Big 12 Predicted Standings
2. West Virginia
5. Iowa State
6. Oklahoma State
7. Kansas State
8. Texas Tech
Big 12 Championship- Oklahoma over West Virginia
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Projected Record: 11-2 (7-2 Big 12)
The Baker Mayfield era is over, but that doesn’t mean Oklahoma won’t be competing for the playoffs. Kyler Murray is expected to take over, but Redshirt Sophomore Austin Kendall has pushed him for the starting job. The offense returns one of the best running backs in college football with Rodney Anderson. The offense will revolve around Anderson and a strong offensive line. The receiving group should give the new quarterback help with high profile WRs Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, CeeDee Lamb and Mykel Jones.
The defense continues to be a question especially after allowing 54 points to Georgia in the semi-final game last year. There are some solid young players including LBs Caleb Kelly and Kenneth Murray. The non-conference schedule is interesting with FAU, UCLA, and Army. FAU will try to pull the upset in Norman for the first game of the year. Replacing a quarterback with Baker Mayfield’s talent won’t be easy, but there is still enough talent on the roster to compete for a spot in the playoffs.
2. West Virginia Mountaineers
Projected Record: 9-4 (6-3 Big 12)
The offense will be lethal with quarterback Will Grier. West Virginia also has one of the best receiving groups with Gary Jennings, David Sills, and Alabama transfer TJ Simmons at wide receiver. They were 13th in passing yards last year, but 84th in rushing yards. In order to be elite West Virginia will need a running back to step up.
The defense is the exact opposite. The defense was ranked 107th in the nation and only returns 4 starters. In order for West Virginia to compete in the Big 12 they will have to improve. West Virginia has a few big non-conference games including the season opener against Tennessee and a road game at North Carolina State. The offense will have the Mountaineers competing for a Big 12 championship, but the defense will most likely prevent them from attaining a spot in the playoffs.
3. TCU Horned Frogs
Projected Record: 8-4 (6-3 Big 12)
TCU enjoyed a great year last year finishing 11-3 with a comeback win against Stanford. Shawn Robinson will replace Kenny Hill as the starting quarterback. He’ll have some weapons including versatile playmaker KaVontae Turpin. Look for Darius Anderson to have a breakout year as one of the Big 12’s best running backs.
Defense has consistently been TCU’s strength and it will be again for the 2018 season. The defense is led by pass rusher Ben Banogu. Senior linebacker Ty Summers should also be a leader on the defense. TCU faces a tough non-conference game in Cowboys Stadium against Ohio State. TCU should be a legitimate contender in the Big 12.
4. Texas Longhorns
Projected Record: 8-4 (6-3 Big 12)
Every year it seems like it will be the bounce back year for the Longhorns. This season actually looks like it could happen. Coach Tom Herman was a great offensive mind with Ohio State and Houston, but Texas actually took a step backwards in 2017. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger must play more consistent, but with talented wide receiver Collin Johnson it should make the step up easier.
The defense has talent across the board including the secondary. The secondary includes veteran corners Kris Boyd and Davante Davis. True freshman safety Caden Sterns should see some action as well. Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler make for a solid linebacker pair and
Brecklyn Hager will try to improve on his four sacks in 2017. Texas plays Maryland, Tulsa, and USC in non-conference play. USC will be a tough game and Maryland could possibly trip them up just like last year. An improvement on the 6-6 regular season finish is likely for Tom Herman’s 2018 team.
5. Iowa State Cyclones
Projected Record: 8-4 (5-4 Big 12)
Iowa State was a major surprise last season under Matt Campbell as they finished 8-5 and were the only Big 12 team to beat Oklahoma. Look for a similar year from the Cyclones who return running back David Montgomery, one of the best backs in college football. Senior quarterback Kyle Kempt was efficient in 2017 with 15 TDs to just 3 INTs.
The Defense returns six starters to the 2nd best defense in the Big 12 from last season. Ray Lima is a really good nose tackle that leads the defense along with Marcel Spears Jr. who had 107 tackles last year. The yearly matchup against Iowa will be key in starting the year right. With a solid offense and defense Iowa State should be a legitimate competitor for a Big 12 championship appearance.
6. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Projected Record: 7-5 (5-4 Big 12)
Oklahoma State will have to replace a plethora of offensive talent with QB Mason Rudolph, WR James Washington, and WR Marcell Ateman moving onto the NFL. There is still talent at wide receiver with Jalen McCleskey and Tyron Johnson, along with 1400-yard rusher Justice Hill. But the question remains who will be giving them the ball. Coach Gundy stated at Big 12 media days that Taylor Cornelius was “their guy” at quarterback. However, Hawaii grad transfer Dru Brown just arrived in Stillwater. The offense will most likely take a step back from being the 2nd ranked offense in the nation.
After a bad season on defense, Coach Gundy brought in a new defensive coordinator that will install a 4-2-5 defense. The defense does return 7 starters, but will need to make a major improvement from last year. The non-conference schedule is interesting with a September 15th game at home against Boise State. Look for the Pokes to take a step back this year due to the major losses on the offensive side of the ball.
7. Kansas State Wildcats
Projected Record: 6-6 (4-5 Big 12)
A Bill Snyder coached team always finishes a few spots better than expected. The offense should improve from last season with running QB Skylar Thompson and returning the entire offensive line. Skylar Thompson had the Sooners nervous last year when Oklahoma barely made it out of Manhattan, KS with a 42-35 victory.
Defense was an issue last year for the Wildcats and this year the front seven is inexperienced. The secondary must also replace standout CB DJ Reed. Add the defensive worries with an early tough game against Mississippi State, and that equals a slow start. Look for Kansas State to be an average team this year that will most likely make a bowl game.
8. Texas Tech
Projected Record: 5-7 (3-6 Big 12)
For the first year in Kliff Kingsbury’s tenure at Texas Tech the offense is a bigger question mark than the defense. This stems from a quarterback competition with no clear winner. The contestants for this role include McClane Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman. Reports are out that true Freshman Alan Bowman may be the best of the group. In addition to the quarterback worries the receivers are not as talented of a group as in years past. What will be a plus for the offense is an experienced offensive line.
The defense on the other hand is starting to make a turnaround. They jumped 30 spots in scoring defense from 2016 to 2017, and return 9 starters to the defense. Linebacker and Last Chance U star Dakota Allen is the leader on the defense. The secondary has a senior tandem at safety with Vaughnte Dorsey and Jah’Shawn Johnson. The schedule is tough for the Red Raiders with an early game against the Ole Miss Rebels explosive offense. The week 3 game against Houston is also not an easy game. With the questions on offense, but a good defense the Red Raiders could finish anywhere between 4 and 8 wins.
9. Baylor Bears
Projected Record: 5-7 (3-6 Big 12)
Baylor had a nightmare season last year going 1-11 with their only win against Kansas. QB Charlie Brewer did show some promise last year and will look to improve during his Sophomore year. Brewer has some good playmakers to throw to with wide receivers Denzel Mims, Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd and Chris Platt. The offense wasn’t bad last year and should take another step up.
The defense was horrible last year and is a major question mark again. They are young and inexperienced with only 5 returning starters. The defense could make an improvement in year 2 of defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The non-conference schedule is not bad, but does include a very even matchup against Duke. Baylor will win more than one game this year, but may fall just short of a bowl game.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Projected Record: 2-10 (0-9 Big 12)
It must be tough for a Kansas football fan to be optimistic about the season. Coach David Beatty acquired a dumpster fire and it has remained that way through his 3-33 record. A bright spot of the offense is RB Khalil Herbert who had a 291 yard game against West Virginia last year. Steven Sims is also a solid receiver for Kansas.
On defense the Jayhawks have a lot of young talent that hopefully will develop. Defensive tackle Daniel Wise is a first-team Big 12 performer along with safety Hasan Defense (yes that is his name). There is no easy victory for this Kansas team so they need to come ready to play during their non-conference schedule of Nicholls State, Central Michigan, and Rutgers.