The Big 12’s top teams are loaded with some incredible talent this year. Which, should make for an interesting race to the Big 12 championship. In this post we will explore the most important games of the conference, and who might contend for a Heisman.
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia (November 23)
Oklahoma remains the one team that West Virginia has yet to defeat since joining the Big 12. In order for the Mountaineers to capture their first Big 12 championship, they will have to knock off the three-time defending championship during this game. Even though the Sooners throttled West Virginia last year, the Mountaineers have the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, Will Grier. Last year, he was out with a broken finger. The Sooners are also without Heisman winner Baker Mayfield, so it’s looking pretty good for West Virginia right now.
Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma (November 10)
This matchup has been the biggest game in the Big 12 for the last 10 years with Oklahoma State’s rise under Mike Gundy. But having lost quarterback Mason Rudolph and wide receiver James Washington, the Cowboys are rearranging and maybe rebuilding. Gundy has only two wins against the Sooners, who have won the last three of these showdowns, which all have major Big 12 title implications. Oklahoma State will have to surprise with a new quarterback in order to challenge the Sooners again. They will also have to have a better defense, which makes it sound like a long shot.
TCU vs. Texas (September 22)
The Horned Frogs have completely dominated this series, winning five of six against Texas since joining the Big 12 with an average margin of victory of 25 points. This game will be a big one for both teams as they are both coming off some pretty big non-conference showdowns (Texas vs. USC, TCU vs. Ohio State). The Longhorns owned the Big 12’s top defense last year with the nation’s fifth-best unit in defensive efficiency, but TCU wasn’t far behind at 13th. With the questions both teams face offensively, this could potentially be the rare low Big 12 scoring affair.
Which team has to prove the most? Texas has been a relevant college football team since it began. Since playing for the 2009 national championship against Alabama, the Longhorns are only five games above .500. As a result, there’s tremendous pressure on second-year coach Tom Herman to finally turn the Longhorns around after an up and down rookie season. That said, there is reason to believe that the Longhorns could be on the verge of turning that corner under Herman. The season-opening debacle to Maryland included, Texas ranked fifth nationally in defensive efficiency under coordinator Todd Orlando in 2017. But the Longhorns just signed the nations number2 recruiting class, which is loaded with immediate impact potential on the defensive side.
That said, for the Longhorns to become a contender in the Big 12, they’re going to need elite quarterback play. Something that they haven’t had for a while. Herman has already been bragging about the strength and speed of his team during the preseason. Will Texas be able to make it to the conference finals? We will find out later this year.