Big 12 College Football Season Preview

I have done the ACC Predictions and there are links to those articles below. Now we move on to the Big 12 Conference, which could very well house the National Titleholder at the end of the year. That’s right, I’m talking about the Oklahoma Sooners, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself. LOL Let’s take a look at the Big 12 which does have some very good teams, especially at the top. I wrote a bunch in my ACC Previews, but I will write a bit less in the rest of my previews so I get them done by next Friday. After this one, I will still do the Big 10, SEC, and PAC-12.

Other Previews

ACC Atlantic Division

ACC Coastal Division

Big 10 East Division

Big 10 West Division

PAC-12 Conference

All Team & Player Rankings Are Courtesy Of Phil Steele’s CFB Preview

Teams are in predicted order of finish.

Oklahoma Sooners: I kind of gave this away already as the Sooners will be in the mix for a National Title this year, so picking them number one in the conference should be no surprise. Each time Lincon Riley has had a veteran QB to work with, he has been in the playoffs, and this year, he has Spencer Rattler back after throwing for 3031 yards with 28 TDs and seven INTs a year ago. He will set up behind the top offensive line in the nation and the 2nd best set of receivers in the land. The running game loses its top three backs from last year, but Kennedy Brooks was one of the top running back recruits in the nation a few years ago, and Rattler and that passing game will pick up the rest of the slack. Oklahoma should top the 43 ppg and 495 ypg they put up last year.

The defense was excellent a year ago as they allowed just 21.7 ppg and 351 ypg on the season. The pass defense gave up 246 ypg through the air, but three of their four starting defensive backs return, and having a defensive line that ranks 3rd in the nation will help the secondary. Oklahoma is loaded on both sides of the ball, and they are the call of the Big 12. The schedule is not tough, and they get Iowa State at home in the 2nd to last game. I look for the Sooners to go undefeated during the regular season, with the Big 12 Title game, which will lead to them playing for the National Title.

Iowa State Cyclones: For the first time, the Iowa State Cyclones posted eight wins in Big 12 play. They finished the season at 9-3 last year, which included a 34-17 win over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. Think about this, before Matt Campbell took this program over, they had just one 8-win season in their previous 37 years, but they have now had 8-win seasons in three of the last four years. Now with 20 starters back, including all 11 on offense, the Campbell may have his best team yet. Brock Purdy has blossomed into a fin quarterback after throwing for 2750 yards with 19 TDs and just nine INTs last year. He has his top 10 pass catchers back from last year, and also, his top five ball carriers are back. Purdy was 2nd in rushing last year with 382 yards and five TDs, while Breece Hall (1572 yds & 21 TDs) rates as the top running back in the league. Everyone will set up behind the 4th best offensive line in the nation, so Iowa state should easily top the 32.9 ppg they hung up last year.

On defense, the Cyclones allowed just 21.4 ppg and 340 ypg on the season, and they should be better with nine starters back on that side of the ball. The secondary took some hits and is rated 8th best in the Big 12, but the linebacking corps rates as 2nd best in the nation. All four starters return from that group, including Isheem Young, the 12th best LB recruit in the nation a couple of years ago. The defensive line is average but still solid. The Cyclones have road games against Oklahoma and West Virginia, but they should waltz through the rest of their schedule and end up in the Big 12 Title game. They will lose that game but will have a nice bow game and bag at least ten wins overall.

TCU Horned Frogs: Gary Patterson is in his 21st season, and he has a solid team to work with this year. Last year, the Horned Frogs went 6-4, and 18 starters are back from that team. TCU does come in as the 2nd most experienced team in the Big 12. Their offense was decent last year, averaging 30.8 ppg and 411 ypg, including 215 ypg on the ground. Their top nine ball carriers are back, including QB Max Duggan, who led the team with 526 yards and 10 TDs. He rates as one of the best QBs in the league, despite throwing for just 12795 yards with 10 TDs and four INTs last year. He has a shot at a better season with his top four receivers back from last year. This is a team that could top 35 ppg and 450 ypg this year.

The defense was average at best last year as the Horned Frogs allowed 24.2 ppg and 351 ypg on the year. TCU has eight starters back on this side of the ball, and the defense is very talented. Seven of their top nine tacklers return, and they have the 7th rated defensive line in the 2nd and the 2nd rated secondary in the Big 12. The linebacking corps is no slouch either, with two of three starters back from that group. We also note that TCU has the 15th rated special teams unit in the nation. This is a solid team, but road games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State will keep them from playing in the big 12 title game.

Texas Longhorns: The Texas Longhorns had a solid season last year as they went 7-3 overall, which included a 55-23 win over Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. The Longhorns have 15 starters and 55 lettermen back from that team, but still, this team is ranked 109th in the nation in experience, plus they have a new head coach in Steve Sarkisian, and changing schemes could hurt a young team, especially early in the season. Texas is a bit shy on depth, and that will hurt them some this year. Last year, the Longhorns had a potent offense that produced 42.7 ppg, but they must replace QB Sam Ehlinger and two of their top four receivers. Their top two RBs do return, led by Bijan Robinson, who ran for 780 yards last year. Hudson Card will take over at QB, and he was the 8th best QB recruit in the nation last year. How well Card plays will determine how good the offense will be as Texas has the 5th best stable of backs and the 9th best WR corp in the nation while fielding the 3rd best OL in the Big 12. They will be solid on offense, but I don’t see them topping 40 ppg this season.

The defense could be an issue for Texas this year, even though they have seven starters back. The strength of the defense is their line, which rates as 3rd best in the big 12 and 16th best in the nation, but their back 8 are below average within the Big 12. Teams threw for 266 ypg against this defense a year ago, and with two of their four starters gone from the secondary, it could struggle again. The starting defense could be solid overall, with 10 of the 11 starters on this side of the ball ranking 52nd or better in the nation at their respective positions when they came out of high school. Depth on this side of the ball will be an issue, though. Having road games against TCU, Iowa State, and West Virginia, plus a neutral site game against Oklahoma will keep Texas from moving up in the standings. Still, they will land a decent bowl game.

West Virginia Mountaineers: West Virginia is not an experienced team, but I still see them ending up in the 5th spot in the Big 12 Conference. The Mountaineers do have seven starters back, including nine on offense. Hopefully, they will get their offense going after putting up just 26.5 ppg last year. They were able to move the ball some, primarily through the air, but they had to settle for plenty of field goals, and the Mountaineers ranked 99th in the nation in TDs per game at just 2.6. WVU will look for more TDs this year, with nine starters back on this side of the ball, including QB Jarrett Doege, who threw for 2587 yards with 14 TDs and four INTs last year. Nine of his 10 ten pass catchers are back from a year ago, plus their top two running backs. The Mountaineers must replace two starters along the offensive line, but overall, this will be a better offense that should top 30 ppg this year.

The strength of this team was a defense that allowed just 20.5 ppg and 291 ypg a year ago. The pass defense ranked 9th in the nation, allowing just 171 ypg through the air, and three of their four starters are back to the secondary. The West Virginia defensive backfield rates as 4th best in the big 12, while the defensive line rates as 3rd best. We should see another strong pass defense from this team, which is needed in the pass-happy Big 12. West Virginia gets Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State at home while facing a soft slate of Baylor, Kansas State, and Kansas on the road. West Virginia will grab a bowl game this year but moving up in the standings will be tough.

Oklahoma State Cowboys: After posting a 4-7 record in his first year at the school, Mike Gundy has led the cowboys to 15 winning years in a row. Last year, OSU went 8-3, which included a 47-34 win over Miami in the Cheez-It Bowl. Oklahoma State has 13 starters back from that team, but just five on offense. The big loss is Chuba Hubbard, who led the team in rushing with 625 yards. He did play in just seven games last year but rushed for 2094 yards the year before. The running back stable is very average this year. QB Spencer Sanders (2007 yards, 14 TDs, and 8 INTs) does return, but three of his top four receivers depart, and the receiver corps now ranks 8th in the Big 12. It could be hard for the Cowboys to top last year’s numbers of 30.2 ppg and 427 ypg.

The strength of this team could be a defense with 28 of 33 lettermen returning, including eight starters and 12 of their top 13 tacklers. The defense is led by their secondary, which will be one of the best in the Big 12 while ranking 25th in the nation overall. They allowed just 219 ypg through the air last year and will be just as good, if not better, this season. The secondary was aided by the signing of Kendal Daniels, who was the 12th rated DB recruit during the offseason. The Cowboys could allow fewer than the 23.5 ppg they gave up a year ago. Road games against Texas, Iowa State, West Virginia, and Texas Tech, plus a home game against Oklahoma, will not be easy, but still, the Cowboys will land in a bowl game somewhere while posting around seven wins. They could move up in the standings if the offense surprises.

Kansas State Wildcats: The Kansas State Wildcats went just 4-6 last year, and missing out on bowl games is something that this team is not used to. It was just the 2nd time in the last 11 years that the Wildcats missed out on a bowl game. The Wildcats will look to get back to a bowl game this year, and they certainly will be in the mix for one. Kansas State struggled on offense last year, but we should see some solid improvement on that side of the ball. They have ten starters back on offense, including Sklyar Thompson at QB, their top two running backs, five of their top six pass-catchers, and the entire offensive line. The running backs, led by Deuce Vaughn (642 yards, 7 TDs), are ranked as 4th best in the Big 12. Getting the running game going will take some pressure off of Skylar Thompson. I see the Wildcats topping the 26.6 ppg and 337 ypg that they hung up last year.

The defense could be a problem for the Wildcats this year. They allowed just 21.4 ppg two years ago, but that number jumped to 32.2 ppg last year. The Cats had six starters back last year, and they have six starters back this year. The defense will struggle again as all three of their units rank 8th or worse in the Big 12, and you need a strong defense to compete in the offensive-minded Big 12. I am not saying this team will be a total pushover this year, but they do not have the defense needed to finish in the upper half of the conference. They get TCU, West Virginia, and Baylor at home while facing Texas Tech and Kansas on the road. All games are winnable, plus they have Southern Illinois and Nevada at home. We could see KSU sneak into a bowl game, especially if the defense plays better than expected.

Texas Tech Red Raiders: Matt Wells has not had much success in his first two years at Texas Tech, as he has produced just four wins in each of those seasons. The Red Raiders have 16 starters back this year, but it still may be challenging for them to get to a bowl game. The offense was decent at best last year, averaging just 29.1, and they put up just 30.5 ppg in Matt’s first season here. This is a team that averaged 37.3 ppg in three of their previous four seasons. The Red Raiders used a two-QB system last year, but neither is slated to be the guy this year. Tyler Shough has transferred from Oregon, and he has the number one job. Shough threw for 1559 yards with 13 TDs and six INTs in seven games with the Ducks a year ago. The Red Raiders have their top two receivers back along with their top four running backs. If Shough is the right guy, then this offense will flourish this year. They should at least put up over 30 ppg this season.

The Red Raiders need their offense to step up as the defense was just horrible a season ago. They allowed 36.7 ppg, 109th in the nation, 444.9 ypg (90th), and 258 ypg through the air (100th). Texas Tech has eight starters back on that side of the ball, but the defensive line still rates as 9th in the Big 12 while the secondary is below average. In addition, the pass defense could struggle again. The linebacking corps rates as 3rd best in the Big 12, but that will not be enough for significant improvements on this side of the ball. Texas Tech will be improved on both sides of the ball, but they still do not have enough to make a move towards a bowl game. Road games against Texas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma, plus home dates against Oklahoma State, Iowa State, and TCU, will ensure that the Red Raiders don’t make it to bowl eligibility.

Baylor Bears: Back in 2019, the Bears went 11-3, but last year they went just 2-7, and they could be in for another long season this year. The Baylor offense took a nosedive last year as they averaged 10.3 ppg less than they did in 2019. It was Dave Aranda’s first season at the helm of the Bears, so he will be looking to get more from their offense. The Bears have seven starters back on the offensive side of the ball, but QB Charlie Brewer is not one of them. The Bears have a solid replacement in Gerry Bohanon, who was the 27th recruited QB a few tears ago. Baylor does have their top six pass-catchers back, which will aid Bohanonb, but the running game must improve. The bears were 124th in the nation in rushing last year at 90.3 ypg. Craig Williams was their leading RB last year, but he ran for just 197 yards on the season. If the ru8nning game improves, the Bears could top the 23.3 ppg they put up last year.

This year, Baylor could be involved in many low-scoring games as they have a bad offense, but they should field a solid defense. Baylor did allow 9.4 ppg more than they did in 2019, but still, they allowed less than 30 ppg. This year’s defense has 29 of 33 lettermen back, including ten starters. Baylor returns 94.2% of their tackles from a year ago, which is 7th in the nation. The Bears will be led by their secondary, which has all four starters back (all upperclassmen) and ranks 4th in the Big 12. The Linebacking corp is also solid, and despite a below-average defensive line, we should see Baylor chop around six ppg off of what they allowed last year. The schedule is tough, and the offensive isn’t good enough in this league for the Bears to avoid another rough season.

Kansas Jayhawks: Was there any doubt as to who would be in the basement of the Big 12? This is where the Jayhawks have resided for many years, and they have gone just 7-98 in league play over the 12 years. They have not won more than one Big 12 game in any of those seasons. Last year Kansas was 0-8 within the Big 12 and 0-9 overall. The Jayhawks have 16 starters back this year, but they have way too much ground to make up after finishing minus 231.1 ypg in league play a season ago. The next closest team was Kansas State at minus 104 ypg. Kansas has eight starters back on offense, including QB Jalon Daniels, but he threw for just 718 yards with a TD and four INTs last year. They also have their top two RBs and top two receivers back from last year. Still, all four offensive units rank last in the Big 12.

That is the same deal with their defense, as all three units rank last within the conference. The offense put up just 15.8 ppg, but the defense was just as bad, if not worse, as Kansas allowed 46.0 ppg (128th in the nation) on 459.2 ypg (108th). The pass defense was above average, but the run defense was horrible as they allowed 236.2 ypg, which was 119th in the land. With eight starters back and nowhere to go but up, the Jayhawks should improve on last year’s numbers. Kansas has a new coaching staff and a positive attitude, but they just do not have enough talent to escape the basement of the Big 12.

Author Profile
David Hess

David has always had a fascination with numbers and sports, so he combined the two to become a handicapper and a writer for us here at Winners & Whiners, along with StatSalt. All the information that David puts in his articles are well-researched and his predictions are well-thought-out. He is a big fan of all the major pro sports and the colleges making David a very versatile and constantly winning handicapper. David has been writing for the past 10 years and has been handicapping for over 20 years. He will help you beat the Man, so be sure and follow along.