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The Big 12's biggest surprises of 2011

This week, we'll take a look at the biggest surprises across the Big 12 this season.

1. Robert Griffin III is a lot more than just a good player on a bad team. That's mostly what you heard about Griffin before this year. The Bears got walloped by the Big 12 powers in 2010 and didn't make a bowl with Griffin in 2008. What more could Baylor really do, even if it had a transcendent quarterback? Uh, apparently, a whole lot. Griffin nabbed the school's first Heisman Trophy and the 9-3 Bears finished third in the Big 12, including the school's first win over Oklahoma.

2. Iowa State can truly play giant killer. All of Iowa State's early benchmark wins under Paul Rhoads had something in common: They mostly came to middling teams with big names and no offense. Texas in 2010 was in the top 25, but the Longhorns finished 5-7. Nebraska gifted the Cyclones eight turnovers and scored seven points in ISU's upset in 2009. But Oklahoma State? That was near impossible. The Cowboys were maybe the best offense in the nation and played well, jumping out to a 24-7 lead before the Cyclones rallied for a shocking upset and shook up the college football landscape.

3. It's possible to get fired in two years. It seems odd and perhaps unfair for a coach to only get two years, but Turner Gill came to Kansas as one of the hottest coaches in college football, fresh off an unbelievable rebuilding job at Buffalo. But Gill's Kansas teams were permanent fixtures in the Big 12 basement, losing the final 10 games of 2011 and six of them by at least 30 points.

4. Collin Klein deserves Heisman buzz and a spot on the All-Big 12 team. Klein came into the year as a former receiver with an ugly throwing motion that he'd only actually used in a game 19 times before 2011. He left the regular season with a staggering 26 rushing touchdowns. Only two players in college football had more. He carried the ball 293 times, more than anyone in the Big 12 and nearly 100 more times than the Big 12's third-most used back. He's no polished passer like Brandon Weeden, Landry Jones or RG3, but his play compelled some to create an "all-purpose" position on the All-Big 12 first team.

5. Missouri is an ... SEC school? Missouri's desire to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten was the league's worst-kept secret in the summer of 2010, but the SEC? Oklahoma dropped a bombshell back in September when it openly admitted it was shopping around for conferences. A bigger bombshell came later that month when reports indicated the SEC was interested in Mizzou. Months later, that relationship was consummated and the Big 12 had lost its fourth member in the past year and a half.

More on Friday...