Will they or won’t they? That seems to be the question on everyone’s mind regarding expansion with the conference. Who can they lure back, or lure in that would be new? Those will have to be answered after March Madness at the earliest more than likely. On the gridiron they got a representative in the College Football Playoff after being shut out the previous go around. Oklahoma got by a really bad loss to Texas, even though absolutely anything can and will happen in the Red River Rivalry, to win out and make it to the Final Four (happened in both Football and Basketball, chew on that when discussing school supremacy). This year will they get someone in? If so who would it be? Last season the best defense in the conference was played by a monsoon in Ft. Worth on a late night in November. It will take more than just an explosive offense to advance into a National Title Game this season I believe. We are going to go team by team projecting a best and worst case scenario and along the way we’ll see if any of our scenarios from last season came true. We are not going to project which bowl which team might end up in.
Last season: 10-3 (Defeated North Carolina in the Russell Athletic Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 9.5
We thought the worst case scenario might be the Alamo Bowl last season and they slipped to the Russell Athletic Bowl. They did win it, but since that night nothing has went right for this program and the entire institution for that matter. Gone is Head Coach Briles, as well as basically the entire administration. They are losing recruits left and right, poised to return to being a doormat. We have seen how bad things can get by replacing a coach in the spring, just ask Arkansas fans how the John L. Smith era was. There is still probably enough talent to work with, but the distraction that has taken place in Waco is nothing short of insane. Best case scenario: returning to as good of a bowl as last season. Worst case: not making a bowl, perhaps even a bad 3 win season.
Last season: 3-9
Vegas over/under win prediction: 3.5
It was another ugly season for the Cyclones. We stated the best case scenario was getting 3 wins, wow. Another new Head Coach as Paul Rhoads has taken over the secondary for Arkansas (two Hog references in the same Big 12 article, what am I insinuating?). The good news is Kansas will always be on the schedule, the bad news is that is a road game this season on November 12. Worse yet it is after Iowa State hosts Oklahoma, who may pour it on. Best case scenario: avoiding 2-3 wins. Worst case scenario: going winless (it could very well happen don’t laugh at that)
Last season: 0-12
Vegas over/under win prediction: 1.5
The closest thing to a victory last season was a 3 point loss to South Dakota State. Iowa State dumptrucked them by 25! We stated that the best case scenario was beating anyone on their schedule and this season it looks like we are in the same exact boat. Other than Iowa State at home I have no idea where a win could even be fathomed. Kansas is on a 15 game losing streak going to back to 2014. Maybe they could have used some of Perry Ellis’ 23 years of eligibility and place him at tight end. Best case scenario: Beating anyone on their schedule. Worst case: continuing the losing streak to 27 games.
Last season: 6-7 (Defeated by Arkansas in the Autozone Liberty Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 5.5
We stated that the worst case scenario would be to barely make it to bowl eligibility. Kansas State won 3, lost 6, won 3 in a row to barely make it to the Liberty Bowl against Arkansas (third time is a charm, fire up the Hogs making the Big 12 the Southwest Conference again). This season they start on the farm against Stanford to open the season. That should be a good game to watch, unless Christian McCaffrey decides the Heisman is his to lose from the outset. They only have 3 tough road games after that: at West Virginia Oct 1; at Oklahoma Oct 15; and at TCU Dec 3. Other than that all the games should be toss/up games they will have a chance in. Best case: getting to an 8-4 record and a better bowl than the Liberty. Worst case: not reaching the Vegas over/under
Last season: 11-2 (Defeated by Clemson in the Capital One Orange Bowl-College Football Playoff Semifinal)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 10
The last two seasons have witnessed Oklahoma getting bested by Clemson to finish the season. That is not a thing to be ashamed about, Clemson has turned into one of the best programs in the country. Oklahoma has been one of the very best programs in all of the times you can consider. We thought the best case was a New Year’s 6 and they surpassed that expectation. They still are probably the most talented team in the entire conference and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in the playoff again. But they will have to get by 2 very tough non conference games against Houston (Sep 3) and Ohio State (Sep 17). Can they get both? Best case: College Football Playoff. Worst Case: a 9 win season.
Last season: 10-3 (Defeated by Ole Miss in the All State Sugar Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 8.5
We did not think the Pokes could be in the New Year’s 6, best case was the Alamo Bowl for us. They started 10-0 but could not keep that momentum. I think they could easily start the season 10-0 again. The toughest non conference game will be Pitt on Sep 17, they finish with 3 of the last 4 on the road: at Kansas State (Nov 5); at TCU (Nov 19); and Bedlam is in Norman this season on Dec 3. I think that both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State could be 11-0 for that game and what a scene that would be. That would be a defacto play-in game for the Playoff and winner take all. I can see Fowler and Herbstreit or Gus Johnson (depending on who else is highly ranked) and College GameDay there. Best case scenario: College Football Playoff. Worst case scenario: New Year’s 6.
Last season: 5-7
Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5
They did not even make our worst case scenario of being in a bowl. But Texas showed signs of life in close losses to Texas Tech and Baylor in the last 2 games of the season. They get the Fighting Irish at home to open, and challenge themselves with a trip to Cal on Sep 17. Following the Cal game, they go to Stillwater on Oct 1. Bad news is the Red River Rivalry is the next week on Oct 8. If they can get some build on some late season signs of life and learn how to finish off games then Texas might be back on the right track. I believe that Coach Strong will eventually get there. Best case: making a bowl game. Worst case: regression to a 4-5 win season.
Last season: 11-2 (Defeated Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 8
Might be a slightly off year for the Frogs. I thought they would run the table and win the national championship last season. They were my pick to beat USC, one thing about predictions is they are fun to imagine. This season I am not setting such lofty expectations, even though this is a fine football factory. After a visit from Kansas-killer South Dakota State, TCU hosts Arkansas (4th Razorback entry in a Southwest Conference… I mean Big 12 article). This will tell us alot about both schools I believe. The next test is a home game with Oklahoma on Oct 1. The last tough one is a home affair with Oklahoma State on Nov 19. Best case: returning to the Alamo Bowl. Worst case: just making a bowl.
Last season: 7-6 (Defeated by LSU in the Advocare V100 Texas Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 7
I think Texas Tech got the most pub all season after Coach Kingsbury stated that Arkansas Coach Bielema (another Razorback entry in a Southwest Conference article) “got his ass kicked”. We thought that getting to a bowl was the best case scenario. After watching Patrick Mahomes II light up scoreboards last season I think Texas Tech might be in for a fun season. The good news is there are only 3 really tough looking road games: at Arizona State (Sep 10); at TCU (Oct 29); and at Oklahoma State (Nov 12). If they can learn how to knock passes down at the goal line, then I think Texas Tech can get to 9 victories or beyond. Best case scenario: New Year’s 6. Worst case scenario: a repeat 7-5 regular season.
Last season: 8-5 (Defeated Arizona State in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl)
Vegas over/under win prediction: 6.5
We stated that the worst case scenario would be the Cactus Bowl. Well I guess winning it makes it sting a little less? The 4 game losing streak in the middle of the season damned it and although the weaklings of the conference fell to the Mountaineers, they have yet to take a step into the elite status. This season the schedule shapes up very nicely. There are only 4 true road games. At Texas Tech (Oct 15); at Oklahoma State (Oct 29); at Texas (Nov 12); and at Iowa State (Nov 26). Getting everyone else to make that long trip to Morgantown will help West Virginia I feel. Best case scenario: New Year’s 6. Worst case scenario: back in the Cactus Bowl.
Even though we think West Virginia and Texas Tech have a shot at being a lot better than Vegas thinks they could be, this conference will be decided in Bedlam. I can’t think of a better way to decide it either.