Record predictions 1.0 for all Big 12 football teams
At long last, the Big 12 schedule is official for all 14 teams. The schedule is more favorable for some than others.
The Oklahoma Sooners certainly had a good draw in what could be their final Big 12 season. They avoid road trips to Kansas State and Baylor, both of which defeated them in Norman last season. In addition, they avoid the surging Texas Tech Red Raiders who they lost to at season’s end.
Oklahoma State has an unremarkable schedule as well. The Cowboys face all four of the conference’s new additions, avoiding TCU, Texas, Baylor and Texas Tech.
TCU faces one of the more difficult conference slates. The schedule sees the Horned Frogs play Kansas State, Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma consecutively.
After picking each game, here are my initial record predictions for the conference.
TCU Horned Frogs (10-2)
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TCU loses several key contributors, but what it adds and returns is comparable. Chandler Morris should lead an explosive attack. He will have Jordan Hudson, Jared Wiley and Alabama transfers JoJo Earle and Trey Sanders at his disposal. The Frogs win the first place tie-breaker with wins over Texas and Oklahoma.
Texas Longhorns (10-2)
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The Texas Longhorns are dangerous, led by five matchup nightmares at receiver. AD Mitchell and Isaiah Neyor join the productive trio of Xavier Worthy, Ja’Tavion Sanders and Jordan Whittington. Behind a proven offensive line, Quinn Ewers should pick apart defenses this year. Despite losses to in-state foes, Texas defeats Oklahoma and Alabama on its way to 10-2.
Oklahoma Sooners (10-2)
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The Oklahoma Sooners should be greatly improved on defense, led by Dasan McCullough, Trace Ford, PJ Adepawore and Peyton Bowen. Woodi Washington, Jaren Kanak and Danny Stutsman return as impact players for the defense. With a manageable schedule, Oklahoma should dominate in Big 12 play. Losses to TCU and Texas keep the Sooners out of the conference championship.
Kansas State Wildcats (9-3)
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Kansas State could be in line for a drop-off, but its schedule sets up for a strong performance again this season. Three super senior returnees along the offensive line make for a more stable team, and matchup advantages earn the Wildcats wins over TCU and Texas Tech. Look for Will Howard to become one of the better quarterbacks in the conference.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (8-4)
NRG Stadium in Houston.
The Red Raiders may be underrated here at fifth in the conference, but they face a tough schedule in 2023. A home win over TCU flashes the team’s potential, but a loss to Kansas State and road defeats to Baylor and Texas sour the season. Joey McGuire’s team will host Oregon in a nonconference game. A win there could change the team’s perception.
Baylor Bears (7-5)
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Perhaps the most volatile of teams, Baylor checks in at No. 6. The Bears earn upset wins over Texas and Texas Tech in Waco, but fall to UCF, Kansas State, TCU and Iowa State in conference play. Blake Shapen should thrive in his second season as the starter with Monaray Baldwin emerging as a top target in the conference. Baylor needs more consistency on defense in 2023.
Iowa State Cyclones (7-5)
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Look for the Cyclones to play spoiler in 2023. Matt Campbell’s team loses Xavier Hutchinson and Will McDonald, but they allowed new impact players to gain experience last season. Quarterback Hunter Dekkers and receiver Jaylin Noel emerged as focal points for Iowa State. Against the Longhorns, Noel caught 6 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. He could become a top stat compiler in the conference next season.
UCF Golden Knights (7-5)
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Gus Malzahn’s team could be in the thick of the Big 12 race in 2023. The Knights spent much of the 2022 season as one of the top teams in the Group of Five. The schedule affords Central Florida to make a run in the conference. I have the Knights defeating Kansas State and Baylor among others.
Kansas Jayhawks (7-5)
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The Kansas Jayhawks will have a case for the best quarterback in the Big 12 with Jalon Daniels returning to Lawrence. The Jayhawks are a bowl contender again and could wreak havoc in the conference. If the Oklahoma Sooners were to have a third loss, it could come at Kansas if not against BYU.
BYU Cougars (6-6)
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BYU is arguably a top half team in the conference. However, its schedule may distort how good it is in 2023. The Cougars have road games against TCU, Texas and Kansas. They play host to Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Iowa State.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (5-7)
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We have reached the bad football portion of the standings with Oklahoma State topping that list. The Cowboys lose Spencer Sanders, Trace Ford, defensive coordinator Derek Mason and a host of others from their 2022 squad. Even with a favorable schedule, OSU fails to reach 6 wins.
West Virginia Mountaineers (4-8)
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West Virginia’s season might be over before Big 12 play starts. The Mountaineers open on the road against Penn State before facing Pitt a couple weeks later. Neal Brown’s team faces TCU, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, BYU and Baylor, leaving little margin for error. Expect a long football season in Morgantown.
Cincinnati Bearcats (5-7)
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Cincinnati deals with more than its fair share of turnover in 2023. While the program has potential to get back to its 2021 iteration, the team should have growing pains in Scott Satterfield’s first season on campus.
Houston Cougars (3-9)
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Houston has the most to prove after losing big-time quarterback Clayton Tune. In addition, the Cougars must show they can avoid costly errors that plagued the team last season. Dana Holgorsen opens the season with UTSA in a nonconference game. Houston should struggle in 2023.