The Associated Press College Football Preseason Top 25 poll was released Sunday afternoon, included in it were three Big 12 teams.
Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas, and West Virginia all received votes to be ranked to begin the year, however, all find themselves on the outside looking in both just in the conference and in the nation.
Ironically the official ranking to start the College Football season puts the two Big 12 teams that were snubbed from the College Football Playoff in position to theoretically both get in to this year’s Playoff.
But, like we saw last year, anything can happen in the Big 12.
In this blog I am going to layout my Big 12 contenders and pretenders, and also give you my prediction of who I think will win the Big 12, for the upcoming season that is now only 10 days away.
The Cyclones better get their wins in the first four weeks, because I don’t know if the team will win a game after that.
Tough road games at Texas Tech, Baylor and Oklahoma fill the schedule along with tough home games against TCU, Texas, Oklahoma St.
Iowa St.‘s game against Texas could be a win the Cyclones could steal late in the season to potentially ruin the Longhorns chances at post-season play. But I don’t see that happening
Predicted Record: 3-9
Much like Iowa St., Kansas needs to take care of its non-conference schedule for its likely wins this year.
I don’t see the Jayhawks picking up any conference wins this year, which has been a theme for Kansas in recent history.
Predicted Record: 2-10
The good news for the Red Raiders is that most of their toughest games will be played at home at Jones AT&T Stadium. It’s a tough stadium to play in, which could help Texas Tech pick up an upset victory against someone like OSU or KSU.
However, that doesn’t mean the Red Raiders won’t be tested on the road. They have to play a ranked Razorback team in Arkansas for their last non-conference game, will travel to Norman, Oklahoma in late October, and two of TTU’s last three games are on the road in tough environments (WVU and Texas).
There may be good news than bad news to being the season, but I don’t see that translating into a great year for Texas Tech.
Predicted Record: 5-7
The Wildcats are going to take a step back in 2015 after an impressive 9-4 season a year ago.
That, on top of a limited running game last year, combine for me to expect the offense to take a hit in 2015.
Predicted Record: 6-6, Bowl game appearance
Charlie Strong had a tough first season as coach of the Longhorns, going 6-6 in the regular season and losing to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.
I see a similar season happening for Strong and company again this year.
Starting off at No. 11 Notre Dame won’t help the confidence level, and Texas has a tough slate of games to begin conference play with games against Oklahoma St., TCU and No. 19 Oklahoma.
Circle your calendars for Nov. 14, though. Texas should win its next three games following its context against Oklahoma. That creates a major swing game late in the season in Morgantown, WV when the Longhorns take on the Mountaineers. If Texas can win, they’ll finish the season with a winning record, if they don’t win, the best I see them doing is 6-6.
I don’t see Texas winning that game.
Predicted record: 6-6, Bowl game appearance
Oklahoma State was viewed as a potential dark horse going into last season, but didn’t quite live up to the billing, finishing the regular season 6-6 before winning its bowl game to end the 2014 campaign.
OSU could be viewed in a similar fashion heading into this season since it was one of the teams to receive votes to be ranked to start the year.
The Cowboys should take an undefeated record into an October 10 matchup in Morgantown against West Virginia. Like most of the Big 12, OSU relies on the passing game for a majority of its offense, but that will be truly tested against a highly experienced Mountaineer secondary. It will be a good game, but I see the Mountaineers winning a tough game at home.
November will be a tough month for the Cowboys. I see them ending the season on a sour not, losing three of its last four games.
Predicted Record: 8-4, Bowl game appearance
Talk around the state of West Virginia is that this year’s Mountaineer’s defense could be the best WVU fans have seen in years.
The Mountaineers return a multitude of fifth-year starters on defense, and have probably the most experienced secondary in the Big 12. They are also deep on the depth chart in the front seven positions.
That’s the good news.
The bad news is, as experienced as the defense is, the offense is equally as young and inexperienced. Skyler Howard replaces Clint Trickett at quarterback, and head coach Dana Holgorsen will have his hands full trying to replace his top wide outs from a season ago in Kevin White and Mario Alford.
West Virginia has to win its first three games to make its Oct. 3 game in Norman important. If the Mountaineers can win at Oklahoma, they are in front of the metaphorical eight ball, and can breathe a sigh of relief as they enter an insanely tough October schedule.
(IF WVU knocks off the Sooners, and takes care of business against Oklahoma St., don’t be surprised to see the Mountaineers give either the Baylor Bears or TCU Horned Frogs a fight in what could turn into either another BU-WVU scoring clinic, or another TCU-WVU overtime thriller.)
I foresee WVU exiting October with an overall record of 4-3, but it should win its final five games. The problem with that is that under Holgorsen, WVU has played some of its worst football after Halloween.
I think that will change this year.
The Mountaineers will most likely go 4-1 down the stretch, losing a potential trap game either against Texas or Kansas St.
Predicted Record: 8-4, Bowl game appearance
Treyvon Boykin and company are seeking revenge from being left out of the College Football Playoff last year.
The Horned Frogs will ease into the season, with an easy non-conference schedule. Three of their first four Big 12 games are on the road, but I don’t see TCU dropping any those games.
That means the Horned Frogs will take a 7-0 record into a Thursday night ball game late in October against WVU.
I advise you: DON’T miss that game.
Since WVU joined the Big 12, all three of the games between the Mountaineers and TCU have went down to the wire; the first two going into overtime, and last year’s ending on a game-winning field goal by TCU. (As a student at WVU, I’m still not over that loss.)
Also, the away team has won each of the three meetings.
I’ll assume it will be a close game the majority of the way again this year, but TCU will pull away late and buck the trend.
That being said, including its game against WVU, four of TCU’s last five games could be against ranked opponents. That’s where I see its downfall.
TCU made a habit of late-quarter heroics and comebacks last season. In at least one game this year the Horned Frogs are going to get down and won’t be able to come all the way back.
I see it happening twice, actually. TCU will lose its final two games of the regular season against Oklahoma and Baylor.
Predicted Record: 10-2, Bowl game appearance
Besides picking the Preseason No. 2 team in the country to lose its final two games of the season, this is my bold prediction for the Big 12: Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine will be in New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation.
Perine ran for 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, including running 242 yards and four scores against WVU, 213 yards and three TD’s against Texas Tech, and then set and FBS record for rushing yards with 427 yards against Kansas.
Both Perine and Shepard, along with Eric Striker and Zach Sanchez on defense, were voted as four of the Top 100 players in the country by ESPN.
Potential losses could come early in the season against No. 25 Tennesse or WVU, and obviously TCU will give the Sooners a good game.
But, I really only see Oklahoma losing one game this year, that being at Baylor on Nov. 14.
Predicted Record: 11-1, Bowl game appearance
The Baylor Bears undoubtedly had a sour taste in their mouth at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Getting snubbed from the College Football playoff and then losing an exciting bowl game against Michigan St. will do that.
That means that Baylor is back with vengeance.
Including Russell, seven Bears players were ranked as some of the Top 100 players by ESPN.
Baylor is going to be good this season, and if last year’s result doesn’t give them enough motivation, attempting to usher in a brand new stadium with a National Championship should give the team that extra push.
Two games to circle on the Bears’ schedule, Nov. 14 and Nov 27, the opponents being Oklahoma and TCU, respectively.
I don’t see Baylor losing either of those two games, but those two games will probably be the ones where you see Baylor tested the most.
Predicted Record: 12-0, College Football Playoff appearance
Here are my predictions for how the Big 12 will look at the end of the regular season:
|1. Baylor Bears||6. Texas Longhorns|
|2. Oklahoma Sooners||7. Kansas State Wildcasts|
|3. Texas Christian University||8. Texas Tech Red Raiders|
|4. West Virginia Mountaineers||9. Kansas Jayhawks|
|5. Oklahoma State Cowboys||10. Iowa St. Cyclones|