Even with the great Baker Mayfield gone to the NFL, the Oklahoma Sooners still look to be the preseason favorites for the Big 12 title. But with teams like West Virginia, TCU, and others looking strong could this be the year OU is dethroned?
The two most obvious picks for the Big 12 championship are Oklahoma and West Virginia. After those two teams though it is very wide open. Teams like TCU, and Kansas State are lead by great coaches and defense, while Iowa State and Texas are potentially on the rise and have young, yet talented coaches. Then there is Oklahoma State, who will most likely fall off a bit but you can never count out a Mike Gundy lead offense. Texas Tech, Baylor, and Kansas are the most likely bottom feeders of the league, but Baylor could sneak up on some teams with good play from QB, Charlie Brewer.
West Virginia has the best QB in the conference and one of the best in the nation in Will Grier. If the Mountaineers are going to claim their first Big 12 title soon, this is the year. With Grier, and David Sills they will have one of the deadliest WR-QB in the country. They have multiple starters returning on defense and will be stronger that side of the ball as well. The other favorite, Oklahoma may have lost a heisman winner but Kyler Murray will be one of the most talented players in the conference. The Sooners are stacked the skill positions with RBs Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon, and at WR Ceedee Lamb and Marqius "Hollywood" Brown will give defensive coordinators headaches every week. The Sooners will also have a very improved defense with a deep LB core and youth, but talent in the secondary.
TCU and Kansas State have the two most experienced and genius coaches not only in the Big 12, but across the country. Bill Synder has been getting it done for the Cats for ages it feels like and Gary Patterson is a defensive genius and brings and interesting style to the conference. Both TCU and Kansas don't have quite explosive offenses as other Big 12 teams, they are both very gritty and great on D. Both the teams haven't gained much press in the preseason,but could both make a run.
Then theres Texas. Texas may not be fully "back" this year, but they will most likely be better and that's due to their defense and Sam Ehlinger. The longhorns actually have been playing some good D in recent years, and I think Tom Herman should defiantly start Ehlinger at QB. He's not the biggest, strongest, or fastest but he's accurate and has the "IT" factor. His fierce competitiveness reminds me of Baker Mayfield in a lot ways, and that kind of play is what UT needs to be "back"
Iowa State is my sleeper pick for the league. Matt Campbell is an under talked about rising star in CFB coaching, he is doing a great job at ISU. They beat two top 5 teams last year, and those weren't flukes. They completely outplayed Oklahoma one Norman, and made the TCU offense look silly. They return the most experienced QB in the Big 12, Kyle Kempt and RB David Montgomery, is one of the best in the land. And that Cyclone defense is stingy.
Baylor is actually a very intriguing team to me. Matt Rhule is a very smart coach, and Charlie Brewer could have a big year. Amid all the situations the Bears are caught up in off the field, they may surprise some people this year. With Jalen Hurd at RB as well,I could for sure see the Bears pulling an upset on a team this year.
Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Kansas don't have much going for them this year. It will be interesting to watch how Gundy handles the post Rudolph era, and how hot Kliff Kingsbury's seat gets. And hey, maybe Kansas can win a few games.
2. West Virginia
3. Iowa State
5. Kansas State
7. Oklahoma State
9. Texas Tech