As a continuation to my Way-Too-Early NCAAF Rankings, I take each NCAAF conference and list my predictions for how the conference will play out. Here are my Big 12 Predictions.
The Baylor Bears won the Big 12 last season, but will they repeat, or will a sleeper team emerge to claim the crown? Here are the predictions: (The Big 12 consists of 10 teams)
10. Kansas Jayhawks
One thing is for certain, Kansas is not a football school. The Jayhawks struggled on defense last season, giving up an average of 7.5 yards per play. The defense will need to improve if the Jayhawks want to have any sort of success in the Big 12, which consists of great offenses.
Head Coach Lance Leipold had Kansas showing some promise late into last season, and will look to continue that late-season success into 2022. QB Jalon Daniels is decent, and with RB Devin Neal returning after his 707-yard rushing performance as a freshman last year, Kansas’ offense has the potential to keep up with the rest of the conference.
9. Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State has potential, with head coach Matt Campbell leading the Cyclones to their fifth consecutive winning season in conference play. However, Iowa State is ranked ninth on this list mostly because of the holes they have to fill going into ’22, mostly on offense.
Unlike Kansas, Iowa State should only be down for one season. Given time, the Cyclones should be ready to compete for a Big 12 title. With four new teams joining the Big 12 in 2023(UCF, BYU, Cinncinati, UH), this could be Iowa State’s last chance to prove themselves before the new competition joins.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Texas Tech went 7-6 last season and doesn’t have much to improve on going into the 2022 season except for defense. The defense gave up an alarming 30.2 points per game last season, and in a conference such as the Big 12, that’s not good. The offense is mediocre at best, it’s good, but not Big 12 championship contender good.
With lots of defensive players returning for another year of eligibility in 2022, the defense should be improved. The offense should improve, but I feel that Tech still has some improving to do and it’ll take some time for the Red Raiders to make a push for a Big 12 title.
7. TCU Horned Frogs
The Horned Frogs finished a disappointing 5-7 last season, but with new HC Sonny Dykes taking over the helm for TCU, they should be more competitive. With lots of great transfers and key players returning this year, a winning season and a potential bowl game appearance should be in reach for TCU.
The defense, however, gave up 7.5 yards per play and allowed 34 points per game last season. Much like some of the lower-ranked teams on this list, TCU has to improve its defense in order to have success.
6. Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State’s offense will be great next season, with a new quarterback taking over the offense in Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez. Running back Deuce Vaughn will return next season to form an explosive backfield for K-State.
The defense wasn’t too bad last season for the Wildcats, only giving up 22.9 points per game in Big 12 play, which isn’t bad considering the teams they’re playing against. Kansas State still has a way to go before becoming a serious contender for the Big 12 title, but this season should start the trend upwards for them.
5. West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia rallied off two late-season victories to ensure a bowl game appearance in Neal Brown’s third year with the team. With QB Jarret Doege transferring, the QB spot will be up for grabs between the lowerclassmen. The offense has potential this season, even with some key receivers declaring for the draft.
The defense is good, so the only question that the Mountaineers have is their QB position. If they can figure that position out, the Mountaineers should be able to make the Big 12 title game. Even though they’re ranked fifth on this list, West Virginia shouldn’t stay there in ’22.
4. Oklahoma Sooners
A lot has changed for the Sooners going into ’22. New head coach Brent Venables takes over after the departure of Lincoln Reily, and QB Dillon Gabriel is poised to take over after the transfer of Spencer Rattler. OU should have a good team overall, but they’re ranked at fourth mainly because of the head coaching change that holds some questions.
If all goes well for Oklahoma, they should rank higher on this list, but for now, the Sooners will start off at the four spot.
3. Texas Longhorns
Texas should be “back” next season. The Longhorns finished a disappointing 5-7 during head coach Steve Sarkisian’s first year with the team. With the arrival of transfer QB Quinn Ewers, the return of star running back Bijan Robinson, and wide receiver Xavier Worthy, Texas’ offense will be a force.
The offensive line and defense need help. The O-line gave up 22 sacks last season and the defense gave up 6.1 yards per play last season and finished eighth in the Big 12 against the run. If Texas can fix these issues, the Longhorns should return to their dominant ways.
2. Baylor Bears
Baylor shocked lots of people last season, as they won the Big 12. The Bears have both of their QBs returning for next season, as well as a strong offensive line. The Bears transformed from a two-win team in 2020 to conference champions in ’21, so Baylor has the potential.
The defense is great, giving up 18.3 points per game last season en route to a conference championship. Baylor didn’t lose a lot of players, so the Bears’ defense should return to greatness. However, they’re not my pick to win the conference as stated in my recent article, I think Baylor is a great team but there is one more team that is slightly better.
Our Big 12 Predictions Champs:
1. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys were on pace for a Big 12 title last season before being beaten by Baylor in the title game. Oklahoma State lost some key offensive players, but they will be just fine. HC Mike Gundy will have this team competing once again for a title.
The defense was a big reason why OK State did so well last season, and it should return to form as they didn’t lose a lot of players. Oklahoma State is the number one team on this list for a reason, and they’ll prove it in 2022.
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