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Football NCAAF

2019 Big 12 Football Preview

People love Jalen Hurts, I get it, but he is nowhere near the QB Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray are.

2018 Standings & Bowl Results

  1. Oklahoma – 12-2 (8-1): Lost Orange Bowl (Semifinal) 45-34 to Alabama
  2. Texas – 10-4 (7-2): Won Sugar Bowl 28-21 over Georgia
  3. Iowa St. – 8-5 (6-3): Lost Alamo Bowl 28-26 to Washington St.
  4. West Virginia – 8-4 (6-3): Lost Comping World Bowl 34-18 to Syracuse
  5. TCU – 7-6 (4-5): Won Cheez-It Bowl 10-7 over California
  6. Baylor – 7-6 (4-5): Won Texas Bowl 45-38 over Vanderbilt
  7. Kansas St. – 5-7 (3-6)
  8. Texas Tech – 5-7 (3-6)
  9. Oklahoma St – 7-6 (3-6): Won Liberty Bowl 38-33 over Missouri
  10. Kansas – 3-9 (1-8)

For the second year in a row under Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma had a Heisman trophy winner and made the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma fell short again just like the conference as a whole, you could point to their defense. Oklahoma had an atrocious defense that was historically bad. Not only Oklahoma, but it seemed like besides Iowa St. nobody in this conference could stop anybody. It did make for some entertaining game however, Oklahoma vs Texas was great, West Virginia @ Texas and Oklahoma @ West Virginia were both phenomenal games as well. Oklahoma got lucky Ohio State had a hiccup against Purdue or else the Big 12 would have been left out of the playoff. The Big 12 did go 3-3 in their bowl games but those wins were over Cal, Vanderbilt, and Missouri – not exactly a murders row. During the regular season, the Big 12 went 4-6 against other Power 5 teams.

Questions for the Big 12

  1. Is Texas actually Back?
    • The saying “Texas is Back” has become more of a joke the past few years than a statement that has any truth behind it. After beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, mind you a Georgia team that probably had little motivation to play in that game, Sam Ehlinger declared Texas is back. If Texas is back then they’ll beat LSU in Week 2, beat Oklahoma, Iowa St., and go onto make the CFP. The problem with Texas is who do they have at the skill positions? Lil Jordan Humphries left a year early and didn’t get drafted at WR so they have unknown talent there, and Ehlinger acts as their main RB which isn’t a good thing for a QB. Not only that but Texas’ defense was bad last year, albeit they did have a lot of young guys playing which should help this year. Until Texas makes the CFP though, they are not “back.”
  2. Can somebody dethrone Oklahoma?
    • To me Iowa St., not Texas, has the best chance to do this. People love Jalen Hurts, I get it, but he is nowhere near the QB Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray are. Mainly, he can’t throw the ball nearly as well as them and that’s why he got benched in the national championship against Georgia. Alabama was so good that they could run the ball against 99% of their competition and still win handedly with poor passing from Hurts. Hurts is now in the Big 12 and based on Oklahoma’s defense last year, he’s gonna have to go score for score with some teams. Oklahoma also lost a ton of talent off of their offensive line to the NFL that causes concern. Lincoln Riley is a phenomenal offensive coach but he can only do so much and as good as Hurts has been at Alabama, I’m not sure I trust him to win a shootout by throwing the ball at Oklahoma. Maybe he can win them all running because the Big 12 defenses are going to be trash again.

Off Season Moves

  1. Oklahoma hires Alex Grinch as their new Defensive Coordinator
    • We just talked Oklahoma on offense mainly but the defense needs to better in 2019. I’m not sure they can actually get worse honestly. Oklahoma gave up 33.3 PPG, 294 yards passing per game and 2 passing TDs per game, they also gave up 160 yards rushing per game and 2.4 TDs rushing per game. Just fucking awful. If Oklahoma repeats again as Big 12 Champs, I think they need to get up into the 50’s or better. That responsibility now goes to Alex Grinch who was the co-defensive coordinator at Ohio State last year, who also wasn’t the best on defense in 2019. We’ll see how much this defense improves to help the next guy we’re gonna talk about.
  2. Jalen Hurts transfer to Oklahoma
    • Lincoln Riley is just living off of transfer QBs, first Baker, then Kyler, and now Hurts. I’ve already talked about the decencies Hurts has compared to the other two so lets not harp on that too much. What Hurts does bring to Oklahoma is a guy whose brought two teams to the National Championship Game and (kinda) helped win one. He brings great leadership, a hard working attitude, and trust from his head coach. Even if there is a better pro QB prospect on this roster I think Hurts gives Oklahoma the best chance to get back to the CFP because of his experience. Hurts needs to become a better thrower if OU wants to make it to the final game.
  3. Kansas Hires Les Miles as Head Coach
    • Remember when Kansas and Missouri played a game where they were both ranked in the Top 5? That was fun. Kansas has been fucking trash so they’re taking a shot at Les Miles. Miles at least brings a name to the program, something they have never had for football. I am not sure what impact Miles make immediately, I think Kansas is still at the bottom of this conference but they could really scare some teams with better coaching. More importantly, this might make more people at the university more excited for football season which is a big part of rebuilding this program.
  4. Kansas St. hires Chris Klieman from North Dakota State to take over for Bill Snyder
    • Bill Snyder finally retired after a great career at Kansas St, to find his replacement Kansas St. looked north and hired North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman. Klieman was the HC at NDSU for five years and won four National Championships, winning the conference every year, and went 69-6 overall during his tenure. Klieman will have to rebuild this program that is lacking some talent but he is more than up for the task. I don’t think it will take long for Kansas St. to become competitive again in the Big 12.
  5. Dana Holgerson leaves West Virginia, Neal Brown takes over.
    • In kind of a surprise move Holgerson left WVU and went to Houston. WVU got a good hire in Neal Brown from Troy who some think is actually a better coach than Holgerson is. The problem for 2019 is WVU doesn’t have a lot of talent left from last years team. Brown may prove to be a better coach for WVU than Holgerson ever way, but its not going to be in 2019. Under Brown, Troy went 35-16 and won all three of their bowl games. The past two years Troy won the Sun Belt Conference.
  6. Texas Tech hires Matt Wells from Utah State as their new head coach
    • Kliff Kingsbury got fired after an underwhelming career at Texas Tech. Tech went out and hired Matt Wells from Utah State who led them to a 10-2 record in 2018 and almost an upset of Michigan St. in Week 1. Utah State was a very competitive team under Wells making it to five bowls in six years going 2-2 in the bowl games he actually coached, he did not coach in their bowl game last year against New Mexico. Tech is hoping Wells can continue the great offenses that Kingsbury had, but also maybe play a little bit of defense.

Conference Notes & Tid Bits

Schedules

  • Toughest Schedules: Texas Longhorns, West Virginia
    • We’ll start with Texas. They have a huge non-conference game against LSU in Week 2, they obviously have neutral site game against Oklahoma but what makes their schedule difficult is the best teams in Big 12 besides Oklahoma St, they all play on the road. At TCU, at Iowa St., and at Baylor all in the second half of the year. West Virginia meanwhile plays two very good teams in their non-conference, Week 2 at Missouri, and then Week 3 at home against N.C. State. In the Big 12 WVU has to travel to Oklahoma, Baylor, Kansas St, and TCU. They also have a three game stretch where they play Texas, Iowa St, then at Oklahoma.
      • Runner-Up: Kansas St.

Offensive Player of the Year

  • QB Sam Ehlinger (Texas), QB Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), WR Ceedee Lamb (Oklahoma), WR Tylan Wallace (Oklahoma St.)
    • Darkhorse: RB Kennedy Brooks (Oklahoma), RB Pooka Williams (Kansas)

Defensive Player of the Year

  • S Caden Sterns (Texas), LB Kenneth Murray (Oklahoma), DE JaQuan Bailey (Iowa St.)
    • Darkhorse: Reggie Walker (Kansas St.), S Greg Eisworth (Iowa St)

Best Offensive Units

  • QBs: Texas (Sam Ehlinger)
    • Hard to pick against Ehlinger even though Brock Purdy from Iowa State might be the best true QB in this league. Ehlinger is the engine that makes Texas run and he can throw the ball well enough for Texas to do what they need to do on offense. Ehlinger is really at home when running the ball. If he improves his passing he will definitely be in the Heisman discussion.
    • Runner-Up: Iowa State, Oklahoma
  • RBs: Oklahoma (Kennedy Brooks, Trey Sermon)
    • As a redshirt, Brooks had 1,056 YDS rushing and 12 TDs in a backfield shared with Kyler Murray and Rodney Anderson. He should get the full load this year and looks more than capable of carrying it. Sermon will probably take some carries away from Brooks and make them the best 1-2 punch in the Big 12.
    • Runner-Up: Kansas, Oklahoma St
  • WRs: Oklahoma (Ceedee Lamb, Jadon Haselwood, Lee Morris, Theo Wease, Trejan Bridges)
    • Lamb is the stud of the group who has almost 2,000 yards receiving the past two years and could very well be the best WR in the country. Morris’ role will increase now that Hollywood Brown is in the NFL but he had 21 catches for 457 YDS and 8 TDs in 2018 even with Lamb and Brown both going over 1,000 yards. Haselwood, Wease, and Bridges were all ranked within the top 15 of WR prospects coming out of high school in 2019.
    • Runner-Up: Oklahoma St., Baylor
  • TEs: Oklahoma (Grant Calcaterra)
    • Calcaterra is listed as the Y on some depth charts you look at but he is a TE for Oklahoma. Last year he had 26 catches for 396 YDS and 6 TDs. Again, he did this with Kyler Murray running the ball, two 1,000 yard receivers, and another that had 450+ yards. With Jalen Hurts at QB, Calcaterra will be used more in the run game but he stat line could be similar.
    • Runner-Up: Iowa St.
  • OL: Texas (Zach Schackelford, Samuel Cosmi, Denzel Okafor, Derek Kerstetter, Junior Angilau, Parker Braun)
    • The Texas line is reshuffled after losing some players but they have enough experience and very good. The lone senior on the the line, Zach Shackelford, is outstanding at center and a great leader for the young guys. This should be a line that opens up a ton of big hole for Ehlinger.
    • Runner-Up: Oklahoma, Oklahoma St.

Best Defensive Units

  • DL: Iowa State (Ray Lima, JaQuan Bailey, Isaiah Lee, Jamahl Johnson, Eyioma Uwazurike)
    • Iowa St. brings back every starter from last year and some reserves. Between these big boys up front and the LB core, the Cyclones should have the top defense in the Big 12. Bailey is the main pass rusher in the group and should be in consideration for defensive player of the year.
    • Runner-Up: TCU, Texas
  • LBs: Iowa State (Marcel Spears, Mike Rose, Will McDonald, Jake Hummel, O’Rien Vance)
    • Brings everyone back but Willie Harvey from last year. Will McDonald will be looked upon to replace Harvey but the other two spots bring back the starters in Rose and Spears, and their backups.
    • Runner-Up: Texas, Oklahoma St.
  • DBs: Texas (Caden Sterns, Brandon Jones, B.J. Foster, Anthony Cook, Jalen Green, Koby Boyce)
    • Texas had a very young secondary last year that will play dividends in 2019. Foster and Sterns both played a ton as true freshman and combined for 108 tackles at those safety positions. Cook played sparingly as a Freshman, and Jones is the lone veteran guy back for the Longhorns.
    • Runner-Up: Iowa St, TCU

Best Special Teams

  • Kickers: Evan Staley (WVU), Cameron Dicker (Texas)
  • Punters: Kyle Thompson (Kansas)
  • Returners: CeeDee Lamb (Oklahoma), Kene Nwangwu (Iowa St.), Pooka Williams Jr. (Kansas)

Conference Game of The Year

  • Texas vs Oklahoma (October 12th)
    • This will forever be the biggest conference game in the Big 12 as long as these two teams are relevant. The red river rivalry could go a long way in deciding who playing in the Big 12 Championship Game. Last year both teams made it but Iowa St., Baylor, and TCU are all going to be better opponents this year.
    • Runner-Up: Texas @ Iowa St (Nov. 16th), Iowa St. @ Oklahoma (Nov. 9th)

Non-Conference Game of the Year

  • LSU @ Texas (September 7th)
    • We’ll find out if Texas is really back early on. This is one of the biggest non-conference games of the year that sets the tone for the rest of the year for each of these teams. If Texas pulls out this win, “Texas is Back” is going to be the most popular phrase until the play Oklahoma a month later. If LSU wins, temper your CFP aspirations for the Longhorns and you’ll start hearing how overrate the they were from the get go. Can’t wait for this one.
    • Runner-Up: TCU @ Purdue (Sept 14th), Oklahoma @ UCLA (Sept. 14th)

Picks

  1. Iowa St.
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Texas
  4. Baylor
  5. Oklahoma St.
  6. TCU
  7. West Virginia
  8. Kansas St.
  9. Texas Tech
  10. Kansas

CFP Playoff Contenders: Oklahoma, Iowa St, Texas

NY6 Game Contenders: Oklahoma, Iowa St, Texas

Bowl Participants: Oklahoma, Iowa St, Texas, Oklahoma St, Baylor, TCU

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