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The 2017 Best Case and Worst Case Scenario for Each Big 12 Team



The Big 12 has gone through a shake up over this offseason. Bell cows Oklahoma and Texas both have new CEOs for the first time in 70 years. A couple of teams look to take a step forward and a couple more may sink to the bottom.

So, let’s look at take a look at the realistic expectations for each program. We’re only taking regular season records into account (not the Big 12 title game) and looking at them in alphabetical order.


Best: 6-6, middle of the Big 12, Cactus Bowl

Worst: 4-8, bottom of the Big 12

Comments: Baylor may be the toughest team in the league to peg. It’s one of three teams with a new head coach in 2017, but unlike Texas and OU, the Bears are looking at a big rebuild. There is still some talent left on the roster, including ten returning starters from last year. But how quickly can Matt Rhule implement his new system, and how will that match up with some of the offenses he’ll face in the Big 12? Not to be underestimated, Baylor is undergoing a complete culture change, as well. This is a different team than the one Art Briles had, and I think expecting much better than 6-6 may be unreasonable.

Iowa State

Best: 7-5, middle of the Big 12, Heart of Dallas Bowl

Worst: 3-9, bottom of the Big 12

Comments: Can Iowa State take a step forward in Matt Campbell’s second year? There are some things to like about the Cyclones. They return plenty of skill players like Allen Lazard, David Montgomery and Mike Warren and Jacob Park has gone through his first spring as the No. 1 QB. The biggest question comes at the offensive line where they lose four starters from maybe their best position group last year. Former quarterback Joel Lanning has been moved to linebacker but they’ll need more help than that for a defense that finished ahead of only Texas Tech in points per drive allowed in 2016.


Best: 4-8, bottom of the Big 12, but improving

Worst: 0-12, last place

Comments: Despite the obvious punchline, David Beaty has shown improvement over his 2-22 first two seasons. The Jayhawks were at least disruptive on defense last season and return several leaders on that side of the ball. The question is whether or not they have an offense that can at least give the defense a break. A 4-8 record is optimistic, but I see a couple other Big 12 teams falling off as well. Kansas’ non-conference is not a gimme with Central Michigan coming to town. No comment.

Kansas State

Best: 10-2, Big 12 title, Sugar Bowl

Worst: 7-5, middle of the Big 12, Cactus Bowl

Comments: I’m not sure what to think about this team. I can understand why some are picking K-State as a dark horse Big 12 pick and I could also see them finishing fourth to fifth in the league. They do welcome Oklahoma, TCU and West Virginia to Manhattan, and they have an established, returning QB which normally makes for a tough Bill Snyder-coached team.


Best: 12-0, Big 12 title, CFP berth

Worst: 8-4, middle of the Big 12, AutoZone Liberty Bowl

Comments: Oklahoma probably should be the Big 12 favorite based on history and the talent on their roster. But the Sooners lost their winningest head coach and Baker Mayfield’s three best weapons — by far. An improved defense will go a long way in securing another conference title and possible College Football Playoff berth, as well as a Bear Bryant Award for Lincoln Riley in his first year.

Oklahoma State

Best: 12-0. Big 12 title, CFP berth

Worst: 9-3, 2nd place in the Big 12, Camping World Bowl

Comments: The orange Kool-Aid is flowing like a mullet in September. We could see the best Gundy-led team since a trip up in Ames kept them from a National Championship game in 2011. How good is Oklahoma? What effect does the change in schedule — or the changing of the visor — make on Bedlam? How much better is this defense? A 9-3 record would be a disappointment. The ceiling is the roof.


Best: 7-5, middle of the Big 12, Cactus Bowl

Worst: 4-8, bottom half of the Big 12

Comments: TCU has a ton of questions heading into the fall. Can Kenny Hill salvage a career as a starting QB? How much does the offense miss Doug Meacham? Their defense has a chance to be good again, but it had that chance last year and got embarrassed a few times down the stretch.


Best: 9-3,  3rd in the Big 12, AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl

Worst: 5-7, middle of the Big 12

Comments: Is Texas back? No. It’s July. But new front man Tom Herman brings with him plenty of, uh charisma, and his coaching chops are well-documented. He inherits some decent talent from Charlie Strong. Is he the right fit? How long does a rebuild take? Does he have a quarterback? Time will tell.

Texas Tech

Best: 6-6, middle of the Big 12, Heart of Dallas Bowl

Worst: 2-10, bottom of the Big 12

Comments:  My 6-6 ceiling may be generous. The Red Raiders lose Pat Mahomes to the NFL Draft as well as receivers Jakeem Grant to graduation, Jonathan Giles and Tony Brown to transfer. We like to look at their offense as a plug-and-play system but it’s hard to not expect at least a step back in production without Mahomes. And their defense has an uphill battle — with no clear path — to mediocrity. Mahomes’ arm and legs kept them in games last season. Tech may be historically bad in 2017.

West Virginia

Best: 10-2, 2nd place in the Big 12, Valero Alamo Bowl

Worst: 7-5, middle of the Big 12, Cactus Bowl

Comments: West Virginia, like Baylor, is hard to peg. On one hand, they add what appears to be a talented passer in Florida transfer Will Grier. On the other, they lose key pieces on both sides of the ball, including seven offensive linemen. This could be a huge year for Dana Holgorsen. He’s off the hot seat after churning out his first 10-win season a year ago, but drop back down into the middle of the pack and the groaning will return. If he can pilot the Mountaineers to a 9- or 10-win season, he sets himself up nicely moving forward.

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