2015 NCAA Football Preview: Big 12 Conference

September 1, 2015

Staying late at work and making a work related call after-hours were not things that I was dealing with at this time last year.

That being said, waiting until the last minute to do things is no longer working out. I guess all the adults in my life as a kid told me so. I’ll be more relieved than anything else when I finish these previews.

Let’s take a look at the Big 12 Conference.


It didn’t take long for the only Power 5 conference in the country without a league title game to get burned by that decision. The Big 12 was the only conference in the nation with two teams sitting at one loss when the regular season concluded, but it was also the only member of the Power 5 grouping to be left out of the inaugural College Football Playoff. The selection committee was not swayed by the idea of co-conference champions, so to minimize the chances of a similar scenario playing out in 2015, the Big 12 decided to institute a complex tiebreaker system.

Luckily for commissioner Bob Bowlsby, all may be forgiven this year if the conference’s upper echelon plays to its potential and the Big 12 is invited to the playoff on its second go around. The talent is definitely there to do it. From TCU’s Trevone Boykin to Baylor’s Shock Linwood, offensive stars litter the schools that make up the conference. Per usual, lots of points will be scored and defense will be treated by some programs as little more than a formality. If you’re partial to offensive fireworks, sit back and watch the show that the Big 12 is sure to deliver.

College Football Playoff Contenders


Perhaps the best team not to be voted into the College Football Playoff in 2014, the storyline will be much different for the Horned Frogs this season. Regardless of whether or not TCU winds up as one of the four chosen for the playoff, Gary Patterson’s team is no longer going to surprise anyone and isn’t searching for respect. They earned that last year, so in 2015 the target will be squarely on the back of each and every one of the purple jerseys that lines the sideline. But none will bear the brunt of that pressure more than No. 2.

Trevone Boykin is the soul of this team, developing into one of the most dangerous players in the nation over the course of his collegiate career. Back to help him out is nearly the entire starting offense from last year, which is haunting to think about considering that the Horned Frogs were No. 2 in the nation in scoring for the 2014-2015 season. The X-factor is the turnover margin; if TCU again closes in on the +20 mark, it’ll be hard to keep them from running the table and coasting into the playoff.


Like its most staunch competition in the Big 12, Baylor brings back nearly everyone to an offense that lit up the scoreboard on a regular basis in 2014. Everyone except quarterback Bryce Petty, who is now a member of the New York Jets and was responsible for the Bears being the No. 4 passing team in the country averaging over 365 yards per contest. In addition to Petty’s absence, Baylor also lost former offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, who had been the right hand man of Art Briles since Briles took over the program in 2008. It will be interesting to see how Briles deals with breaking in a new OC as well as the replacement to Petty.

Despite the tone of negativity, Baylor should be fine for the most part. The offense has survived the loss of a great quarterback before (see: RGIII) and hardly missed a beat. More than likely that is what will happen again this year with Seth Russell, who adds another dimension of complexity to the offense with his legs. But the difference between a playoff berth and another meaningful but not so sweet New Year’s Six bowl is the defense. The secondary returns everyone and it needs to be better than last season. Otherwise, the Bears might not be so fortunate in another shootout with a team such as TCU.

Watch Out! (Team That Could Surprise)


The Sooners did not live up to the expectations that the 2014 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama summoned, but the dangerous thing about last year’s 8-5 disappointment is that Oklahoma could be overlooked by some teams. That, my friends, is a mistake. Bob Stoops has not lost his edge, indicative by the fact that he is still putting together Top 20 recruiting classes on a yearly basis. The Sooners also have one of the best running backs in the country in sophomore Samaje Perine, who immediately conjures memories of Adrian Peterson a decade ago.

If Oklahoma can find a way to improve upon its pass defense numbers, something that shouldn’t be too difficult considering that the team was No. 117 in the nation in that category, the team buys at least another win over last year. If Baker Mayfield, who could flourish in an offense where he isn’t entirely responsible for its success, pans out for the Sooners, this is a team with “double-digit victories” written all over it.

Hi, My Name Is… (Players to Watch)

Samaje Perine, Oklahoma sophomore running back

The second coming of Adrian Peterson in Norman by some people’s estimation, Perine is the workhorse of an overall exception group of backs at Oklahoma. His combination of speed and size does bring to mind Peterson, but he still has a ways to go before he displays the vision that the current Minnesota Vikings star possesses.

Perine will play an integral role in Oklahoma’s quest for a return to relevance in the Big 12. With the Sooners breaking in a new quarterback and essentially starting over on the offensive line, the powerful sophomore will be expected to create his own chances until the rest of the offense begins to gel. He is one of the rare players that won’t be affected by that.

Trevone Boykin, TCU senior quarterback

A serious threat to win the Heisman right out of the gates, Boykin is the only player on the current shortlist for the award who displays an equal ability to hurt teams with his arm and his legs. Although he has developed into a deadly passer, Boykin is still quick enough to evade defenders and pick up large chunks of yardage on the ground. But he is smart enough to only use that skill when necessary, making him a good bet to remain healthy for the entire season.

If TCU ends up capitalizing on its good starting position and makes the playoff, the senior signal caller will receive a lot of the credit, and deservedly so. In a league where defense won’t win you championships, Gary Patterson was once scrambling for a way to remain relevant. Boykin was his answer, serving as the focal point of one of the most potent offenses in the country.

Out-of-Conference Games to Watch

TCU at Minnesota (September 3)

The Horned Frogs open up on Kickoff Thursday with an interesting matchup against Jerry Kill’s Golden Gophers. Talent-wise Minnesota doesn’t have the personnel on defense to match up with the Horned Frogs, but Minneapolis hasn’t been an easy place to leave with a victory for a few years now.

The best chance for Minnesota to stay competitive would be to come at TCU where the Horned Frogs are green. Two freshman linebackers figure to start in Coach Patterson’s 4-2-5 scheme, meaning that off-tackle running plays and short slant routes could work well. If TCU scores over 30 points, though, it won’t matter.

Oklahoma at Tennessee (September 12)

This game could serve as a major momentum booster for whichever team ends up winning. Tennessee looks poised to have a competitive year in the SEC, while ATC has already made it clear how it feels about Oklahoma. The Sooners will be tested in the secondary quickly, as the Volunteers have a capable new quarterback in Josh Dobbs.

While Tennessee will likely try to cash in with the passing game, Oklahoma should be able to stay competitive with Perine. The Volunteers return eight starters to the defense but are replacing some key pieces on the front and at linebacker, including leading tackler A.J. Johnson.

In-Conference Games to Watch

TCU at Oklahoma (November 21)

It’s difficult to tell at this point, but by the time this game rolls around we will know whether or not Oklahoma has improved in the secondary compared to 2014. That is what this game will come down to, as the Horned Frogs were able to upset the Sooners in Fort Worth thanks to 318 yards through the air from Trevone Boykin.

The pressure will be mounting on TCU at this point and Oklahoma could thrive off of that. It is unlikely that the Sooners will still be in playoff contention, but the joy of ruining a season and perhaps perfect record may be enough to inspire Oklahoma to play its best game of the year.

Baylor at TCU (November 27)

The marquee matchup of the Big 12 season and one of the biggest games on the entire college football schedule takes place on Black Friday. The Bears and Horned Frogs will create more excitement than that of flat screen TV deals, because this contest will likely decide the Big 12 champion and potentially a spot in the College Football Playoff.

Lots of points will be scored, but characteristic of both teams is the ability to create takeaways on the defensive end. The team with fewer turnovers should win this game because of the ability of both to turn mistakes into points. Don’t expect either team to relinquish a 21-point lead, either.


1. TCU (11-1, [8-1])

2. Oklahoma (10-2, [8-1])

3. Baylor (10-2, [7-2])

4. Oklahoma State (8-4, [5-4])

5. Kansas State (8-4, [5-4])

6. West Virginia (7-5, [4-5])

7. Texas (5-7, [4-5])

8. Kansas (3-9, [2-7])

9. Texas Tech (3-9, [1-8])

10. Iowa State (2-10, [1-8])

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *