Oklahoma Sooners: Stedman Bailey

Best WR tandems in Big 12 history

November, 4, 2013
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The Big 12 has featured some prolific wide receiver tandems over the years.

Baylor’s Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley, however, have a chance to top that list.

[+] EnlargeAntwan Goodley, Tevin Reese
Jerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsAntwan Goodley and Tevin Reese rank 1-2 in the Big 12 in receiving yards per game.
This season, Reese is second in the Big 12 with 118 yards receiving a game. He trails only Goodley, who leads the league with an average of 128 yards receiving. They are a big reason why the Bears are on pace to break the FBS records for points (56.0) and yards (624.9) per game that were set by Army in 1944 and Houston in 1989.

Depending on how they finish, Reese and Goodley could wind up becoming the best duo in Big 12 history. But they aren’t the only big-time duos in the Big 12 this year.

Kansas State’s Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett have been lighting it up since returning from injury. The last two weeks the two have totaled five touchdown catches.

Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard lead the Sooners with five touchdowns apiece. Texas Tech’s Eric Ward and Jakeem Grant are fifth and sixth in the league in receiving. Oklahoma State’s Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore are beginning to warm up with Clint Chelf at QB. And Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis have been stalwarts in this league for years.

But who are the best tandems ever to play Big 12? We lay it out below.

Tight ends were not included (sorry Jermaine Gresham and Chase Coffman). The tandems were evaluated on what they accomplished together, not on whether their careers simply overlapped (eliminating Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander, for example); and, this is a list for duos, not singles, trios or quartets (apologies to Rashaun Woods, and the 2008 Oklahoma and 2010 Baylor receiving corps).

To the list:

1. Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, West Virginia (2012): In their only year in the league, this tandem was one-two in the Big 12 in receiving, combining for 224 receptions and 2,914 receiving yards. Bailey himself had 25 receiving touchdowns; nobody else in the league had more than 13. Austin, meanwhile, also rushed for 344 yards in one game at running back. As Bailey tweeted out earlier Monday morning on this topic, “case closed.”

2. Michael Crabtree and Danny Amendola, Texas Tech (2007): Crabtree got all the headlines in 2007 on his way to winning his first of two Biletnikoff awards. But out of the slot, Amendola quietly put up 109 receptions for 1,245 yards, as Tech went 9-4.

3. Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby, Texas (2008): Shipley and Cosby starred on one of the three best Big 12 teams that didn’t win a conference title. The two each had 1,000 receiving yards and double-digit TDs from QB Colt McCoy, as the Longhorns finished the year 12-1, their only loss coming on Crabtree’s game-winning touchdown in the final seconds in Lubbock. The two were also prolific on special teams, with Shipley’s kick return touchdown sparking Texas’ 45-35 comeback win over Oklahoma.

4. Justin Blackmon and Josh Cooper, Oklahoma State (2011): As with Crabtree-Amendola, Blackmon got all the attention on his way to a second Biletnikoff award. But Cooper was a pivotal piece in OSU’s first Big 12 title team, as he racked up 71 receptions out of the slot. Blackmon, of course, had a monster year with 121 catches and 18 touchdowns.

5. Kendall Wright and Terrance Williams, Baylor (2011): Reese was actually the third wheel to this duo, which shined with RGIII at quarterback. Wright was an All-American with 108 catches, 1,663 yard and 14 touchdowns. Williams was big time, too, finishing fifth in the Big 12 in receiving before taking over the No. 1 role in 2012.

6. Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills, Oklahoma (2010): Broyles led college football with 131 receptions on his way to becoming the all-time FBS leader in career catches. Stills broke OU’s freshman single-season receiving record, as the Sooners stormed back to capture the Big 12 crown after a pair of midseason losses.

7. Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, Kansas (2008): It might be difficult to remember now, but the Jayhawks used to play some ball. Meier tied Crabtree for second in the league with 97 receptions. Briscoe trailed only Dez Bryant with 1,402 receiving yards. This was an underrated duo.

8. Quincy Morgan and Aaron Lockett, Kansas State (1999): On one of the first passing teams in the Big 12, Morgan and Lockett shined. Morgan had 42 receptions for 1,007 yards and nine touchdowns and was a first-team all-conference selection. Lockett, Tyler Lockett's uncle, was a second-team all-league pick for the Wildcats, who went 11-1 and finished the year ranked sixth in the polls.

9. Mark Clayton and Travis Wilson, Oklahoma (2004): Clayton carried the moniker of best receiver in OU history until Broyles came around. Because of Adrian Peterson, Clayton’s numbers dipped in ’04, but he was still an All-American with 66 catches. Wilson led the Sooners with 11 TD grabs, as OU advanced to a second consecutive national championship game.

10. Jarrett Hicks and Joel Filani, Texas Tech (2005): Neither might be a household name around the Big 12 anymore, but these two were both first-team All-Big 12 selections in ’05 along with Iowa State WR Todd Blythe.

Roundtable: Landmine game in 2013 

January, 24, 2013
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Every Thursday, the SoonerNation staff will answer a roundtable question about OU football. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Which game in 2013, outside of at Notre Dame and at Oklahoma State, should be considered a land mine for the Sooners?

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
AP Photo/Jake SchoellkopfIf Casey Pachall returns as TCU's starting quarterback in 2013, OU's game vs. the Horned Frogs could be tougher.
• The Sooners have one of the toughest schedules in the country, with 11 of their 12 opponents coming off bowl appearances. The three-game gauntlet of Notre Dame (Sept. 28), TCU (Oct. 5) and Texas (Oct. 12) will be the defining stretch of the season. But another game OU ought to be wary of is a Nov. 16 trip to Waco. Baylor ended the 2012 season as one of the hottest teams in the country, and while QB Nick Florence and WR Terrance Williams are gone, the Bears return plenty of firepower. The last time the Sooners went to Waco they lost in dramatic fashion, and Kansas State and Oklahoma State found out how tough it is to win there this past season. The Sooners are capable of escaping October unscathed. That visit to Baylor, however, is capable of derailing them, too.

OU position grades: Cornerbacks 

December, 31, 2012
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In the weeks leading up to the Cotton Bowl, SoonerNation will take a look back at how the Sooners performed position-by-position and give each group a grade based on that performance. Today, we examine the cornerback position.

GradeHighlights: During the preseason, the cornerback duos at Texas and Oklahoma State seemed to be gathering all the accolades. Turned out, the best cornerback tandem in the Big 12, and one of the best in the country, resided in Norman. Demontre Hurst capped off his solid career with a standout senior season. Aaron Colvin, meanwhile, had a breakout campaign, with four interceptions while earning all-Big 12 honors. Their ability allowed Mike Stoops to stick with his man-to-man defensive coverage all season.

Lowlights: As good as they were, Colvin and Hurst both had some down moments. Colvin was abused by West Virginia wideout Stedman Bailey, who had three touchdown catches in the fourth quarter alone in their game. Hurst surrendered a huge fourth-quarter pass that proved crucial in the loss to Notre Dame.

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Oklahoma 10: Week 12 power rankings 

November, 19, 2012
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Each week, SoonerNation will rank Oklahoma’s top 10 performers of the season up to this point. In a wild 50-49 victory at West Virginia, the Sooners had some clutch performances offensively. On the defense, not so much:

1. S Tony Jefferson (Last week: No. 1): OK, it wasn’t a great night for Jefferson or the defense. But imagine how many more yards Tavon Austin would have rushed for without Jefferson’s game-high 12 tackles.

[+] EnlargeAaron Colvin
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesCornerback Aaron Colvin had an interception for the Sooners vs. West Virginia.
2. QB Landry Jones (4): Without Jones, the Sooners might have lost by two touchdowns. In perhaps the finest game of his career, he threw 554 yards and six touchdowns, including the game-winner on fourth down. Jones was spectacular.

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Instant analysis: OU 50, West Virginia 49

November, 17, 2012
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MORGANTOWN, W.V. -- The Sooners escaped their maiden voyage to Morgantown with a 50-49 victory over the Mountaineers in one of the craziest shootouts in Big 12 history.

It was over when: West Virginia QB Geno Smith's Hail Mary pass fell to the turf two yards in front of the end zone. The two teams combined to score 31 points in the fourth quarter, including Landry Jones' 5-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills on fourth down with 26 seconds remaining.


Game ball goes to: West Virginia's Tavon Austin, who was unbelievable in a losing effort. Austin rushed for 344 yards and two touchdowns on just 21 carries. He also had 82 yards receiving.

Stat of the game: This was the first time since 1993 the Sooners surrendered at least 250 rushing yards in back-to-back games. OU gave up 252 to Baylor last weekend and 458 to the Mountaineers. West Virginia’s 778 total yards were also, by far, the most against a Sooners defense in OU history.

Record performance: Austin shattered the Big 12 record for all-purpose yards in a game with 572. Texas’ Hodges Mitchell held the previous record of 375 yards since 2000. On top of having a monster game rushing and receiving, Austin had 146 yards in kickoff returns.

Unsung hero: Stills, who hauled in four touchdown passes to keep pace with Austin and Stedman Bailey. Stills had 10 receptions, but none bigger than his final one, which gave OU the lead for good.

What it means: The Sooners leave Morgantown with their BCS bowl hopes still intact. But a huge test awaits next weekend in Oklahoma State, which beat OU 44-10 last season. West Virginia is still searching for its sixth win to become bowl eligible. The Mountaineers have now lost five in a row.
Oklahoma's pass defense faces another test when the Sooners travel to Morgantown, W. Va. to play West Virginia on Saturday. The Mountaineers feature some of the Big 12's most explosive offensive threats with quarterback Geno Smith and receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. SoonerNation reviewed the Mountaineers' 55-34 loss to Oklahoma State on Saturday and came away with three things the Sooners will need to keep an eye against WVU.

[+] EnlargeAustin & Bailey
Justin K. Aller/Getty ImagesWest Virginia receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin form an explosive connection for the Mountaineers.
Slowing Austin

Austin is one of the most explosive players in college football. A week after Baylor’s Lache Seastrunk caused them fits, the Sooners face an even tougher test in Austin.

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Analyzing the finer points of Oklahoma's 41-20 win Saturday over Texas Tech:

• Bob Stoops said it. Josh Heupel said it. Jay Norvell said it. The Sooners were adamant all the week that they were going to feature Damien Williams at running back. Saturday, they made good on that promise. Williams got his first career start and manned the position almost exclusively, and to sparkling results.

He rushed for just 48 yards on 14 carries, but caught six passes for 82 yards, including a 38-yarder down the sideline that set up OU’s fourth touchdown in the third quarter.

[+] EnlargeJavon Harris
Jackson Laizure/Getty ImagesThe Sooners forced three turnovers vs. Texas Tech, including Javon Harris' TD return.
Even though the coaches told the media they planned to use Williams more, they didn’t actually break the news to Williams until just before the game.

“They told me last-minute, ‘You're gonna be the guy, be prepared to do your assignments,’ ” Williams said. “It feels great, just knowing that I'm gonna be that guy. They're putting more carries on me and letting me do more with the ball.”

Dominique Whaley, who had started OU’s first three games, got only two carries for 22 yards. Brennan Clay played sparingly, too.

• Cornerback Aaron Colvin has been stout throughout his career but might have had his finest game yet as a Sooner. On top of providing stifling coverage, he had a hand in two turnovers. On the first, Colvin came on a corner blitz and snagged an interception instead of batting down the ball. The turnover led to an OU field goal just before half that put the Sooners up 24-13 just before halftime.

In the second half, Colvin helped deliver the dagger. He tipped a Seth Doege pass in the air and into the arms of teammate Javon Harris, who raced 46 yards into the end zone, giving the Sooners a 38-13 lead with still eight minutes to play in the third quarter.

“He's got that ‘it' factor,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said of Colvin. “He shows up every game and is ready to play.”

Stoops brought more blitzes than usual to try to disrupt Doege's rhythm. Because Colvin and fellow cornerback Demontre Hurst stuck to their receivers like glue, the ploy worked beautifully, as Doege was under duress from the second quarter on.

“We tried to blitz a lot,” Colvin said. “So the corners were left out on the island, somewhat, a lot. Me and Demontre preached no deep balls, not making anything easy. Our preparation, I feel like, allowed us to play well today.”

Colvin has been OU’s best player through four games and should warrant All-America consideration if he continues to play this way. He will have plenty of chances to prove his mettle, especially on Nov. 17, when the Sooners travel to Morgantown, W.Va., and face Mountaineers receivers Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

“Aaron is a special player,” Bob Stoops said. “He’s one of the best corners that I’ve coached, and I believe in the long run, from now through whenever he leaves, he’s going to show that. He’s a real player.”

• Linebackers Tom Wort and Corey Nelson have played a lot of football. But they were outdone by redshirt freshmen Frank Shannon and Aaron Franklin, who got the most extensive playing time of their careers. Shannon had six tackles and Franklin had four, as the Sooners opted to go with as much speed as possible.

Shannon was especially disruptive, coming through with a critical fourth-down sack in the third quarter. From the second quarter, the Sooners went almost exclusively with Shannon at middle linebacker.

“Frank had a heck of a game,” Stoops said.

It will be interesting to see how the Sooners rotate Wort and Shannon. Wort has had difficulty covering the pass and allowed a Kansas State receiver to cross in front of him for a first down on a critical third down late in the fourth quarter. He struggled covering Tech’s slot receivers early Saturday, too, prompting OU to make a change.

• By most accounts, freshman wideout Trey Metoyer was OU’s most impressive skill player of the spring. That, however, has not translated to this season. He finished without a single reception. He had a chance on OU’s opening drive, but couldn’t haul in a fade route in the end zone.

Sterling Shepard, LaColtan Bester and Durron Neal, meanwhile, all finished with catches.

It’s puzzling that Landry Jones has not gotten in sync with Metoyer. During the off week, the two placed extra emphasis on completing the go route in bounds, which had been a problem through the first three games. But after Saturday’s incomplete pass, Jones is now 1-of-7 when targeting Metoyer on passes of 15 yards or more.

• Other than Metoyer, the Sooners did a fabulous job spreading the ball around to playmakers. Damien Williams, Dominique Whaley, Trey Millard, Brennan Clay, LaColtan Bester, Durron Neal, Sterling Shepard, Kenny Stills and Justin Brown all touched the ball. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel did an especially good job getting Millard involved.

Going into the weekend, Millard had touched the ball seven times for the season. Saturday, he got four rushes for 19 yards and two catches for 26 yards.


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Ranking Oklahoma's remaining schedule 

September, 28, 2012
9/28/12
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During the offseason, I ranked Oklahoma’s schedule from toughest game to easiest. The Sooners’ home date with Kansas State ranked fifth.

Almost a month into the season, OU’s remaining schedule looks even tougher overall.

Ranking those games from toughest to easiest:

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The Big 12 got two swipes (should have been a third in 2011) at the SEC during the league's run of six national titles, but failed on both occasions.

Colt McCoy's shoulder suffered a freak injury on a usually harmless hit, and when McCoy trotted to the sideline, the Longhorns' chances of beating Alabama came off the field with him.

A season earlier, Florida twice stuffed Oklahoma on the goal line, giving Tim Tebow his second national title and denying the Sooners the school's eighth.

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
Rick Scuteri/AP ImagesQuarterback Landry Jones is best suited to push Oklahoma past the SEC's supremacy when it comes to national titles.
So, who among the Big 12's contenders this season is best suited to end the SEC's tyranny?

The Sooners are simply the best team, even though Oklahoma is loaded with flaws. Question marks on the offensive and defensive lines as well as at linebacker could prove problematic in a showdown with one of the SEC titans, but the Sooners would love for the play of four-year starting quarterback Landry Jones to answer it. He's got the skills to decipher complex SEC defensive schemes and the pocket presence to elude the rush. His arm strength assures that SEC secondaries will have to cover the whole field.

The Sooners would have to get past Texas in the Red River Rivalry to make that happen. (Never mind 2008. Just humor me here.) If the Longhorns can survive a brutal Big 12 schedule with six 10-win teams on the docket, they're probably the best Big 12 team suited to beat one of the SEC's best teams in a national title game.

The problem is producing enough offense to beat Big 12 teams. In an SEC matchup, though, it's all about the line of scrimmage. Texas' defensive line may challenge LSU as the nation's best, and the Longhorns have a crazy duo at defensive end in Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, two of the nation's best at the position.

Texas' depth at defensive line is huge, too, but it likely has the Big 12's best offensive line. The loaded backfield of Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray is a good sign, too. Mack Brown brought in assistants with SEC ties like Manny Diaz (defensive coordinator), Bo Davis (defensive tackles) and Stacy Searels (offensive line) to offer his team a little SEC flavor. You want power football, Nick Saban and Les Miles? Texas would love to play some power football.

What about a Big 12 newcomer who's never won the league and never played for a national title in the BCS era?

West Virginia is all about speed. There are plenty of questions on the defensive line, but the Mountaineers will test the mettle of any SEC defense that's feasted on weak offense all season. Geno Smith's got a big arm and the Big 12's two best receivers in Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin.

West Virginia has to play its best, but if Dana Holgorsen's team can hang 70 on Clemson like it did at the Orange Bowl, the Mountaineers' biggest stage last season, you've got to like its chances to at least put 30 or 40 on the board against an SEC team. Do that, and WVU will have a shot. Just have to survive the first year in the Big 12 and win a league title first.

There's no USC in the Big 12, a team built for a title run in 2012. The Big 12 does have plenty of contenders, though, and if any of these three teams gets a shot, they won't take it lightly.
November 17, 2012: West Virginia
2011 record: 10-3 | 2011 conference record: 5-2 (Big East)
OU’s all-time against West Virginia: 2-2

Top returners: QB Geno Smith, RB Dustin Garrison, WR Stedman Bailey, WR Tavon Austin, WR Ivan McCartney, C Joe Madsen, DT Jorge Wright, CB Pat Miller, SS Terence Garvin

Key losses: OT Don Barclay, OG Tyler Rader, DE Bruce Irvin, DT Julian Miller, LB Najee Goode, LB Casey Vance, CB Keith Tandy, FS Eain Smith

2011 statistical leaders (*returners)
Rushing: Dustin Garrison* (742 yards)
Passing: Geno Smith* (3,978 yards)
Receiving: Steadman Bailey* (1,197 yards)
Tackles: Najee Goode (87)
Sacks: Bruce Irvin (8.5)
Interceptions: Keith Tandy (4)

What they’re saying: "It sounds like everybody in the room thinks that we're pretty good, or that Geno is pretty good. It's a compliment to Geno. ... He progressed and he's got a chance to be pretty good." – head coach Dana Holgorsen on Geno Smith being voted preseason All-Big 12 QB over OU’s Landry Jones

Three things to watch:

1. Despite playing West Virginia four times, the Sooners never have been to Morgantown. Going there figures to be OU’s toughest test of the season. The Mountaineers have a formidable home-field advantage, and OU will be West Virginia’s biggest conference home game in years. Will the Sooners be up to the challenge?

2. The two best quarterbacks in the league – Landry Jones and Geno Smith – face off in this one. Both can sling it around the field. But whoever takes care of the ball best figures to be the one who leads his team to victory.

3. The Sooners secondary will be on the spot against Dana Holgorsen’s high-flying attack. The Sooners succumbed to the spread attacks of Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma State in 2011, giving up huge plays in the passing game to all three. What will the unit do in its toughest test of the season?

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We'll be walking through the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12 before the season, but we'll start with the most important, especially in this league.

Let's do this:

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia: Smith put up huge numbers (4,385 yards, 31 TD, 7 INT, 65.8 completion percentage) and did so efficiently last season. Both of his top two targets are back and the adjustment to Big 12 defenses shouldn't be too difficult.

2. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones and Smith will go head-to-head all season for honors as the Big 12's top passer. Who comes out on top is anyone's guess, but Jones regressed last season, and his receivers let him down after Ryan Broyles' season ended with a knee injury. He'll try to bounce back with just one reliable target (Kenny Stills) to start the season. The rest of the receiving corps is loaded with potential, but very inexperienced.

3. Collin Klein, Kansas State: Clearly, I'm taking more than just passing acumen into account here. Klein is the Big 12's No. 2 returning rusher, and also threw for just under 2,000 yards last season, adding 13 passing touchdowns to the 27 he scored rushing. We'll see how much better he is as a passer this fall.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty ImagesTCU's Casey Pachall could be poised for a big year with a stable of talented receivers.
4. Seth Doege, Texas Tech: I refuse to hang last year's failures on Doege's shoulders. Absolutely not. He played well, at least as well as he could. The running game struggled and offered almost no support after Eric Stephens' injury. The defense was a disaster and there were injuries all over the place. Doege still went for more than 4,000 yards, 28 scores and just 10 picks. Don't be surprised if Doege throws his hat in the ring as the Big 12's best passer by season's end.

5. Casey Pachall, TCU: Pachall didn't have eye-popping numbers, but only because TCU rode on the shoulders of its trio of running backs. Still, Pachall's numbers are going to be better this year, and he's got great targets in Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter, not to mention youngster LaDarius Brown.

6. Nick Florence, Baylor: I like Florence to have a big year with really good receivers, but he's got too much to prove for now. He looked good in spot duty for RG3 against Texas Tech last season, but his senior season will look much, much different than his inconsistent freshman year all the way back in 2009.

7. Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State: The Big 12's only freshman quarterback is a true freshman, and Lunt earned this spot by beating out some really tough competition in J.W. Walsh and Colton Chelf this spring. Amazing stuff, and his coaches know good quarterbacks. Zac Robinson and Brandon Weeden have established quite the QB tradition in Stillwater. Here's guessing Lunt continues it.

8. Dayne Crist, Kansas: Crist's college career hasn't been what he imagined after coming to Notre Dame as one of the most highly recruited signal-calling prospects in his class, but he's got a chance to start something special at Kansas in his senior year, reunited with former coach Charlie Weis. Crist won't have the weapons some of the other guys on this list have, but he gives KU a big, big upgrade at the position.

9. Steele Jantz/Jared Barnett, Iowa State: These two have to cut down the turnovers, but they've both shown the ability to be playmakers. There's no guessing who wins this legitimate battle in the fall, but coach Paul Rhoads isn't afraid to bench either one if the turnovers don't stop.

10. David Ash/Case McCoy, Texas: Mack Brown insists it's still a contest. My jaw will be on the floor if Ash doesn't trot out on the field for the first game of the season. Ash has some potential and promising targets in Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, but he hasn't shown the big-play ability of Jantz or Barnett. Expect Ash to move up this list by season's end, but for now, it's all just potential.

Who will be OU’s biggest threat to a Big 12 title?

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
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Every Monday during the summer, the SoonerNation staff answers a roundtable question. Leave a comment or talk about it in our "There's Only One" forum.

Today's question: Who will be OU’s biggest threat to a Big 12 title?

Any one of six teams could win the Big 12 title this season, the most contenders the league has had in years, and maybe ever. But OU's top challenger for conference supremacy should be West Virginia. The Mountaineers return 16 starters, including QB Geno Smith, off last year's Big East champion squad that destroyed Clemson in the Orange Bowl. West Virginia has to go to Texas and Oklahoma State, and play Oklahoma in Morgantown on Nov. 17 in a tilt that figures to have major Big 12 title implications. To win the Big 12, the Sooners probably will also have to win that game.

- Jake Trotter

[+] EnlargeWest Virginia's Geno Smith
Andrew Weber/US PresswireWest Virginia's Geno Smith will be one of the Big 12's top signal-callers in 2012.
West Virginia is the biggest threat to OU's hopes for a Big 12 championship. Quarterback Geno Smith is entering his second season in Dana Holgorsen's offense and has Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, a couple of 1,000-yard receivers, to throw to. The Sooners will need to make a major improvement in the secondary to handle the Mountaineers, particularly in Morgantown. West Virginia gets TCU and OU at home but travels to Texas and Oklahoma State in a schedule that should allow WVU to put itself right in contention for a Big 12 title in its first season in the league.

- Brandon Chatmon

Did West Virginia just score again in the Orange Bowl against Clemson? OK, so that joke got played out, but the fact remains that the Mountaineers offense is going to be scary good. Quarterback Geno Smith and Tavon Austin connected for four touchdowns in that game and both are back. Add the fact West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen is familiar with Big 12 systems from his time at Oklahoma State, and the Mountaineers are a real contender for a championship in their first year in the conference. If OU's problems in the secondary haven't been solved, the Nov. 17 trip to Morgantown, W.V., could be a long night.

- Bob Przybylo

West Virginia could beat Oklahoma in November, but I think the Mountaineers' road conference schedule is too tough for them to win the Big 12 title. WVU plays at Texas, at Oklahoma State and at Texas Tech (still a tough place to play), and I could see the Mountaineers losing two of those games. As for OU's biggest threat to a conference championship, give me Texas. The Longhorns have a strong running game, will likely have the best defense in the conference and if they can get above-average play at quarterback, they'll be tough to beat. Beat OU in Dallas on Oct. 13 and the Longhorns have a tame slate the rest of the way.

- Dane Beavers

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