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2021 Big 12 Preview


(image credit: texassports.com)


Written by: Joseph Yun


The bill is coming due for the Big 12’s ineptness as a conference as the SEC has poached the league’s two powerhouse programs. It is the end of an era. Will the conference fight tooth and nail to enforce the Grant of Rights to keep the Horns and Sooners in the conference for a few more years?


Is there a contender that can dethrone the Sooners in Jerry World? Is Texas “back”? Is this the last year in Ames for highly coveted head coach Matt Campbell?


If you missed the previous editions in the series:



Baylor


Sep 4 HOME vs. Texas State (W)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Texas Southern (W)

Sep 18 AWAY @ Kansas (W)

Sep 25 HOME vs. Iowa State (L)

Oct 2 AWAY @ Oklahoma State (L)

Oct 9 HOME vs. West Virginia (W)

Oct 16 HOME vs. BYU (W)

Oct 23 BYE

Oct 30 HOME vs. Texas (L)

Nov 6 AWAY @ TCU (L)

Nov 13 HOME vs. Oklahoma (L)

Nov 20 AWAY @ Kansas State (W)

Nov 27 HOME vs. Texas Tech (L)


Predicted Record: 5-7


- Year two of the Dave Aranda regime kicks off with two winnable games off the bat and the Bears don’t have to leave campus. Defensively, they don’t have a lot of issues but they have an unsettled quarterback battle after projected incumbent Charlie Brewer transferred to Utah. Aranda gets on the right track in 2021 after 2020’s rebuilding 2-7 campaign. In the always topsy turvy Big 12, they can be capable of surprising a few teams but fighting for bowl eligibility might be the ceiling for this crop. October will be the key swing month for the Bears as they get WVU, Texas, and BYU all at home after beginning the month with a trip to Stillwater. November is a fun closing stretch with three winnable games and a contest against behemoth Oklahoma.


Iowa State


Sep 4 HOME vs. Northern Iowa (W)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Iowa (W)

Sep 18 AWAY @ UNLV (W)

Sep 25 AWAY @ Baylor (W)

Oct 2 HOME vs. Kansas (W)

Oct 9 BYE

Oct 16 AWAY @ Kansas State (L)

Oct 23 HOME vs. Oklahoma State (W)

Oct 30 AWAY @ West Virginia (W)

Nov 6 HOME vs. Texas (L)

Nov 13 AWAY @ Texas Tech (W)

Nov 20 AWAY @ Oklahoma (L)

Nov 27 HOME vs. TCU (W)


Predicted Record: 9-3


- The Cyclones are coming off a resounding thumping of Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. They even managed to keep head coach Matt Campbell around for another year. The Big 12 runners up have the potential to repeat that feat with a loaded roster with QB Brock Purdy returning for another go. RB Breece Hall is a legitimate prospect who could win the Doak Walker award in a loaded field. Outside of the Cy-Hawk Trophy battle (in Ames), the schedule should be easy until the bye week. How they manage a tough November could determine if they get back to Jerry World. Back-to-back trips to Lubbock and Norman are a tough ask for anyone. EDGE Will McDonald IV returns as the leading sack artist. He needs a running mate after JaQuan Bailey’s seven sacks left for the NFL. Iowa State will be a heavy favorite to return to AT&T Stadium in 2021.


Kansas


Sep 3 (Fri.) HOME vs. South Dakota (W)

Sep 10 (Fri.) AWAY @ Coastal Carolina (L)

Sep 18 HOME vs. Baylor (L)

Sep 25 AWAY @ Duke (L)

Oct 2 AWAY @ Iowa State (L)

Oct 9 BYE

Oct 16 HOME vs. Texas Tech (L)

Oct 23 HOME vs. Oklahoma (L)

Oct 30 AWAY @ Oklahoma State (L)

Nov 6 HOME vs. Kansas State (L)

Nov 13 AWAY @ Texas (L)

Nov 20 AWAY @ TCU (L)

Nov 27 HOME vs. West Virginia (L)


Predicted Record: 1-11


- Is it basketball season yet? The Jayhawks are a program mired in controversy and abject failure. Former head coach Les Miles was fired due to inappropriate handling of sexual assault allegations while at LSU. Then a former player came out with allegations of “hush money” being paid to him after altercations with teammates. In steps Lance Leipold of Buffalo into the cauldron of trying to clean up the program while being “competitive”. It’s going to be a long season in Lawrence.


Kansas State


Sep 4 Neutral vs. Stanford (AT&T Stadium) (W)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Southern Illinois (W)

Sep 18 HOME vs. Nevada (W)

Sep 25 AWAY @ Oklahoma State (L)

Oct 2 HOME vs. Oklahoma (L)

Oct 9 BYE

Oct 16 HOME vs. Iowa State (W)

Oct 23 AWAY @ Texas Tech (L)

Oct 30 HOME vs. TCU (W)

Nov 6 AWAY @ Kansas (W)

Nov 13 HOME vs. West Virginia (W)

Nov 20 HOME vs. Baylor (L)

Nov 27 AWAY @ Texas (L)


Predicted Record: 7-5


- A pretty fun OOC schedule for the Wildcats with a retooled Stanford and a Nevada led by a top draft prospect in Carson Strong. The Bedlam duet back to back will be interesting especially since KSU upset the Sooners last season. They get the Big 12 title favorites in back-to-back games in October. November will be a tough month schedule-wise with West Virginia and Texas looming. The Wildcats have a QB battle on their hands with Will Howard and a seventh-year Skylar Thompson. Speaking of longtime college players, tight-end Daniel Imatorbhebhe has surfaced in Manhattan after coming in from Illinois. The defense will be anchored by DT Eli Huggins. Deuce Vaughn returns as the key piece offensively. KSU is nothing if not consistently fighting for bowl eligibility.


Oklahoma


Sep 4 AWAY @ Tulane (W)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Western Carolina (W)

Sep 18 HOME vs. Nebraska (W)

Sep 25 HOME vs. West Virginia (W)

Oct 2 AWAY @ Kansas State (W)

Oct 9 RED RIVER RIVALRY (W)

Oct 16 HOME vs. TCU (W)

Oct 23 AWAY @ Kansas (W)

Oct 30 HOME vs. Texas Tech (W)

Nov 6 BYE

Nov 13 AWAY @ Baylor (W)

Nov 20 HOME vs. Iowa State (W)

Nov 27 BEDLAM @ Oklahoma State (L)


Predicted Record: 11-1


- Lincoln Riley’s charges are the prohibitive favorites to win the conference with an obscene amount of talent and possibly 2022 QB1 at the helm. Spencer Rattler had a rough start (as expected for a guy making his first starts) but he finished strong in 2020. The Sooners are insanely loaded at the offensive skill positions with talents such as RB Kennedy Brooks, RB Eric Gray (Tennessee), WR Jadon Haslewood, WR Marvin Mims, and WR Theo Wease. They will have to replace standout EDGE Ronnie Perkins and DBs Tre Brown and Tre Norwood defensively, however. The linebackers should be among the best with Nik Bonitto, Brian Asamoah, and Caleb Kelly all returning behind Perkins' heir Isaiah Thomas. DC Alex Grinch is among the best in the sport. Oklahoma has a comically easy schedule and shouldn’t be threatened too much outside of the Red River Showdown.


Oklahoma State


Sep 4 HOME vs. Missouri State (W)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Tulsa (W)

Sep 18 AWAY @ Boise State (L)

Sep 25 HOME vs. Kansas State (W)

Oct 2 HOME vs. Baylor (W)

Oct 9 BYE

Oct 16 AWAY @ Texas (L)

Oct 23 AWAY @ Iowa State (L)

Oct 30 HOME vs. Kansas (W)

Nov 6 AWAY @ West Virginia (L)

Nov 13 HOME vs. TCU (W)

Nov 20 AWAY @ Texas Tech (L)

Nov 27 HOME BEDLAM vs. Oklahoma (W)


Predicted Record: 6-6


- The Pokes probably have the most intriguing OOC game of the lot with a date on the blue turf against Boise State. Back-to-back road trips to Texas and Iowa State are probably the swing games of the season. They somehow pull off the upset in Bedlam at home after catching the Sooners by surprise after their tough game against Iowa State. Oklahoma State has to replace a ton of lost production with Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard off to the pros, WR Dillon Stoner graduated, and TE Jelani Woods to transfer. QB Spencer Sanders returns alongside productive backup RB LD Brown. Defensively, six of the top seven leaders in tackles and three of the leading four sackers return. Mike Gundy leads the Cowboys to bowl eligibility with a relatively easy schedule.


TCU


Sep 4 HOME vs. Duquesne (W)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Cal (W)

Sep 18 BYE

Sep 25 HOME vs. SMU (W)

Oct 2 HOME vs. Texas (L)

Oct 9 AWAY @ Texas Tech (W)

Oct 16 AWAY @ Oklahoma (L)

Oct 23 HOME vs. West Virginia (L)

Oct 30 AWAY @ Kansas State (L)

Nov 6 HOME vs. Baylor (W)

Nov 13 AWAY @ Oklahoma State (L)

Nov 20 HOME vs. Kansas (W)

Nov 27 AWAY @ Iowa State (L)


Predicted Record: 6-6


- The Horned Frogs don’t leave the state of Texas for the first five games but face four daunting road trips in seven to finish the season. They do have talent coming back, particularly quarterback Max Duggan, who battled a heart issue and returned in a limited capacity in 2020. Their offense will have to carry the water for a defense that has to replace standout defensive backs Trevon Moehrig and Ar’Darius Washington along with linebacker Garret Wallow. Four of their top five leading receivers return including Taye Barber and Quentin Johnson along with Nebraska transfer JD Spielman. Former LSU transfer Marcel Brooks transitioned to receiver from linebacker in the offseason so that bears watching a bit. It’s going to be a year with a bowl for Gary Patterson’s men. The OOC schedule is interesting.


Texas


Sep 4 HOME vs. Louisiana-Lafayette (W)

Sep 11 AWAY @ Arkansas (W)

Sep 18 HOME vs. Rice (W)

Sep 25 HOME vs. Texas Tech (W)

Oct 2 AWAY @ TCU (W)

Oct 9 RED RIVER RIVALRY (L)

Oct 16 HOME vs. Oklahoma State (W)

Oct 23 BYE

Oct 30 AWAY @ Baylor (L)

Nov 6 AWAY @ Iowa State (W)

Nov 13 HOME vs. Kansas (W)

Nov 20 AWAY @ West Virginia (L)

Nov 26 (Fri.) HOME vs. Kansas State (W)


Predicted Record: 10-2


- Texas has a new coach expected to deliver them to being “back”. Can Steve Sarkisian be that dude? He certainly has the talent on the roster to do it. The Longhorns have a QB battle to settle with Casey Thompson going at it against Hudson Card. Thompson starred in the bowl game so he has that edge. Offensively, there’s a lot of talent to replace as Sam Ehlinger, Sam Cosmi, Keontay Ingram, and Brennan Eagles all left. Defensively, they have to replace TaQuon Graham, Caden Sterns, and Joseph Ossai. Fortunately, DeMarvion Overshown is looking like the next best thing at linebacker. They also have Bijan Robinson to carry the load at RB while the receivers get going. The schedule is relatively manageable with a light run until the showdown at the Cotton Bowl. November sets up nicely as well with four winnable games. The Horns could have their revenge against the hated Sooners in a grudge match in Arlington.


Texas Tech


Sep 4 Neutral vs. Houston (NRG Stadium) (W)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Stephen F. Austin (W)

Sep 18 HOME vs. FIU (W)

Sep 25 AWAY @ Texas (L)

Oct 2 AWAY @ West Virginia (L)

Oct 9 HOME vs. TCU (W)

Oct 16 AWAY @ Kansas (W)

Oct 23 HOME vs. Kansas State (W)

Oct 30 AWAY @ Oklahoma (L)

Nov 6 BYE

Nov 13 HOME vs. Iowa State (L)

Nov 20 HOME vs. Oklahoma State (W)

Nov 27 AWAY @ Baylor (W)


Predicted Record: 8-4


- The Red Raiders return a ton of offensive linemen including TJ Storment, a transfer from TCU. This is good, considering they have a transfer QB Tyler Shough from Oregon. Wide receiver Erik Ezukanma returns as well. Defensively, they have a ton of questions to answer but linebacker Colin Schooler is in along with Duke transfer safety Marquis Waters. OC Sonny Cumbie is a former Red Raider legend and returns from a hugely successful stint as TCU’s OC and QB coach. Tech has a manageable September except for the Texas game but faces a gauntlet run to the really late bye week. They have the schedule and offensive talent to get to Dallas if things go right.


West Virginia


Sep 4 AWAY @ Maryland (L)

Sep 11 HOME vs. Long Island University (W)

Sep 18 HOME vs. Virginia Tech (W)

Sep 25 AWAY @ Oklahoma (L)

Oct 2 HOME vs. Texas Tech (W)

Oct 9 AWAY @ Baylor (L)

Oct 16 BYE

Oct 23 AWAY @ TCU (W)

Oct 30 HOME vs. Iowa State (L)

Nov 6 HOME vs. Oklahoma State (W)

Nov 13 AWAY @ Kansas State (L)

Nov 20 HOME vs. Texas (W)

Nov 27 AWAY @ Kansas (W)


Predicted Record: 7-5


- The Mountaineers have an interesting and balanced schedule with three state schools consecutively as a fun note. It’s a relatively manageable one with the pieces that have returned. The two big OOC games in September will likely go a long way to set the tone but the key will be the road trip to Oklahoma to end the month. Will Country Roads be blaring across the loudspeakers in Jerry World? WVU has one of the best home-field atmospheres in all of college football. This is the Big 12, however, so Any Given Saturday rules. The Eers’ return a ton of pieces like QB Jarrett Doege, leading rusher Leddie Brown and receiver Winston Wright, Jr on offense. Defensively, they have to replace all-star linebacker Tony Fields II and defensive lineman Darius Stills but return safety Alonzo Addae, DL Dante Stills, and former Arizona star Scottie Young, Jr. Expect the Mountaineers to go bowling, and with a few lucky breaks, they could get to Dallas.


Conference Championship: Oklahoma vs. Texas


WINNER: OKLAHOMA

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