Lincoln Riley has some pretty big shoes to fill in Norman. Bob Stoops gave no hint that he planned to retire this offseason and thrust the young offensive coordinator into the best job in the conference.
The Oklahoma Sooners are absolutely loaded with talent. Baker Mayfield is the undisputed best quarterback in the conference and even though he loses a lot of skill position talent, the team has recruited far better than any other team in the Big 12 over the last few seasons. Jeff Badet and Jeffery Mead will be able to fill the shoes of Dede Westbrook and it seems that Oklahoma always has a stable of running backs. The offensive line returns all five starters and should be one of the best units in the country. Defense is a concern, but you can say the same for every other team in the conference too. The Sooners would be a much bigger favorite with Stoops, but are considerably better than any other team in the Big 12 and should be odds-on.
In-state rival Oklahoma State has the best chance to knock off Oklahoma. The Cowboys host the Sooners this season and have Mason Rudolph. Rudolph is a tier below Mayfield when it comes to Big 12 quarterbacks, but the drop-off between Rudolph and the next QB is a chasm. Okie State also has the best receiver in the conference in James Washington. Washington was a big play machine last season and earned All-American honors after averaging 19.4 yards a reception. Taking OSU and hoping for Riley’s inexperience to show isn’t the worst idea in the world.
Another first-year head coach is the third favorite, but Tom Herman has a LOT of work to do. Texas’ defense returns 10 starters from 2016, but Charlie Strong had trouble getting them to perform well as a unit. The Longhorns allowed 450 yards per game in each of the past two seasons and gave up at least 24 points to all but two opponents. Shane Buechele should start to realize his potential under Herman, but it will probably take some time to get things going. A brutal five-game stretch where the Longhorns play arguably the five other best teams in the conference in consecutive weeks will be tough to overcome.
Phil Steele likes TCU a lot this year. Even though the Horned Frogs went 6-7 last season, he pegs them to finish third in the Big 12. Boasting 10 returning starters on offense is a big reason for his optimism, but so is a back seven that should be the best in the conference. The schedule doesn’t do TCU any favors though, with road games against both Oklahoma schools. It’s hard to back the Horned Frogs at this price.
It’s hard to bet on anyone else outside of those four. Kansas State is +1000, but hasn’t beaten either of the Oklahoma schools in the last two years and the Wildcats were very fortunate with turnovers last season. Baylor is too fresh under new coach Matt Rhule and West Virginia only has eight returning starters. It would be a big surprise if anyone outside of the Sooner State one the Big 12, so don’t go chasing longshots.
Odds To Win the Big 12
Oklahoma State +410
Kansas State +1000
West Virginia +2150
Texas Tech +11500
Iowa State +14000
The Big 12 first originated back in 1996, but before that, it took the combining of a pair of conferences to get to that point. Way back in 1907, the Big 8 came about with original members Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Washington-St. Louis and Iowa. These five universities originally took the name of the Missouri Valley Intercollegiate Athletic Association; or the MVIAA.
Iowa State and Drake joined a year later, but then Iowa bolted for the Big Ten in 1911 to pave the way for Kansas State to become a member in 1913.
The second half of the Big 12 was then created in 1915 when the Southwest Conference came about with the founding fathers including Baylor, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma A&M, Texas, Texas A&M, Rice and Southwestern who only lasted one year.
After numerous schools came in and out and both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State left the SWC for the MVIAA, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas State and Iowa State form the Big 6 in 1928. Twenty years later, Colorado is added and Oklahoma State 10 years after that.
The conference was then coined the Big Eight Conference in 1964, that name was etched in stone and the conference became in cahoots with the Orange Bowl four years later.
Fast forward to 1996, and the Big 12 is officially formed when the best of the SWC (Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Baylor) combines with the Big 8 to form a super conference. The Big 12 is then given a championship game four years later.
Some major rivalries went by the wayside 15 years later when Nebraska bolts for the Big Ten and Colorado for the Pac-12. The following year, Missouri and Texas A&M left the Big 12 for the SEC while TCU and West Virginia escape the defunct Big East to land in the Big 12.
Down two extra teams, the Big 12 is no longer considered a power conference and loses its right to divisions with a championship game to decide the overall victor.
One of the biggest rivalry games in the sport plays out the second weekend of every October when the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners shoot it out in the Red River Rivalry.
Other notable Big 12 rivalry games include the Bedlam rivalry between the aforementioned Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys, The Sunflower Showdown between Kansas and Kansas State – normally dominated by the Wildcats, and The Revivalry between longtime rivals Baylor and TCU.
Only Texas and Oklahoma have taken home national championships in the BCS era, but as a whole, the conference has won 11 total titles with TCU the third team to get in on the fun.
Texas has by far the largest stadium capacity in the conference with over 100K, followed by Oklahoma at just over 82,000. The rest of the stadiums are 60K and below.
Automatic bowl tie-ins to the ACC are as follows: Fiesta Bowl, Peach Bowl, Russell Athletic Bowl, Music City Bowl, TaxSlayer Bowl, Belk Bowl, Hyundai Bowl, New Era Pinstripe Bowl, Military Bowl, Independence Bowl, Quick Lane Bowl, St. Petersburg Bowl, and Birmingham Bowl.
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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