Updated: Aug 26, 2021
Oklahoma Sooners (13-0)- No surprise here. Spencer Rattler is the real deal, the Sooners return their 3 leading receivers from 2020 and they get Kennedy Brooks back who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2019 while splitting the backfield. Their schedule is also a complete joke as they get Iowa State and Texas at home. On defense, they were 3rd best in 2020 and Alex Grinch has completely changed the public’s perception about Oklahoma’s defense. Linebacker Nikko Bonnito had 8.5 sacks last year and I expect him to improve even more. Other than Bonnito, they return everyone important to their defense. This Sooners team is legit. Expect them to run through the BIG12.
Iowa State Cyclones (11-2)- Iowa State has one of the most balanced offenses in the country, with proven weapons all around and a great coaching staff this team can be dangerous. Quarterback Brock Purdy has solidified himself as elite and Breece Hall and Charlie Kohler are arguably the best players at their position in the country. On defense they had 4 players with over 60 tackles in 2020, three of those were linebackers. They all return in 2021 and are the glue that holds this defense together. Their best player however, is Will McDonald who led the nation in sacks last year with 10.5. This defense is relentless and one of the best in the nation. Two losses to Oklahoma keeps them out of the playoff.
Texas Longhorns (9-3)- I love this team and it hurts to have them at only 9-3. Casey Thompson is a future star and with Steve Sarkisian now at the helm, the sky's the limit for this offense. In the second half of the Alamo Bowl, Thompson was more impressive than Sam Ehlingher was in his entire career. His athleticism and accuracy as a passer make him extremely impressive for his young age and I expect him to burst onto the scene in a big way. I also expect Bijan Robinson to break out as the Longhorns every down back as he showed flashes of greatness towards the end of the year averaging 8.2 yards per carry. They return their leading receiver in Joshua Moore as well. Texas’ offense is the best they've had since the Colt Mccoy days and if they don’t finish as a top 10 offense in the country I would be shocked. On defense they ranked 7th out of 10 in the BIG12 and with a high powered offense, the defense will be on the field more and naturally cause them to regress statistically. Not to mention, they lose their best defensive player in Joseph Ossai. This defense will be bad, but the Longhorns electric offense will lead them to a 9-3 season.
TCU (8-4)- Honestly I like West Virginia and even K State more than TCU, but TCU’s schedule is much easier than the Mountaineers. Max Duggan is a very average passer and I don’t think he has what it takes to be an elite QB. However, his rushing ability will cause trouble for mediocre Big 12 defenses.The Frogs have one of the best deep threats in the conference in Quentin Johnson who averaged more than 22 yards per catch in 2020. TCU is always a very well coached team and I expect more of the same this year. They lose their two best defensive players but are still a very solid group. Expect their offense to get better and their defense to slightly regress, but not by much. I believe TCU will upset Texas in their 4th game of the season and end with a solid 8-4 record.
West Virginia (7-5)- Hats off to the mountaineers for scheduling two power 5 teams in their non conference. I believe they will win both as well and start the season 3-0. Jarrett Doege is nowhere near elite but I think he is very solid and can lead the Mountaineers to a successful season. Leddie Brown leads the rushing attack after rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2020. The Mountaineers offense is very balanced and as long as they limit the turnovers, they will improve and be in the top half of the conference in total offense. WVU had the best defense in the conference last season, but they lost their 2 best defensive players in Tykee Smith and Tony Fields. I still believe they will be a very good group but will most definitely regress.
Texas Tech (7-5)- Starting Quarterback Alan Bowman transferred. In steps Henry Colombi, who originally transferred to Texas Tech because he could not start at the powerhouse that is Utah State. He was not terrible last year, but he was far from good. However, they did just bring in Oregon transfer Tyler Shough who was highly touted coming out of high school and had a solid season with Oregon in 2020. To help Shough, Texas Tech has some great weapons such as running back SaRodorick Thompson who averaged more than 5.5 yards per carry in 2020 and wide receiver Erik Ezukanma, one of the most underrated players in the country. He caught 46 balls for 763 yards in 2020, expect him to be even better in 2021. With these weapons, expect Tech’s offense to still be solid despite unpredictable QB play. On defense, the only way they can go is up as they were horrendous in 2020. I like linebacker Colin Schooler a lot and I expect him to be better than he was in 2020. Tech is by no means great but they have some very talented players on this roster. It would not shock me to see them pull off an upset and be better than I project them to be.
Kansas State (7-5)- If Skylar Thompson can stay healthy, the Wildcats can have a great season. Alongside Thompson, is Deuce Vaughn, the most underrated player in the country. He averaged 5.2 YPC and also had over 400 receiving yards as a running back. They also have three wide receivers who averaged more than 15 YPC, so the talent is there. Remember, this team knocked off Oklahoma last season when they were healthy. On defense, their front seven is weak and will weaken as they lose their best player, defensive end Wyatt Huber who recorded 8.5 sacks last year. Their secondary is more than solid though. Expect Justin Gardener to break out as he had 7 PDs and 2 Ints in 2020. The Wildcats had 4 defensive backs with 3 or more PDs in 2020. I expect them to improve greatly on offense and the secondary to balance out their weak front 7. If Thompson stays healthy, expect a solid season from K state.
Oklahoma State (6-6)- The Cowboys have a decently tough schedule and they lose their 2 best players in Tylan Wallace and Chubba Hubbard. Quarterback Spencer Sanders is not good. If I am an Oklahoma State fan I would be very worried about the pass attack as Wallace is not there to bail them out anymore. Their ground game will be solid though as Dezmon Jackson had a very impressive 2020 campaign. Expect the Cowboys offense to regress. On defense, they return most of their important pieces as the only big loss will be Amen Ogbongbemiga, who had 80 tackles last season. The Cowboys have one of the most underrated safeties in the country in Tre Sterling, who had 74 tackles, 4 PDs and 2 INTs in 2020. I like the Cowboys defense a lot and they will have to ball out to bail out the offense.
Baylor Bears (4-8)- Baylor got hit with a rude awakening last year as the Matt Rhule era came to an end and quarterback Charlie Brewer transferred. They had one of the worst offenses in the Big 12 last year and I expect that to hold true this year as well. Literally nothing sticks out about them, they have bad QB play, a below average rush attack and no huge threats at WR. Kansas will be worse, but the Bears are not far behind. On defense, they were in the bottom half of the conference. They return everyone important, but like their offense, no unit or players stick out as they are merely average. Expect a rough season for the bears.
Kansas Jayhawks (1-11)- Enough said.
Oklahoma Defeats Iowa State 35-24
Baylor Under 5.5 Wins
Iowa State Over 9.5 Wins
Kansas State Over 5.5 Wins
Texas Tech over 5.5 Wins