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2017 BIG 12 Preview

by jeffallen

The Big 12 has finally bowed to the pressure of the FBS and will play its first conference championship game since 2010. Adding an all-important 13th game to the schedule will put the Big 12 on par with the other Power Five conferences on selection Saturday. Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops, the longest tenured college football coach at one school unexpectedly retired leaving the Sooners in the hands of long time OC Lincoln Riley. There is a lot of young talent in the coaching ranks of the Big 12 at the moment but the conference heavyweights are still run by the grizzled veterans like Gundy, Patterson, and Snyder and those are the teams that we will be expecting to square off at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on December 2nd.

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1st: Oklahoma State

For Oklahoma State the last five years, it’s been close but no cigar. The team is always top 10 in the country but can never seem to win their big games late in the year. The Cowboys are loaded again in 2017, especially on offense. QB Mason Rudolf, RB Justice Hill, and WR James Washington all would have been high round NFL draft picks but chose to return to school. It’s all business for Gundy and Co. this year.

2nd: Oklahoma:

Bob Stoops is gone but 16 returning starters from last year’s 11-2 outfit. The Sooners lose a pair of NFL running backs but return quarterback Baker Mayfield who is as good a field general as any quarterback in the country. The Sooners will be in revenge mode early against Ohio State but it should be clear sailing until their Bedlam showdown with Oklahoma.

3rd: TCU

The Horned Frogs are coming off a rare losing season. TCU battled injuries and inexperience last year but Gary Patterson returns 17 starters including 10 on offense and will be back to dishing it out in 2017. The last time the Frogs had a losing season was 2013 and the Trevone Boykin bunch went 12-1 and probably should have gone to the FBS playoffs.

4th: Kansas State

God love iconic Wildcat HC Bill Snyder who will turn 78 during the season and returns for his 26th year (two stints) at The Little Apple. Snyder is notorious for soft nonconference schedules and this year is no different with three laydowns which include the likes of Central Arkansas. An experienced and talented team with 14 returning starter puts KSU in the mix.

5th: Texas

Tom Herman has been brought in to replace Charlie Stong who in all honestywas not given the time to repair the train wreck left by Mac Brown. Herman went 22-4 the last two years at Houston and while his team’s upset Oklahoma and Louisville, also lost to SMU and UConn. The Horns return 17 starters but the road schedule is a monster including at USC so we’ll find out pretty quick if Herman is the answer.

6th: Texas Tech

This is the year that Kliff Kingsbury must come up with a defense if he hopes to retain his spot in Lubbock. The pieces have been put in place as his DC is back for a third year.The offense returns everyone but gunslinger four-year starting quarterback Pat Mahomes. The Red Raider offense will be as potent as ever but at the end of the day, you have to allow less than 40 points and 500 yards per game.

7th: Baylor

Baylor is still feeling the effects of the Art Briles era but there is lots of reason for optimism in Waco. Matt Rhule takes over and is not new to this position has gone through a similar rebuilding at Temple. Baylor is no longer a Big 12 elite team but with 13 players back and a very workable nonconference slate, the Bears should enjoy some success early and ride that to a bowl game.

8th: West Virginia

Dana Holgersen was thought to be the savior when he came to Morgantown seven years ago after a successful stint as OC at Oklahoma State. Holgersen was on the hot seat but somehow won 10 games last year to call off the dogs. It’s right back into the fire this year with just eight returning starters and a young inexperienced team. Virginia Tech is on the nonconference schedule and it figures to be a tough year all around for the Mounties.

9th: Iowa State

It’s very rare that you can say that a coach of a team that went 3-9 the year before did a great job but that’s exactly what you can say about the Cyclone’s Matt Campbell. Iowa State won a couple of games in spectacular fashion and generally played most of the conference powerhouse’s tough. This team plays hard on every play and there will be some good things happening in Ames if the admin is patient with Campbell.

10: Kansas

The Jayhawks are just 2-22 the last two years under David Beatty so this is the year that Kansas really needs to step up. While KU has had its moments the quality of the product has not been there with the Jayhawks often times just marginally competitive. The program needs wins and has downgraded its nonconference schedule to include two MAC teams but in its current state, wins over Central Michigan and Ohio are anything but locks.