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The Big 12 Is Back- Big 12 Conference Preview

This isn’t your father’s Big 12 anymore. New blood has surfaced at the head-coaching position for three programs: Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas. Each hire comes with some excitement as well.

For Matt Ruhle, after leaving Temple for Baylor amidst all the controversy, it will be interesting to see if and how he can turn this program around.

Lincoln Riley, the heir apparent to Sooner’s coaching legend Bob Stoops finally gets his shot. Riley has been regarded as a great young offensive mind. Can he do what Stoops couldn’t do and win a National Title?

Tom Herman has generated the most excitement. Everywhere he has coached he’s won. During his tenure at the University of Houston, Herman showed he has what it takes to coach against the best. After the Charlie Strong experiment, Longhorn faithful are hoping Texas has found their guy.

This conference should be exciting. The Big 12 features some really good teams with Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Kansas State Wildcats, Texas Longhorns, and TCU Horned Frogs. Each team can catch fire and get on a roll to win the Big 12.

With the Conference Championship game returning, we could see the best two teams play twice in one year. Since the start of the college football playoff, the question has been whether the Big 12 will expand and bring back the conference championship.

Expansion in the near future is still a distinct possibility. It will be interesting to see how this conference championship game helps the conference with the playoff committee. Of course, the conference has been dealing with some difficulties in the media with Baylor.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Baylor football program is in a dark place with all the assault allegations against some former players. Fans were outraged with the findings that came to light under former coach Art Briles. Some people thought the program should get the death penalty. Ask SMU how long it took to get them back on track since their own scandal. Although the team lost a lot of talent via the NFL Draft or dismissal from the university, the Bears still could have a big season if things workout in their favor.

Looking around the conference, it will be interesting to see certain players take the field. You should definitely have your eye on West Virginia quarterback Will Grier.

Grier came to the Mountaineers after leaving the University of Florida under some rocky circumstances. Grier gives Dana Holgorsen and this WVU offense a legit play caller running the offense. If you remember the new WVU quarterback from his Florida days, he was really good. The Gators were on pace to win the SEC before he got suspended.

The offense will be a big calling card for most of these teams. Each program has a really good quarterback that can light it up. Looking at the signal callers in the Big 12, they have some of the best in the country. The top two being Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph.

Both quarterbacks are in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy. It will be must see TV when these two teams face off November 4th in Stillwater. This game could possibly be a preview of the Conference Championship. Cowboy head coach Mike Gundy will be looking to gain control of the rivalry while new coach Lincoln Riley get his feet wet.

New Texas Longhorn coach Tom Herman will have the difficult task of getting this program back on top. It has been a long time since Texas was the National Champion in 2005. Charlie Strong was just alright and he was getting things going in the right direction but Texas fans want a winner now. Herman has the offensive pedigree to get things going but he still needs the right playmakers. Herman definitely can get this team to a Bowl game and win. It is just a matter of time before they start competing for a playoff spot.

Could this be the year Mike Gundy and Oklahoma State put it together and make a deep run? They have the firepower to do it with quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington. Defensively they will need some work but this unit definitely has the potential to be good. Rudolph will be looking to make his case as the best quarterback in the country. He has the talent around him to do so, he just has to deliver.

The Big 12 is wide open. Expect a lot of points to be scored, and upsets to happen.

 

Baylor Bears: 7-5 (4-5)

Iowa State Cyclones: 4-8 (2-7)

Kansas Jayhawks: 4-8 (1-8)

Kansas State Wildcats: 8-4 (5-4)

Oklahoma Sooners: 10-2 (8-1)

Oklahoma State Cowboys: 10-2 ( 7-2)

TCU Horned Frogs: 6-6 (5-4)

Texas Longhorns: 8-4 (6-3)

Texas Tech Red Raiders: 6-6 (3-6)

West Virginia Mountaineers: 8-4 (6-3)

 

Conference Championship Game

Oklahoma Sooners vs Oklahoma State Cowboys

With the Big 12 Conference Championship game making a comeback, what better way than to get it started with these two teams? This will be a battle of the quarterbacks. Round two of Baker Mayfield vs Mason Rudolph should be a good one. While Mayfield is the better player, Rudolph has the weapons and a slightly better defense. Oklahoma has a veteran offensive line allowing Mayfield to do work. He can beat you with both his arms and his feet. I will be keeping my eye on the matchup between star Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington and Sooners’ cornerback Jordan Thomas. If Thomas can somehow manage to contain Washington, look out. Keep in mind the Sooners have Jordan Parker controlling the other side and he can lock it down as well. This game will come down to who has the ball last and is better coached. Advantage Oklahoma State. Head coach Mike Gundy needs this win. He has taken the backseat to Oklahoma too long, always being viewed as second best in the state. Mike Gundy will want to show it’s his time being the best coach in Oklahoma now that legendary Oklahoma Sooner coach Bob Stoops has retired. Oklahoma State 27-14 Oklahoma 

 

Conference Champion  

Oklahoma State Cowboys: Oklahoma State is simply the best team in the conference. Coach Gundy has his best offense in school history. Led by the passing tandem of Rudolph and Washington, it’s hard to imagine anyone stopping this offense. Not only do they have a game breaker in Washington, Mason has other weapons as well. The ex-factor will be the running game for this offense. Sophomore running back Justice Hill was a beast last year. Will all that early individual success lead to a second-year slump? The defense should be solid, provided they can stay healthy. We all know the Big 12 is about points and whether or not you can manage to get a few big stops in a game. OSU can do just that. Their schedule is rather easy. If the Cowboys can manage to catch rhythm and stay mistake and injury free, watch out college football fans. We might have a dark horse for a National Title run.

 

Coaches on the Hot Seat

Photo courtesy of Zimbio

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech

The Red Raiders’ Head coach is clearly on the hot seat this year after failing to deliver on what seemed to be a promising career. He developed a Heisman Trophy winner in Johnny Manziel and his offensive scheme is electric. He seemed to be the perfect candidate for the job. But after five years and two Bowl appearances, Kingsbury’s tenure has been mediocre at best. He has a 24-26 career record. He has only managed to go 13-26 in his career against the Big 12. While his offenses have been elite, his defenses have been horrible. Last year they ranked 128th nationally.

If Kingsbury can’t deliver a strong season and show progression going forward, he’s done. Don’t worry he will be running someone’s offense next year, if not his own team.

 

Offensive Player Of The Year

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma, Quarterback, Senior

The Oklahoma quarterback is in his final year as the starter, leading an offense that will need him the most this year. After having a great season last year, Mayfield will not have the same complement of weapons. That doesn’t mean the players stepping up aren’t capable of producing. In new head coach Lincoln Riley’s offense Mayfield has had Heisman Trophy-worthy numbers. With Riley now in control of the offense more, Mayfield will have even more opportunities. There is more pressure on Mayfield this year, both for taking his team to the playoffs and winning the Heisman. Last year, he threw for 3,965 yards 40 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. He also scored 6 touchdowns on the ground. If he can cut down on the picks and up his running a little more it’s no reason why he wouldn’t finish as the top offensive player in the conference.

 

Defensive Player Of The Year

Photo courtesy of FirstAndMonday

Malik Jordan, Texas, Linebacker, Senior

Head coach Tom Herman has his leader in senior linebacker Malik Jordan. Jordan is a very athletic linebacker that can stop the run but can cover like a defensive back. Look at his production last year: 62 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 3.0 passes defended and one forced fumble. He is projected as a first round pick by multiple draft sites. A strong year could make him a top 10 pick in next year’s NFL draft. He is decent size at 6’3″ 232 pounds. Jordan fits the ideal backer at the next level. He will have some competition for the best defender in the conference. His versatility and play making ability makes him one the most valuable defender in the conference.

 

2018 NFL Draft Prospects according to WalterFootball.com

Mason Rudolph, QB, Oklahoma State
Height: 6-5. Weight: 235.
Projected 40 Time: 4.85.
Projected Round (2018): 2-4. 

Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-2. Weight: 214.
Projected 40 Time: 4.71.
Projected Round (2018): 3-5. 

Anu Solomon, QB, Baylor
Height: 6-2. Weight: 206.
Projected 40 Time: 4.68.
Projected Round (2018): 6-FA. 

Kenny Hill, QB, TCU
Height: 6-1. Weight: 205.
Projected 40 Time: 4.73.
Projected Round (2018): 6-FA.

Dimitri Flowers, FB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-2. Weight: 239.
Projected 40 Time: 4.88.
Projected Round (2018): 4-6.

James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Height: 6-1. Weight: 205.
Projected 40 Time: 4.50.
Projected Round (2018): 1-2. 

Mark Andrews*, TE, Oklahoma
Height: 6-5. Weight: 250.
Projected 40 Time: 4.78.
Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 

Connor Williams*, OT, Texas
Height: 6-6. Weight: 290.
Projected 40 Time: 5.10.
Projected Round (2018): 1-2.

Orlando Brown*, OT, Oklahoma
Height: 6-8. Weight: 360.
Projected 40 Time: 5.45.
Projected Round (2018): 2-4.

Dorance Armstrong Jr.*, DE/OLB, Kansas
Height: 6-4. Weight: 241.
Projected 40 Time: 4.60.
Projected Round (2018): 1-2

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, 3-4OLB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-1. Weight: 242.
Projected 40 Time: 4.70.
Projected Round (2018): 2-3. 

Malik Jefferson*, OLB/ILB, Texas
Height: 6-3. Weight: 238.
Projected 40 Time: 4.68.
Projected Round (2018): 1-3.

Taylor Young, ILB, Baylor
Height: 5-10. Weight: 225.
Projected 40 Time: 4.63.
Projected Round (2018): 4-6.

Chad Whitener, ILB, Oklahoma State
Height: 6-0. Weight: 248.
Projected 40 Time: 4.65.
Projected Round (2018): 4-6. 

Jordan Thomas, CB, Oklahoma
Height: 6-0. Weight: 192.
Projected 40 Time: 4.52.
Projected Round (2018): 2-3.

Ranthony Texada, CB, TCU
Height: 5-10. Weight: 170.
Projected 40 Time: 4.51.
Projected Round (2018): 7-FA.

Steven Parker, S, Oklahoma
Height: 6-1. Weight: 201.
Projected 40 Time: 4.63.
Projected Round (2018): 5-7

 

 

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