The wait is over for college football fans. This is the week that is, with the opening kickoff for the 2014 season. Every Big 12 team except Kansas gets things started this weekend. With another exciting season of heart-pumping euphoria intertwined with times of gut-wrenching heartbreak upon us, here are five bold Big 12 football predictions for the coming season.
Baylor will put up points aplenty again in 2014, but will be outscored twice in the conference schedule, both times by seven points or less, preventing them from a two-peat.
The Baylor offense, led by the quarterback I believe will be named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year as well as one of the finalists for the 2014 Heisman Trophy, Bryce Petty, will be every bit as prolific and high scoring as the 2013 Big 12 championship team. The problem is, there are other explosive offenses in the Big 12, and it is my opinion that as good as the Baylor offense is, the Bears’ offense will not be able to prevent at least three teams from outlasting the mean green and gold machine on the scoreboard - new stadium and all. The Bears will lose at Texas and at Oklahoma, with the OU loss knocking them out of the title chase and a second straight championship.
Trevor Knight is the real deal and will quarterback the Sooners to a perfect 12-0 regular season and a berth in the first College Football Playoff.
Trevor Knight may not play every game this season like he did in the Sooners stunning Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama last season, but he clearly showed the skill and the talent that led Bob Stoops to name him the starting quarterback over Blake Bell to start the 2013 season. It was the redshirt sophomore’s mastery of the zone read and exceptional passing game that stood out in the Sugar Bowl win, but it is what he can do with his speed and elusiveness in the run game that makes him so dangerous orchestrating the offense. The biggest concern surrounding Knight is staying healthy. He got dinged up pretty good in a couple of games last season while running with the football.
The Sooners are best known for their potency on offense, but much like the early years in Bob Stoops’ coaching reign in Norman (with brother Mike running the defensive side of things), it will be outstanding play on defense that will get the job done for OU this coming season and justify the high national ranking.
Texas will be much stronger under its new head coach and win 10 games in 2014.
The Longhorns had fallen into a rut under 16-year head coach Mack Brown. They had forgotten how to win and weren’t getting the full potential of the enormous talent that permeates their roster. That won’t be the case under new coach Charlie Strong, and the effects of the coaching change will be felt immediately. A lot is riding on David Ash becoming the player and leader at quarterback that the Texas coaching staff has been expecting the last couple of years. But the best running back combo in the Big 12, and perhaps the nation, will take much of the pressure off of Ash to have to make plays alone. And four of the top five receivers from a year ago return this season.
The Texas defense returns nine starters, but there are questions at linebacker and in the secondary. Nevertheless, the Longhorns will reach double digits in the win column for the first time in five seasons and will have a great deal to say about who ultimately dons the conference crown.
Oklahoma State will win just six games this season and barely become bowl eligible.
Over the past five seasons, Oklahoma State has won a Big 12 championship, won a BCS bowl game and won 50 of its 62 games. That’s an average of 10 wins a year. Sorry, Cowboys’ fans. This will not be one of those years. Oklahoma State will manage well enough on offense, but with only four starters returning on defense and with average-at-best special teams play, the Cowboys will find themselves playing catchup more times than not. Mike Gundy’s troops will get a major character check this weekend, when the Cowboys open up the season against No, 1-ranked and defending national champion Florida State.
Biggest bust: TCU
Head coach Gary Patterson has gone on record saying that TCU will revamp its offensive scheme this season to be more fast paced and more like the other offensive-minded teams in the Big 12, but the Horned Frogs’ success under Patterson has largely been because of great defensive play. While the Horned Frogs will be focusing more on the offensive side of the ball this season, it will be the usually reliable TCU defense that won’t be its old self in 2014, and this will lead to a second consecutive disappointing season for the Frogs.