This one is easy. After a trip to last year’s College Football Playoff, Oklahoma returns plenty of offensive firepower including a Heisman frontrunner in junior quarterback Baker Mayfield, and a career 3,000 yard rusher in Samaje Perine.
The defense, which returns several key starters, was tops in the conference last year and makes Oklahoma the most well-rounded team in the Big 12.
TCU is the team that has the best chance to knock Oklahoma off their Big 12 pedestal. The Horned Frogs feature plenty of weapons on offense, an experienced offensive line and a defense that’s packed with upperclassman. However, TCU’s success may ultimately depend on wildcard junior quarterback Kenny Hill, who had to sit last season out due to transfer.
The experienced Cowboys will again be in the hunt for a conference title. The team will feature an incredible 20 upperclassmen on both sides of the ball. Even so, the defense was exposed during the final three weeks of last year’s season, and without improvement, will keep them chasing Oklahoma and TCU.
Regardless of who plays quarterback for the Longhorns this year, the team should have the talent at running back to power their offense. However, the team must find consistency on the defensive end in order to take a step forward. Last season, Texas held Oklahoma and Baylor to under 20 points, but also gave up at least 40 points to Texas Tech, TCU, and California.
Junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes and the Red Raiders will once again have one of the top offenses in Big 12. But like most other teams in the conference, the issues come on the defensive end. Last season, Texas Tech was next to last in the league in total defense and scoring defense.
With senior quarterback Seth Russell returning from injury, the Bears should once again have a potent offense. But Baylor will be facing an uphill battle with the ramifications of the Art Briles scandal, and it’s hard to see this team realistically competing for a Big 12 title.
The Wildcats have a number of questions on the offensive side of the ball, including how productive junior quarterback Jesse Ertz will be after returning from injury. Last season was the first losing one for the Wildcats since the re-hiring of head coach Bill Snyder, and this year could be more of the same.
The defense is down to only three players who’ve started more than one game. The offense will be decent, but an inexperienced defense in the high-scoring Big 12 can only mean trouble.
The Cyclones should be improved after finishing second to last in both scoring offense and scoring defense last year. But with another tough schedule, it’s hard to imagine the team winning more than four games this season.
The Jayhawks have won exactly two conference games over the past two years. Still in the midst of a rebuilding project, the Jayhawks would be thankful to get at least one such win this year.