When you think of the Big XII, you think about Oklahoma and rightly so. The Sooners have won 12 conference championships since 2000, including the last 4 straight. Will Oklahoma pull off the five-peat? They are facing steep competition as Texas has had a resurgence, to the delight of the Lone Star State.
Oklahoma is not the only team in the Big XII, though. The fighting Gary Patterson’s in Ft. Worth are known for a stingy defense and can usually slow down any of the high-powered offenses that the conference will throw at them. This year may be different as TCU only brings back 4 of their starting 11 on the defensive side of the ball. That means the Horned Frogs will be forced to rely on their offense to keep them in games more than they would like, particularly in the early part of the season. This does not bode well as they struggled mightily to score points for much of the season last year. A good measuring stick for this squad will be in Week 3 when they travel to face a re-tooled Purdue squad, led by Jeff Brohm, in Indiana. Expect TCU to only win 7 this year and fall well short of competing for the title.
Texas, on the other hand, is the hottest team coming into the season following the 28-21 Sugar Bowl victory over the Georgia Bulldogs! Sit back and think to yourself how much Georgia really wanted to be in that game. Now, Georgia is a solid team and is difficult to beat at any time but they just came off of a 7-point loss to Alabama. Are you trying to tell me that Texas is as good as Alabama? I don’t think so. Tom Herman has the boys from Texas playing well and are getting better all of the time but don’t expect a miracle this season. Texas will win 9 and look good but will falter against LSU in week 2 and then drop games against the two teams that will play for the conference championship.
Those two teams consist of a familiar face and an up and coming team that plays with spark and grit! Oklahoma will finish with 11 wins, only dropping one, carried by the feet of their third new quarterback in 3 years, Jalen Hurts. Hurts knows how to win and has played with the heart of a lion. Expect Oklahoma to roll and barely miss a beat.
The second team is coming in on the storm clouds. The Iowa State Cyclones bring back 14 starters, 7 on offense and 7 on defense, from a young team that went 8-4 last season. Matt Campbell is coming into his fourth season with the Cyclones and has no excuses this year as all of the players are now his recruits. Additionally, the schedule sets up well for this experienced bunch as 3 of the 4 teams they lost to in the regular season last year will be traveling to Ames this time around. Count on Iowa State to finish with 10 wins with only one conference loss, to Oklahoma in Norman.
The conference championship game will pair Oklahoma vs Iowa State in a rematch, as all Big XII Championship games are after a round-robin schedule. No matter where you play the game, though, Oklahoma just has too much firepower for the Cyclones to upset. I’m predicting a 40-21 Sooner victory but due to a loss during the regular season, the Sooners will fail to make the CFB Playoffs, their first whiff in 3 years, likely going to the Sugar Bowl. Until next time, good luck!