Now that we've finished our series going through each position group and every player on the Oklahoma State football squad leading up to the start of summer school and the reporting of the bulk of the 2016 recruiting class and transfers like running back Barry J. Sanders and Louisiana-Monroe graduate transfer cornerback Lenzy Pipkins, I thought I'd add one more bonus.
This afternoon I stopped by Barnes and Noble at Quail Springs and found the first three college football preview magazines. I know that they are written early and often times by writers who aren't as familiar as they should be. That is not the case, by the way, with Athlon's as John Helsley does an excellent job and I enjoy reading his material. Their picks can be somewhat crazy, such as the Sporting News picking Texas in the Top 25. I don't think Texas will finish in the top half of the Big 12.
Here are my post-spring and start of summer football predictions, including a little explanation.
1. Oklahoma - The Sooners have a brutal start to the schedule going to Houston to play the one Group of Five team you don't want to play in the Cougars, and then come back to play Ohio State at home. I'm going to say they split those two games and then fall victim somewhere in conference play. Baker Mayfield is a really talented quarterback but OU must depend on the offensive line and Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. With Sterling Shepard gone, the running game will be their bread and butter on offense. The defense will be okay, not great, which is why I see a 10-2 season, but a first in the Big 12.
2, Oklahoma State - The Cowboys also get great quarterback play with Mason Rudolph and they have the receivers to make the passing game explosive again. The x-factor for the Cowboys is how improved the offensive line and the run offense can be. I think Barry J. Sanders will help, but how much? The defense will be solid, maybe better than last season thanks to some emerging players. Playing OU. TCU, and Baylor on the road will be tough, but I like the early date at Baylor. I have the Cowboys pulling a 10-2, but both losses in the Big 12.
3. TCU - The Frogs will be okay on offense and the defense will bounce back too. They just won't be as good as they were the past two seasons. Kenny Hill should be fine as the quarterback, and if he isn't then Foster Sawyer is still a major talent in my opinion. Home win over Arkansas is important and the Frogs have a favorable schedule. I see TCU coming in at 9-3 overall.
4. Baylor - My reason to put the Bears down here is two-fold, maybe three-fold. Let's start with the current situation in Waco, over all the sexual assault claims and the fact that so many were hidden from public view and there was no discipline with regards to so much of it. The heat is on, and it's on head coach Art Briles. That kind of story and situation can take a program down. From a football standpoint, I'm worried about Seth Russell. I think Jarrett Stidham is a good quarterback, and he was out there for all the first snaps in the spring, but Russell is better and he was not out there and I'm not sure he will be back this fall. His injury was very serious and has a mental recovery that has to go with it. Finally, Baylor is rebuilding both offensive and defensive lines. That is a tough chore in this conference. I have Baylor finishing 9-3 but losing to TCU.
5. Texas Tech - Yes, I can't believe it myself. But I'm picking the Red Raiders to finish in the upper half of the league. I just believe that even if the defense hasn't come around, and I do believe it will be better, that quarterback Patrick Mahomes is that good. I think he is a real talent and I think he is a difference maker in that offense for Kliff KIngsbury, enough of a difference maker that Texas Tech gets to fifth in the league. I have Texas Tech starting out 6-0 and finishing 8-4.
6. West Virginia - Dana Holgorsen on the hot seat, say it isn't so. Now he has Joe Wickline side by side as he traded Joes with Joe DeForest gone and now at Kansas and Wickline out at Texas and moving up to West Virginia. The Mountaineers have a quarterback, a pretty good offensive line, a juco running back, and a very good defensive coordinator. Missouri and BYU make for interesting non-conference games. I have WVU at 6-6.
7. Texas - Still no quarterback that is rated in the upper half of the league's signal callers and a new offense to master. Texas has talent but not enough and not in all the right places. Another rugged beginning with Notre Dame awaits as well. I have Texas at 4-8.
8. Kansas State - Beware of the Cats as with Jesse Ertz back at quarterback after going out on the first play of the season last year Kansas State could be the surprise team in the Big 12 this fall. I have them in eighth, but I see about three or four Big 12 games that could go either way. The opener at Stanford could make it tough, but the veteran head coach will get them back on track fast. Their best defensive player is Oklahoman Dante Barnett. I have the Cats at 4-8, but I could see 6-6 if things go right.
9. Iowa State - I really like Matt Campbell as head coach but the Cyclones are lacking overall talent and a lack of speed on defense will really hurt them this season.
10. Kansas - I think Kansas will be better and they will win a game or two, but they will both be out of conference, likely Rhode Island and either Ohio or Memphis.