Why Texas A&M can win the Big 12

Ryan Tannehill and Cyrus Gray make up a formidable quarterback-tailback duo. Thomas Campbell/US Presswire

In football, it can be easy to overlook a potential title contender that is flying just under the radar.

Take, for example, the 1992 Dallas Cowboys. Everybody assumed, heading into the season, that they'd play second fiddle to the defending Super Bowl champion Washington Redskins. And with good reason. Dallas had just been shellacked 38-6 by the Detroit Lions in the previous year's postseason, and franchise QB Troy Aikman had won only 14 of his past 27 starts.

But there was plenty of reason for Jimmy Johnson to be optimistic about his team, as he had a young, talented roster and a defense that was on the cusp of mastering its scheme.

The Cowboys, of course, ended up using these advantages to overtake an aging Washington team en route to a Super Bowl crown, defying preseason predictions that saw Redskins dominance as a virtual lock.

A similar type of misconception seems to be taking place when contrasting both the Big 12 and national championship chances for the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas A&M Aggies in 2011. The consensus seems to be that the Sooners are the favorites in both categories (they are reigning Big 12 champions, after all, and Texas A&M closed its 2010 season with a Cotton Bowl loss to the LSU Tigers), but a closer look at the situation shows why the Aggies should be just as confident in their chances -- and could very well knock off Oklahoma en route to becoming conference champions.

Here are a few reasons why: