Cleat Geeks

2017 College Football Big 12 Conference Preview

Every College Football season, every team from each conference has a major question that circles around the preseason progress of their potential success. In the three years of the College Football Playoffs, only one team from the Big 12 has gone to the Playoffs. That team was the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2015 season where they lost (as a favorite) to the Clemson Tigers with a 37-17 score. The Big 12 has missed their chances in multiple situations to appear in the Playoffs because of the competitiveness of the conference but also because they don’t have a Conference Championship game. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby has refused to add more members to the Big 12 Football Conference to blend in with the ACC, Big Ten, PAC-12, and the SEC. The 2017 College Football season is a brand new start and each team has a chance to get in the Playoffs but multiple losses might be a big negative without a Conference Championship game at the end of the season.

Here are the biggest questions that each team will be facing in the upcoming 2017 College Football season.

Baylor Bears“Will this be the year the Baylor Bears look to the future after a dark past?”
7-6, 3-6 in Big 12 in 2016

The 2016 off-season was a disaster for not only the Baylor Bears football team but for the University as a number of major sexual assault cases overshadowed Baylor. Coaches, the Athletic Director, and the school’s president were forced out and recruiting was depleted greatly. Even with the full year aftermath, the Bears football program continuingly face harsh glances. After a complete makeover, the Bears are ready to win again this upcoming 2017 College Football season. The defense must get more efficient as they were a reason the Bears dropped 6 games in a row at the end of the season with 4 of them allowing 40 or more points.

Iowa State Cyclones“Will the Cyclones get revenge after a bad rebooting start in 2016?”
3-9, 2-7 in Big 12 in 2016

Matt Campbell’s first season as Head Coach at Iowa State did not go well but the start of it was much worse. In 2016, the Cyclones opened their season with a loss at home to Northern Iowa (an FCS team) followed by a 39 point blowout to their rivals in the Iowa Hawkeyes 42-3. They open the 2017 season with the same opponents hoping for different results. The Cyclones have many questions all around their roster but have potential thanks to good recruiting. Iowa State actually is ranked 7th ahead of West Virginia, Kansas State, and Kansas in recruiting which is not bad for a school that is downplayed often by rival Big 12 schools.

Kansas Jayhawks “Does Head Coach David Beaty have the potential to lead his team to a winning season for the 1st time since 2008?”
2-10, 1-8 in Big 12 in 2016

Every year, it’s the same results for the Kansas Jayhawks. The team has potential with some special players but they could never capitalize. AD Sheahon Zenger sees something different in Head Coach David Beaty despite his 2-22 record in his first 2 years at Kansas. The Jayhawks return 3 of their 4 starting Defensive Line from last season including DE Dorance Armstrong who accounted for 10 sacks. He will be the unquestioned leader on defense. As much as the Jayhawks have great experienced Wide Receivers, they will need a solid starting Quarterback and Running Back to make an efficient offense that last year was ranked 120th in points per game (20.3).

Kansas State Wildcats“Are the Wildcats a serious dark horse in the Big 12 title race?”
9-4, 6-3 in Big 12 in 2016

Last year, the Wildcats won 9 games and not a lot of people seemed to notice. This season, Kansas State is looking to be more of a threat in the Big 12 thanks to their experienced QB in Jesse Ertz and one of the best Lines (offensively and defensively) in the Big 12. Jesse Ertz passed for 1,755 yards and 9 touchdowns and ran for 1,012 yards and 12 touchdowns. After a full year of surgery, Ertz should be more of an explosive and assertive passer. Kansas State also returns 3 of their Defensive Backs and with an experienced D-Line, they will be better when they were ranked 114th in the nation in passing yards per game (272.7).

Oklahoma Sooners “How much of an impact will Bob Stoops’ sudden departure affect Oklahoma in 2017?”
11-2, 9-0 in Big 12 in 2016

The Sooners were looking to easily repeat as Big 12 Conference champs for 2017 but questions circulate after the sudden departure earlier in June. New Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley has already made progress to making the team his own by hiring former East Carolina Head Coach Ruffin McNeil as D-Line coach. The offense returns 9 starters from last year’s unit that was ranked 3rd in the nation in points per game (43.9). The Sooners will have a high-power offense once again but the defense should be very concerned with the lack of experience in their Defensive Line. This may put too much pressure on the Defensive Backs, who were a part of the squad that was ranked 111th in passing yards per game (269.4).

Oklahoma State Cowboys“Will the Cowboys dethrone the Sooners or fall flat again?”
10-3, 7-1 in Big 12 in 2016

Head Coach Mike Gundy has to feel satisfied with his offense this 2017 College Football season. Not only does he have a more consistent Offensive Line but he has a running game and a passing game that is expected to get better. QB Mason Rudolph is the next possible Quarterback selected in the NFL Draft as he passed for 4,091 yards and 28 touchdowns last season. The Cowboys defense expect to get better despite only returning 5 starters that were ranked 53rd in the nation in points allowed per game (26.5). The Cowboys, though, can’t lose to lower-tier teams like they did to Central Michigan and Baylor last season.

TCU Horned Frogs“Will inconsistent QB-WR play drag the Horned Frogs down again in 2017?”
6-7, 4-5 in Big 12 in 2016

Despite QB Kenny Hill passing for 3,208 yards he only threw 17 touchdowns and was inconsistent as a passer for the Horned Frogs all 2016 season. In 2015, they close to reaching the College Football Playoffs then the following season they accounted for a 6-7 record. The Wide Receivers did not help the passing game either with 38 total drops and bad running routes. Overall the Horned Frogs were ranked 29th in passing yards per game (268.2) but were also 52nd in the nation in points per game (31). The passing game will need to be more efficient if the Horned Frogs wants to be more successful in 2017.

Texas Longhorns “Are the Longhorns & Tom Herman ready for a red-hot start in 2017?”
5-7, 3-6 in Big 12 in 2016

Expectations are high for the first season of the Tom Herman era of the Texas Longhorn. There is great potential with a defense that returns 10 starters from last year’s team. Part of the reason for Longhorn unsuccessful seasons since 2010 is because of inconsistent Quarterback play. This is a chance for QB Shane Buechele to prove he is the Quarterback for the Longhorns program after leading Texas to be ranked 50th in the nation in passing yards per game (252). The Longhorns have a great Head Coach, great Coordinators, and great potential players but it was the overly high standards that caused the downfall of Charlie Strong in the first place.

Texas Tech Red Raiders“Will the defense be more efficient enough to save coach Kingsbury’s job?”
5-7, 3-6 in Big 12 in 2016

As much as the Red Raiders had one of the most explosive offenses in the nation by ranking 5th in the nation in points per game (43.7) and 1st in passing yards per game (463), the defense was one of the worst in the nation. Last season, Texas Tech finished 128th (last) in the nation in points allowed per game (43.5) and total yards allowed per game (554.3). In a conference that thrills off of Offensive stars, the Red Raiders find themselves in a tough spectrum if they don’t have a decent defense. This will be the 5th season for Cliff Kingsbury as Head Coach and has a 24-26 record, he’ll need a winning season to save his job.

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West Virginia Mountaineers“Will the lack of experience make 2017 a rebuilding season?”
10-3, 7-2 in Big 12 in 2016

The Mountaineers only return 4 offensive starters and 3 defensive starters from the 2016 College Football season for this season. There is a definitive lack of experience at key positions including all the Defensive Line and 3 Offensive Linemen. In their 3-3-5 defensive system, West Virginia has to replace 4 of their 5 Defensive Backs that last year ranked 104th in the nation in passing yards allowed per game (257.7). Former Florida Gators QB Will Grier will get a fresh start at West Virginia after being suspended for the 2016 season after PED usage. Expect the offense to be great but the defense to struggle in 2017.

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