2018 Season Preview: Big 12

By Kevin Fay on August 23, 2018 at 9:30 am
Nov 11, 2017; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Rodney Anderson (24) runs through a hole in the TCU Horned Frogs defense during the fourth quarter at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.  Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

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The Big 12 seems to be Oklahoma and everyone else, but there will still be exciting teams to watch.

West Virginia has the best quarterback not named Trace McSorley, TCU has talent across the board, and Texas is on the rise. Let’s dive in to the tiers.

Contenders

  • Oklahoma
  • TCU
  • West Virginia

This tier is probably just Oklahoma, but that is boring so I am throwing TCU and West Virginia in here.

Starting with Oklahoma, losing a Heisman winner hurts, but Kyler Murray is a heck of an athlete in his own right, getting drafted by the Oakland Athletics to play baseball. If their defense can improve, another run at the playoff could be in the cards for them.

TCU is a team I was unsure what to do with. Their defense is probably the best in the Big 12, but they will enter the year with an unproven sophomore at quarterback. If he is able to make a few plays and limit mistakes, TCU could sneak up on the likes of the Sooners and pull an upset.

West Virginia has a legitimate Heisman candidate in Will Grier and he has the skill players to back that campaign up. Both their schedule – Tennessee and N.C. State in the non conference, closing with Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma - and defense probably stand in the way of making too much noise, but they will likely be in every game.

Next Tier

  • Texas
  • Oklahoma State
  • Iowa State
  • Kansas State
  • Texas Tech

Texas has to show me that they are going to be Texas again before they move up with the next group. Tom Herman's first year started with a thud in a gross home loss to Maryland. His team looked much better two weeks later on the road against USC, losing in overtime. They just couldn't get over the hump, and limped to a 6-6 regular season mark. A bowl win over Missouri was a good way to close out the year. I do think Texas is on the rise back to where they should be, but they are still likely a year away.

Oklahoma State has to replace an excellent quarterback and wide receiver along with their defensive coordinator, but Justice Hill absolutely rules. He figures to be leaned heavily on early on while the new skill players find their footing. They won’t quite be the Oklahoma State we have become accustomed to, but they will be solid.

Iowa State was fun last year, or at least for a little while. Injuries kind of derailed the fun, but it was really cool to see walk-on QB have that kind of impact, and a former QB play linebacker. While there is enough talent there to reach a bowl again, I don’t see them sneaking up on teams like they did last year.

Kansas State will continue to defy all logic and play solid defense and win 7-8 games.

I only included Texas Tech here because I like Kliff Kingsbury and please don’t fire him. His brand of football is fun you, and don’t really need a defense it’s fine.

The Rest

  • Baylor
  • Kansas

Baylor is still pretty much gutted as a program and Kansas somehow still has a program. That more or less sums up this tier. They try.

As is tradition, the Big 12 should have plenty of offense to offer, but outside of the top three, only Texas really has a shot from the second tier to make some noise. Other than Oklahoma, I just don’t see any other legitimate playoff contenders.

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