ACC last week so we’re back again with the Big 12. Hope you guys are enjoying these. Once again, the podcast is embedded if you want to listen and don’t want to read through all this. You’re gonna need some blue light glasses if that’s the case. Hope you all enjoy!
Table of Contents:
Iowa State Cyclones
Kansas State Wildcats
Oklahoma State Cowboys
TCU Horned Frogs
Texas Tech Red Raiders
UCF Golden Knights
West Virginia Mountaineers
The Don’t Touch it List
Year 3 was not kind to Dave Aranda’s Bears, posting a 6-7 and never really getting any traction over the course of the season. After finishing the previous year 12-2, the expectation was to make another strong push for the conference title and a potential playoff berth. Instead, we got an up and down roller coaster that included a heartbreaking last second loss to TCU and double digit losses to other conference powers, with the 31-3 loss to eventual champ Kansas State standing out in particular. Blake Shapen didn’t do a ton to wow anybody, although the accuracy was there at 63.3%, with explosive plays eluding the team at times. Baylor’s 38th ranked run game was a bright spot last year, with freshman Richard Reese winning Offensive FOTY honors. The biggest disappointment was by far the defense however, with the redzone defense (98th out of 130) and 3rd down defense (120th out of 130) being the most glaring issues. It wasn’t all bad for the bears by any means, but it’s hard to look at last season as anything but a disappointment.
Looking ahead to 2023, we’re looking at a team that has a lot of questions in some important position groups. The offense is bringing back about 60% of their production, good for 88th in the nation. The Bears bring in Mississippi State transfer Sawyer Robertson to either push Shapen or take his job. With camp just around the corner that will be a big battle to watch. There was also some movement along the OL, as they lost Micah Mazzcua to Florida, while bringing in the Barrington Brothers of BYU (alliteration is our friend here). Developing chemistry quickly is going to be huge, so the hope is that the Barringtons will seamlessly transition to this new offense. On defense, the Bears are only returning 51% of their defensive snaps this year, 97th in FBS. This is a unit that will have their work cut out for them as they try to re-establish the rooms there. Secondary is going to be a big question mark this year, losing 4 DB’s to the transfer portal and only bringing two in. The huge hole left by DT Siaki Ika’s departure to the NFL draft will need to be filled as well. This unit will be a big test for Matt Powledge, returning to Waco after a yearlong stint as Co-DC under Dan Lanning at Oregon.
The schedule this year for the Bears is going to be interesting. They start the year off with a 4 game home stand with Texas State, Utah, Long Island, and then a big battle with the Longhorns. A total of 8 home games makes this a pretty favorable schedule for the Bears, even when you take into account finishing the season with games against Kansas State and TCU. They have 3 games against the new blood of the big 12, and it remains to be seen how those teams will hold up. That out of conference game against Utah might end up being the difference between the over and the under for their 7.5 projected win total. I’m inclined to take the under here. The margin of error here for Dave Aranda and his team is incredibly tight, and I think it will take more time than they have to figure it out.
Alright, time for me to eat a little crow here. I had BYU as a sleeper playoff team. They very much were not. And it took about 3 weeks to figure that out, with the Cougars dropping a big game to Oregon. After that, they lost to any team with a pulse (and a couple without them) before limping into the New Mexico Bowl and beating SMU. What was on paper a pretty modest schedule ended up getting the better of BYU. This was in large part thanks to a 94th ranked defense that had a lot of trouble getting off the field without giving up points.
The roster in 2023 is about middle of the pack this year in terms of the talent they’ve retained. They’re returning 62% of their offensive production, which puts them at 83rd nationally. The biggest question marks are going to be incoming QB transfer Kedon Slovis, who is replacing Jaren Hall, and the receiving room. Losing Puka Nacua leaves the door open for the next man up, but there is a sore lack of experience that could cause some issues for an offense that had to do some carrying last year. The defense is returning 65% of their snaps, and had to hit the portal hard. New defensive coordinator Jay Hill will have quite the rebuild for his side of the ball, and it’s going to take some time to get things settled.
2023 is looking to be a tough year for BYU schedule wise. In their first year as a member of the Big 12, they’re facing both Texas and Oklahoma, along with a solid middle of the conference in OK State, Kansas, TCU, and Texas Tech. Their out of conference will be mostly fine, but an away game against the Razorbacks will be a tough test. All in all, I expect BYU fans to be similarly disappointed with their team again, with the first year in the Big 12 leading to an under on their 4.5 game win total. They only have 3 opponents I have any confidence in them beating and with only one fellow freshman team in Cincinnati to play, they’re dealing with the old guard of the conference. Unfortunately taking the under, and will not be repeating my prediction from last year.
2022 went about as well as one could expect for Cincinnati when you take into the account the 8 players taken in the NFL draft. It’s a tough ask for any school to replace that much talent, asking it of a G5 school feels impossible. Despite all of that, Luke Fickell led his Bearcats to a 9-3 regular season, with each of those losses coming by a single score. This was led by a defense who only gave up more than 30 points once all year; that was week 1. What makes that even more impressive is 6 of the 8 players lost to the draft were on that side of the ball. They finished 29th in total defense, which speaks to the job Luke Fickell did while the head coach. Offense took a bit of a hit losing Desmond Ridder and Alec Pierce. They finished 81st in total offense, just outside of the bottom third of FBS.
Looking at the roster going into 2023, we’re going to see a drastically new Bearcats team. The glaring difference is obviously the head coach; Fickell accepted the Wisconsin job before the bowl game, and was replaced by Scott Satterfield of Louisville. Satterfield bouncing to Cincy made for an awkward Fenway Bowl, a game in which the two teams shared a sideline. Bryan Brown and Tom Manning joined Satterfield as his offensive and defensive coordinators respectively.
In addition to the staff changes, we’re going to see a roster that will be in a bit of a transition period. Cincinnati ranks 124th in the country in returning production, with 42% of the offensive snaps coming back, and 49% on defense. They’ve been very active in the portal, bringing in Emory Jones to replace Ben Bryant at quarterback, and completely flipping the wide receivers room with guys like Xzavier Henderson. The offensive line room has one returning starter, and has relied on some FCS starter transfers and P5 backups to replenish that unit.
The defensive roster is similarly rebuilding. Replacing guys like JQ Hardaway and Ja’Quan Sheppard might take some time, and with a new staff it could take even longer. What will help is the strength they have at defensive line already; this is a unit that should still be pretty damn effective at disrupting the run and the pass. Linebacker should be solid if not outright good, but they’re losing one of the bright spots in that room with Jaheim Thomas heading to Arkansas. All in all, this will remain a team that relies on its defense, with both units needing a couple of weeks to get things figured out.
The good news is, Cincinnati has a few weeks that they can do that figuring out. Knock on wood, but the 2023 slate for the Bearcats is downright favorable. Their first three games are Eastern Kentucky, Pitt, and Miami (OH) before hosting Oklahoma. They avoid Kansas State, TCU, Texas, and Texas Tech completely, while playing the other 3 teams in this Big 12 freshman class. The win total line is currently sitting at 5.5, and I’m inclined to take the over. Realistically this will end up in the don’t touch category for me, but if I had to pick, I’d go over here.
2022 was not kind to Dana Holgerson after a 12-2 record in 2021 and the team expected to make a push for a NY6 bowl in their last year in the AAC. The team finished the year 25th in total offense behind the offense of Clayton Tune and Tank Dell while the defense finished 105th in total defense. The Cougs had tough losses to Tulane and Texas Tech and their only “bad” loss was to their new conference mates, the Kansas Jayhawks.
Jumping forward to this year, Houston will need to replace Clayton Tune and Tank Dell who finished the year with 155 targets. They do have a plan at quarterback with Donovan Smith at QB after he has left Texas Tech. They do return some RBs but lose Alton McCaskill to Colorado. McCaskill missed all of last year but seemed to look totally healthy and looking to improve on a 2021 campaign that totaled 961 yards and 16 TDs. They will return some RBS and WRs and added in portal, including bringing over Tony Mathis from WVU where he lead the team in rushing lash year. The OL is still strong but they did lose some guys and brought in some in through the portal. Holgerson knows from experience he needs to up some size as they move over to the Big 12 and is hoping the transfer portal will be the key to that. Overall the offense still should be good for Houston in 2023.
Defense was a big struggle in 2022 and the team needs to replace some positions. They’ll have to replace a lot at both the edge and at the LB position but the interior DL is still strong. Nelson Caesar is still on the roster and should disrupt opposing teams backfields. Some transfers could really help They had lots of turnover in secondary but Adari Haulcy is back at safety to help and they added a lot through the transfer portal.
Houston will start off the year with a tough G5 test against UTSA. They needed 3 overtimes to win that game last year. They won’t get Oklahoma in their final year of Big 12 play but still have TCU, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Texas, and Baylor. We feel pretty comfortable with Houston being able to beat UTSA this year then beat Rice and Sam Houston State. That gets them to three wins already and feel they should be able to grab a couple more wins to hit their over of 4.5 this year.
Iowa State Cyclones
The Cyclones finished 4-8 in 2022 losing for their first losing season since 2016. On top of that they finished with only one Big 12 win over WVU. The offense finished 83rd in total offense but the defense finished ranked 4th overall in the nation. schedule. The defense really helped keep them close in games as six of their losses came by less than a touchdown but the offense just couldn’t help get the job done.
Iowa State will be returning 76% of their offensive production and 51% on defense which would put them at 6th in the Big 12 and 67th over all of the FBS. Hunter Dekkers is back at quarterback along with a lot of the RB and WR room. At wide receiver the team needs to find a way to replace Xavier Hutchinson who led all of FBS in targets last year with 163 targets and 1,171 receiving yards with the next guy on the team only having 572. On top of the skill positions, the offense line must make some improvements after struggling in 2022. Defensively the Cyclones will look for help to replace Will McDonald who finished his career as the all time Big 12 sack leader. Luckily, they do have a very good secondary and interior returning but have a whole new crop of linebackers.
Iowa State will face off in their annual El Assico matchup against Iowa in week two. They’ll get Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas, and Texas at home but have to go on the road to Oklahoma, Cincinnati, Baylor, BYU, and Kansas State. We were super down on Iowa State ahead of 2022 and while we were right the oddsmakers have corrected the lines to what it probably should have been last year at O/U 5.5. That being said, this team could still make a comeback and we just don’t feel comfortable touching this as they will probably finish with 5 wins or barely become bowl eligible with 6.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of was Kansas under Lance Leipold in 2022. The Jayhawks started their year off 5-0 but finished off their year at 6-7 after a crazy bowl game against Arkansas. At the end of the season they had the 32nd total offense where they totaled over 400 yards and 35 points per game but finished with the 127th total defense.
Heading into 2023 Kansas is ranked 1st in returning production for the Big 12 and 2nd overall in the nation. Star quarterback Jalon Daniels is back for another year after finishing with the best quarterback rating in the nation. He did miss some games with a shoulder injury and came back a little inconsistent but backup Jason Bean filled in nicely and will also look to make an impact in some running formations for Kansas in 2023. The “option” offense really worked well for KU and we should see them look to make some steps forward as they return a ton of weapons on offense as well as the offensive line.
Defense was overall not good. It’s always hard to look at a team with a top 20 offense when they have a top 20 defense. Even though they are returning a lot on the defensive side of the ball it’s unsure if they will take steps forward from being near the bottom of the FBS in every statistical category.
The Jayhawks will face a viable test early on with Illinois in Lawrence but have some very winnable non-conference games against Missouri State and Nevada. As for the rest of the Big 12, they will get newcomers BYU, UCF, and Cincinnati but face the top of the conference with Texas and Oklahoma. In the middle they’ll grab Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Kansas State. We really do love what Leipold is doing with the program but with the line set at 6 on DraftKings or 6.5 on Fanduel we just don’t feel comfortable making any plays here with the uncertainty of them being able to win a ton of shootouts for a second year in a row.
Kansas State Wildcats
Between TCU making the playoff and the Texas/OU farewell tour sucking all of the air out of Big 12 discussion, one might be forgiven for forgetting that Kansas State actually won the conference last year. With regular season losses to Tulane, Texas and TCU (the last of which was avenged in the conference championship game), the Wildcats put on an impressive performance last year. Unfortunately the last thing most people probably remember from Kansas State’s season was being the sacrificial lamb for a pissed off Alabama team. a 21 point third quarter from the Tide and a subpar performance from Will Howard put that game out of reach, and we were left with the most lopsided NY6 bowl of last year’s slate. Even with that in mind, a conference title is nothing to thumb your nose at, and it was a good season for Kansas State no matter how you look at it.
The biggest departure for the Wildcats by far is Deuce Vaughn. It wasn’t (or shouldn’t have been) unexpected, but he was an electric player that will be sorely missed. Head Coach Chris Klieman didn’t hesitate to address the hole at the position, bringing in a premium talent in the form of Treshaun Ward. Sophomore Keagan Johnson, formerly of Iowa, is the only receiver transfer that was brought in, with a few transfers out. Honestly the offense is relatively intact outside of losing their star running back; Will Howard is back for another year, and the offensive line didn’t suffer a significant loss of talent either. The defense transferred more players out than in, and are barely returning half of their snaps in production. Look for a potential youth movement on that side of the ball, we might even see ’23 signee Jordan Allen get some reps this year.
Kansas State’s 2023 schedule features a lot of toss-ups this year. I have 3 games as losses as of right now: Texas, Mizzou, and Texas Tech. They don’t play Oklahoma, which could potentially help them get up past their projected win total of 7.5. This one is a do not touch for me. I like the returning experience on offense (even if Will Howard does leave something to be desired), and Klieman is a great coach. Eventually though, the talent deficit will rear its ugly head. They only play two Big 12 newcomers, one of which is highly prepared for conference play in UCF. Unfortunately, if I had to pick here, I’d lean under. Not by a lot, I do think they go bowling. But I wouldn’t even think about picking them to win the conference again.
Oklahoma finished the 2022 season with the 13th ranked total offense and 122nd ranked total defense in FBS. Those kinds of numbers are about what we would expect out of a Lincoln Riley t-
Sorry, the head coach is who?
That’s right y’all, Venables’ first season as the head ball coach in Norman was pretty on brand for what we’ve expected out of OU for the past few years. The problem is, he was hired specifically to address those issues. I understand you need a bit of a grace period, but it’s not like OU was out here recruiting 2 stars on defense. They opened Big 12 play last year with 3 straight losses, by a combined score of 144-58. One of those games was a 49-0 blanking by Texas in the Red River Rivalry, making it the second biggest RRR surprise of the year. They lost to a middling Baylor team. They lost to Texas Tech. They lost to West Virginia. Dillon Gabriel missed significant time last season, which obviously contributed to the struggles, but again, they were the 13th ranked offense with Gabriel missing that time. They looked the part in a close bowl loss to Florida State, who is a media darling to be a playoff contender this year. But this season was flat out awful with a final record of 6-7.
To give Venables the credit he’s due now, he’s diagnosed the problem. The Sooners have been very active in targeting defensive players in the portal, particularly along the defensive line. A group of five defensive linemen, helmed by Oklahoma State’s Trace Ford and Notre Dame’s Jacob Lacey, should serve to provide some sorely needed talent and depth in a room otherwise depleted of it. IU transfer Dasan McCullough will provide some help as well, while an exodus in the defensive backfield provides plenty of opportunity for a guy like Peyton Bowen to find the field early.
On offense, the Sooners have beefed up their line with a few transfers, capped by grad transfer Walter Rouse, a four year starter for Stanford. The pass catchers saw a lot of movement both directions, with the big adds being WR Brenen Thompson of Texas and the return of TE Austin Stogner from South Carolina. They’re going to need some guys to step up with the departure of Theo Wease to Mizzou, and Marvin Mims to the NFL. There could end up being a legitimate quarterback competition at some point during the year, with Gabriel returning and the arrival of 5 star Jackson Arnold. Odds are Gabriel will remain the starter throughout the year, but reports have indicated that Arnold has impressed thus far, and could make a push.
Looking ahead to the 2023 schedule, we find what should be a very favorable draw for Oklahoma. They play all four conference newcomers, and completely avoid Kansas State and Texas Tech. The only game on their schedule that should even be close on paper is the Red River Rivalry. If OU wins, it would be pretty easy to see 12 wins for the Sooners. Road trips to Lawrence and Stillwater could make things closer than anticipated, but besides those two games and maybe UCF, I don’t see anyone else really competing with the talent this team has stockpiled. Give me the over comfortably at 9.5 wins, with the Texas game likely deciding the conference winner this year.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Oklahoma State finished the season 7-6, after a 6-1 start. Mike Gundy’s Cowboys haven’t had a losing season since 2005 and finished the year with the 52nd rated total offense and 115th rated total defense. It was the first year without Jim Knowles and the defense definitely felt it as they’d fell to 2 sacks per game, 101st in rush defense, and 106th in pass defense. Spencer Sanders finished among the all-time school leaders in passing yards and touchdowns but left after the season to join Ole Miss for his final season in college football.
2023 marks a fresh start for the Pokes. Alan Bowman is likely to be the starter at QB after the Spencer Sanders departure and while the team looked at Brennan Armstrong to come to Stillwater, he ultimately decided to stay close to home at NC State. Bowman hasn’t started a game since 2020 at Texas
Tech but he does have some experience in the Big 12 so we will see if he adapts quickly after sitting on the bench at Michigan for a couple of years. Brennan Presley is the only starting WR back from 2022 but they have some young guys to look out for and added De’Zhaun Stribling from Washington State to help the young group. In the trenches they were very unhealthy last year but the line still needs to make some improvements if they’re going to be competitive this year.
Defensive Coordinator Bryan Nardo is being brought in to try and improve the defense after their poor performance in 2022 under Derek Mason. Nardo is coming from the Division II level at Gannon University and is changing the scheme immediately from a nickel to a 3-3-5 look so their will be some big changes right off the bat. The team lost some key players on the DL and LB Mason Cobb transferred to USC where he was just named to the preseason All Pac-12 team. They’ve tried to replenish in the portal and the secondary was injured last year but the group is still inexperienced overall.
Looking forward to Oklahoma State’s schedule in 2023. They have three out-of-conference games they should be able to win handedly with Central Arkansas, Arizona State, and South Alabama. In conference, they do dodge Texas but still have Oklahoma and Kansas State which luckily those games will be in Stillwater. Also, they pick up all four newcomers who are unknowns, Kansas, WVU, and Iowa State. We feel the line at 6.5 is perfectly set and they should finish with 6 or 7 wins so we won’t have any plays here. Hopefully Gundy can rebound as they haven’t had a losing season in almost twenty years.
2022 started off with a bang for the Longhorns as the Alabama game shed a lot of light on what the team realistically could be. The offense finished the year with the 35th total offense behind newcomer Quinn Ewers but the star quarterback was hurt in week 1 then missed a couple of games and consistency was an issue for the rest of the year. Along with moving the ball through the air the Longhorns had a stout rushing duo with Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson who racked up over 2,000 yards on the ground. Defense was also strong for Texas as they made a jump to 54th overall in total defense after barely being in the top 100 in 2021. A big part of that was a strong linebacker core led by Jaylan Ford and some strong defensive tackles on the line to help disrupt the line of scrimmage. The Longhorns never lost a game by more than a touchdown in 2022, lost a OT game in Lubbock, lost to the eventual national runner up in TCU, a really good Alabama team by 1, and although they lost to Washington in the Alamo Bowl they still held a offensive powerhouse to only 27 points. On the bright side, they handed Oklahoma their biggest loss ever in the rivalry with a 49-0 finish.
Texas is among the top teams the nation (19th, 2nd in the Big 12) in returning production and made some key additions in the transfer portal to help bolster both sides of the ball. Obviously replacing two running backs who went in the top three rounds of the draft will be a tough job but recruiting the position has never particularly been a struggle with Texas. The wide receiver room is among the best in the nation with Xavier Worthy, Isaiah Neyor, and Jordan Whittington and the team actually even added a piece with AD Mitchell transferring over from UGA after winning a national championship in 2021 and 2022. On top of that the passing attack gets back Ja’Tavion Sanders who was a first team All-Big 12 selection last year. The line returns all five starters including a couple of guys who started as true freshman in 2022 so Ewers should not have a problem making a leap forward with all the weapons at his disposal.
On the other side of the ball the defense is returning 63% of it’s production which is much less than the offense but as far as the front seven goes will still have a very veteran group with T’vondre Sweat, Byron Murphy II, Barryn Sorrel, and stud linebacker Jaylan Ford. The secondary is where a lot of the losses are coming from but Jerrin Thompson is still there to serve as a buffer and they added Jalen Catalon from Arkansas to start opposite Thompson as well as bringing in Gavin Holmes from Wake Forest to start at cornerback.
When we look ahead at the 2023 schedule Texas has some immediate challenges early on. On the road at Alabama in week 2 will be the toughest of asks for them to come home with a win and then they head to Waco for a tough road game and get the forever unkown Kansas Jayhawks at home before their annual rivalry game with Oklahoma. They only get two of the newcomers to the conference after their bye with Houston and BYU and still must face tough matchups with the rest of the conference with Kansas State, TCU, and Texas Tech. Lucky for them Kansas State and Texas Tech will be at home. It will be a tough schedule but with the questions surrounding a lot of the programs they’ll face this year we as a group feel comfortable they should be able to get over their win mark of 9.5
TCU Horned Frogs
TCU had probably the craziest year in recent memory as they came out of nowhere and made it to the national championship game. Unfortunately, the national championship game ended with a literal murder as they lost the game 65-7 to UGA. Regardless of the outcome, the national championship still isn’t enough to overlook how much they accomplished throughout the year with amazing performances across the board. They racked off some amazing wins in conference and their only loss came in OT of that crazy Big 12 Championship game. A lot of talent is gone but the legacy of 2022 TCU will live on forever.
Moving forward to this year the Horned Frogs are returning the second to worst production in the conference and are 118th in the nation. It will be a year of trying to replace guys like Max Duggan, Kendre Miller, Quentin Johnston, and Steve Avila. Starting at quarterback… Max Duggan was never even supposed to be the starter but took over after Chandler Morris got hurt and never looked back. It will be a much harder job for Morris as TCU are replacing some offensive lineman, both leading rushers, and their three top receivers. At running back, Trey Sanders has transferred over from Alabama to help replace the production lost and they have a group of guys all transferring in at wide receiver from other P5 programs.
Jumping to the defensive side of the ball they have some guys back but need to replace over half of their teams sacks from last year. Freshman All-American Damonic Williams will still look to control the line of scrimmage from the nose tackle position and they have a strong linebacker group and secondary that might be able to help out. Regardless, the team finished 95th in total defense last year and will need to take a step forward this year to be able to compete.
TCU’s schedule for 2023 is pretty tough but they definitely did not get the worst draw in the conference. They’ll face only two of the newcomers in Houston and BYU, grab WVU and Iowa State, and then as far as some of the better teams in the conference they’ll have Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Baylor. On top of that they still have Texas and Oklahoma and will face SMU and Colorado in their non-conference. Colorado is definitely not one to worry about but these other teams have a lot coming back where TCU just simply does not have the offense to hide their defensive flaws from last year. We’re pretty comfortable on the under here at 7.5 but it really sucks to have to even do that after their amazing 2022 season.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
It was a pretty respectable season for the Red Raiders this year, a team that ranked 7th out of 10 schools in the 247 Team Talent composite. While they had their fair share of regrettable losses, including a 45-17 drubbing by Baylor and a two score loss to NC State, they rattled off a number of impressive wins down the stretch. Tech capped off their season by smoking Ole Miss 42-25, putting their final record at 8-5. The numbers play out kind of how you would expect with a school like Tech’s reputation, with the 22nd ranked total offense and 108th ranked total defense in the FBS. Injuries plagued the quarterback room, with 3 starters getting significant stretches of play over the year. It probably didn’t help that the transfers they brought in along the offensive line didn’t lead to high quality play with that group. A defensive unit led by future top 5 draft pick Tyree Wilson made some improvements in areas, netting one fewer ppg allowed than in 2021. But they still had a long way to go from being truly competitive on that side of the ball.
The 2023 Red Raiders are going to have some important new faces, and an even more important mainstay. Tech is returning 64% of total production this year, which puts it at 64th nationally and 4th in the conference. The offense is returning 75% of their snaps, including the QB who finished the season off, Tyler Shough. On defense, we’re going to see a lot more new faces, with only 52% of their production returning. 5 of their 7 transfers so far are on defense, and 3 of them are linemen. Headlining the transfers in is senior Steve Linton out of Syracuse, an Edge defender who tallied up 22 tackles and 4 sacks for the Orange. The hope with bringing in a guy like Linton is that you’ll be able to augment a room that was tied for 45th in sacks last year. They’re going to have to replace Tyree Wilson somewhere, and it’s possible they think Linton will be the key. After recruiting high upside guys with the traits to become stars, they’ll need to rely on some of these guys to step up and continue to make strides.
Looking ahead at the schedule for this coming year, Tech is in… a pretty decent spot all things considered. The only two games I would pencil in as losses off the jump are Texas and Oregon. Yes, I know they beat Texas last year. Quinn Ewers was not under center, and I’m pretty damn high on the Longhorns this year. Couple that with the game being on the road, and I’ll comfortably pencil that in as a loss for now. Oregon is in Lubbock, which could make for a more interesting game than I’m anticipating, but I’ve got them losing that one by 7-11 points (take the over and run though). The rest of their schedule is full of either winnable games, or games I outright think they will win. I’m looking at 6 wins I’m comfortable with now, which means they only need to take a couple more to get the over on the 7.5 line we found. I’m taking the over, and honestly? Not counting out a 9 or 10 win season.
UCF Golden Knights
We round out the last of the newcomers with the only Florida Man of the conference. The Gus Bus is hitting the Plains.
As with most football teams, the fortunes of UCF largely correlated with the fortunes of the fastest man alive, John Rhys Plumlee. The team had an up and down season that had them looking at one time like a legitimate top 25 squad, and then losing to a team they had no business losing too. They lost 3 regular season games: Louisville, East Carolina, and Navy. The Navy game was a 17-14 dud, with neither Plumlee nor Mikey Keene able to do a ton. Their regular season victory over Tulane was avenged in the CCG, and then the Knights got rolled by Duke in the Military Bowl. They had an exciting offense for the most part, coming in at 16th in the nation in total offense. Defense was more pedestrian at 69th in the country.
The last offseason before Big 12 play was a fun one. Malzahn has posted back to back top 40 recruiting classes, including transfers, and you can see the talent level has increased with the anticipated move. Plumlee is back, albeit with a new offensive coordinator and some spots on the offensive line that need sorting out. The defense is in good shape, with 4 star transfer Derrick LeBlanc and top 100 signee John Walker providing some beef up front. Having two new coordinators is probably less than ideal for the jump up to the Power 5, but when your head coach is as experienced as Malzahn, you can probably bank on him having a steady hand for this kind of adjustment.
Looking ahead at the schedule, the Knights have a path to being a pretty fun team to watch this year. They’ve got enough talent to be undefeated going into their October 21st matchup with Oklahoma. Games aren’t played on paper though, and there are stumbling blocks. Boise State and their hideous field catch them early, and road trips to the Kansas schools take place in the weeks leading up to the OU game. The back half of the schedule isn’t too bad, not a lot of duds but not the high end talent either. With a win total sitting at a tempting 6.5, I’m inclined to actually take the over on it. The Big 12 feels like it’s always a mess, and out of any of the new teams, UCF is the one I believe is most poised to cause a little chaos.
West Virginia Mountaineers
2022 was a rough year for Neal Brown and the Mountaineers as they were expected to take a step forward with transfer quarterback JT Daniels coming to Morgantown. The team still did finish with the 57th ranked total offense and a top 100 defense but conference play was a little tough. West Virginia finished the year 5-7 and were also able to pull off some upsets against Baylor and Oklahoma which most would not have seen as likely before the year. Regardless, they were handed losses to a surprising Kansas team and gave Iowa State their only conference win of the year.
2023 starts off with the uncertainty of who will be starting at QB with Garrett Greene or Nicco Marchiol after JT Daniels has moved on to his fourth school in five years. On a positive note the entire OL is back along with a RB room that totaled over 1,200 yards but leading rusher Tony Mathis has transferred to new conference foe Houston. Former RB Coach Chad Scott has been promoted to OC after Graham Harrell left for the same job at Purdue. Scott clearly wants to run the ball as the team had 2,069 rushing yards from five running backs last year. Out wide the Mountaineers must replace Bryce Ford-Wheaton who has landed on an NFL roster. The hope is some young guys can fill in but the team has looked to the transfer portal to fill some spots just in case. Devin Carter comes over from NC State and has the build to be the possession receiver the Mountaineers need. Defensively, WVU just couldn’t get it done last year. They ranked 111th overall in passing defense and got gashed through the air on a consistent basis. They’re strong up front and in the middle so this season will all come down to whether or not the secondary can take some steps, actually leaps forward.
WVU will face all four of the new teams in conference this year which should be in their favor. They also dodge Texas but still will face some of the stronger teams in the conference with TCU, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Baylor, and Oklahoma along with facing traditional rivals Penn State and Pitt in their out of conference. With all that being said there’s a lot of uncertainty on which of these games West Virginia will actually be able to pull out. I’m pretty high on the Mountaineers this year but the non-conference schedule and facing some of the tougher teams in the middle of the conference land this team on the do not touch list. They could easily get to five just due to the fact that they are the only team in the conference to play all four of the newcomers to the Big 12 this year.
Just like last week here’s a list of win totals we feel comfortable with you guys not taking and being able to take. It’s pretty self explanatory but if it’s on the don’t touch list don’t go anywhere near it. We’ve also found the best lines for the plays we like so make sure you shop around if you need to.
Don’t Touch It
Baylor: O/U 7 Wins
Cincinnati: O/U 5.5 Wins
Iowa State: O/U 5.5 Wins
Kansas: O/U 6 Wins
Oklahoma State: O/U 6.5 Wins
West Virginia: O/U 5.5 Wins
BYU: O/U 5.5 – Under 5.5 Wins (-125 on DraftKings)
Houston: O/U 4.5 Wins – Over 4.5 Wins (-134 on FanDuel)
Kansas State: O/U 7.5 Wins – Over 7.5 Wins (-180 on FanDuel)
Oklahoma: O/U 9.5 Wins – Over 9.5 Wins (+100 on DraftKings)
Texas: O/U 9.5 Wins – Over 9.5 Wins (-140 on DraftKings and FanDuel)
TCU: O/U 7.5 Wins – Under 7.5 Wins (+118 on FanDuel)
UCF: O/U 6.5 Wins – Over 6.5 Wins (-170 on FanDuel)
HOPE YOU ALL ENJOYED! PAC 12 FRIDAY!
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