2019 Big XII Preview - Texas teams and WVU
With the Big XII being that odd conference (at least now) that doesn’t have divisions, we’ll be previewing them in a different manner. First up we’ll be looking at the teams inside of Texas (plus West Virginia) with everyone else in the second part.
Texas – 10-4 (7-2) – I don’t know if Texas is “back”, but I’m sure that coach Tom Herman’s Longhorns team is trending in that direction. Following a regular season that had its highs (beating rival Oklahoma) and its lows (losing at Maryland in the season opener), the Longhorns finished the season beating Georgia in a Sugar Bowl match up that wasn’t as close as the final score. This year however, the Longhorns are replacing a lot. On the two deep, Texas is only returning nine starters (of 44), that’s the bad news. The good news is that Tom Herman has beaten the recruiting trail into a highway with his classes being ranked as #3 (’19), 3 (’18), and 25 (’17) in the last three years. Recruiting like that means you have some talent that is just itching to show what they can do.
If everything goes right – The Longhorns could find themselves as Big XII Champions and en route to play in their first College Football Playoff Game.
If everything goes wrong – Ugh. If everything goes wrong for Texas, they might lose as many as four games (LSU, Oklahoma, Iowa State, and a real head-scratcher). Leaving ‘Horns fans wondering what happened to the promise of the season.
Prediction – 2nd in the Big XII – My pick is a loss to LSU, and a pair of losses to Oklahoma (the second in the Big XII CG) with a return to the Sugar Bowl.
Texas Christian – 7-6 (4-5) – To say that last season didn’t go the way that TCU fans envisioned it is an understatement to say the least. It started before the season began when Ross Blacklock tore his Achilles tendon just two weeks before their opener, and snowballed into a season opening stretch of 3-5 (including a loss to Kansas). They managed to salvage something, however, winning four of their last five games, turning what could have been a lost season into a bowl-winning one. Returning nine starters on offense, the Horned Frogs look to return to “normal” and contend for a Big XII title. One of the players who isn’t a returning starter (and QB is by no means a “done deal” for the ‘Frogs) is Kansas State transfer senior QB Alex Delton who hopes to flourish in the ‘Frogs Air Raid offense saying “It enables me to show my passing skills and get the ball into playmakers hands.” He’ll have 2018 team MVP junior WR Jalen Reagor to throw to as well as sophomore Taye Barber as well as RBs Sewo Olonilua and Darius Anderson to carry the load.
If everything goes right – TCU could be 6-0 with wins over Purdue and Iowa State going into the Oct 26 matchup @ Texas; if they win that, they could see Oklahoma twice in three weeks and play for the Big XII title.
If everything goes wrong – Alex Delton doesn’t fit into the offense as well as he thought he would and the 'Frogs have to lean on a defense in a league that sees scores in the upper 80’s on a regular basis, not exactly a recipe for success.
Prediction – 4th in the Big XII – With a lot of teams in the Big XII replacing key starters, the ‘Frogs have a chance to make the Big XII CG with a couple of upsets, remember, they only have to finish in the top 2. They’re a bowl team, but I’m not sure they have enough to take down either Texas or Oklahoma to get there.
Baylor – 7-6 (4-5) – If you’re looking for hot coaching candidates, look no farther than the Big XII, and specifically, Waco. In Coach Matt Rhule’s time since taking over the Bears following an embarrassing sexual assault scandal, he’s taken them from 1-11 doormats back to a bowl game in just two years. What can we expect in Year three? More offense likely. With the Bears returning junior QB Charlie Brewer, along with his tight end (Soph, Christoph Heine), and two of his three wide receivers (Sr.s Denzel Mims and Chris Platt), they look to be ready to put up points in a conference known for that. If the offense can keep him upright (sacked 39 times in 2018), they might be able to cover for a defense that was less than hoped for last season.
If everything goes right – The Bears could be a Top 15 team when TCU makes the trip South on November 9 as they have a fairly weak schedule to that point (Only Iowa State is doubtful as a victory) and might see as many as 9 regular season wins.
If everything goes wrong - Baylor could be going into their final regular season game needing a win against, what most fans are expecting to be, an improved Kansas squad.
Prediction – 5th in the Big XII - The Bears get a little better this year and improve to eight wins this year, both avoiding upsets, but not pulling any themselves.
Texas Tech – 5-7 (3-6) – With former Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury somehow failing up(?) to become the new Head Coach of the Arizona Cardinals, former Utah State head man Matt Wells takes the reins in Lubbock. One of the constants we know from Texas Tech is their offense, going back to their Heydays under Mike Leach. That will likely continue under Wells who last year oversaw the #2 scoring offense in the FBS. He’ll have returning starter sophomore QB Alan Bowman (2638yds, 17/7 in 8 games - 2018) to work with as well as five of their top seven receivers. Like most years though, the Red Raiders will only go as far as their defense allows them to.
If everything goes right – we might see Texas Tech scrounge up as many as 7 wins.
If everything goes wrong – the Red Raiders may go into the last three weeks of the season needing a sweep (TCU, Kansas State, Texas) to go bowling.
Prediction – 7th in the Big XII – It’s going to be a tough year on the plains in West Texas, and until the defense can carry its share, it’s always a balancing act. The Red Raiders aren’t going bowling this year, and will have at least 3 games they lose by a possession.
West Virginia – 8-4 (6-3) – While most Power Five teams aren’t replacing a coach after an 8-4 season, that’s just what the Mountaineers are doing following coach Dana Holgerson’s departure for Houston. Fortunately, Head Coach Neal Brown is no stranger to the Big XII thanks to his time at Texas Tech as OC under Tommy Tuberville. Coach Brown also gets a QB that knows the Big XII with Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall. Sticking with the high-tempo offense that the Mountaineers have become known for, Kendall will also have senior RB Kennedy McCoy and WRs T.J. Simmons and Marcus Simms at his disposal. The 3-3-5 defense that WVU runs will see only one returning starter in the front six (Sr. DE Reese Donahue), but returns 4 of the 5 starters in the secondary. In a conference that slings the ball around, this should be a big asset.
If everything goes right – The Mountaineers squeeze out a couple of upsets and finish the season with a bowl game.
If everything goes wrong – West Virginia enters November with as few as two wins and is demoralized to the point that they just want the season to be over.
Prediction – 8th in the Big XII – I can’t rule out WVU making a bowl game, but I think a 6 win season is their cap, IF they can maintain after a brutal stretch that sees them playing six bowl teams in seven games stretch (combined 54 wins for those 6 teams last season) finishing with back-to-back away games @Oklahoma and @Baylor. Personally I think they’re a 4 win team.