Oklahoma Sooners 12-0 (9-0)
Under head football coach Bob Stoops, the Oklahoma Sooners have always been near the top of the Big 12 Conference. After the Sooners knocked off the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Allstate Sugar Bowl this past January, Stoops believes that he team is ready to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2010.
As a sophomore, quarterback Trevor Knight is going to be expected to take that next step. Knight was an on-again, off-again starter last season at Oklahoma, but he is now the guy in Norman.
The Sooners return nine starters on defense including their entire front seven. While some teams in the Big 12 are rebuilding, Oklahoma is poised for a title run.
The Big 12 will come down to the Sooners, the Baylor Bears, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Luckily for Oklahoma, they host the Bears and Cowboys this season and when the smoke clears it should be “Boomer Sooner” finishing 2014 as the Big 12 Champs.
Baylor Bears 9-3 (6-3)
For the first the in school history the Baylor Bears are beginning the season as a favorite to win the Big 12 Conference. Art Briles is entering his seventh season as Baylor’s head football coach and in that time he has performed as Texas-sized miracle in Waco. Prior to 2010, the Bears had never had a winning season in the Big 12 and now they are accustomed to packing for bowl games.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty shocked most people when he decided to return to school for his senior year. Petty passed for 4,200 yards and 32 touchdowns to only 3 interceptions last season. So what can Petty do for an encore this season? Petty will have his top wide receiver back in senior wide receiver Antwan Goodley and the two are ready to dominate defenses in the Big 12. After a strong freshman season, running back Shock Linwood should gain at least 1,250 yards on the ground this year as a sophomore.
Road games against the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners will go a long way in determining whether or not Baylor will win the Big 12 in 2014.
TCU Horned Frogs 8-4 (5-4)
In their last two seasons in the Mountain West Conference, the TCU Horned Frogs were 24-2. But in their first two seasons in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs are only 11-14 which is something that TCU head football coach Gary Patterson is out to change.
For TCU to take that next step this year in the Big 12, Patterson will need more consistency from junior quarterback Trevone Boykin who is mobile, but he’ll need to make more plays from inside of the pocket.
The Horned Frogs first two conference games are against Oklahoma and Baylor and a good start could be just what the doctor ordered in Fort Worth for Texas Christian.
Kansas State Wildcats 7-5 (5-4)
So much for the retirement of Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder. After 17 years on the job as Kansas State’s head football coach, Snyder retired in 2005 only to come back in 2009. The Wildcats have finished the last four seasons with a winning record while being a thorn in the side of the top-tier schools in the Big 12.
To be a quarterback for Snyder at Kansas State you must able to throw the football as well as run and that is the case for K-State senior quarterback Jake Waters. The Wildcats did lose their top two rushers from last year’s team, but Snyder still has senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett who could be an All-Big-12 performer at season’s end.
Manhattan, Kansas is where dreams come to die for opponents and on September 18, Kansas State will host the Auburn Tigers who are looking to get back to the national championship game for a second consecutive season. I guarantee you that aside from the Big 12 Conference schedule, Snyder and the folks in the Little Apple have circled the game with Auburn on the calender.
Texas Tech Red Raiders 6-6 (5-4)
In his first season as the head football coach of the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Kliff Kingsbury had an up and down campaign. In 2013, the Red Raiders won their first seven games of the season before losing their next five. The Red Raiders would go on to defeat the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl and Kingsbury is hopeful that a winning season in his first season at Tech can be a spring board to bigger things in 2014.
Last year the Red Raiders had a quarterback battle between Davis Webb and Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is no longer enrolled at Texas Tech and the sophomore Webb is now entrenched as the starting signal caller in Lubbock. In Kingsbury’s wide open offense, Webb can sling the football with anyone.
Last season Tech had the second ranked passing offense in the nation and being that Kingsbury is a disciple of current Washington State head football coach Mike Leach, you’ll see more of the same this season. At 5’6″, 160 lbs., Texas Tech junior wide receiver Jakeem Grant is a shifty burner that will line up all over the football field as he’ll look to cause problems for opponents.
With road games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State to start their Big 12 season I doubt that Texas Tech will begin this season with a record of 7-0, but a bowl game should still be on the horizon.
West Virginia Mountaineers 6-6 (5-4)
Prior to joining the Big 12 Conference in 2012, the West Virginia Mountaineers had ten consecutive winning seasons as members of the Big East Conference. Since joining the Big 12, the Mountaineers are 11-14 and West Virginia head football coach Dana Holgorsen must get things turned around in a hurry in order to appease the folks in Morgantown.
Any success that West Virginia will have this season will come down to the effectiveness of senior quarterback Clint Trickett. Holgorsen’s spread offense is supposed to put up points on the scoreboard, but Trickett did not have the players around him last season on offense to be effective and it will once again be tough for him in 2014.
The Mountaineers upcoming schedule is not an easy one, but if they can navigate though it they could find a way to be bowl eligible which could potentially save Holgorsen’s job.
Oklahoma State Cowboys 6-6 (5-4)
In nine seasons as the head football coach of the Oklahoma State University Cowboys, Mike Gundy has changed things in Stillwater as the Cowboys are no longer the little brothers of the Oklahoma Sooners. The Cowboys are coming off of a 10-win season, but if they are going to remain that consistent they will need a big year from junior quarterback J.W. Walsh and senior running back Desmond Roland.
The schedule monster got Oklahoma State this year. The Cowboys will open the year against the defending national champions in the Florida State Seminoles, and they also have road games against K-State, Baylor, and Oklahoma.
Texas Longhorns 5-7 (4-5)
The Charlie Strong era has officially begun in Austin, Texas. Strong took over as the new head football coach of the Texas Longhorns for the recently retired Mack Brown and he has his work cut out for him. Things have changed for the Longhorns as they no longer have a stranglehold on recruiting in the state of Texas as other schools are catching up which means that Strong must go to work as far as making sure that the best players within the state come to Austin.
Strong wasn’t able to bring some of the talent that he had at the University of Louisville to Texas, but he still has a strong ground attack to rely on in senior running back Malcolm Brown and junior running back Johnathan Gray.
The Big 12 slate alone is tough for Texas and non-conference home games against BYU and UCLA won’t be a bed of roses either.
Kansas Jayhawks 3-9 (1-8)
2008 was the last year that the Kansas Jayhawks had a winning season as they have been consistently caught up in the wash of the Big 12 Conference. Charlie Weis is entering his third season as the head football coach at Kansas and his 4-20 record in his first two campaigns has not given the folks in Lawrence a boat load of optimism. You can expect more of the same this season from the Jayhawks as the talent simply is not there.
Iowa State Cyclones 2-10 (0-9)
In three of the first four seasons under head football coach Paul Rhoads, the Iowa State Cyclones made a bowl game. But the Cyclones took a huge step backwards last season as they had their worst year since 2008. The Cyclones must improve on an offense that was 97th in the nation last season. But in spite of this, six of Iowa State’s nine losses were by a combined 26 points. The Cyclones however will still have their work cut out for them in the Big 12 in 2014.
Sources: Cfbstats.com, sports-reference.com, nationalchamps.net