Last week, the Rivals.com Big 12 Network began our early look at the league by naming the top five players at every position on the field. Now, we turn our attention to the upcoming season. Over the next two weeks, we will predict the order of finish in each division, the Big 12 champion, the coach of the year and hand out major individual awards. That is where we start today as we crown the 2005 Big 12 offensive player of the year.
This was really a two-horse race which will most likely be decided the weekend of the Texas State Fair down in Dallas. The Red River Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma has decided the Big 12 South virtually every year and it could well be the deciding factor in the race for the offensive MVP this season.
In our early poll, Oklahoma sophomore running back Adrian Peterson held off Texas quarterback Vince Young. Of the ten ballots returned, Peterson received five votes. Young got four votes and the final tally went to A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal.
Peterson, the number one player in the nation as a senior in high school according to Rivals.com, burst on the scene as a true freshman a season ago. He carried the ball 339 times for a ridiculous 1,925 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. Peterson broke every freshman rushing record on the books and finished second to USC quarterback Matt Leinart in the Heisman voting.
Young was spectacular down the stretch, particularly in leading the Longhorns on a comeback charge to beat Michigan in the Rose Bowl. However, the strong finish wasn't quite enough to convince our panel to hand Young the hardware.
Over the next two weeks, we will publish our predictions for the defensive player of the year, newcomer of the year, coach of the year, north and south division darkhorses and champions and the Big 12 champ.