We’re just two weeks away from college football season and there’s no reason to wait any longer to look into the crystal ball and make some prognostications for the Big 12 and SEC.
Big 12 Champion: Will be decided early when TCU matches up with OU on October 1 in Ft. Worth. Former A&M quarterback Kenny Hill will put up some big numbers in a TCU offense that is built for him to thrive in, and of course their defense will be again be stout along the front line. Both teams will end up with one loss with the Horned Frogs earning the tie-breaker and the conference title.
Surprise Team: Texas Tech. Yes, really. Pat Mahomes is the next quality passer at Tech and the offense will crank out the yards and points once again. The surprise comes on defense, where the difference is noticeable from a pedestrian 2015. Tech hands TCU its only loss of the season.
Newcomer of the Year: Freshman quarterback Shane Buechele at Texas. By October, he will be proclaimed as the “savior of Texas football” and that won’t be too far from the truth. Buechele will end up being the best QB wearing burnt orange since Colt McCoy, but it won’t translate to a ton of wins. A quick start by Texas will get Austin jacked but a three-game losing streak mid-season will pour some cold water on that fire.
Disappointment Team: Baylor. Yes, they have been rocked by scandal. Yes, they still have a lot of talent. At skill positions. Yeah, well, that’s all fine and good, but with inexperienced offense and defensive lines and a loss of depth across the board, the Bears will fall back to earth. Tough sledding for Baylor and who knows where they go from here.
Will Kansas be any better? No. Sorry, but it’s true. I love David Beaty as a head coach but this team will not win a conference game. Beaty deserved to be a head coach, but Lawrence was the wrong place to start. If he has any chance to build a competitive team, he will have to learn to be like Gary Patterson and groom some 3-star and 2-star kids to get the program going.
What about Oklahoma State? What about them? They are the definition of middle-of-the-road. Their best weapon is Mason Rudolph and James Washington connecting on deep passes. Mike Gundy will make more news this fall in his comments about expansion than his team winning on the field.
Any Good Upset Picks? Yeah, college football is full of them every year. I already mentioned Tech over TCU. How about Iowa State over Texas? Is that considered an upset? Cause it will happen. West Virginia over OU – now, that’s an upset.
Speaking of OU, what can we expect? Good but not great. Baker Mayfield and Co. will score points out the wazoo, but the defense might slip a bit with four starters departing from last year. There will be some close calls, and they will get throttled by Ohio State. Bedlam will be interesting for a half, then OU will pull away. They’ll squeak out a win vs. Texas, squashing all of the great pub that Buechele is getting heading into the game.
How will A&M fare? Despite a terrible off-season, Kevin Sumlin got lucky with former Sooner Trevor Knight falling in his lap, a tight end transfer from Virginia Tech, and (knock on wood) some returns from injury by key linebackers. This defense will surprise most, as it will be the closest thing to the Wrecking Crew since 1998. Believe it or not, the Aggies will stop the run well this season. They’ll finally get some quality wins at Kyle Field (over UCLA and Tennessee), but drop games at Alabama, at South Carolina (upset), and vs. LSU.
The SEC: Alabama will be Alabama. They have an unproven quarterback, but their depth along the lines is too great. They’ll win the west in a walk. Their problem will be Georgia, who will thrive under Kirby Smart. The Bulldogs will win their first SEC crown since 2005 and head to the College Football Playoff.
Playoffs? (insert Jim Mora voice): Joining Georgia in the College Football Playoffs will be Michigan, Clemson and TCU. Washington will be a surprise champion in the Pac-12 but not qualify for the playoff. Michigan wins it all.