The Big 12 was left out of the College Football Playoffs for the second time in the first three years it’s been in play. Part of the problem has been a lack of elite teams. That combined with a number of schools playing soft non-conference schedules.
It’s a bit ironic that Oklahoma brutal non-conference slate was why they were left out. The Sooners ran away with the Big 12 regular season title with a perfect 9-0 mark. However, losses to Houston and Ohio State in their first three games, was too much to overcome.
Big 12 College Football Preview & Predictions
The Sooners went on to finish the year ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25 and No. 3 in the coaches poll. No other school was in the Top 10. Oklahoma State and West Virginia were the only others that ended the year ranked.
There were thoughts of expansion, but that didn’t happen. However, there is a change coming in 2017. That’s the new Championship Game. With only 10 teams and everyone playing each other once in their 9-game conference schedule, the title game will be a rematch.
I could see this working both ways. It could help boost the resume of the winner if the top team wins the title game. If there’s an upset, it could be a major factor in the Big 12 getting left out of the playoffs.
New Head Coaches
|Name (School)||Previous Job||HC Exp (Record)|
|Lincoln Riley (Oklahoma)||OC at Oklahoma||None|
|Tom Herman (Texas)||HC at Houston||2 yrs (22-4)|
|Matt Rhule (Baylor)||HC at Temple||4 yrs (28-23)|
It’s no secret that the conference is centered around the likes of Oklahoma and Texas. Interestingly, both will go into the new campaign with a new head coach.
The huge surprise came from Norman, where Bob Stoops stepped down after 18 years on the job in June. Given all the hype surrounding the Sooners, I was shocked to see him leave. The good news is they were able to turn the reigns over to offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.
As for Texas, they made a huge splash by signing Todd Herman away from Houston. The former Ohio State offensive coordinator went 22-4 in his brief 2-years on the job with the Cougars.
The other new face in the conference is Matt Rhule at Baylor. He faces the difficult task of getting the Bears back on the map after the Art Briles fallout. Rhule did a tremendous job at taking a Temple program to new heights, including back-to-back 10-win seasons the last two years.
I’ve studied all 10 teams and have put together my projected standings for the 2017 season. That includes how I see them finishing in league play, as well as overall. I’ve also added the odds for each team to win the conference, as well as your Heisman hopefuls and playoff odds.
Want to get a head start on opening week? Check out the Week 1 betting odds that have been released. You can also see who I have winning each conference and the national championship in my overall predictions.
2017 Big 12 Projected Standings, Rankings & Betting Odds
|Pos.||Team||Conf||Overall||Big 12 Odds|
As you can see, I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favorite to win the title this year. Oklahoma will be picked by many, but I don’t think they are a step above the field like last year.
Not having Stoops around is going to be a difficult adjustment. I also think the Sooners struggle to replace some dynamic skill players that left for the NFL. The schedule is also no cupcake. They have to play Ohio St on the road in non-conference and then draw the Longhorns, Wildcats, Cowboys and Bears all on the road.
My two biggest threats to the Sooners are Oklahoma State and Texas. All the talk is about Baker Mayfield in Norman, but Mason Rudolph of the Cowboys is legit. In fact, he threw for more yards than Mayfield with a 28-4 TD-INT ratio. Rudolph also benefits from star wide out James Washington returning.
The Longhorns are my top sleeper team. I don’t that you could have a better fit than Herman. He steps into a great situation, as there’s no shortage of talent at Texas and the Longhorns have 17 returning starters. In Herman’s first year at Houston, he took a team that finished 8-5 to 13-1. The biggest improvement was on offense, where the Cougars went from 29.8 ppg to 40.4 ppg. If the defense thrives under new DC Todd Orlando, look out!
Right behind my top three teams are Kansas State and TCU. Two programs that if things go their way could surprise and win the title. The Wildcats have 14 returning starters and you simply can’t count out a Bill Snyder coached team. TCU was decimated with injuries last year and are now the most experienced team in the league. The Horned Frogs are only 1 seasons removed from a two-year run where they went 23-3.
My next tier of teams features West Virginia and Baylor. Arguably the wildcards of the conference. It’s hard telling just how quickly Rhule can get the Bears back to an elite level. My guess is that it’s going to take a year or two, but Baylor should remain competitive. The Mountaineers are expected to add in Florida transfer Will Grier at quarterback. It’s just hard seeing that being enough to overcome just 8 returning starters.
The bottom three in the league are Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas. I think the loss of Patrick Mahomes will be too much for the Red Raiders to overcome. That combined with a brutal schedule likely spells the end of the Kliff Kingsbury era.
I like the direction the Cyclones are headed under 2nd-year coach Matt Campbell. This team was a lot better than their 3-9 record last year. The offense could be special and I have a feeling ISU could pull a couple more upsets than I have predicted.
Kansas should be improved, but I still think they have a long way to go. With the conference as a whole looking stronger, I’ll call for the Jayhawks to go 0-9 in league play.
Big 12 Championship Game Prediction: Texas Defeats Oklahoma State
|Players (Pos, School)||Odds|
|Baker Mayfield (QB, Oklahoma)||+850|
|Mason Rudolph (QB, Oklahoma St)||+3600|
|Shane Buechele (QB, Texas)||+5500|
|Will Grier (QB, West Virginia)||+6600|
|James Washington (WR, Oklahoma St)||+12500|
|Sewo Olonilua (RB, TCU)||+17500|
|Kenny Hill (QB, TCU)||+20000|
|Nick Shimonek (QB, Texas Tech)||+20000|
|Malik Jefferson (LB, Texas)||+20000|
For a full list of Heisman odds, click here.