2014 Scout Big 12 Football Preview

A snapshot preview of the Big 12, where the conference could be wide open...

For all the preseason Big 12 storylines to chew on — Charlie Strong’s maiden voyage at Texas, the Heisman campaign of Bryce Petty, the ascension of QBs Jake Waters, Trevor Knight and Davis Webb, Iowa State’s hiring of offensive wizard Mark Mangino — it won’t be until Week 10 of the season that we get to the great theater.

That’s when defending conference champion Baylor visits preseason favorite Oklahoma, on Nov. 8 in Norman, to perhaps decide the conference and, likely, a berth in the new College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma and Baylor were #1 and #2 in the preseason Big 12 predictions, separated by a mere 40 points, while No. 3 Kansas State came in 131 points    Had it not been for two very different bowl experiences, Baylor and Oklahoma might be flipped. The Bears lost to UCF in the Fiesta Bowl, while the Sooners whooped big, bad Alabama in the Sugar Bowl behind a revelation of a performance from freshman QB Trevor Knight, who passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns.

The Sooners get Baylor, Kansas State and SEC foe Tennessee at home in 2014. The favorable schedule, along with Knight’s rise and the nation’s No. 13 recruiting class, featuring five-star running back Joe Mixon, raise the expectations for Bob Stoops. That’s more of a curse than a blessing for Stoops, whose team was ranked Nos. 1 and 4 to begin the season in 2011 and 2012, respectively, and finished 10-3 each time.

Does that change this season? The early clash against the Vols and mid-October matchups with Texas and Kansas State will provide hints, but we won’t really know how high OU might be able to climb until that decisive grudge match versus Baylor.

QB Bryce Petty, Baylor — 
Petty threw for 32 touchdowns and 4,200 yards in a breakout junior campaign. Encore, anyone?

LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma —
 A terrifying pass-rusher, the junior LB recorded three sacks against Alabama. Had the hit not been deemed illegal, Striker’s clotheslining of Texas QB Case McCoy might’ve been the defensive highlight of the year in the Big 12.

WR Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State —Hill, a JUCO all-purpose back who enrolled at OSU in January, opened eyes during the spring with his jaw-dropping world-class sprinter’s speed; he is slated to play wide receiver for the Cowboys.

Charlie Weis, Kansas — The Jayhawks will be better this year, but Weis has generated little momentum or excitement among the fan base in two seasons, going a combined 4-19.

Texas — The Longhorns won’t fly under the radar, but they might surprise. Under Strong, the defense, especially the front-seven, might be as good as any in the conference. If QB David Ash stays healthy, Texas could contend for the Big 12 title.

Baylor at Oklahoma, Nov. 8 — For all the Tostitos. Or something like that. The Sooners will be looking for revenge after Baylor’s 41-12 win in 2013.

Auburn at Kansas State, Sept. 18 — There are some interesting non-conference games to choose from, but this Thursday night clash between the Snydercats and the defending SEC champs should be wild.

WR Allen Lazard, Iowa State —Probably the most significant recruit ISU has ever signed, Lazard is a tall receiver who’ll give the Cyclones a lift in the red zone.

Uptown, Dallas — This is an untraditional selection, but there’s not a better party than the Friday night before the Texas-OU game, with fans of both teams packing this particular block of bars. You’ve been warned: That 11 a.m. kickoff will come quickly in the morning.

West Virginia, 2015 Darkhorse —If coach Dana Holgorsen navigates a brutal schedule and survives the season, the Mountaineers will set up for a strong 2015 campaign. They’ve currently got a top-25 recruiting class lined up and signed two four-star players this spring, not including potential JUCO impact QB Skyler Howard.

1. QB Bryce Petty, Baylor
2. QB Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
3. QB Jake Waters, Kansas State
4. WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
5. QB Davis Webb, Texas Tech

1. Bryce Petty, Baylor
2. Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
3. Jake Waters, Kansas State
4. Davis Webb, Texas Tech
5. David Ash, Texas

1. WR Tyler Lockett, Kansas State
2. WR Antwan Goodley, Baylor
3. RB Malcolm Brown, Texas
4. TE E.J. Bibbs, Iowa State
5. RB Keith Ford, Oklahoma

1. LB Eric Striker, Oklahoma
2. DE Cedric Reed, Texas
3. LB Bryce Hager, Baylor
4. DB Sam Carter, Texas Christian
5. DL Ryan Mueller, Kansas State

1. QB J.W. Walsh, Oklahoma State
    (for Clint Chelf)
2. LB Jordan Harris, Iowa State
    (for Jeremiah George)
3. DE Shiro Davis, Texas
    (for Jackson Jeffcoat)
4. CB Ashton Lampkin, Oklahoma State
    (for Justin Gilbert)
5. RB Shock Linwood, Baylor
    (for Lache Seastrunk)

1. RB Tyreek Hill, Oklahoma State
2. WR Nick Harwell, Kansas
3. WR Devin Lauderdale, Texas Tech
4. RB Rushel Shell, West Virginia
5. OT Desmond Harrison, Texas

1. Bill Snyder, Kansas State
2. Art Briles, Baylor
3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma
4. Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State
5. Charlie Strong, Texas

1. Oklahoma vs. Baylor
2. Texas vs. ?Baylor
2. Texas vs. ?Oklahoma
3. Oklahoma vs. Kansas State
4. Oklahoma vs. ?Oklahoma State

1. West Virginia ? vs. ?Alabama (Atlanta)
2. Oklahoma St.? vs. ?Florida St. (Arlington)
3. Texas ? VS. ?UCLA (Arlington)
4. Oklahoma ? VS. ?Tennessee
5. Kansas State ? VS. ?Auburn

1. Oklahoma
2. Oklahoma State
3. Texas
4. Baylor
5. Texas Tech

1. Baylor
Offensive MVP: QB Bryce Petty
Defensive MVP: LB Bryce Hager
Top NFL Prospect: WR Antwan Goodley
Breakout Player: RB Shock Linwood
Fan Favorite: OL Troy Baker
Top 2014 Signee: WR Davion Hall
Impact Freshman: WR K.D. Cannon
Must Win Game: At Oklahoma
Biggest Game of the Year: At Texas
Best Road Trip: at Buffalo
Best Local College Sports Bar: Salty Dog
Best Tailgating Spot: Brand new Mclane Stadium
Outlook: The Bears lost some weapons on offense, but the most valuable piece is back in Heisman candidate QB Bryce Petty. He’s super smooth and doesn’t get rattled easily. There are five returnees from last season’s starting offense and four returning on defense.
Season Prediction: 10-2 (Cotton Bowl)

2. Oklahoma
Offensive MVP: QB Trevor Knight
Defensive MVP: CB Zach Sanchez
Top NFL Prospect: OT Daryl Williams
Breakout Player: LB Eric Striker
Fan Favorite: TE Blake Bell
Top 2014 Signee: RB Joe Mixon
Impact Freshman: Redshirt FB Dimitri Flowers
Must Win Game: Texas Tech
Biggest Game of the Year: Baylor
Best Road Trip: Texas (in Dallas)
Best Local College Sports Bar: The Garage
Best Tailgating Spot: Just outside the stadium!
Outlook: For a team with national championship aspirations, OU’s schedule, particularly its road games, presents limited roadblocks. The Sooners play at Tulsa, West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State and Texas Tech. Those squads combined went 22-39 a year ago and none are projected to be a conference contender this fall.  
Season Prediction: 11-1 (College Football Playoff)

3. Texas
By William Wilkerson, HornsDigest.com
Offensive MVP: RB Malcolm Brown
Defensive MVP: DE Cedric Reed
Top NFL Prospect: DE Cedric Reed
Breakout Player: WR Marcus Johnson
Fan Favorite: QB Jerrod Heard
Top 2014 Signee: QB Jerrod Heard
Impact Freshman: DT Poona Ford
Must Win Game: Baylor
Biggest Game of the Year: Vs. Oklahoma
Best Road Trip: @Kansas State
Best Local College Sports Bar: Scholz Beer Garten
Best Tailgating Spot: Anywhere along MLK Blvd.
Outlook: Charlie Strong's first season at UT will hinge on quarterback play, which is again a huge question for the Longhorns. Defensive line should dominate.
Season Prediction: 8-4, Alamo Bowl

4. Kansas State
Offensive MVP:  WR Tyler Lockett
Defensive MVP: DE Ryan Mueller
Top NFL Prospect: WR Tyler Lockett
Fan Favorite: OL Cody Whitehair
Breakout Player: QB Jake Walters
Top 2014 Signee: DT Terrell Clinkscales
Impact Freshman: C Dalton Risner
Must Win Game: Texas
Biggest Game of the Year: Auburn
Best Road Trip: At Oklahoma
Best Local College Sports Bar: JP’s Sports Grill
Best Tailgating Spot: Outside Bill Snyder Family Stadium
Outlook: A home date with 2013 SEC champion and BCS national championship runner-up, Auburn, three games into the season will tell a lot about this Bill Snyder squad. Picked to finish third by the Big 12 media, the offensive success will depend on if Walters has a breakout year and can give Lockett all the throws he can handle.    
Season Prediction: 8-4 (Alamo Bowl)

5. TCU
By Jeremy Clark, HornedFrogBlitz.com
Offensive MVP: TB B.J. Catalon
Defensive MVP: DE Devonte Fields
Top NFL Prospect: DE Devonte Fields
Breakout Player: CB Ranthony Texada
Fan Favorite: DE Devonte Fields
Top 2014 Signee: WR Emmanuel Porter
Impact Freshman: WR Emmanuel Porter
Must Win Game: Baylor
Biggest Game of the Year: Vs. Texas
Best Road Trip: @Texas
Best Local College Sports Bar: Too many good ones
Best Tailgating Spot: Lot 2
Outlook: If the offense can produce just four more points per game this season, that could be the difference from 8-4 or 4-8.
Season Prediction: 8-4, Alamo Bowl

6. Oklahoma State
By Terry Tush, GoPokes.com
Offensive MVP: QB J.W. Walsh
Defensive MVP: LB Ryan Simmons
Top NFL Prospect: DT James Castleman
Breakout Player: WR Ra’Shaad Samples
Fan Favorite: QB J.W. Walsh
Top 2014 Signee: RB/WR Tyreek Hill
Impact Freshman: QB Mason Rudolph
Must Win Game: Texas
Biggest Game of the Year: Vs. Oklahoma
Best Road Trip: @Florida State—2014 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas
Best Local College Sports Bar: Eskimo Joe’s
Best Tailgating Spot: N/A
Outlook: The Cowboys have won 41 games the past four years – the best stretch in school history – but will be asking some youngsters to step up in hopes of continuing their winning ways in 2014.
Season Prediction: 8-4, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

7. Texas Tech
By Jarret Johnson, RaiderPower.com
ffensive MVP: QB Davis Webb
Defensive MVP: LB Pete Robertson
Top NFL Prospect: OL Le’Raven Clark
Breakout Player: WR Jakeem Grant
Fan Favorite: WR Jakeem Grant
Top 2014 Signee: QB Patrick Mahomes
Impact Freshman: CB Nigel Bethel
Must Win Game: TCU
Biggest Game of the Year: Vs. Texas
Best Road Trip: @Baylor in Arlington
Best Local College Sports Bar: Nick’s Sports Bar
Best Tailgating Spot: Raider Alley
Outlook: Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury and Co. look to build on a solid first season in Lubbock with arguably the best home schedule in program history.
Season Prediction: 9-3, Holiday Bowl

8. Iowa State
By Trey Scott, AllCyclones.com
Offensive MVP: TE E.J. Bibbs
Defensive MVP: DE Cory Morrissey
Top NFL Prospect: TE E.J. Bibbs
Breakout Player: CB Nigel Tribune
Fan Favorite: WR Allen Lazard
Top 2014 Signee: WR Allen Lazard
Impact Freshman: P Colin Downing
Must Win Game: Kansas State
Biggest Game of the Year: Vs. Iowa
Best Road Trip: If you're looking for the Big 12's best city, it's Oct. 18 at Texas. If you'd rather not drive 14 hours, how about a Sept. 13 date at Kinnick Stadium to watch ISU play arch-rival Iowa?
Best Local College Sports Bar: Wallaby’s
Best Tailgating Spot: Head north of Jack Trice Stadium along University Boulevard and check out the army of RVs — and their food and drink offerings
Outlook: The schedule is brutal and the defense won't be much better, but new o-coordinator Mark Mangino has a bevy of talent to work with. Cyclones must start well
Season Prediction: 6-6, Heart of Dallas Bowl

9. West Virginia
By Kevin Kinder, BlueGoldNews.com
Offensive MVP: WR Mario Alford
Defensive MVP: SS Karl Joseph
Top NFL Prospect: DE Shaquille Riddick
Breakout Player: RB Wendell Smallwood
Fan Favorite: SS Karl Joseph
Top 2014 Signee: CB Dravon Henry
Impact Freshman: WR Lamar Parker
Must Win Game: Maryland
Biggest Game of the Year: Vs. Oklahoma
Best Road Trip: @Texas
Best Local College Sports Bar: Mario’s Fishbowl
Best Tailgating Spot: Blue Lot
Outlook: WVU must get improvement across the board to better last year's disappointing 4-8 record. Depth has improved, and the defense looked better in the spring, but QB play is still the key.
Season Prediction: 6-6, Heart of Dallas Bowl

10. Kansas
By Tom Light, Phog.net
Offensive MVP: WR/RB Tony Pierson
Defensive MVP: LB Ben Heeney
Top NFL Prospect: CB Cassius Sendish
Breakout Player: QB Montell Cozart
Fan Favorite: LB Ben Heeney
Top 2014 Signee: RB DeAndre Mann
Impact Freshman: RB Traevohn Wrench
Must Win Game: Iowa State
Biggest Game of the Year: Vs. Kansas State
Best Road Trip: @Duke
Best Local College Sports Bar: The Wheel
Best Tailgating Spot: The Hill and surrounding houses
Outlook: Could be a long season, but an upset win over Duke or Texas early, could get things rolling
Season Prediction: 3-9

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