We all love best-case scenarios. What happens when EVERYTHING clicks and works perfectly? What happens when it all comes together the way that fanatics (what do you think “fan” is short for, slick?) can only dream about on message boards at 2am. They rarely happen to the highest of the degree, but every team has a best case. It is their ceiling, their maximum. Whenever there is a ceiling though, a floor must be present. Here is our stab at the best and worst case for each of the Big 12 teams.
Best Case – With the Bears starting off around the Top 10 teams in the country, they ride a perfect 4-0 start into the heart of the Top-5 and in the middle of the playoff race. With a road game against surprising Texas on the horizon, the choruses of “we don’t really know anything” about the Bears start up again. And just like in 2013 against Oklahoma, the Bears answer the bell and teach the experts a lesson in doubting the wrong team. 3 more big victories follow before the Bears head off to Norman, OK to take on undefeated Oklahoma.
This time, their late season big-time road game isn’t hampered by a litany of injuries and the Bears act like they have been there before (Which now they have) and score a big-time upset against Oklahoma. Up to #2 in the polls, the Bears finish off the regular season with home victories against Oklahoma State and Kansas State surrounding another blowout win in Arlington against Texas Tech. A perfect season gives the Bears a coveted spot in the Championship Playoff, and two more wins give the Bears a National Championship.
Worst Case – Injuries and a harder road schedule in 2014 derail the Bears quickly in 2014. They lose at Austin and Oklahoma, before getting tripped up late by Texas Tech in Arlington and Kansas State at home. While still winning 8 games, expectations were higher and not met. The Bears lose for a 5th time in some bowl game that only Baylor fans really care about (outside of the opposition’s fans).
Best Case – The Sugar Bowl was a prelude to the coming out of Trevor Knight and a dangerous Oklahoma defense. The Sooners run the ball well with Keith Ford and Knight gouging defenses off of an improved zone-read attack, and Knight shows off his improved passing to be a Heisman finalist. The Sooners have one of the best defenses in the nation to support their good offense, and ride it all the way to a spot in the Championship Playoffs. With a victory over Oregon and then a championship victory over Alabama for the 2nd post season in a row, the Sooners are national champions!
Worst Case – The Sugar Bowl was a lie. It was a story of a team that was pumped for a game with a really good game-plan beating a much more talented team that simply didn’t care to be there. Trevor Knight falls apart quickly, and with the Sooners again featuring an offense without a quarterback, they struggle against the best in the Big 12. Without Joe Mixon, Frank Shannon and even Dorial Green-Bekcham and injuries hurting a stellar defense, the Sooners lose games to Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech and go another year without a Big 12 championship.
Best Case – The “T” is back. The issue was never the players, just the coaching staff. All of those naysayers of Mack Brown are proven right, and even new coach Strong is proven wrong as they Longhorns do compete for a Big 12 and National title. David Ash finally shows the promise he has displayed while injuries were not keeping him on the sidelines, and a strong defensive line covers up some weaknesses on that side of the ball. Texas starts off the year upsetting UCLA in front of a national TV audience. They then upset Baylor at home to stay perfect going into the Red River Shootout. The Oklahoma game doesn’t go the Longhorns way, but the rest of the schedule does. An 11-1 record and a spot in the Playoffs awaits the Big 12 champions.
Worst Case – With a very eventful offseason with several key players kicked off the team, the Longhorns are tested early and often as they lose to both UCLA and BYU, with wins against North Texas and Kansas preparing them for the Baylor/OU back to back games. The Longhorns struggle to protect their home field for the 2nd time in 2014 against the Bears, and then lose badly to rival Oklahoma. At just 2-4, calls for Charlie Strong’s job are already starting to get louder, as www.FireCharlieStrong.com gets up and running. A win over Iowa State dampens some of the fury, but a trip to the Longhorn kryptonite in Kansas State really sends things going downhill quickly. Another loss to Texas Tech followed by wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma State get some momentum going, but the season finale loss to TCU ends the first year of Strong at a disappointing 5-7.
Best Case – It all comes together. The hair. The sunglasses. The capris. The wins. No late season fade for the Red Raiders this year. No devastating injury report that destroys a promising defense once the hard part of the schedule hits. Davis Webb turns into the star that many Red Raiders think he can be, and the offense truly takes off.
Worst Case – For the first time in 3 years, the fast start that has given the Red Raiders hope is simply not there. They lose their 3rd game to Arkansas and then fall again to Oklahoma State and Kansas State in tough road games. A mid-season run gives them 3 wins in a row, but they lose three of their last four games to finish 6-6. After the season Kliff Kingsbury leaves the program to be a professional model and full-time “The Bachelor” contestant.
Best Case – The path back to respectability starts on the shoulders of an improved (and healthy) Clint Trickett. They play Alabama closer than anyone really expected, but win their next two games before falling to Oklahoma at home. A big-time win against Kansas precedes a monster upset of Baylor at home that starts a run of to end the year. They beat Oklahoma State, TCU and Kansas State and Iowa State to end the year, and finish 2014 with a record of 8-4.
Worst Case – It got worse. Somehow, the trajectory of the program from that beautiful night at the Orange Bowl has been completely lost. They are destroyed by Alabama in the opener, and lose to rival Maryland as well. The Mountaineers struggle to another 4 win season, but look even more lost on offense than last year. In the midst of a 6 game losing streak, the Mountaineers fire coach Dana Holgorsen and start looking for new and better answers in the Big 12.