2019 Big 12 College Football Preview

MIKEDROPSPORTS college football coverage

I went through all 838 games of the 2019 college football season, picking winners to project the record of all 130 FBS teams.

Projected Standings

 Big 12Overall
Oklahoma State9-36-3
Iowa State8-46-3
West Virginia4-83-6
Kansas State4-82-7
Texas Tech4-82-7

Big 12 Championship – Texas over Oklahoma

Red River Rivalry will take center stage in the Big 12 championship for a second straight year. After losing last year’s title game, Texas gets revenge and sweep the Sooners to win the Big 12 Championship and enter the thick of the CFB Playoffs race.

Baylor Bears

1. Player to Watch: QB Charlie Brewer has thrown just 13 INTs in 594 pass attempts in two seasons. He is a career 63% passer. He knows how to protect the football and should continue his upwards progression in 2019.

2. Recent Recap: Following three straight years of 10 or more wins (2013-2015), Bears bottomed out two years later, in 2017 at 1-11 in Matt Rhule’s first year. They went 7-6 last season and won the Texas Bowl.

3. Preview: As Temple Head Coach, Matt Rhule was 8-16 through two seasons, before a 10-4 breakout in year three. He is 8-17 through two seasons at Baylor and while 10 wins may be pushing it, an 8-4 regular season would show continued progress. The question is can Baylor keep Rhule around, after he’s shown an eye for NFL jobs the last couple of years?

Kansas Jayhawks

1. Player to Watch: RB Pooka Williams is the lone bright spot on the Kansas offense (maybe even the whole team). He was recently reinstated from an indefinite suspension and will miss the opening game. In 2018, he ran for 1,125 yards and 7 TDs as a freshman.

2. Recent Recap: Kansas has been awful. That’s the recap. They have the longest bowl drought among Power-5 teams. 2008 was their last bowl game and also their last winning record (8-5). Since, the Jayhawks haven’t won more than 1 Big 12 game in a season. They beat TCU last season for their lone conference win.

3. 2019 Preview: Les Miles has a career record of 114-34 and won the 2007 BCS Championship game at LSU. It’s hard to say if Miles bring Kansas back from the dead, but I think progress will be made in year one, including 1 Big 12 victory, in the season finale against Kansas State.

Kansas State Wildcats

1. Player to Watch: Defense has been the Wildcats strength lately. LB Da’Quan Patton led the team with 70 total tackles. Senior DE Reggie Walker led the team with 12.5 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks and should contend for the All-Big 12 team. AJ Parker was second on the team with 2 interceptions.

2. Recent Recap: Last year was the first year without a bowl game for Kansas State since 2009 and their fewest wins since 2008 (5).

3. Preview: Bill Snyder will be missed. He is an absolute legend and he basically built Kansas State football program. But like all legends, it was time to move on and fortunately, it happened amicably and they avoid the messiness you sometimes get with pushing out an older coach. Snyder is replaced by Chris Kleiman, who spent the last five years coaching at North Dakota State. All Kleiman did there was win 4 FCS Championships in 5 years, compiling a 69-6 record. Wildcats will take a step back in 2019, in order to take big leaps forward in the future.

Iowa State Cyclones

1. Player to watch: QB Brock Purdy returns after a strong freshman season, but he loses his top two weapons – RB David Montgomery and WR Hakeem Butler. Purdy threw 16 TD, 5 INT and was also second on the team with 308 yards rushing and another 5 TD. The do-it-all-yourself quarterback is going to need to be that for the Cyclones to contend for the conference.

2. Recent Recap: For the first time since 2011-2012, Iowa State went to back-to-back bowl games in 2017-2018 and the first time winning 8 games in consecutive seasons since 1977-1978.

3. Preview: Cyclones are one of four active Big 12 teams to never win conference championship. They could be in contention for their first this season. I have them beating Texas. They are 2-14 all-time vs the Longhorns, but recently, have been good for a top 10 win each season.

Oklahoma Sooners

1. Players to watch: WR CeeDee Lamb will step into the #1 role following Marquise Brown’s departure. Lamb had 1,158 yards and a team-high 11 TDs playing next to Marquise Brown. With Brown gone, Lamb is the unquestioned #1 target on offense.

The #2 offensive target is RB Kennedy Brooks, who averaged an absurd 8.9 yards per carry, on 119 carries.

2. Recent Recap: Since Bob Stoops retired in 2016, all Lincoln Riley has accomplished in his time in Norman is produce back-to-back Heisman Trophy winning QBs, and CFB Playoffs appearances. That’s all. No big deal.

3. Preview: The big question is will Jalen Hurts, 26-2 career record as a starter, be the third consecutive QB to transfer into the OU program, win the Heisman and go to the playoffs? That will depend largely on a defense that ranked 114 in 2018. It will also depend on his supporting case. Like last year, I have Oklahoma losing at Texas but I also see them slipping up at Baylor. They have Oklahoma State on the road, which could be tricky and TCU and Iowa State come to Norman. Also, watch out for old foe Dana Holgorsen, now with Houston, looking to make a statement week 1.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

1. Players to watch: WR Tylan Wallace had the 2nd most receiving yards in the country in 2018 (1,491).

Taylor Cornelius did a really good job replacing Mason Rudolph at QB. Now, he’s gone and it’s up to Hawaii transfer Dru Brown or freshman Spencer Sanders.

2. Recent Recap: 2018 was Oklahoma State’s 13th consecutive season with a winning record and bowl appearance. It was the 4th time during that run that they won just 7 games (7-6).

3. Preview: My 9-3 projection represents a strong season for the Cowboys. Except the three losses come to Texas, Iowa State, Oklahoma. If that’s the case, it’s a pretty hollow 9 win season as they would have lost to the top three teams.

Texas Longhorns

1. Player to Watch – QB Sam Ehlinger RAN for 16 TDs in 2018 – that’s the same amount of touchdowns as Doak Walker Award winner RB Jonathan Taylor from Wisconsin and Kentucky RB Benny Snell. In addition to the 16 rush TDs, Ehlinger threw for 25 TDs, becoming the 8th player in college football history to total 25 touchdowns passing and 15 rushing.

2. Recent Recap: TEXAS IS BACK! Just kidding….or not? Last year’s 10 wins were their most since 2009 and their fewest losses since 2014 (4). They ended the season beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. They also beat Oklahoma in the regular season, but lost to them in the Big 12 Championship Game. They also lost to Maryland to open the year, so maybe they aren’t back?

3. Preview: TEXAS WILL BE BACK! But seriously. I am a believer in coach Tom Herman and QB Sam Ehlinger could be a sleeper Heisman candidate, due to his dual threat abilities. Defense has a few key pieces to replace, but if they can fill those holes, Longhorns will be in the Playoffs conversation in December.

TCU Horned Frogs

1. Player to Watch: WR Jalon Reagor caught 72 passes in 2018, which accounted for 30% of TCU’s total completions. His 1,061 yards were over 600 yards more than the second leading WR.

2. Recent Recap: Since joining the Big 12 in 2012, TCU has recorded a losing record twice (4-8 in 2013 and 6-7 2016). Over the last four years they have gone 11, 6, 11, 7 wins, respectively.

3. Preview: If that above cycle continues, that means they are in line for an 11 win season in 2019. I have TCU at 8 wins, with a chance at 9 in a bowl game. I have the Frogs losing to Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State but certainly those last two games could be flipped.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

1. Player to Watch: QB Alan Bowman played 8 games as a freshman, throwing for 2,638 yards, 17 TD, 7 INT and completing 69% of his passes. Kliff Kingsbury may be gone, but new coach Matt Wells is no slouch when it comes to offense, meaning Bowman should continue to improve.

2. Recent Recap: Kliff Kingsbury produced just two winning seasons in six years in Lubbock, winning 8 games just once, in his first year in 2013. That season also represents the last time Texas Tech won a bowl game.

3. Preview: Going from an air raid offense (and no defense) style to a different type of offensive philosophy with Matt Wells may take time to implement. The two styles are similar but also very different and I’m not sure Texas Tech’s current personnel can handle the immediate change. It might take a year to incorporate Wells’ principles and bring in the right players.

West Virginia Mountaineers

1. Player to Watch: Austin Kendall transferred to WVU from Oklahoma and is expected to start at QB in 2019. Kendall was the 9th ranked quarterback in the 2016 class and threw just 39 passes for the Sooners.

2. Recent Recap: West Virginia had a winning record in 6 of Dana Holgorsen’s 7 seasons in Morgantown.

3. Preview: QB Will Grier and his top two WRs David Sills and Gary Jennings are gone as is coach Dana Holgorsen. I think hiring Neal Brown from Troy was a great hire, especially given how late in the coaching cycle this move happened. However given all the losses the Mountaineers have endured, 2019 feels like a rebuilding year, taking a few steps back to take a giant leap forward in the future.

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Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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