The offseason is nearly over, and our long wait is almost done. After watching Georgia hoist the National Championship trophy some 8 months ago, college football fans across the nation have patiently waited for the 2022 edition. Right now is one of the best times of the year, as fans switch from celebrating or explaining away the previous season’s results and begin to focus on what this wonderful new year will bring their team. Hop into any message board across the country and you will find one of the most dangerous things any sports fan can possess: hope.
As of right now, every team is undefeated, every program has fixed their problems from last year, the players look amazing in pads, that new transfer is even better than we expected, and that recruiting class we brought in is full of guys that other teams missed on. But, in the Big 12, does every team truly have tangible reason for hope?
Let’s take a look, before any team has lost a game, and find out why your team can win the conference, and also why they absolutely will disappoint you this year.
Why they’ll be Big 12 Champs: This isn’t your dad’s Iowa State team. Matt Campbell has this program at a place of competitiveness and consistency that Cyclone fans may have never seen before. Besides some minor outliers like winning 10 games, Iowa State under Campbell has become a team that no one in the conference likes to see on their schedule, especially if the game is in Ames. Jack Trice Stadium is regularly packed and raucous. The team is disciplined, plays some of the best defense in the country, and has begun to recruit at a level no one could have imagined only a few years ago. Iowa State hasn’t won a conference title since 1912 when they won their second Missouri Valley Conference title. That streak has to end someday, and why not in 2022! The Cyclones have the majority of their tough games at home, with their only road tests at Texas and Oklahoma State, both teams with big question marks and recent losses to ISU. As the schedule, coaching, and talent come together, Iowa State is your Big 12 champion.
Why they won’t: No matter the improvements we’ve seen Campbell make to this program, it’s still Iowa State. There’s a reason they’ve gone 110 years without raising a conference trophy, and even the best Iowa State teams of the last couple years with huge talents like Charlie Kolar and Breece Hall couldn’t win more than 9 games. The Fiesta Bowl win was against a bad Oregon team in a COVID year, and in 2021 with all that talent returning, they showed a middling squad who was respectable, but not nearly the class of the conference. The Cyclones will be replacing a huge amount of production on both sides of the ball, along with the heart and soul of their team in Brock Purdy. This will be a transition year at best, and folks in Ames will have to hold out at least another year before they get close to another shot at bringing home a trophy.
Breakout player? Potential Upset? Record predictions? Check out what the Iowa State Daily football reporters are predicting for Iowa State this season. https://t.co/666PDb8mLO— Iowa State Daily (@iowastatedaily) August 23, 2022
Why they’ll be Big 12 Champs: Crazier things have happened right? I mean there was once a big ole meteor that hit and annihilated all of the dinosaurs! There is always a theoretical non-zero chance that Kansas, yes Kansas, could be standing alone this December in Dallas. KU head coach Lance Leipold has won SIX national championships at the D3 level. I don’t care what the level of competition is, winning is winning and Kansas hired a winner. The Jayhawks looked better than normal last year, and while they were still one of the worst teams in the country, they walked into Austin and snagged a victory against the mighty Longhorns. The conference is wide open, and everyone beats up on everyone, KU stays strong and wins their home games, pulls off a crazy upset or two, stays healthy, and the craziest sports story of the year is born. Kansas is your Big 12 Champion!
Why they won’t: Well, it’s Kansas. You’re not going to rebuild something like this in a couple of years. Their home field is only a tough place to play because the rest of the conference is used to more noise during practice. While the Jayhawks show some signs of improvement, they just don’t have the athletes or culture yet to truly pull something crazy off. This is real life, not the movies, and a big ole meteor isn’t coming to save the Jayhawks from their 9-game conference schedule. Sorry KU, not this year.
Why they’ll be Big 12 Champs: They’ve done something like this before! Kansas State is no stranger to competing for Conference titles, even having a few years where they were truly in the running to be national champs. They’ve had Heisman hopefuls, huge upsets, and for the better part of 2 decades have been a constant thorn in the side of every team in the Big 12. Absolutely no one enjoys playing the Wildcats. This year, they bring back one of the most dynamic players in the country in Deuce Vaughn, the guy could rush for 100 yards against an SEC defense without using an offensive line if he wanted to. Transfer Adrian Martinez is going to THRIVE under new Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein, and head coach Chris Klieman is a defensive mastermind who’s won 4 FCS national titles and will have this team as disciplined as any in the country. They will be fundamentally sound, impossible to score on, and explosive on offense. The best of the Snyder years will return, and the purple cats will walk away with all of the bragging rights at the end of the year.
Why they won’t: Adrian Martinez was basically run out of Nebraska and couldn’t bloom under supposed QB guru Scott Frost. Collin Klein has never run an offense before and will be in way over his head. Deuce Vaughn won’t have anyone else to lean on and every defense in the conference will load the box and focus on stopping him, and they won’t have to work too hard because the playcalling will be so atrocious that Iowa State will be arguing with them over who has the worse OC. The defense will be pretty good, but they’ll be on the field so much after all of the 3 and outs, that they’ll be gassed in every 4th quarter, and the Wildcats will lose more than a few games on the final drive as they just can’t hold or score enough points to overcome the rest of the Big 12. They may pull out an upset or 2, but it won’t be near enough as the top half of the conference runs away from them early on, and their games are regularly relegated to FS1 or ESPN+. KSU fans look fondly at the photos of Snyder on their fridge as they watch yet another team outside of Manhattan take home the Big 12 glory in 2022.
My predicted Big 12 standings might be the most contrarian thing I’ve ever written.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) August 24, 2022
But I really do believe OU and Texas are going to struggle, and I’m full board on the K State bandwagon. https://t.co/vCdJ4h0l7e
Why they’ll win the Big 12: First off, because they’re Oklahoma. OU has won 14 Big 12 football titles, 13 of them outright titles. That’s over half the years the Big 12 has even existed! In the history of the conference you would have had better odds betting on OU winning the conference than you would on a coin flip. They recruit better than anyone, they develop better than anyone, they are near impossible to beat at home, and they have a culture that EXPECTS them to win it all. Lincoln Riley had one foot out the door last season and wasn’t interested, the QB room wasn’t focused, and the team as a whole was just disjointed. Brent Venables and Dillon Gabriel to the rescue! Venables has served under Bill Snyder, Bob Stoops, and Dabo Swinney. Talk about a winning clerkship. He brings back a hardnosed mentality that the Sooners have missed since the early days of Big Game Bob, and he will return this group to the winning mentality that they are so used to having. Gabriel will prove to be just the next transfer QB to win the Heisman and lead the Sooners to glory, as they blow away the conference competition and easily walk to their 15th Big 12 title.
Why they won’t: Sorry, first year head coaches just don’t win trophies all that often. Venables may be the next great OU coach and end up with his own statue in Norman, but it won’t be because of what they do in 2022. Lincoln Riley took the best OU had with him to LA. In fact, he WASN’T the problem last year, the team just wasn’t up to standards, no matter the wizardry he could pull. Riley bailed at the perfect time because he saw the school was about to reach some down years and didn’t want that on his resume. Venables may have learned a lot from the men he’s worked under, but he isn’t those men, and taking a job as big as Oklahoma for your first go round as the big boss will prove too much for him. His days of focusing on the defense and letting the head man deal with the fans and media are long gone. Gabriel doesn’t pan out because it was actually Riley that turned all of those transfers into QB greats, not just the OU vibe. An early loss to Nebraska derails the fanbase and the emotional state of the players, and Oklahoma has their worst season in years after going through their first true coaching transition in over two decades. But hey, they won a Twitter poll.
Why they’ll win the Big 12: The Cowboys were mere INCHES away from a conference title and a likely trip to the College Football Playoff last season. They pick themselves up from being on the losing end of one of the best games of the 2021 season and use it as motivation in 2022. They go no holds barred and play angry, quickly becoming the class of the Big 12. They want to show that not only are they the real deal in 2022, but they’re showing off to the B1G and SEC that they can compete with anyone just in case there’s any desire for further expansion in the future. Boone Pickens becomes the toughest place to play in the country, as the paddles and closeness of the fans is too much for any team to bear. Spencer Sanders takes another step forward and is the conversation for the Heisman, the defense shows that they don’t miss last year’s DC, who’s now at Ohio State, and they show out even better. The team rallies around Mike Gundy, and after coming so close so many times, 2022 is the year that Oklahoma State finally breaks through. Pistol Pete holding the trophy in Dallas is plastered everywhere, and the fans quickly shift their focus from beating their conference mates to who’s next in the grand CFB Final Four.
Why they won’t: The title game loser hangover is real. The Cowboys spent all offseason thinking about what little things they could have done to get their shot at immortality in 2021. Their focus goes in and out, and the team actually regresses. Losing Jim Knowles to Ohio State is a HUGE deal, and the defense suddenly becomes something you’d expect to see from the Big 12 in 2011. The rest of the Big 12 watches Spencer Sanders tape from the two Baylor games in 2021 and figures out what the Bears did to frustrate him, and suddenly he’s not even in the top half of QB performers in the conference. They go through a string of losses in the heart of their schedule and lose games they should win, culminating in a devastating loss in Bedlam that sees all of their hopes and dreams from the offseason crumble. Pictures of a sad Pistol Pete are plastered everywhere as Oklahoma State goes from being so close, to oh so far away.
BAYLOR STOPS OKLAHOMA STATE ON 4TH DOWN pic.twitter.com/9JlKW4ZLrv— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 4, 2021
Why they’ll win the Big 12: TCU has actually had a great roster the last couple of seasons, but the game has left Gary Patterson behind. He couldn’t relate to the new college football and its latest generation of players. Enter: Sonny Dykes. Dykes, it turns out, is a masterful coach who just couldn’t quite get the ball rolling at his last P5 stop. His time at SMU, though, has prepared and enlightened him on to how to win. Dykes starts conference play with a huge win against a down Oklahoma, and that victory gives the Frogs the confidence they need to dominate the rest of the way. They hold their own at home, and take out both Texas and Baylor on the road to secure a minimum of 8 conference wins. They are so hot and Dykes’ mastery with QB Max Duggan sees them cruise to a solid victory in the Big 12 title game. And this time, they don’t have to split it with anyone when they make their case to the playoff committee.
Why they won’t: TCU has actually had a really bad roster the last couple of seasons. Gary Patterson was still a great coach but his recruiting wasn’t good enough to get the players they need, and the ones they did get transferred out. TCU brass does what so many schools do and makes the absolute wrong hire when trying to replace a legend, and Sonny Dykes and his offensive mindedness are a horrible fit in Fort Worth. The fans can’t embrace him because of his SMU ties, and the Frogs lose to the Mustangs for the second year in a row as SMU is ready to blast their former coach for running across town. The loss to SMU happens right before conference play, and the bottom falls out for Dykes and the team. Duggan and every other QB on the roster prove to be worse than anyone thought they were under Patterson. TCU can’t seem to get moving on either side of the ball and it’s a slow burn to the end of the season as Horned Frog fans start praying for 2023 to get here before we even hit Thanksgiving. No trophies making the short drive from Arlington to Fort Worth in 2022.
Why they’ll win the Big 12: They’re baaaaaaack. After years and years of waiting, it finally comes true. Texas is back. They’ve got a genius offensive coach with one of the best QB prospects in the history of the game to go along with the best RB in the country, oh and did we mention Xavier Worthy out wide? The Longhorns come out of the gate strong, having listened to all the jokes over the offseason. They’re hungry, but more importantly, they’re ready to blow the doors off of everyone. They end up with the best offense in the country, they beat Alabama in Austin, and no one in the conference stands a chance against one of college football’s true juggernauts finally seeing its potential. With the all gas no brakes mentality working, the Longhorns cruise through the Big 12 like its 2005. DKR is firing on all cylinders, and Texas fans pull out all of the receipts from the last couple of years to dunk on the rest of the conference and prove that they are ready for primetime in the SEC. It doesn’t actually matter who they play in the Big 12 title game because they are that much better than the rest of us, and they cruise to an easy victory, having already booked their tickets to their playoff site as the number 1 team in the country.
Why they won’t: They’re baaaaaack... to 5-7. It turns out that Sark is really only good at coaching under Nick Saban and being friends with the Manning family. Texas gets destroyed by Alabama early and never gets close to recovering. Quinn Ewers doesn’t win the starting job, and Hudson Card is average at best. Xavier Worthy can’t get going because he has no help from other receivers. Bijan Robinson is still electric, but Texas and its horrendous offensive line can’t give him any running lanes. Early losses pile up and the faithful in DKR become more hostile to the Longhorns than any road crowd could ever be. Texans fans come to the realization that the 2023 recruiting class can’t help them in the 2022 season, we get more off-field antics that distract the team, and the players spend the year more interested in NIL deals than their performances on Saturday. Texas spends a second straight season out of bowl contention and watches yet another Big 12 school that doesn’t have their clout or resources become victorious in Dallas.
Texas scored a touchdown in their first possession in overtime. Kansas then answered with a TD of their own.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) November 14, 2021
Instead of kicking a field goal to tie it, KU went for the 2-PT conversion to win it and got it.
Why they’ll win the Big 12: There may not be a team and fanbase more fired up for 2022 than the Red Raiders. With the hiring of human hype machine Joey McGuire as their new head ball coach, Texas Tech is ready to open a new chapter in their football book, a chapter that includes them standing victorious over their conference brethren. McGuire completely changes the culture in Lubbock, creates one of the most competitive groups the conference has ever seen, and they overcome shortcomings on talent through sheer will and determination. Jones AT&T Stadium becomes the black hole of the Big 12, with teams contemplating just forfeiting rather than walking into the buzz saw that is a Tech home game. The Red Raiders start the season off with back to back ranked wins in their non-con over Houston and NC State, and then roll into their first road tests against Kansas State and Oklahoma State with biggest confidence we’ve seen since the Mike Leach era. No one can stop the machine that is Texas Tech, and they end the season taking home their very first Big 12 title. The rest of the world admits that yes, it really is all West Texas, and all of Big 12 Twitter is forced to put a cactus in their handle.
Why they won’t: Sorry Tech fans, it just isn’t ready yet. Like a good brisket, it takes time and patience, you can’t microwave greatness. Joey McGuire may be the right guy, but he’s also been a part of 2 college transition years, one of those being a 1 win season and the other a 2 win season. The Red Raiders also have one of the hardest schedules in the country, and they start off slow with non-con losses to ranked Houston and NC State, followed by a demoralizing loss to Texas to start conference play. The wind is officially out of the sails, and suddenly the excitement that the Lubbock faithful had all offseason is gone. Fans start looking at the 2023 recruiting rankings, telling each other not to worry, the best is yet to come. They always knew it wasn’t going to happen in year 1 anyway. In fact, this is really more of a year 0 as Matt Wells left the cupboard so bare that it’s amazing Joey is even doing as well as he is. The Masked Rider settles in with their Red Raider buddies, and enjoys a nice cold beverage as they watch two other teams compete in the Big 12 title game.
Disclaimer: We could be very wrong (like we are most times)— Talkin’ Tech Podcast (@TalkinTechPod) June 21, 2022
Tech goes 8-5 with a bowl win.
Wins: Murray St, UH, K-State, WVU, TCU, KU, ISU, Bowl Team
Losses: NC State, UT, Ok State, BU, OU
Talent is there on this team and we are also very biased.
Why they’ll win the Big 12: The Mountaineers are done being forgotten, and renewing their most heated rivalry to start the year kicks them in gear. West Virginia shows out against Pitt and takes home a ranked victory to start the season. Head Coach Neal Brown and new QB JT Daniels hit a stride together and gain the support and backing of the Mountaineer faithful and continue the season strong, starting 5-0 after victories over the likes of Kansas, Va Tech, and Texas. They come out of their bye knowing they can beat anyone, and Morgantown becomes a devastating venue to all who visit, including Baylor, Oklahoma, and Kansas State. The football is tough, the defense is good, and Daniels becomes the QB WVU has been searching for since their early years in the Big 12. The confidence and hard nosed football travels as well, as they are able to take out Oklahoma State on the road and establish themselves as a dominant force for the 2022 Big 12. When the regular season is settled, West Virginia sits at the top, and AT&T Stadium is overrun with fans in Blue and Yellow singing Country Roads, and the Mountaineers prove they are the class of the conference and bring a shiny new trophy and an invite to the NY6 home with them to Morgantown.
Why they won’t: Even with Pitt losing a lot from their 2021 team, they prove too much to handle to start the year for West Virginia, and the Mountaineers begin wishing they had let the rivalry stay dormant for a little while longer. Neal Brown’s seat was already hot, but the loss to Pitt makes it scorching, as fans and boosters are more than ready for a change. JT Daniels just isn’t that great, and proves why he couldn’t make it at either USC or Georgia, and WVU’s QB struggles continue. The fanbase becomes apathetic, and even with wins over Kansas and Towson, another early loss to Texas seals their fate as they just have no hope left for a team that has been middling at best over the last few seasons. Mountaineer Field has no energy, and the team struggles against tough road venues in the conference. They continue to drop games until Brown is fired mid-season and 2022 becomes a complete wash, with the only saving grace that Kansas is their to take that last place spot. Mountaineers spend conference championship day boycotting the game and wishing the Big East would come back.
Why they’ll win the Big 12: The champs have returned! Coming off a season of greatness that saw the Bears win their 3rd Big 12 Title, the team is hungry for even more. Dave Aranda takes another step forward and cements himself as one of the premier coaches in the country. The change in QB to Blake Shapen allows OC Jeff Grimes the ability to open wide his playbook in ways we never saw in 2022, and Baylor has one of the most consistent and explosive offenses in the country. On the defensive side, players are even better than expected. Bolstered by a defensive line that even Georgia and Alabama would respect, no one can run on the Bears, and if you dare pass the ball you had better make sure it comes out quick. McLane Stadium is hopping like never before, as the Bears run through the schedule working toward their second back to back conf title. While the road schedule Baylor faces is a guantlet, the Bears pick up a an early ranked win on the road against a tough BYU crowd, giving them the confidence to win anywhere in the country. In fact, the Bears begin to welcome the away crowd, as they quickly silence any hope and feed off of the opposing fanbase’s feeling of hopelessness. Baylor has its greatest season of all time, culminating in an undefeated season, conference title, and a trip to the playoff where they finally get the opportunity to prove themselves on a national scale.
Why they won’t: 2021 was great, but it was a perfect storm of home schedule and senior experience. The success was more about guys like Jalen Pitre and Terrell Bernard knowing what to do and being all around great, rather than the coaching of Dave Aranda. Blake Shapen doesn’t take the offense a step forward, and we see a regression after the losses of both RBs and the Baylor impact receivers like Tyquan Thornton. The secondary also suffered massive losses, and the replacements just aren’t on the level of the 2021 team. Throw in maybe the toughest road schedule in the country and it’s a recipe for disaster for the 2022 Bears. They come out flat against BYU on the road, and suffer rough losses in Norman, Morgantown, Ames, Lubbock, and Austin. Bears fans grip their Sugar Bowl championship gear tight and don’t even watch the Big 12 title game in December as they’ll be busy celebrating a victory over Gonzaga in basketball from the night before.