Five Teams to Watch in the Big 12
(AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
The Big 12 should be fun to watch this year; there is no clear-cut favorite. Baylor, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State could win the conference very well. Texas and Kansas State could also make some noise in the Big 12.
Spencer Sanders is back and is the best dual-threat quarterback in the conference. Sanders is a talented quarterback, but he will need to cut down on the mistakes if that happens; look out for the Cowboys. The crucial part for Oklahoma State will be their defense; they have a new defensive coordinator in Derek Mason. He will have to rebuild the Cowboys' defense, which only returns four starters.
The Sooners will be going through some changes this season, with new head coach Brent Venables taking over for Lincoln Riley. However, Oklahoma will start UCF transfer Dillon Gabriel at quarterback, and he is capable of leading the Sooners to the conference title. In addition, Oklahoma will need to adjust to the new defensive style the Venables will put in. The Sooners' defense struggled last season against the pass; look for them to be much better this season.
Baylor's defense was outstanding last season; they lost a couple of crucial pieces but still have some strong players returning. Nose tackle Siaki Ika and linebacker Dillion Doyle will lead the Bears' defense. Baylor's offensive line is one of the best in the country, and they will need to lean on them because all of Baylor's skill players are no starters. Blake Shapen will be the quarterback, and Taye McWilliams will start as a running back. Both players will need to lean on the offensive line.
Texas is looking to rebound after a disappointing 5-7 season. However, if the Longhorns want to be good, they must improve their defense. They gave up 31.1 points per game last season. They only return four starters on defense, but the defensive coordinator is back for a second season, so the defense should improve. On offense, Texas will need to lean on Bijan Robinson; he rushed for 1,127 yards last season. The Longhorns have some talent at wide receiver, with Xavier Worthy leading the way. The quarterback position will go to either Quinn Ewers or Hudson Card.
Kansas State could be a big sleeper in the Big 12, with new offensive coordinator Collin Klein installing an up-tempo-style offense. At quarterback, the Wildcats will have Nebraska transfer, Adrian Martinez. At the running back position, they have All-American Deuce Vaughn, and he will carry the Wildcats' offense. Kansas State's defense was pretty good last season, they bring back five starters, but plenty of their players have experience in their defense.