Big XII Conference Preview

On Thursday we kicked off our conference previews for the coming college football season as the Miami Hurricanes began their season and got the ACC conference underway.

Today we are back on the day that the main body of Power-5 college football gets going. Today there are more ACC games and it is followed by the Big XII too!

In this article I’ll be giving you my thoughts for the coming Big XII season. 

Let’s get into it then…

Conference overview:

The Big XII is a conference that is known for one thing, offense. If you want to see stingy defenses, you should look elsewhere I’m afraid – The Big XII is a conference which I’d say is actually tailored towards the desires of the modern football fan – There will be points.

Don’t get me wrong, every so often there is a strong defensive team or a coordinator that comes in and flips the script but it isn’t a conference known for high quality defensive play, or players.

Recent examples of this are Phil Snow, who was the DC at Baylor during Matt Rhule’s time as Bears Head Coach (both of whom are now in the NFL with the Panthers) or current Oklahoma defensive coordinator, Alex Grinch. Having said that, the Oklahoma defense got the breaks beaten off it by LSU in the college football playoff semi final in January, giving up 63 points… And if I’m holding those guys up as a shining light of Big XII defenses, well, I guess it kind of proves my earlier point!

The Big XII is a fun league to watch though, there are always some great offensive players, especially QB’s. In recent times, Patrick Mahomes, Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts have all come through the Big XII – All of these guys were top quality college QB’s and Hurts aside (because he’s only just been drafted) have all enjoyed at least some success in the NFL.

The QB baton in the conference is now held by the likes of Spencer Rattler and Brock Purdy, who will be looking to enter the league in the next year or two and follow in the footsteps of the guys I mentioned a moment ago.

Watch out for some quality running backs too in the Big XII! This group is headlined by Chuba Hubbard of Oklahoma State, who could be one of the best runners in the whole of college football in 2020, but also watch out for Pooka Williams of Kansas and of course, Sam Ehlinger* of Texas (who occasionally throws the ball too).

In terms of conference play, the Big XII also has a bunch of in-state rivalry games, Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State, Kansas vs. Kansas State, plus Texas Tech, Texas, Baylor and Texas Christian who (obviously) all reside in the Lone Star State.

However, the headline game of the conference each year (spoiler alert for later on) is the Red River Showdown between Texas and Oklahoma, who are the two traditional heavyweights in this division.

*I joke.

Teams and last season’s record:

The Big XII isn’t split into geographical divisions like all of the other power-5 conferences, it’s just one big division. In usual circumstances, all of the Big XII nine conference games and three non-conference games however, due to COVID-19, the conference has just opted for 9 conference games for the season.

2019 Standings:

Team – (Conference Record) – Overall Record

Oklahoma (8-1) 12-2

Baylor (8-1) 11-3

Texas (5-4) 8-5

Oklahoma State (5-4) 8-5

Kansas State (5-4) 8-5

West Virginia (3-6) 5-7

TCU (3-6) 5-7

Texas Tech (2-7) 4-8

Kansas (1-8) 3-9

Team in focus:

Unfortunately the Big XII is a conference that in both recent times and historically, has been dominated by Oklahoma. Oklahoma has 13 conference titles to its name, the rest of the conference put together has 13 too. To add salt to the wounds of the rest of the division, four of those 13 titles are held by Nebraska (2), Colorado and Texas A&M… None of whom play in the Big XII anymore. Kansas, Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia have never won a conference title at all.

Texas is the second most successful programme in the conference, having won the title three times but for a programme of such stature, it feels like the Longhorns have underachieved for a long time. Although I will note, prior to the formation of the Big XII, Texas were extremely successful in the now defunct Southwestern Conference, winning 27 titles.

Back to Oklahoma; They will have a star QB in Spencer Rattler, who will be hoping to light up the conference under the guidance of QB whisperer Head Coach, Lincoln Riley and potentially make a run at the Heisman Trophy, which has become a tradition of Lincoln Riley coached QB’s in recent years.

Center, Creed Humphrey will be one of the best offensive linemen in college football and may have even been a first round draft selection last spring, had he declared.

Rattler will also have weapons out wide, despite the programme losing CeeDee Lamb to the NFL too – Watch out for Charlston Rambo, who was very much the Robin to Lamb’s Batman last year, and also UCLA Graduate Transfer, Theo Howard.

This offense is going to be fun in 2020, so watch out for them to fire the Sooners to another conference title.

Players to watch:

Spencer Rattler, QB, Oklahoma

The next off the conveyor belt of QB’s for the Sooners, Spencer Ratter, who some readers may already be familiar with because of the popular Netflix series, QB1.

Rattler is a 5-star recruit out of Phoenix, Arizona who turned down offers from Alabama, Notre Dame, USC and Texas, amongst others to turn out for Riley and Oklahoma.

Rattler was the consensus #1 QB in the 2019 recruiting class, the Elite 11 MVP and High School All-American. He’s about as highly touted a prospect as you can get and some might say that he’s in the perfect conference, with the perfect Head Coach for his talent to flourish.

Rattler is undersized at 6-1 and 205lbs but is incredibly talented, with an ability to make ridiculous throws and from all kinds of launch points.

Rattler is a redshirt Freshman so he’s super inexperienced, so whilst there will be flashes (and perhaps regular flashes) of brilliance, don’t be surprised if there are some mental errors along the way.

Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas

Cosmi has a chance to cement himself as the second best offensive tackle of the 2021 draft if he plays up to his potential through the next year whilst protecting Sam Ehlinger’s blindside.

Cosmi is a massive tackle at 6-7 and 300lbs, but he is athletic and has the ability to get out in front as a run blocker and lead the way through the second level of the defense. He could get stronger and sharper in pass protection because stronger defensive linemen do give him headaches.

However, he has serious potential and you will see Cosmi in the first round in a fair amount of  early mock drafts for next year’s draft because you want his body type playing offensive tackle at the NFL level given his natural length and mobility.

Look for Cosmi to add weight and also refine his pass protection skills in 2020.

Colin Schooler, LB, Texas Tech

I had to get a defender in here at some point and I have gone for Texas Tech linebacker Colin Schooler who recently transferred from Arizona in light of the Pac-12 not planning to play in 2020.

A typical “Mike” who can often be seen calling out the plays and instructions to his teammates, Schooler possesses a typical linebacker’s frame, he’s sturdy and possesses above average athleticism, without being an eye-popping athlete. Change of direction skills are good and he is a good lateral mover but long speed and range aren’t perhaps things I’d write home about, but would be requisite as a Sam or two-down Mike in the NFL.

Feels like an intelligent second level defender whose head is always on the swivel on when playing zone defense and on the lookout for receivers entering his area code. Always seems to be alert to make a play too – case in point in Arizona’s opening game versus Hawaii when Schooler was able to tip a pass which was then intercepted by a fellow Wildcat. 

A good tackler and a guy with a good tackle radius too – even when engaged by a blocker, has a great knack of being able to make the tackle with one hand, and if he doesn’t bring down the ball carrier, he’ll often slow him until a teammate will finish off the job.

Has shown some versatility as he is used as an additional blitzer at times off the edge or through the A-gap.

Game to watch:

October 10th, The Cotton Bowl, Dallas, TX.

The Red River Showdown.

This game is always the biggest show in town when it comes to the Big XII conference. A game between what is usually the two biggest names and best teams in the conference and also, two sets of players and fans who simply aren’t too fond of each other.

This will be on prime time television, get comfortable, get something to eat and drink and settle down – expect points, expect sparks to fly and a heavy dose of Matthew McConaughey.

Record predictions:

Oklahoma 9-0

Iowa State 7-2

Oklahoma State 6-3

Texas 6-3

Baylor 6-3

TCU 5-4

Kansas State 3-6

Texas Tech 1-8

Kansas 1-8

West Virginia 1-8

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