Big 12 Preview
Even with a new head coach, new coaching staff and a large turnover on the roster Oklahoma is still the best team in the Big 12. Top to bottom they have more talent than anyone in the conference. New head coach Brent Venables comes to Norman after being the Defensive Coordinator at Clemson since 2012. His main objective will be to fix the Oklahoma defense as it was never able to match the play of former head coach Lincoln Riley’s offenses. Dillon Gabriel has transferred in from UCF and will be a good fit for new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby’s up tempo offense. The Sooners lost some good receivers but still have top wideout Marvin Mims and get back Theo Wease who missed 2021 with an injury. Top running back Kennedy Brooks is in the NFL, but Eric Gray is back, so the run game won’t miss a beat. The o-line is a work in progress but should be good enough to make Lebby’s offense dangerous. The Sooner defense, however, has been a major issue the past few years. That’s where Venables comes in. The defensive master of multiple monster Clemson defenses, including two that won National Championships, has his work cut out for him. OU gave up nearly 400 yards and over 25 points per game last season. For as good as the offense was, the defense kept the Sooners’ opponents in the game. But Venables can turn this defense around, and quickly. The transfer portal yielded some good players for both starting roles and depth, so Venables has some tools to work with. Now it’s up to him to put it all together. The schedule allows the Sooners to get things going early as they open at home against UTEP and the following week against Kent State. The first real test for OU is week 3 at Nebraska and by that point the Sooners should be settling into their new coach and his system. I think Oklahoma is the most talented team in the Big 12 and with the new coaching staff I think they’ll make strides on defense and win the Big 12.
Baylor is very good defensively under coach Dave Aranda, and decent on offense but not good enough to unseat Oklahoma as the Big 12 champ. The Bears had a fair amount of turnover on the roster, especially on offense, and the schedule is brutal on the road, but I still think Baylor finishes 2nd in the conference. Oklahoma State is also a very good team, but too much turnover on both sides of the ball will hurt the Cowboys and leave them 3rd. West Virginia hired Graham Harrell as offensive coordinator and quarterback JT Daniels transferred in from Georgia. The offense will be fun in Morgantown, but the roster isn’t deep enough to compete for the conference championship. Texas… IS NOT BACK UNTIL THEY PROVE THEY ARE BACK!!!! However, Steve Sarkisian is a really good coach and has a lot of good pieces in place. It’s time to put it all together, but I don’t see it happening this season. TCU brought in Air Raid specialist Sonny Dykes to replace long time head coach Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs will be more fun to watch on offense, but this is still a rebuild, especially on defense. Iowa State lost a ton of production on both sides of the ball so this season will be a tough one for coach Matt Campbell. Texas Tech hired Joey McGuire as their new head coach but the Red Raiders are still far behind the rest of the Big 12 talent wise. Kansas, ugh! Since 2009 Kansas has been last or next to last in the conference. In my opinion they have been the worst program in the Power 5 conferences. They’re lucky they have a good basketball program.
The Big 12 Championship game will be Oklahoma -v- Baylor and Oklahoma will win the championship. Depending on how their season goes this game will put the Sooners into the College Football Playoffs.