College Football Previews
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Big 12 College Football Preview
The Big 12 has plenty of problems as we all well know. Perhaps the biggest problem you don’t know about is how they only had 14 players drafted in this past April’s NFL Draft. That’s less players drafted than the American Athletic Conference and pretty close to the 11 MAC players that were drafted. Aside from that Bob Stoops shockingly stepped down from Oklahoma which could leave way for Kansas State & Oklahoma State to make a push for the Big 12 championship. I almost forgot the Big 12 finally added a championship game so there’s that.
1. OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Bob Stoops shockingly retired in June which led way for new head coach and former East Carolina OC Lincoln Riley. Riley’s first move in Norman was to bring in former ECU head coach Ruffin McNeill to coach some of the defense. I know plenty of people are probably down on the Sooners since Stoops stepped down but I don’t see a big drop off happening. Senior QB Baker Mayfield is back at the helm and should be a heisman trophy contender. Their offensive line is loaded with NFL talent. Sure, they lost some players at WR & RB to the NFL but it’s Oklahoma they reload. Plus they add in former Kentucky Wildcat wide receiver Jeff Badet who will add veteran leadership.
The out of conference schedule has matchups vs UTEP, @ Ohio State & vs Tulane. I’m thinking 2-1 here but maybe just maybe the Sooners can get revenge and upset Ohio State. On the road in conference they have matchups at Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State & Kansas. I’m thinking 3-1 here with a slip up to either K State or OK State. They also have the Red River shootout vs Texas in Dallas that anything can happen in. The Sooners should be favorites of course but with those matchups you really need to throw the records and projections out. At home in Norman the Sooners get matchups vs Iowa State, Texas Tech, TCU, & West Virginia. I’m thinking 4-0 here but maybe TCU or WVU can give them a game. All together I’m thinking 10-2 if they can get past Texas and everyone at home.
2. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS
If there were ever a year to do it this would have to be the year. Mike Gundy’s mullet is the best I’ve seen since Swayze in Road House so what better way to bring back the mullet than to have your coach covered all throughout the press. Okay, seriously they get a non stoops coached Oklahoma at home this year and they return QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington. The out of conference schedule has games vs Tulsa, @ South Alabama, & @ Pittsburgh. The Pitt game could be a tough one but the Cowboys should be favored.
So lets say 3-0 there. The away games in conference are at Texas Tech, Texas, West Virginia & Iowa State. The Texas & WVU matchups really stand out as toss up games. Iowa State over the past 10 years seems to always give OK State trouble as well but lets just say 3-1 on the road. At home in Stillwater the Cowboys get TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State & Kansas. I’m thinking 4-1 there with the one loss coming to either Oklahoma, K State or TCU. Which would make OK State 10-2 on the year. The question will be is that good enough?
3. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS
Bill Snyder continues to do wonders in Manhattan, Kansas. Last year the Wildcats went 9-4 and ended the season with a nice bowl win over Texas A&M. This year they return QB Jesse Ertz and bring back one of the best defensive backfields in all of the country. This, is the reason why I think Kansas State could be a big time sleeper in the Big 12 this year. The out of conference schedule has matchups vs Central Arkansas, vs Charlotte & @ Vanderbilt. 3-0 is what needs to happen there. No excuses.
On the road in conference they get road games at Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech & Oklahoma State. The Texas & OK State matchups could tell the tale for this team. I got them going 3-1 on the road. At home in Manhattan the cats get matchups vs Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma, West Virginia & Iowa State. Those for the most part are tough matchups, but hey if they can take care of their work at home they really could be 11-1. I’m still thinking Oklahoma will be favored when they come to Manhattan so maybe 10-2 is more likely but regardless I think this team with that schedule could be playoff contenders.
4. TCU HORNED FROGS
Gary Patterson is back at coach for his 17th season. Last year TCU underachieved and lost a bowl game which put them at 6-7 for the season. Patterson normally always bounces back hard after underachieving seasons. I expect TCU to be a contender in the Big 12 this year. They return senior QB Kenny Hill who if he can work on his consistency can be one of the best QBs in the Big 12. He’ll need some help from the wideout position as TCU lead the nation in drops last year. They did hire former Cal & Louisiana Tech head coach Sonny Dykes to be an offensive analyst so expect the offense to be much improved.
The out of conference schedule has matchups vs Jackson State, @ Arkansas, & vs SMU. I’m thinking 2-1 here but it sure would be nice to get revenge against Arkansas. Keep a close eye on the SMU game as well because the Mustangs are moving in the right direction. On the road in conference TCU has road tests at Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma & Texas Tech. Those are some tough matchups but I think they may be able to pull an upset against either K State, OU or OK State. I’ll say they go 3-2 on the road. Home in Fort Worth the frogs get games vs West Virginia, Kansas, Texas, & Baylor. They need to go undefeated here to be real contenders. I’m thinking 4-0 or 3-1 here with maybe Texas or WVU getting one past them. All together that would leave the Horned Frogs with something around a 8-4 or 9-3 season.
5. TEXAS LONGHORNS
The Charlie Strong era is over and now comes in the hottest coach in the country and Tom Herman who came over from Houston. Strong recruited great in his short time in Austin so Herman should have a pretty loaded team in Austin. Last year Strong started a true freshman QB in Shane Buechele who showed us flashes of his potential. If he can develop and continue to improve Texas could easily be contenders in the Big 12. The out of conference games are vs Maryland, vs San Jose State & @ USC.
I’m thinking 2-1 here with the loss coming at USC but Herman was known for winning big games while he was at Houston so maybe he can continue his magic. On the road in conference the Horns have games at Iowa State, Baylor, TCU & West Virginia. I’m thinking 2-2 or 3-1 here for the Horns. Then there is the red river rivalry vs Oklahoma in Dallas which despite OU being a favored could actually be a toss up game. Then at home in Austin the Horns get matchups vs Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Kansas & Texas Tech. It’s possible they go 4-0 here but I’m thinking 3-1 or 2-2. Texas finally has their great coach in Herman which has me very curious to see how they’ll do in year one. I’m guessing around 7-5 or 8-4 but I’m eager to see how fast Herman makes them contenders.
6. BAYLOR BEARS
Things in Waco were looking so very bleak a year ago at this time. Then interim head coach Jim Grobe took Baylor to a 7-6 season which was a heck of a job when you consider the transfers and overall morale of the program. Then Baylor landed a home run when they somehow hired former Temple head coach Matt Rhule. I was shocked Rhule took the job to be honest. So it appears that Baylor isn’t going to make the big drop off that everyone thought was going to happen. Rhule has recruited well since hopping on board so it’s almost as if they never missed a beat. On offense the Bears return sophomore QB Zach Smith who played great last season. Mix in Smith with former Arizona grad transfer in Anu Soloman and the quarterback position has some real depth.
Terrence Williams was a 1,000 yard RB last year and he’s back so the Bears offense has what it needs. Rhule will certainly abandon the pass happy offense and instill a run first hard nose offense but the talent is already there. The out of conference matchups are vs Liberty (soon to be in the FCS), vs UTSA, & @ Duke. They should be 3-0 here but Duke is always somewhat underrated. On the road in conference the Bears have games at Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Kansas & TCU. At best I’m thinking 2-2 here but 1-3 could happen. The Bears also play a neutral site game vs Texas Tech in Dallas. I’d favor the Bears to win that one. At home in Waco Baylor gets visits from Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas & Iowa State. That’s a tough slate of games but I’m thinking 2-2. That would leave the Bears at 8-4 for the season but there’s a great deal of 50/50 games there.
7. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS
I know that people in Morgantown think “Hey we went 10-3 last year we’re contenders this year.” I however don’t see that being the outcome. Sure, they add in former Florida Gator Will Grier at QB but the schedule is brutal and their replacing a ton. I expect a bowl game but contenders? I just don’t see it. The out of conference schedule has games vs Virginia Tech (neutral site), vs East Carolina & vs Delaware State. The Virginia Tech game should be a toss up with the slight edge going to the Hokies.
They should beat ECU and Delaware State but ECU has been a thorn in the big guys side of recent. The road matchups in conference are brutal with games at Kansas, TCU, Baylor, Kansas State & Oklahoma. They’ll be favored in maybe one of those (Kansas). I think they could steal one other but at best that would leave them at 2-3 and more likely 1-4. At home in Morgantown they get Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Iowa State & Texas. They really need to go undefeated here to really be a player but I’m thinking 3-1 in Morgantown. Which would leave the Mountaineers at 6-6 or 7-5.
8. IOWA STATE CYCLONES
I know most people have Texas Tech at the 7 or 8 spot in the Big 12 but I’m really high on head coach Matt Campbell. Last year was Campbell’s first year in Aimes and although things were really ugly at first the team finally came around towards the end of the year. The Cyclones return former Georgia QB Jacob Parks and star WR Allen Lazard so the offense should continue to improve. The out of conference schedule has matchups vs Northern Iowa, vs Iowa & @ Akron.
All three are tough matchups. If they can go 2-1 in those 3 then maybe just maybe they can sneak into a bowl. The road games in conference are at Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Baylor & Kansas State. Circle the Texas Tech if you are a Cyclone fan because you are going to need that game if you want any chance at a bowl. The rest of those road games are brutal. So I’m thinking 1-4 on the road. At home in Aimes they get matchups vs Texas, Kansas, TCU & Oklahoma State. I got them winning the Kansas game but they’ll need to upset someone else at home to make a bowl game. I think it’s very possible. So I have the Cyclones ending at 5-7 or 6-6 but they need not trip up against Northern Iowa or Akron.
9. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS
Year five in the Kliff Kingsbury era begins. Personally I thought he should’ve been fired after last year. Patrick Mahomes is gone and in comes senior QB Nic Shimonek who I’m sure will put up nasty stats in the air raid offense. The real question is will the defense be able to stop anyone? The Defense was maybe the worst I’ve ever seen from a power 5 program last year and me picking Texas Tech 9th should indicate to you that I’m not thinking much will change. The out of conference schedule has matchups vs Eastern Washington, vs Arizona State & @ Houston. Watch out here Red Raider fans because all three teams are good enough to beat you.
Eastern Washington has beat Washington State two years in a row. I’m thinking 1-2 here but hey if they can just play a little defense they could very well be 3-0. On the road in conference the Raiders have games at Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma & Texas. I’m thinking 1-3 here but even Kansas could give them a game. The Raiders play a neutral site game in Dallas against Baylor but I doubt they win that one. At home in Lubbock they get games vs Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Kansas State & TCU. I’m thinking 1-3 here but one thing I will say about Kingsbury and Texas Tech is normally they beat someone they shouldn’t. So lets say 2-2 here. I’m going 4-8 for Red Raiders this season, which one would assume would lead to the firing of Kliff Kingsbury. If the defense can somehow improve they could go bowling though.
10. KANSAS JAYHAWKS
David Beaty is fighting the good fight as head coach of Kansas. His first season he went winless in a 0-12 campaign, then last year they went 2-10 and were much more competitive almost knocking off TCU and knocking off Texas which sealed the fate of Charlie Strong. I want to be optimistic about the direction of the team but what would a good season be? Four wins? This year the Jayhawks bring in Washington State transfer Peyton Bender at QB so the offense could be pretty good.
The main problem will be on the defensive side of the ball. The out of conference games are vs S.E. Missouri, vs Central Michigan & @ Ohio. I’m thinking 1-2 here but maybe they can get one vs Central Michigan. On the road in conference Kansas plays at Iowa State, TCU, Texas & Oklahoma State. Circle the Iowa State game if you are a Jayhawk fan because if you want a in conference road win that will be your only real chance. At home in Lawrence the Jayhawks get matchups vs West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Baylor & Oklahoma. I’m thinking 0-5 or 1-4 here but maybe just maybe they upset WVU. I wouldn’t bet on it but hey I wouldn’t of bet on them beating Texas last year either. All together I’m thinking 2-10 here.
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