The college football season is so close we can hear the bands off in the distance practicing fight songs across the country. Much of the country is back in school and instead of television deals, the focus must shift to on-the-field. The Big 12 will play one season as a 14-team conference with Texas and Oklahoma set to join the SEC in 2024. So it was time for the Last Word writers to plant their flag and give their Big 12 predictions for this unique season. Who is going to bring home the trophy and who is going to be looking for a new coach after this year?
Big 12 Predictions
Nine Last Word writers shared a wide variety of Big 12 predictions for the 2023 season. First-place votes are noted in parentheses.
- Texas (6)
- Texas Tech (2)
- TCU (1)
- Kansas State
- Oklahoma State
- Iowa State
- West Virginia
Inside The Numbers
Lone Star Title
If not now, when? There is a real question of if it will ever happen for Steve Sarkisian and the Texas Longhorns. The Horns were the runaway favorite receiving two-thirds of the first-place votes. With NFL-caliber talent out wide, depth on both sides of the line of scrimmage, and an expected improvement from Quinn Ewers, the Big 12 is Texas’ to lose. However, if Texas were to stumble, the conference championship trophy won’t be leaving the state of Texas.
Texas Tech received the second-most first-place votes. In Joey McGuire’s second season as the Red Raider’s head coach, there is a pretty wide range of where this team could finish. Can Texas Tech handle the biggest expectations they have had in 15 years? One writer believes last year’s national championship runner-up, even with the amount of turnover TCU experienced, will maintain its high level of play and secure the conference title that eluded them last year.
Blue Bloods Had The Most Consensus
Most of the teams had pretty large variability between the best Big 12 prediction and the worst. For example, in addition to receiving a first-place vote, TCU also received a vote to finish eighth in the conference. Kansas received a vote to finish fourth and 13th. All but two teams had votes that covered at least five different finishing positions. The Last Word team has a relatively consensus view on Texas and Oklahoma. Of the six writers who didn’t select them to win, they still picked Texas to make it to the Big 12 championship game. Oklahoma, which still has one of the most talented rosters in the country on paper, is expected to have a significant bounce-back season. All of the Last Word writers selected Oklahoma to finish either third, fourth, fifth, or sixth.
Rough First Year For New Members
Houston, BYU, UCF, and Cincinnati are getting their first crack at a Power Five schedule. Long term, all four of these teams should be able to compete in the conference. But with them playing higher-quality opponents week-in and week-out, the Last Word team expects all four of them to have pretty rough debuts in the Big 12. It’s worth noting that everyone’s favorite Big 12 correspondent is pretty bullish on UCF though. But just as they all come into the league together, there is an expectation that they all will finish together. With all of the votes tally, the four new members happen to fall in line occupying the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth positions. All four of these teams will likely knock off a “bigger” name program this season, but expectations should be tempered for the newcomers.
Long Years Ahead For Cyclones And Mountaineers
Just over a month ago, Last Word felt pretty good about a bounce-back year in Ames. However, with all the recent developments of the betting scandal unfolding at both Iowa and Iowa State, it has soured the outlook for the Cyclones. There won’t be any real pressure on Matt Campbell this season, but if they do indeed finish 13th, plenty of off-season discussions will center around Campbell’s job security.
Speaking of job security, there isn’t a hotter seat in the Big 12 than the one in Morgantown. It was a bit of a surprise that Neal Brown survived after a fourth season of very “meh” football. Brown has gone 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, and 5-7 in his four seasons at West Virginia. There wasn’t much variation in the Big 12 predictions when it came to West Virginia. His team received the most last-place votes with five. Assuming Brown’s team cannot get out of the basement of the conference this year, there will be a new head coach for the Mountaineers in 2024.
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