10 Things I learned About the Big 12 by Picking Every Big 12 Game
As I was preparing for the football season this week I could not get a handle on what I thought about the Big 12. On one hand, I saw West Virginia winning 10 games and Oklahoma dropping back without the NFL talent they lost last season. On the other hand, Oklahoma reloads instead of rebuilding so it's tough to count them out.
On certain days over the summer I would be high on Texas and low on Kansas State, the next day would be the opposite. The only constant was that I went all summer thinking TCU would be much worse than last year and the ongoing internal battle I have to not be a Texas Tech homer.
To clarify my vision I decided to pick every single Big 12 game on the schedule and stick. I learned a lot about what I thought about the Big 12 and how truly wide open this conference is. At the end of the day, give or take a game, I think this is how the Big 12 plays out.
Here are the picks:
In an effort to be completely transparent, this left me with more questions than answers but here are 10 things I learned from picking every single game in the Big 12.
Baylor has the talent to beat their non-conference schedule and Kansas. If they can upset Kansas State they will be 5-1 and will have everyone fooled.
They can't play ACU and Kansas multiple times so they won't finish like they start. On the flip side, I do think they will be competitive in their six game losing streak.
I picked FAU over Oklahoma. I don't love that pick but wouldn't that be awesome? Oklahoma has opened as a -21 favorite, so against the spread the Owls should be a lock. Tennessee could upset West Virginia too. Ole Miss vs Texas Tech is a toss up. I'm fairly confident that the Big 12 can run the table in week one but one of those three teams will lose.
For the sake of the pick 'em I boarded the Lane Train.
A lot of publications are in love with TCU as a dark horse to win the Big 12. They were in the Big 12 championship game last season. I just don't see it. Shawn Robinson is not a championship caliber QB. To be fair, neither was Kenny Hill, and that didn't hinder them in 2017.
But the defense is thinner in 2018 and the offensive line will be brand new. I think 6-6, even 7-5, is attainable for TCU but it will be a struggle.
With TCU out of the conversation, the Big 12 will have five teams at 8-4 and above that will have a shot to be in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma will have the best record in the Big 12, even without Baker Mayfield. After winning three straight, the bottom line is that Oklahoma is the cream of the Big 12 crop until someone knocks them off.
I regret doing this. Everything is wrong. Can we just talk Basketball?
Oklahoma going 9-3 in the regular season and getting a 10th win in the Big 12 Championship game will not be enough to crack the CFP. The SEC, the Big 10 and the ACC champions will be locks for the playoff. That leaves the fourth spot open for a second SEC team or the Pac 12 champion, with the Big 12 on the outside looking in.
In Ames, back to back at home against OU and UT, in Manhattan is a brutal stretch. The Baylor game at a neutral site to finish the season isn't exactly a fresh breath either. A 1-4 record to close the season wouldn't be a surprise. The defense will need to out shine expectation to navigate the stretch successfully.
10 people participated in this poll with me and not a single person had Texas finishing worse than 8-4. The defense is strong. The o-line is healthy. The quarterbacks have experience. Is this the year that Texas can win 8 games since Mack Brown's final season in 2013? I think so.
Kansas State will probably win eight games, they seemingly do it every year. They have done it every year since 2010, except for a down 2015 when they went 6-6 and lost a bowl game to finish 6-7. I trust Bill Snyder, but I just couldn't see more than 6 wins on the schedule.
West Virginia will have a 'Leach Era' type season. They have the best quarterback. They have the best receivers. They will get stomped by someone they should beat. They will lose a few shootouts. They will go 8-4 and be safely in a good bowl game.