OSU, K-State likely to drop off map in 2012?

Colleague Brad Edwards crunched the numbers and picked his top five teams waiting to backslide in 2012, and came out with two Big 12 teams on his list.

The candidates: Kansas State and Oklahoma State.

The reasons are nothing new on the Kansas State front. The Wildcats turned the ball over just 10 times in the final 12 games, infamously won eight games by less than one possession and were outgained in seven of them.

I vehemently disagree there on the Kansas State prediction. The Wildcats might not win as many games this year as in 2012, but I still expect the SnyderCats to win at least nine. They're a trendy disappointment pick this season, but I've seen Snyder work his magic too many times.

With a team this experienced and this talented, who would have a better chance to upset the mathematics?

I also disagree with Edwards' other disappointment pick, or at least the reasoning. Oklahoma State lost Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon, and that's going to be the reason why we see some level of a dropoff. I expect OSU to win about 8-9 games, which is a natural dropoff in a year after a 12-win season for a program that's not a national power loaded with tradition.

Edwards cites OSU's penchant for forcing turnovers. The Cowboys nabbed 44 of them last season, five more than any other team.

Yes, they might not force quite as many, but OSU will still force plenty. One reason is the amount of possessions they'll face in the Big 12. Opportunities will be there.

Additionally, there's some luck involved in forcing turnovers, but it's not all luck. If you coach it, they will come. OSU puts a huge, huge premium on turnovers, and Bill Young's tutelage has paid dividends.

OSU returns most of its defense, and forced 35 turnovers back in 2010, just nine fewer than 2011. That ranked fifth nationally. In Young's first year as DC, the Cowboys forced 30 turnovers, good for 11th nationally.

They've got the same coordinator and most of the same players, including great cornerbacks in Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert.

Why should we expect a big dropoff in turnovers?

OSU will take a step back to some degree, but it just might take another huge one forward in 2013, and turnovers will be a big factor in making it happen.