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The Ultimate 2017 Big 12 Football Preview

The 2017 Big 12 Football Preview.

Big 12

1. Oklahoma (#5 Nationally)

Last year, Oklahoma lost two early to Houston and Ohio State, but went on to win ten straight and finish as my #6 team by the end of the 2016 season. The schedule is tough, as the Sooners have to travel to face Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas, but this team is experienced, with 18 (!!!) starters returning from a Big 12 champion team. Baker Mayfield is back to lead the offense after throwing for nearly 4,000 yards with 40 touchdowns, as is Jordan Thomas, a ballhawking corner with a nice frame and some speed that could contend for All-American honors. The schedule is tough, but this team has so much talent returning, they should contend for a spot in the playoff.
Projected Record: 11-1 (9-0)

T2. Texas (#17 Nationally)

Didn’t expect to see the Longhorns so high, did you? I believe Tom Herman is already one of the best coaches in the country (6-0 vs Top 25) and while he is a first-year coach, Charlie Strong left him a lot to work with. The Longhorns have 17 starters returning (along with almost all of the second-string) and have had back-to-back top ten recruiting classes. They do face five bowl teams away from home, including two (USC and Oklahoma) who could contend for a national title. After Oklahoma, the Big 12 is crowded, but Texas has Oklahoma State and Kansas State in Austin, and I see Tom Herman bringing Texas to the #2 spot in his first year. Projected Record: 8-4 (6-3)

T2. Oklahoma State (#16 Nationally)

For the record (as you can see by the national ranking) I actually rate Oklahoma State a little ahead of Texas, in fact, I see them hitting nine wins, but a head-to-head tiebreaker (OK State has to play @ Texas) drops the Pokes to #3 in terms of conference standings. The Cowboys have talent galore on offense, as Mason Rudolph, Justice Hill, and James Washington all return. What brings me pause though, is that defense. Okie State was actually ranked #53 in the country in scoring defense last year, but they only bring back five starters on D, and they need help on all three levels. 9-3 is nothing to scoff at, but I don’t quite see Oklahoma State as a national title contender as some do. Projected Record: 9-3 (6-3)

T2. Kansas State (#22 Nationally)

Nearing 80 years old, and dealing with health issues, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Bill Snyder retire at some point over the next few years. If that is his plan, this might be his best chance at a run for the Big 12 crown. The Wildcats return 14 starters, should win all their non-conference games, and have Oklahoma in Manhattan. Dual threat quarterback Jesse Ertz – who led the team in passing and rushing last year – is back, and while the defense might take a step back after a top-25 year, as long as Snyder can develop some players, they could still contend as one of the best defenses in the Big 12. The season will come down to road games against Texas and Oklahoma State, and Bill Snyder knows a thing or two about pulling off upsets (see 2012). Projected Record: 9-3 (6-3)

T5. Texas Christian

When you have an offense that is based around the passing game, and you don’t have a quarterback that can carry that type of load, you are going to see a drop off, and that’s what Kenny Hill and the Horned Frogs saw, as TCU went 6-7 after going 11-2 the year prior. We’ve seen TCU teams make dramatic turnarounds after a losing season, and with 17 returning starters we could see the Frogs rocket back up to the top 25, but with road games against Kansas State, Okalahoma State, and Oklahoma, as well as Arkansas in the non-conference, I’m not ready to put my faith in Kenny Hill yet. TCU will improve, but top 25 seems like a stretch to me. Projected Record: 8-4 (5-4)

T5. Baylor

After a 7-6 season under interim head coach Jim Grobe, Baylor made it’s official hire, and it was a good one. Matt Rhule brought Temple, a program transitioning from FCS, to back-to-back ten win seasons. Now, don’t expect that in year one, but Baylor should actually be pretty good this year. The Bears have a lot of talent on the roster, returning 13 starters from last year, although depth could be a problem. Grad transfer Anu Solomon will challenge sophomore Zach Smith for the starting job, and they bring back 1,000 yard rusher Terrance Williams. Road games against the Nos. 3-5 teams in the conference prevent Baylor from climbing higher than sixth. Projected Record: 8-4 (5-4)

T7. West Virginia

West Virginia has improved on their win total each of the past four years, but I see this as the year that stops. The Mountaineers return Justin Crawford at runningback and add transfer Will Geier at quarterback, but outside of that, it’s looking like a rough year for the Mountaineers. They return just eight starters, with only three returning from a defense that ranked #2 in the Big 12 last season.  Grier, Crawford, and senior receiver Ka’Raun White will hold down the skill positions and get the Mountaineers to a bowl, but I see Dana Holgerson’s team taking a big step back. Projected Record: 6-6 (3-6)

T7. Iowa State

Last year’s season started really tough for the Cyclones, they lost at home to FCS opponent Northern Iowa, and then got killed back-to-back weeks by Iowa and TCU, but the Cyclones got better over the course of their last nine games, and they went 3-6 (including a 66-10 win over Texas Tech) but probably should’ve gone 5-4, as they led Oklahoma State and Baylor late last season. The team should improve again, and senior receiver Allen Lazard is a star, but to make a bowl game they will have to get a win or two out of home games vs Iowa, Texas, TCU, and Oklahoma State. That might be tough in year two, but I think ISU has a bowl in their future. Projected Record: 5-7 (3-6)

9. Texas Tech

Kliff Kingsbury finds him self on the hot seat going into year five with Texas Tech, and I don’t know if I like his chances. The Red Raiders lose Patrick Mahomes III, who is now in the NFL, and will go with senior Nic Shimonek at quarterback. The defense, which was literally the worst in college football last year, is obviously a problem, coordinator David Gibbs will try to turn it around, but I don’t see him making much progress with half of the starters gone. Iowa State is at home, but I still see TTU at the bottom of the Big 12. Projected Record: 4-8 (2-7)

10. Kansas

Head Coach David Beaty got a massive pay raise over the offseason despite going 2-22 in his first two years. Beaty has recruited very well in his first two seasons with the Jayhawks, but bowl eligibility seems like a long shot this year, as the Jayhawks will have to replace their quarterback and over half the defense. If Kansas wants to improve on last year’s 2-10, mark they will have to go unbeaten in the non-conference, but this year, 2-10 is the prediction, with a potential bowl game still two or three years down the road. Projected Record: 2-10 (0-9)

Big 12 Title Game: Oklahoma over Texas

All-Big 12 Team & Awards

Offense

QB: Baker Mayfield – Oklahoma
RB: Justice Hill – Oklahoma State
RB: Justin Crawford – West Virginia
WR: Allen Lazard – Iowa State
WR: James Washington – Oklahoma State
TE: Mark Andrews – Oklahoma
C: Austin Schlottmann – TCU
OL: Orlando Brown – Oklahoma
OL: Dalton Risner – Kansas State
OL: Connor Williams – Texas
OL: Zach Crabtree – Oklahoma State

Defense

DL: Dorance Armstrong Jr. – Kansas
DL: K.J. Smith – Baylor
DL: Reggie Walker – Kansas State
DL: Malcolm Roach – Texas
LB: Travin Howard – TCU
LB: Malik Jefferson – Texas
LB: Ogbonnia Okoronkwo – Oklahoma
DB: Jordan Thomas – Oklahoma
DB: Kamari Cotton-Moya – Iowa State
DB: D.J. Reed – Kansas State
DB: Tre Flowers – Oklahoma State

Special Teams

K: Clayton Hatfield – Texas Tech
P: Michael Dickson – Texas

MVP: Baker Mayfield, QB – Oklahoma
Offensive Player of the Year: Mason Rudolph, QB – Oklahoma State
Defensive Player of the Year: Jordan Thomas, CB – Oklahoma
Newcomer of the Year: Gary Johnson, LB – Texas

247Sports Recruiting Rankings

1. Oklahoma

2. Texas

3. TCU

4. Oklahoma State

5. Baylor

6. Texas Tech

7. Iowa State

8. West Virginia

9. Kansas State

10. Kansas

Five Quick Questions

Team on the rise? Texas
Team on the decline? West Virginia
Best QB? Baker Mayfield
Best Offensive Coordinator? Sonny Cumbie (TCU)
Best defense? Texas

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