2022 NCAA Football preview - Big XII
Ready to continue our football road trip? Good, get ready to get the low down on the second half of the future Big-PAC-24 conference. With Texas and the Okies still in the conference for a couple more years and Cincinnati, Houston, UCF, and BYU joining in July of next year, I'm sure 2023 won't be a trainwreck.
We, however, are gearing up for the 2022 season and Baylor looks like a great bet to return to the Big XII CG. Oklahoma was the winner in the Brent Venables sweepstakes, hiring the long-time defensive coordinator to his first head coaching gig. Texas is still hoping they're "back" sometime before Jesus Christ is.
Iowa State fans are hoping Matt Campbell doesn't pick this year to leave as they haven't had it better in my lifetime (which means ever) not realizing that he's not the hot commodity he was 3 years ago. The Mountaineers can't wait for Cincinnati to join so that road trips are no longer ridiculous, and Kansas is just counting down the days to November 19.
Baylor Bears (12-2)
Head Coach – Dave Aranda (14-9 in two seasons, 1 bowl)
Top Recruit – Armani Winfield – WR – 4 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Will a road schedule that includes games @BYU, @West Virginia, @Oklahoma, and @Texas prevent the Bears from returning to the Big 12 Championship game?
If things go right. . . Baylor will be undefeated on November 5 when they roll into Norman, Oklahoma for what is likely to be a Big 12 CG qualifier. If they are they would already have wins over @BYU, @Iowa St, Oklahoma St, and @West Virginia and a win in Norman would be a huge bump in the bid for a College Football Playoff slot.
If things go wrong. . . the Bears will limp into that same game with three losses, no momentum, and drop it to the Sooners. If that happens losing two of their last three (Kansas St, TCU, and @Texas) doesn’t feel like a stretch.
Likely outcome for the season. . . 10 wins with losses to BYU and @Oklahoma, a trip to the Big 12 CG, and a rematch with the Sooners.
Iowa State Cyclones (7-6)
Head Coach – Matt Campbell (42-34 in 6 years, 5 bowls)
Top Recruit – Greg Gaines - WR - 4 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – It’s the same as it is every year. When Michigan/Penn State/whatever P5 (soon to be Power 2?) school comes calling in December, will Matt Campbell decide to stay put or leave for greener pastures?
If things go right. . . the Cyclones manage an unexpected win against one of the following - @Iowa, Baylor, or @Texas. If they can do that and not fall into a “let down” game, they could see an eight-win season, something they’ve only mustered seven times in 123 seasons.
If things go wrong. . . Iowa State drops a pair of games they should be expected to win (say, Kansas State and West Virginia) and they finish 5-7.
Likely outcome for the season. . . 7-5/8-4 but eliminated from CG contention by the end of October.
Kansas Jayhawks (2-10)
Head Coach – Lance Leipold (2-10 in 1 season)
Top Recruit – Brian Dilworth – CB – 3 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Can the Jayhawks improve on last season’s 2 wins?
If things go right. . . Tennessee Tech and Duke fall in their trips to Lawrence and the Jayhawks find a way to win @Houston, Vs. TCU, and/or @Texas Tech. If absolutely everything goes right, they might get to 5 wins, 6 if they can repeat last year’s miracle against Texas. Then again if we're asking for things to go right for the Jayhawks, we might as well have them hit the Powerball too.
If things go wrong. . . the season-opener against Tennessee Tech will be the high point of the season (and even that isn’t a given) as the Jayhawks start wondering when basketball season starts before Labor Day.
Likely outcome for the season. . . as bad as the Jayhawks have been in the last 10+ years, they always seem to find a way to win 2-3 games a year so that’s where I see them, 2-10. HC Leipold is a solid coach though, he had Buffalo (Bulls, not Bills) at .500 or better in 4 of his 6 seasons there, but there may not be a harder job in the Power 5 this side of Nashville.
Kansas State Wildcats (8-5)
Head Coach – Chris Klieman (20-16 in 3 seasons, 2 bowls)
Top Recruit – Jalen Klemm – OT – 3 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Will Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez (QB-SR) give the Wildcats the bump they need to contend for a Big 12 CG appearance?
If things go right. . . K-State will be strutting into their November 5 match-up with Texas undefeated and holding wins over Missouri, @Oklahoma, Iowa St, and Oklahoma St. If that happens they will need wins over the Longhorns and @Baylor to clinch and avoid upsets @West Virginia and Vs. Kansas.
If things go wrong. . . they are entering their bye week at 2-4 with wins over South Dakota (FCS) and Tulane as the only bright spots and a bowl game a slim possibility.
Likely outcome for the season. . . a lot will ride on how the Wildcats play in toss-up games against Missouri, @Iowa State, Texas, and @West Virginia. Split them and they come out at 7-5 and a bowl game which feels about right.
Oklahoma Sooners (11-1)
Head Coach – Brent Venables (First Season)
Top Recruit – Gentry Williams – CB – 4 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Can the Sooner reassert themselves as the dominant team in the Big 12 (until the SEC move that is)? Oklahoma finished 2021 at 11-2 but 5 of those wins were one-score games that could have gone either way.
If things go right. . . the Sooners return to the Big 12 CG after a one-year hiatus and do it in style- undefeated. They'll rely on the left arm of Central Florida transfer Dillon Gabriel to get there in place of 2021 starter(s) Spencer Rattler (now with South Carolina) and Caleb Williams (Southern Cal).
If things go wrong. . . Losses to Kansas St, Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma St (all but Texas played in Norman) leave the Sooner faithful questioning if Venables was the right hire. Yes, they will, some fan bases have impossibly high standards.
Likely outcome for the season. . . I’m thinking a 10-2 record but no idea where the losses come from. K-State has handed the Sooners 3 of their 6 home losses since 2012, Texas wants to prove they’re “back”, Baylor isn’t the punching bag they used to be, and Okie State wants to string together some “Bedlam” wins. Pick two of 'em, I don’t know.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (12-2)
Head Coach – Mike Gundy (149-69 in 17 seasons, 16 bowls)
Top Recruit – Taylon Shettron – WR – 4 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Can the Cowboys’ offense take up the slack for a defense that needs to replace its playmakers (and DC Jim Knowles) from a year ago?
If things go right. . . Okie State is rolling right along by the time they get to the meat of their schedule with wins over Arizona State and @Baylor. If they get that far they might run over Texas and @Kansas State before the “Bedlam” game on November 19 in Norman where they will likely be playing for a conference championship game slot.
If things go wrong. . . @Baylor, Texas, and @Kansas State have knocked the Cowpokes out of contention by the time the Sooners welcome them to town.
Likely outcome for the season. . . a 9-3 record could get them to the Big 12 CG, but the losses will matter, lose to Central Michigan and Arizona State but go 8-1 in the Big 12? You should be OK. Lose to @Baylor and @Oklahoma? You’re watching it on TV.
TCU Horned Frogs (5-7)
Head Coach – Sonny Dykes (First season)
Top Recruit – Damonic Williams – DL – 3 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Will HC Dykes opt for the veteran Max Duggan (QB-SR) or build for the future with Oklahoma transfer Chandler Morris (QB-FR)?
If things go right. . . the Horned Frogs can get out to a 4-1 start to the season with only a loss to Oklahoma, if they do that they should be able to squeeze out two more wins against the rest of their schedule and earn a bowl game berth.
If things go wrong. . . only Tarleton (FCS) and Kansas look like probable wins and the schedule gets tougher from there.
Likely outcome for the season. . . in Sonny Dykes’ first season in Fort Worth, he’s looking down the barrel of a 4 or 5-win season, not great, but something to build on as he begins recruiting “his” players.
Texas Longhorns (5-7)
Head Coach – Steve Sarkisian (5-7 in 1 season)
Top Recruit – Devon Campbell – IOL – 5 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Will Texas be “back” or will they be “back of the line”?
If things go right. . . the talent infusion from the last two recruiting cycles (#15 and #5 classes respectively) kicks in and the Longhorns roll into the “Red River Shootout” with only Alabama having beaten them on their way to an 8 or 9 win season.
If things go wrong. . . Neither Ohio State transfer Quinn Ewers nor RS sophomore Hudson Card can get the offense up to speed allowing teams can load the box against Bijan Robinson. Meanwhile, the defense continues to allow opposing offenses to take late-game leads away. All of this means a 6-6 season for the ‘Horns.
Likely outcome for the season. . . 7-5 or 8-4. I don’t see the Longhorns beating Alabama, Oklahoma, @Oklahoma State, or Baylor, if they can win all of their toss-up games and avoid an @Kansas (or similar) letdown game they should be able to continue to build, improving on 2021’s record by three wins.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-6)
Head Coach – Joey McGuire (First season)
Top Recruit – Joseph Adedire – DL – 3 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Who will emerge from the three-headed beast in the QB room to take the reins of the Red Raiders’ offense? Tyler Shough (Sr), Behren Morton (RS-FR), or Donovan Smith (SO)?
If things go right. . . the QB question is answered in fall camp and the Red Raiders kick off the season with wins over Murray State (FCS) and Houston before a four-game stretch against @NC State, Texas, @Kansas State, and @Oklahoma State. If they can take one of those four it’s a big win and a bowl game is a possibility. Matching last season’s 7-win total would be huge for first-year HC McGuire.
If things go wrong. . . the Red Raiders lose every game in that four-game stretch and the season spirals into apathy (for the fans), disillusion (for the players), and frustration (for the coaches). A three-win (or worse) season isn’t out of the question.
Likely outcome for the season. . . if they aren’t bowl-eligible by the time they head to Ames, Iowa for their game against the Cyclones, they are probably looking at a 4 win season.
West Virginia Mountaineers (6-7)
Head Coach – Neal Brown (17-18 in 3 seasons, 2 bowls)
Top Recruit – Jacolby Spells – CB – 4 stars
Biggest question for 2022 – Can JT Daniels (JR) be the five-star QB we expected him to be when he was recruited to USC (and Georgia)?
If things go right. . . The Mountaineers find a way to get to 3-1 or 4-0 before conference play starts with the October 1st contest @Texas. Do that and a bowl game is a real possibility.
If things go wrong. . . WVU enters the meat of Big 12 play at 2-2 or worse (losing to Kansas or FCS Towson would likely derail the whole season) and have to scramble to 4 wins.
Likely outcome for the season. . . I feel like 4 wins is probable, throw in a shootout upset somewhere and catch someone sleeping and they can get to 6 wins. That feels like a stretch though.
Predicted order of finish (Bowl teams in italics)
Big XII Championship Game
Saturday, December 3 @ 12 PM EST ABC
AT&T Stadium Arlington, TX
Oklahoma Vs. Baylor (Champion)
That was a long one! I’m sure we’re going to see some things come into focus in the next few months (potentially before this article is published) but teams like Kansas and Arizona have to be sweating out this round of realignment musical chairs as they don’t offer much in the way of a population (TV eyeballs) or competitive football (a combined 3-21 in 2021 and 2022 isn’t looking good either) and while each has had football success, it hasn’t been remotely recent.