As promised, the Big 12 pop culture blog is back. We begin with my 2011 football predictions, the Star Wars edition …
OKLAHOMA | PROJECTION: 11-1 (9-0) | KEY GAME: SEPT. 17 AT FLORIDA STATE
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: The prohibitive favorite in the conference and to win the national championship. Anything less than a conference title and BCS bid would be disappointing.
IN FANTASY LAND: The Sooners leave the Big 12 midway through the season, join the AFC South and roll to the Super Bowl championship, beating a team of 11 Mike Ditkas 77-minus-7.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: OU loses the rest of its linebackers and brings back 72-year-old Brian Bosworth to finish the season, fueling a 7-5 season that ends in a disappointing bid to the Man vs. Food Independence Bowl.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: Darth Vader. The biggest badass in the universe, and the biggest badass in the conference …
TEXAS A&M | PROJECTION: 8-4 (6-3) | KEY GAME: SEPT. 24 VS. OKLAHOMA STATE
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: The Aggies finish second due to a favorable schedule, but this team is wildly overhyped.
IN FANTASY LAND: A&M lives up to the hype, winning the Big 12, going to a BCS and extending a middle finger to Texas on its way to the SEC.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: The Aggies remember they’re coached by Mike Sherman, fall apart amid ridiculous expectations and end up in the Sun Belt Conference.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: Luke Skywalker. All the makings of a big-time program, but ultimately, A&M is just like the whiny, overrated Jedi …
MISSOURI | PROJECTION: 9-3 (6-3) | KEY GAME: OCT. 29 AT TEXAS A
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: Had Blaine Gabbert and Aldon Smith returned, this would be a legit top-five team. Plenty of talent to work with, but the schedule (road trips against Arizona State, Oklahoma and Texas A&M) is brutal.
IN FANTASY LAND: QB James Franklin is a Brad Smith clone (with an arm), DT Sheldon Richardson lives up to the hype, Missouri goes to a BCS bowl and forms its own conference, extending a middle finger to the Big 12 and Big Ten.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: Missouri loses to Arizona State early, stumbles against a tough early schedule, slumps to a minor bowl and ends up in the Mountain West.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: Lando Calrissian. Looks great, poised for greatness … and still Oklahoma’s bitch in football, just like Darth Vader owned Lando …
TEXAS | PROJECTION: 9-3 (5-4) | KEY GAME: OCT. 8 VS. OKLAHOMA
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: The Longhorns have too much talent not to bounce back right? Still, UT’s mystique is gone after a horrible 2010.
IN FANTASY LAND: Garrett Gilbert doesn’t suck, freshman running back Malcolm Brown is Ricky Williams Jr. (minus the weed), and the Longhorns return to a BCS bowl.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: Texas continues to tumble, Gilbert continues to suck, the Longhorns fire Mack Brown, and the Big 12 finally implodes, leaving UT as an independent with nobody to push around.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: The Death Star. Powerful force … that ends up exploding (twice) …
OKLAHOMA STATE | PROJECTION: 8-4 (5-4) | KEY GAME: SEPT. 24 AT TEXAS A&M
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: With Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon back, the offense will be ridiculously good. Unfortunately, the defense will, again, be ridiculously bad.
IN FANTASY LAND: The Cowboys outscore everybody, Mike Gundy becomes the man (he’s over 40 now) and Oklahoma State finally plays in a BCS bowl.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: Blackmon pulls a Dez Bryant, the Cowboys don’t outscore everybody and Gundy, no longer a man, gets axed by T. Boone.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: General Grevous. Yes, lots of offense, but a serious asthma problem (equates to a bad defense) …
KANSAS STATE | PROJECTION: 6-6 (4-5) | KEY GAME: OCT. 8 VS. MISSOURI
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: The Wildcats are getting better, particularly on offense, but they still need plenty of help on the defensive line. Probably still a year or two away.
IN FANTASY LAND: Michael Bishop steals Collin Klein’s jersey and suits up at quarterback, Bryce Brown is the second coming of Darren Sproles, and 97-year-old Bill Snyder outcoaches everybody to the tune of a Big 12 title.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: Brown doesn’t buy into the system and sits on the bench, K-State’s defense is just as bad as last year and the Wildcats fail to make a bowl.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: Yoda. He and Snyder are wise … and the same age …
BAYLOR | PROJECTION: 7-5 (4-5) | KEY GAME: NOV. 5 VS. MISSOURI
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: Compared to where they were a few years ago, the Bears have made remarkable progress. Unfortunately for coach Art Briles, the schedule doesn’t allow for a big bump.
IN FANTASY LAND: QB Robert Griffin challenges for the Heisman, the Bears turn the corner and push for a Big 12 title.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: Griffin gets hurt again, the defense crumbles again and Dave Bliss is hired as an assistant.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: Mace Windu. Lots of style (Griffin), but things didn’t end so well for Mace …
TEXAS TECH | PROJECTION: 5-7 (3-6) | KEY GAME: OCT. 8 VS. TEXAS A
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: Still haven’t recovered from the Mike Leach saga. Probably karma for letting a TV personality run a coach out of town.
IN FANTASY LAND: The Red Raiders return to a bowl game. It’s not a high ceiling, folks.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: Craig James is hired as coach, starts his son at quarterback and coddles all the players to the tune of a 2-10 season.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: Storm troopers …
IOWA STATE | PROJECTION: 5-7 (3-6) | KEY GAME: OCT. 1 VS. TEXAS
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: The Cyclones really aren’t that bad, but the schedule doesn’t allow for a jump.
IN FANTASY LAND: Iowa State knocks off rival Iowa early, igniting an 8-4, mid-level bowl season.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: ISU goes 3-9 … and nobody notices.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: C3P0. Because he’s just kind of there.
KANSAS | PROJECTION: 1-11 (0-9) | KEY GAME: DOES IT MATTER?
REAL-TIME PREDICTION: Pain.
IN FANTASY LAND: Pain.
IF ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE: Pain.
STAR WARS CHARACTER: Captain Antilles (the guy Darth is choking) …