year. Who's going to show up?

And yes, if WVU slips and wins 7-8 games in its first year in the Big 12, you're more than welcome to blame me.

Matt Kuhn in Lakewood, Ohio, writes: Ubbs, it's still a work in progress but I'm curious what your strategy is for predicting ISU's games at this point. After the past couple of years it seems like some sort of major upset is arguably more likely than not. Do you agree? If so, are you going to try to guess it? Or just look at each game individually and "take the chalk?" No right or wrong answer (until the games are played obviously) but I'm just wondering what you think about this.

DU: Ha, you've got to look closer, Matt. I went out on my limb and took Iowa State in an upset over a one-loss Kansas State team that would probably be in the top 15. I won't be taking the chalk on those picks. I also took West Virginia to beat Texas in Austin in a game it'll probably be favored to win.

Iowa State won't be winning 9-10 games this year, but I do believe it's good enough to beat anyone in the league, especially in Ames. It's just a matter of playing well enough to make it happen.

Jon in Tulsa wrote: Most of the hype written about OU is because of history. But why do you have OU beating Texas Tech, because the history is that Texas Tech wins. Could it be your bias for OU?

DU: People too often get wrapped up in the head to head. Sure, Texas Tech has won games in Lubbock, but people forget that in 2007, the Sooners lost Sam Bradford to a concussion, and in 2009, the Sooners were limping through an eight-win season without guys like Bradford, TE Jermaine Gresham, a ton of injuries on the offensive line and a host of others. That said, it was an awful performance. Last year's game was Texas Tech's best performance of the season behind Oklahoma's second-worst (Oklahoma State), and the Sooners had a bunch of injuries in that game, too. Jamell Fleming was the biggest, and the loss of Tom Wort hurt, too. Travis Lewis wasn't 100 percent last year, either.

The hype about OU is more than just history. Look at its team. The Sooners are loaded. Recruiting is part of it, but Oklahoma has a lot of proven stars on their team you can count on for production. See point three in my piece earlier today on why Oklahoma will (or won't) win the Big 12.

Alex in Plano, Texas, writes: The new name for the Baylor - TCU rivalry: The Revivalry. What do you think?

DU: This is the first I've seen of it, but I really love it. There's no love lost between those two programs and their fans, and it's a pretty catchy name with a very clear meaning. I'm behind this. I'll start using it on the blog for sure.