Big 12 mailbag: Tight games should mark Big 12's bowls

Happy Friday.

Here are some of the better letters and e-mails I got this week.

Jeff Campbell from Shakopee, Minn., writes: Tim, I read your blog every day. Thanks for keeping me informed on all things Big 12. It is tough being up here in Big Ten country and being so far away from home. You recently posted your bowl game picks and asked what we thought so I thought I would share my picks. They are similar to yours. I like Texas Tech, Missouri, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Texas all to win. I think Texas A&M will lose, and so will Nebraska as long as Arizona can score one touchdown. But I think Oklahoma State will get it done. I just don't think Ole Miss is that good. That would put Big 12's record at 6-2. However this year of college football has been crazy so I wouldn't be shocked if we went 3-5.

Tim Griffin: Jeff, I agree with you on how tight the bowls could be. I think the pivotal games for the Big 12 are Iowa State and Texas. If those teams can spring moderate upsets, the conference will have a good shot at a .500 record or even better.

I think Oklahoma State will have some problems with Mississippi’s physical offensive and defensive lines. They were soundly beaten in the trenches against Oklahoma. If that serves as an inspiration and can turn into something that unifies them, they might have a shot at an upset.

But to be honest, I haven’t filled my bowl sheets, yet. I could see the Big 12 winning anywhere from two to six games. You can find my picks at this link.

Jim from Grand Junction, Colo., writes: Tim: I know you could include only so many, but you missed Nebraska’s Dejon Gomes in your list of under-the-radar players. He's truly outstanding and will shine even more next year.

Tim Griffin: Jim, I labored for a long time in getting my list together and to a representative 15 players. Gomes was one of the players I considered. The interception he had against Colt McCoy in the Big 12 title game was a fantastic athletic play. But I only had room for so many players and I thought my three Nebraska defensive players on the list was pretty representative of the growth that Bo Pelini and Carl Pelini fashioned this season.

Ralph Coy from Junction City, Kan., writes: Tim, what about another sleeper Heisman candidate from the Big 12 in the form of Daniel Thomas from Kansas State. He is a big physical back that in just one year under Coach Snyder's system was first-team all-Big 12. I really think he is poised for a breakout season next year because KSU’s offensive line will have another year to be coached by Charles Dickey and the overall talent level of the team will be much improved especially at the quarterback position with the transfer of Chris Harper and the arrival of Samuel Lamur. What are your thoughts?

Tim Griffin: Ralph, I agree that Thomas could develop into one of the nation’s best running backs if he builds on his strong junior season. Remember, he came to Kansas State expecting to play quarterback. I think his development was one of the key reasons the Wildcats were 6-6 season and contending for the Big 12 North title for as long as they did.

The arrival of the two new quarterbacks might result in a more multi-faceted offensive attack in which the Wildcats don’t rely as much on Thomas. But I think he comes into the upcoming season clearly as the biggest offensive weapon in the Wildcats’ arsenal.

David Correa of Dallas writes: I have to say the Baylor bashing from the readers is getting pretty old. I kept laughing to myself as I read the comments on realignment if the Big Ten were to poach a Big 12 school. With people saying ditch the Bears for TCU, SMU or Houston. As a Baylor fan and alum, I know we are not going anywhere. We have the right football coach, the facilities and the desire to succeed in football, and we are more than just competitive in all other sports.

Most private schools in other conferences cannot say that. Can you please explain to the readers the challenges that any private school would be facing joining this conference? The candidates the readers mention do not have the facilities we do, and they are currently not facing the level of competition we face at Baylor in all sports. Please, enlighten the masses.

Tim Griffin: Baylor does face some unique challenges in trying to compete against the public schools that make up the Big 12. I would think any of those other schools you mentioned would similarly battle to be competitive, particularly in the Big 12’s South Division.

I would argue that SMU has a better football stadium than Baylor and TCU is trying to narrow the gap after the Horned Frogs’ recent success. But none of them face the current challenges of all those teams in the South Division that Baylor faces on a daily bases. All of those other schools are pumping millions into their football facilities.

Steve Robinson of Floydada, Texas, writes: Tim, why do you think that Texas Tech is going to roll over Michigan State. Is it all the suspensions they have had or it something else?

Tim Griffin: The Michigan State suspensions are part of the reason, but I think the Valero Alamo Bowl matchup was a bad one for the Spartans even before their personnel losses.

Michigan State has one of the nation’s worst pass defenses. The Spartans rank 103rd nationally (251.6 yards per game) and 96th in pass efficiency defense. So it was going to be a struggle for them anyway.

It could be either Taylor Potts or Steven Sheffield. But I’m thinking that whoever plays quarterback for the Red Raiders should like facing the Spartans at the Alamodome.

And also, remember how fast Tech plays on artificial turf. Playing inside at the dome should be another benefit for the Red Raiders.