The college football season is set to kickoff Saturday, August 27, and it’s poised to be one of the more exciting seasons in recent memory. For starters, multiple teams have plans to flip conferences, and some old conference rivalries may be played for the last time. Players are on the move more than ever now, and these athletes know that with each play and each big game, they open doors for transfer opportunities and NIL deals. It should be fun, and we have you covered with our Power 5 conference overviews. Here’s our 2022 Big 12 football preview.
The Big 12 went from a pity party during the 2021 offseason to a total power player in 2022. The conference will add Cincinnati, BYU, Houston, and Central Florida after this season and there are talks of a few Pac 12 schools being interested in jumping ship as well. The Big 12 can make a real statement with a strong year and soften the inevitable blowback of Texas and Oklahoma dipping for the SEC in 2025 (could be sooner if they buy themselves out). There is a new commissioner in town in Brett Yormark who wants to make this conference younger, and hipper and this is a good year to do that.
There was maybe no bigger surprise in the Big 12 than the emergence of the Baylor Bears who flipped the script and went worst-to-first to win the Big 12 Championship Game over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Head coach Dave Aranda and defensive coordinator Ron Roberts have one of the top defenses in all of college football and they had a run-heavy offense that could ram it down your throat in 2022.
The Cowboys were electric, with a defense that started to lessen the idea that the Big 12 is an offensive conference. Another surprise was Oklahoma blowing their season down the stretch and coach Lincoln Riley bolting for Hollywood at the end of the year. It couldn’t have been easy for the Sooners to watch him leave, but it wasn’t as bad as Texas fans watching Kansas hang 57 points on them in a victory in Austin. That debacle pretty much captured the essence of the dumpster fire of a season for new head coach Steve Sarkisian as the ‘horn finished next-to-last in the conference.
In the first coaches’ poll of the season, Oklahoma is ranked 9th, Baylor is ranked 10th, and Oklahoma State is ranked 11th. I think these are fair rankings and the Sooners will be competitive with UCF transfer QB Dillon Gabriel coming into the fold now. I am high on the Baylor Bears who will have a revamped offense with Big 12 Championship hero Blake Shapen under center.
I like Oklahoma State, but Spencer Sanders is a liability at the QB position, and he put that on full display in Arlington last year. We must keep an eye out for Iowa State, a team we all assumed could make a CFP run last season just to end up going 7-6.
Of course, everyone wants to know if Texas is back? It’s going to be year two under Steve Sarkisian and year one with Quinn Ewers as the QB1. I typically don’t believe anything until I actually see it unfold in front of me. So, don’t hold your breath here.
Baylor was an incredible story in 2021, and I fully expect them to be right in the mix for Arlington this season. But they have to play in Norman this time around, and I think this new-look Sooner squad has something to prove.
Potential Heisman Candidate: Dillon Gabriel – Oklahoma – QB