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Big 12 Previews 2024 (in alphabetical order!)

Dolgevillefootballfan

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Okay... You guys are about to see the first examples of why it's a crying shame that the PAC-12 is dead. Four teams from that league are now here in the Big 12, and let's see if any of them can win it in Year 1.

Let me know your thoughts about this new league and your predictions! ...Your thoughts might help me decide on a winner.
 

Dolgevillefootballfan

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Arizona

The first preview segment for the Big 12 Conference: The Arizona Wildcats

Last season: This Jedd Fisch guy is a miracle worker! In 2021, Arizona was garbage. Now look at what Arizona did in 2023! Wins over Washington State and Oregon State (when those two were highly ranked)! A smashing of the Utah Utes! And a win in the Alamo Bowl over Oklahoma to finish a 10-3 season with a #11 spot in the last AP rankings. This whole thing has been crazy!
Sadly for the Wildcats, the madness didn't stop once the season ended. Jedd Fisch is now coaching Washington, and a good chunk of their team left... while Arizona began moving to the Big 12. Now what will happen to them in their new home?

2024 X-factor: The new coaching staff- (I actually like Arizona hiring Brent Brennan to be the new coach. The guy was winning at San Jose State, for Christ's sake! He knows what he's doing! With Dino Babers and Duane Akina as his new coordinators, let's see if he can keep the train going.)

Good news: Brent already did one great thing: He convinced QB Noah Fifita to stay in Arizona for another year. And WR Tetairoa McMillan is also still here. That's a lethal duo right there on offense! The secondary looks good, and watch for LB Jacob Manu to become a true leader on the defense.

Bad news: Arizona lost almost everyone else from last year's D-line, so that means people other than Manu has to step in. Arizona also needs to find a new top rusher and some WR's other than McMillan to throw to.

Key games:
9/13 @ Kansas State (What a way for Arizona to start Big 12 play, against a top contender like Kan- Wait. This game won't count in the Big 12 standings? Crap!)
9/28 @ Utah (Okay, THIS is the Big 12 opener for Arizona. And it's against one of their moving buddies in Utah!)
10/26 vs. West Virginia (The first-ever meeting between Arizona and West Virginia.)
11/2 @ UCF (A team from Tucson, Arizona going to face a team from Orlando, Florida in a conference game... in another first-time meeting.)
11/30 vs. Arizona State (The "Territorial Cup" rivalry is still alive... as it's now in the Big 12.)

Bottom line: Arizona has a lot of newness to deal with in 2024. New home. New coach. New regional rivalries. Some new people on defense that they need to get up to speed quickly. However, most of their opponents have some newness of their own to deal with. And 'Zona still has Fifita and McMillan are still here.
So in the wide-open Big 12, don't be surprised if Arizona makes a run.
 

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Arizona State

Preview segment: The Arizona State Sun Devils

Last season: One of the worst seasons Arizona State football has ever had, as they went 3-9. Now with the NCAA sanctions against them all gone, the Sun Devils are looking to start all over again in the Big 12.

Good news: Despite only returning 3 starters, the defense already looks better than it did last year. In particular, Shamari Simmons and Xavion Alford should make a terrifying twosome in the secondary. QB Sam Levitt looks to be the starter...

Bad news: ...but it remains to be seen if he can lift up the ASU offense. ASU's leading receiver (Elijhah Badger) transferred away in the winter, and the running game needs to wake up.

Key games:
9/7 vs. Mississippi State (Can Arizona State upset the Bulldogs? I mean, Miss. State is also going through some transitions.)
9/21 @ Texas Tech (The Sun Devils' first foray into Big 12 conference play.)
10/11 vs. Utah (ASU gets to host a moving buddy in Utah. Hopefully it'll go better than the 55-3 beatdown Utah gave them last year.)
10/19 @ Cincinnati (This Big 12 game looks winnable. Arizona State hasn't faced Cincinnati since 1975.)
11/30 @ Arizona (Can Arizona State stop the bleeding against their in-state rivals?)

Bottom line: Even with the new league schedule, Arizona State should be better this year than they were in 2023. HOW much better they'll be will depend on the offense and what kind of progress it'll make. But with the kind of depth the Big 12 now has, expect ASU to finish near the bottom of the Big 12 in their 1st year.
 

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Arizona

The first preview segment for the Big 12 Conference: The Arizona Wildcats

Last season: This Jedd Fisch guy is a miracle worker! In 2021, Arizona was garbage. Now look at what Arizona did in 2023! Wins over Washington State and Oregon State (when those two were highly ranked)! A smashing of the Utah Utes! And a win in the Alamo Bowl over Oklahoma to finish a 10-3 season with a #11 spot in the last AP rankings. This whole thing has been crazy!
Sadly for the Wildcats, the madness didn't stop once the season ended. Jedd Fisch is now coaching Washington, and a good chunk of their team left... while Arizona began moving to the Big 12. Now what will happen to them in their new home?

2024 X-factor: The new coaching staff- (I actually like Arizona hiring Brent Brennan to be the new coach. The guy was winning at San Jose State, for Christ's sake! He knows what he's doing! With Dino Babers and Duane Akina as his new coordinators, let's see if he can keep the train going.)

Good news: Brent already did one great thing: He convinced QB Noah Fifita to stay in Arizona for another year. And WR Tetairoa McMillan is also still here. That's a lethal duo right there on offense! The secondary looks good, and watch for LB Jacob Manu to become a true leader on the defense.

Bad news: Arizona lost almost everyone else from last year's D-line, so that means people other than Manu has to step in. Arizona also needs to find a new top rusher and some WR's other than McMillan to throw to.

Key games:
9/13 @ Kansas State (What a way for Arizona to start Big 12 play, against a top contender like Kan- Wait. This game won't count in the Big 12 standings? Crap!)
9/28 @ Utah (Okay, THIS is the Big 12 opener for Arizona. And it's against one of their moving buddies in Utah!)
10/26 vs. West Virginia (The first-ever meeting between Arizona and West Virginia.)
11/2 @ UCF (A team from Tucson, Arizona going to face a team from Orlando, Florida in a conference game... in another first-time meeting.)
11/30 vs. Arizona State (The "Territorial Cup" rivalry is still alive... as it's now in the Big 12.)

Bottom line: Arizona has a lot of newness to deal with in 2024. New home. New coach. New regional rivalries. Some new people on defense that they need to get up to speed quickly. However, most of their opponents have some newness of their own to deal with. And 'Zona still has Fifita and McMillan are still here.
So in the wide-open Big 12, don't be surprised if Arizona makes a run.
I think Arizona has a legitimate shot at the Big 12 title and the playoff this year. Their offense should be explosive.
The Big 12 is really wide open - there are several teams I could see making a run for it - Utah, Arizona, Kansas St, Kansas, Iowa St, Oklahoma St. I didn’t know the Zona/KST game didn’t count in the Big 12 standings.
I look forward to your previews of the other teams
 

Dolgevillefootballfan

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Baylor

Preview segment: The Baylor Bears

Last season: Dave Aranda doesn't like the heatwave that's currently going on in this country; it reminds him of his current situation in Waco. See, after winning the Big 12 in 2021, fans were expecting him to keep Baylor as a Big 12 title contender. But it didn't happen; Baylor went 6-7 in 2022, and last year they went 3-9 while their defense sucked eggs.

Good news: Dave Aranda himself is calling the defensive plays now, and it makes sense; he did that 5 years ago and helped LSU win it all. A change in offensive schemes should help Baylor get more points, especially with QB Dequan Finn joining the team and RB Richard Reese still here.

Bad news: Line play is unquestionably the big worry for Baylor in 2024. The D-line is young and unproven, while the O-line has some wide bodies to replace.

Key games:
9/7 @ Utah (Baylor will be the one to welcome Utah to the Big- Wait. This game won't count in the Big 12 standings, won't it? Dammit!)
9/21 @ Colorado (Okay, HERE is the Big 12 opener for Baylor. The Bears are welcoming back Colorado to the league, but will their defense be ready?)
10/26 vs. Oklahoma State (Baylor didn't have to face OK State last year.)
11/2 vs. TCU (It's not just about fixing the team for Baylor in 2024; they have to get back their mojo in the state of Texas. Stopping those damn Horned Frogs should help in that goal.)
11/30 vs. Kansas (Senior Day in Waco. Will it help decide the Big 12 title race, or will it be the end of Aranda as coach? Only time will tell.)

Bottom line: ...I think you get the point. The coach is under a LOT of pressure to get Baylor back on track? Will he be fired? Will he save his job? Or will he take the Chip Kelly approach and just leave to be a highly-paid coordinator? That remains to be seen.
But the Bears do have some good pieces, so maybe all they have to do is fix their line play to be a contender again.
 

Dolgevillefootballfan

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Brigham Young

Preview segment: The BYU Cougars

Last season: In 2023, BYU finally got their wish of playing in a power conference. And they did pretty well at first, starting 5-2. But then the grind got to them, and they ended the season on a 5-game losing streak. Now the goal for BYU is very simple: Finish better and be tougher.

Good news: There are no big worries on defense; it should do better than it did last year thanks to a strong secondary and a lot of linebackers. Wide-receiver should be the best position on the whole offense.

Bad news: It's a toss-up between Gerry Bohanon and Jake Retzlaff for who will be the starting QB for BYU, and we don't have a favorite yet. Regardless of that, the whole offense won't go anywhere if the O-line f---ing sucks... like it did last year.

Key games:
9/6 @ SMU (I never thought that BYU and SMU would ever face each other as "Power 4" schools. Nevertheless, this should be a good first test for the Cougars and their improved defense.)
9/21 vs. Kansas State (Oh dear. BYU's conference opener will be against one of the league favorites.)
10/12 vs. Arizona (A tough part of the schedule will come when BYU deals with Arizona...)
10/18 vs. Oklahoma State (...and Oklahoma State in consecutive weeks. But then again, BYU did almost shock the Cowboys last year in Stillwater.)
11/9 @ Utah (This will be a thrill for the Cougars. It's the return of the "Holy War", and it'll be an important Big 12 game to boot!)

Bottom line: Last year, BYU missed a bowl game for only the 2nd time in 19 seasons. And I don't think BYU wants that trend to continue, so the pressure is on for the coaching staff to turn things around. But if they want to survive in the deeper Big 12 in 2024, they better decide on their QB and do it FAST.
 

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Cincinnati

Preview segment: The Cincinnati Bearcats

Last season: Eeek! Well, that was one hell of a reality check for Cincinnati, wasn't it? The poor Bearcats never stood a chance in their first year in the Big 12, going 3-9. How much better will they be in Year 2?

Good news: Cincinnati actually had a great running attack last year, and the entire O-line is back to lead the way again for RB Corey Kiner. The team also found a gem of a QB in the transfer portal: Brendan Sorsby. I'm sure that Brendan can give a jolt to the Cincy passing attack.

Bad news: Cincy has a new defensive coordinator, but the guy hasn't run a full defense since 2003. The special teams unit needs an upgrade.

Key games:
9/7 vs. Pittsburgh (The Bearcats are hoping that they can chase away Pittsburgh again...)
9/14 @ Miami-Ohio (...and they're REALLY hoping that they can get back that "Victory Bell" from those damn Redhawks.)
9/21 vs. Houston (So their Big 12 opener is against the only Big 12 team they defeated last year. Hmmm...)
10/19 vs. Arizona State (A winnable conference game for the Bearcats.)
11/9 vs. West Virginia (By this time, we'll know how much better Cincinnati's defense is.)

Bottom line: Cincinnati is still a step behind the other teams in the league, so expect them to be near the bottom of the Big 12 again. However, if Brendan Sorsby gets the offense rolling, maybe Cincy's fortunes will change.
 

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Colorado

Preview segment: The Colorado Buffaloes

Last season: So how do I describe Deion's 1st year running Colorado?
For this, I'm just gonna recall the Colorado/Stanford game. The game (and season) started out so well for the Buffaloes, as they got off to a flying start (with many celebrities and reporters following them. But then things get wobbly, as their opponents catch on to their tricks and exploit their lack of depth. And then in the end, Colorado comes out a loser as everyone realizes the harsh truth; this is still a rebuilding program.

Good news: Well, Deion still has his son Sheduer Sanders with him, and WR Travis Hunter is also staying in Boulder. That means the offense will always have a chance to put up points. Last year's O-line sucked, so the fact that it's all-new this year may actually be a good thing.

Bad news: Deion can bring in players, but he's also losing them at a rapid pace; we had another year of roster turnover in the offseason. The defense was hot garbage last year (127th overall), so that obviously has to change.

Key games:
8/29 vs. North Dakota State (You're wondering "Why is a game against the FCS on your 'Key Games' slate?". Well, for one thing NDSU is a rock-solid program. And also, I wanna see how well Colorado's new defense does right away...)
9/7 @ Nebraska (...because it'll have to do better for Colorado to bypass rivals like Nebraska and Colorado State again.)
9/21 vs. Baylor (This game begins Colorado's big return to the Big 12. And oh dear, it's a winnable one against a desperate Baylor team.)
10/19 @ Arizona (Colorado almost upset Arizona last year, getting edged out 34-31.)
11/16 vs. Utah (Even in the Big 12, Colorado and Utah will continue to see each other as rivals. Can Deion help Colorado snap a 7-game skid against the rival Utes?)

Bottom line: ...All right. Now that everyone in Boulder is sober after the roller-coaster ride of 2023, it's time for Deion and his staff to get to work. And with Travis Hunter and Sheduer Sanders still here, the goal for CU is to get their first bowl trip since 2020. But we'll see how CU handles their return to the Big 12, with old faces (like Utah and Arizona) joining old acquaintances (like Oklahoma State and Kansas) and new faces (like UCF and Cincinnati).
One thing's for sure: Colorado won't go anywhere if that defense continues to fuck around.
 

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Houston

Preview segment: The Houston Cougars

Last season: Like Cincinnati and BYU, Houston was excited to jump into the fray of major conference play. And like Cincinnati and BYU, Houston would run out of steam in 2023 as they went 4-8. Now Dana Holgorsen is out, and in comes Willie Fritz to try to bring the program back up.

Good news: QB Donovan Smith is still here. Plus, Houston has a deep collection of RB's that they can use in a lot of ways.

Bad news: There's still a lot of things to fix here. Four starters on the O-line must be replaced, some new playmakers at WR must be found, and hope is not high for a big defensive turnaround in 2024.

Key games:
9/14 vs. Rice (Yes, I know that Houston has a big road game at Oklahoma in September. But to me, Houston should just focus on getting revenge against their in-city rivals.)
9/28 vs. Iowa State (Houston has a chance to shock the Cyclones here.)
10/26 vs. Utah (Did you know that this will be Houston's first meeting with Utah since 1978?)
11/23 vs. Baylor (A meeting with an old SWC rival for Houston! The Cougars can get Dave Aranda fired from Baylor here.)

Bottom line: Willie Fritz deserved a shot at coaching at a power school, and he finally has the chance at Houston! And Cougar fans should keep their heads up; sure, their team may stink in 2024 (what with the lack of starters and defensive worries). But Willie is a known program builder; just give it time.
 

Dolgevillefootballfan

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Iowa State

Preview segment: The Iowa State Cyclones

Last season: After 2022, it was imperative that Iowa State kept working and prevent a slide-down into the Big 12 basement. And they did! Granted, they went 7-6 in 2023. But they DID develop some new stars... stars that might help them win the Big 12 in 2024.

Good news: As a new starter in 2023, QB Rocco Becht set a lot of freshmen records. Now he has a lot of awesome WR's to throw to, and a proud O-line to help him light up the scoreboard again. ISU has fielded great defenses over the last few years, and expect that trend to continue with 9 starters from last year coming back.

Bad news: It wouldn't hurt ISU to try to fire up their running game; that department has been lacking in recent years.

Key games:
9/7 @ Iowa (Sigh. This could be another 17-13 type of game between these two rivals. But then again, the Cyclones did beat Iowa the last time they went to Iowa City.)
10/12 @ West Virginia (This will be just one of many games that'll decide who goes to the Big 12 title game. ISU has won 4 of their last 5 meetings against WVU.)
11/9 @ Kansas (Does this game sound glamorous? No. Is it another important game in the Big 12? Damn right.)
11/23 @ Utah (These two teams last faced each other in 2010. Think of all the changes that has happened to this sport since.)
11/30 vs. Kansas State (This rivalry game is now being called "Farmageddon". And Iowa State enjoyed it last year, beating K-State in the snow 42-35.)

Bottom line: All of this change in the world of football? Iowa State will deal with it when the time comes. Right now, they got a proud team with a star QB on offense and another strong defense. And I see ISU making a serious challenge for the Big 12 title in 2024.
They DO have a hard road slate, though, so getting to Arlington won't be easy. Then again, achieving glory is never easy.
 

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Kansas

Preview segment: The Kansas Jayhawks

Last season: Wow. Now I have 1,000 likes on my profile on SportsHoopla. You know who else is feeling happy? The Kansas Jayhawks. Last year, they finished with their first year-end national ranking since 2007! Even with a backup QB! ...I don't have to say anything else.
Oh, and they just locked up Lance Leipold as coach for the foreseeable future. Glee!

Good news: It looks like Jalon Daniels is back to 100%, and once he knocks off the rust he should be brilliant again. RB Devin Neal is back for one more year, and the secondary should be great again with Cobee Bryant leading the way. Plus, the whole team has experience all over the place... WINNING experience.

Bad news: Line play COULD be an issue for Kansas; the D-line is a little undersized and the O-line had some injury problems in the spring. Plus, Jason Bean was incredible as the Jayhawks' stand-in QB... and now he's gone. So if Jalon Daniels gets hurt again, what will Kansas do this time?

Key games:
9/14 vs. UNLV (Kansas is in a unique situation when it comes to their home games, as Memorial Stadium just got razed so that Kansas can get a new stadium. So they'll be playing two games at Children's Mercy Park, and then 4 games at Arrowhead Stadium in 2024.
This game will be at Children's Mercy, and it's a rematch of last year's bowl game between Kansas and UNLV.)
9/21 @ West Virginia (A very important Big 12 opener for both Kansas and West Virginia.)
9/28 vs. TCU (This is the first game Kansas will play at Arrowhead, and it could be a tricky one; TCU is hungry for a bounce-back season.)
10/26 @ Kansas State (Despite all of their success in 2023, Kansas still couldn't beat their in-state rivals. Will the Jayhawks FINALLY get over the hump this year?)
11/9 vs. Iowa State (As I said yesterday, this game might not be glamourous. But it'll still play a part in who'll make it to the Big 12 title game.)

Bottom line: Kansas has Jalon Daniels back from injury, experience all over the place, and no Utah or Oklahoma State on the schedule. So the time for Kansas to win a conference title is NOW! But can they do it? Things COULD go south if Jalon gets hurt again, but Kansas can't think about "What-if's" right now; they gotta pin their ears back and go for it.
 

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Kansas

Preview segment: The Kansas Jayhawks

Last season: Wow. Now I have 1,000 likes on my profile on SportsHoopla. You know who else is feeling happy? The Kansas Jayhawks. Last year, they finished with their first year-end national ranking since 2007! Even with a backup QB! ...I don't have to say anything else.
Oh, and they just locked up Lance Leipold as coach for the foreseeable future. Glee!

Good news: It looks like Jalon Daniels is back to 100%, and once he knocks off the rust he should be brilliant again. RB Devin Neal is back for one more year, and the secondary should be great again with Cobee Bryant leading the way. Plus, the whole team has experience all over the place... WINNING experience.

Bad news: Line play COULD be an issue for Kansas; the D-line is a little undersized and the O-line had some injury problems in the spring. Plus, Jason Bean was incredible as the Jayhawks' stand-in QB... and now he's gone. So if Jalon Daniels gets hurt again, what will Kansas do this time?

Key games:
9/14 vs. UNLV (Kansas is in a unique situation when it comes to their home games, as Memorial Stadium just got razed so that Kansas can get a new stadium. So they'll be playing two games at Children's Mercy Park, and then 4 games at Arrowhead Stadium in 2024.
This game will be at Children's Mercy, and it's a rematch of last year's bowl game between Kansas and UNLV.)
9/21 @ West Virginia (A very important Big 12 opener for both Kansas and West Virginia.)
9/28 vs. TCU (This is the first game Kansas will play at Arrowhead, and it could be a tricky one; TCU is hungry for a bounce-back season.)
10/26 @ Kansas State (Despite all of their success in 2023, Kansas still couldn't beat their in-state rivals. Will the Jayhawks FINALLY get over the hump this year?)
11/9 vs. Iowa State (As I said yesterday, this game might not be glamourous. But it'll still play a part in who'll make it to the Big 12 title game.)

Bottom line: Kansas has Jalon Daniels back from injury, experience all over the place, and no Utah or Oklahoma State on the schedule. So the time for Kansas to win a conference title is NOW! But can they do it? Things COULD go south if Jalon gets hurt again, but Kansas can't think about "What-if's" right now; they gotta pin their ears back and go for it.
Kansas being like Kentucky seems like their ceiling. A big basketball school who, by nature of their competitiveness, wants to be a big football school and can be in the top 25 almost yearly, sometimes pushing around top 10. And there isn’t anything wrong with that. Gotta feel Leipold, with another strong year or two here, gets poached.

Also, nothing wrong with that being their ceiling. The profile says I’m a Georgia fan, but I also grew up as a Navy fan going to games in Annapolis during the lean years before Paul Johnson/Coach Ken, and there is nothing wrong with that kind of ceiling. Knowing what your program is capable of, and being competitive yearly is about all I can ask for.
 

Dolgevillefootballfan

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Kansas State

Preview segment: The Kansas State Wildcats

Last season: As the closing ceremonies for the Pop-Tarts Bowl came to a end, Kansas State realized two things. One, that the mascot Pop-Tarts got for the game really WAS edible. And two, they have just capped off another fine year.

Bad news: K-State has a new QB in Avery Johnson, and if he gets hurt they don't have a good backup plan in place. Oh, and the O-line is replacing 3 solid starters, so that might not be good.

Good news: But if Avery Johnson DOES stay healthy, he has the ability to make a lot of great plays. RB DJ Giddens also has the legs to keep the K-State running game going. And there is no big worries on defense; 7 starters from last year's unit are back.

Key games:
9/13 vs. Arizona (Just to remind you guys again: This is a previously scheduled non-conference game, so it won't count in the new-look Big 12 standings.)
9/28 vs. Oklahoma State (K-State lost an early game to Oklahoma State last year... and then OK State took that win all the way to the Big 12 title game. The Wildcats REALLY wants to return the favor here.)
10/19 @ West Virginia (October could be a tough month for K-State. First they gotta visit Deion Sanders and Colorado, then they have to go visit a rejuvenated West Virginia team.)
10/26 vs. Kansas (And finally, the Wildcats will host their in-state rivals... who is HUNGRY to beat them for the first time since 2008. AND finally has the talent to do it.)
11/30 @ Iowa State (Will this edition of "Farmageddon" decide a spot in the Big 12 title game in 2024? Most likely.)

Bottom line: Well, we got another team that has the horses to win a wide-open Big 12 title race in 2024. The defense should do it's part for Kansas State, so the pressure is on Avery Johnson. If Avery delivers the goods, we may see the Wildcats in Arlington once again.
 

Dolgevillefootballfan

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Oklahoma State

Preview segment: The Oklahoma State Cowboys

Last season: Okay, so the Cowboys struggled early on in 2023 (just ask South Alabama). And throughout the year, they kept getting into close game after close game. But guess what OK State had last year? Grit. A whole lot of sheer GRIT. So they kept winning close game after close game.
And once the season ended, Oklahoma State had a Big 12 title game appearance and a 10-4 record. Now that the Cowboys are back on solid ground, it's time to chase a title.

Good news: 18 starters from last year's gritty team are back. Let me check... Are one of them Ollie Gordon II, the reigning Dork Walker Award winner? Yep. QB Alan Bowman is still here after stabilizing the offense last year? Yes sir. And is the O-line absolutely stacked with experience? Oh lord, yes it is.

Bad news: Even though the defense returns 8 starters, it ranked 122nd overall last year. So it NEEDS to get better if OK State wants a Big 12 title, especially in the secondary.

Key games:
8/31 vs. South Dakota State (OK State is in the same boat as Colorado in 2024. They'll have a big game in Week 2 [against Arkansas], but they can't underestimate their FCS opponent. I mean, South Dakota State IS the defending FCS champ.)
9/21 vs. Utah (Very clever, Big 12 schedule makers. Utah and OK State may be the 2 best teams in your conference, but you're making them fight now instead of November? Regardless, the Cowboys have better have a plan to stop Cameron Rising.)
9/28 @ Kansas State (Wait. So OK State must visit the Wildcats right after the Utah game? This could get messy.)
10/5 vs. West Virginia (And after THAT, OK State must face West Virginia?! Jesus...)
11/23 vs. Texas Tech (Senior Day for the Cowboys, and if they're not careful the Red Raiders could ruin it.)

Bottom line: At this time last year, CFB people were wondering if Mike Gundy and his OK State program had lost it's way. But now? OK State has a tough, veteran roster that can navigate a tough conference schedule. Athlon Sports even said "Mike Gundy's Cowboys could make a bid to become the Big 12's premium program, minus Texas and Oklahoma".
Easy there, buddy. Let's see if Oklahoma State can win the league in 2024. THEN we can make a call.
 

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Preview segment: The TCU Horned Frogs

Last season: Poor, poor TCU. Off a CFP title game appearance in 2022, we were all wondering what they could do next. Well in 2023, Chandler Morris couldn't hack it as the starting QB. And the defense just totally fell apart. So TCU became Example #1 of what the "Cinderella Effect" is about in college football: From the CFP to a 5-7 record.

Good news: TCU has an awesome collection of WR's... maybe some of the best in the whole Big 12. And the defense showed some improvement during spring ball, with new coordinator Andy Avalos running the show.

Bad news: Three quarterbacks are fighting for the starting spot... which usually does not go well. To make things worse, the O-line is heavy on transfers... which means it could take a while for it to get going.

Key games:
9/14 vs. UCF (The Frogs start conference play against a high-octane UCF team. Here, we'll see how much better that TCU defense really is.)
9/21 @ SMU (Showdown time in Dallas, as the "Iron Skillet" will be put on the line once again. Man, I really hope TCU will have a true starting QB nailed down by this time.)
9/28 @ Kansas (Wait. And TCU has to visit Kansas right afterwards? Ouch!)
10/26 vs. Texas Tech (The Frogs are hoping to silence the Red Raiders this time around.)
11/23 vs. Arizona (This will be only the 3rd time that TCU and Arizona will face each other.)

Bottom line: After getting thrown out of the penthouse in 2023, it'll be up to the TCU players and coaching staff to get the program back on solid ground. Initial returns look promising (especially on the defense), but if TCU wants to return to Big 12 contention they'll have to find their new starting QB soon.
 

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Preview segment: The Texas Tech Red Raiders

Last season: A bit of a disappointment. Tech was supposed to challenge for the Big 12 title in 2023, not meander around and go 7-6. Do I blame their inconsistent offense, or what?

Good news: The offensive outlook for Tech does look better now-a-days; RB Tahj Brooks (who ran for 1,500 yards last year) is still here. QB Behren Morton is expected to take a step forward. And 5-star stud Micah Hodson headlines a proud WR group.

Bad news: There has been significant roster turnover for Tech; the secondary and D-line has a whole gaggle of new players. And transfers will be counted on to reinforce a bad O-line from last year.

Key games:
9/7 @ Washington State (A perfect test for the new defense of the Red Raiders.)
10/5 @ Arizona (Remember the Border Conference from many moons ago? Texas Tech and Arizona used to be mates in that league.)
10/19 vs. Baylor (One thing that Tech did right in 2023 was beat most of their rivals in the state of Texas. This year, they'll try to beat the Bears again...)
10/26 @ TCU (...before going to visit the Frogs the following week.)
11/30 vs. West Virginia (This will wrap up a VERY busy November for Texas Tech; Iowa State, Colorado, and Oklahoma State are also on the slate.)

Bottom line: This could be a critical year for Joey McGuire's tenure at Texas Tech. His team underachieved last season, and he'll have to get this roster to jell despite a lot of turnover. That awesome offense should put Tech back into a bowl. Anything bigger than that? Let's see how they handle that 2nd-half schedule, eh?
 

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UCF (Central Florida)

Preview segment: The UCF Golden Knights

Last season: Last year, I said "Of the 4 newcomers to the Big 12, UCF looks to be the one that can do the most damage". Well, of those 4 newcomers (including Houston, BYU, and Cincinnati), UCF was the only one to make a bowl game in 2023. So... I guess that counts?

Bad news: Newcomers are all over the UCF defense, with the linebacker spot being particularly young and two new coordinators on the coaching staff. Oh, and John Rhys Plumlee is gone on offense.

Good news: Happily for UCF, they found a good 1-year replacement for Plumlee in former Arkansas QB K.J. Jefferson. Jefferson should thrive in the new UCF offense, which returns some awesome WR's and top RB RJ Harvey.

Key games:
9/14 @ TCU (An important Big 12 opener for both teams. By the way, this will be the 1st-ever meeting between the Knights and the Horned Frogs.)
10/5 @ Florida (Ooooo! This one should be VERY interesting in the Sunshine State. Don't forget, UCF beat Florida the last time they met.)
10/19 @ Iowa State (Another 1st-time meeting for UCF, as they'll visit the Cyclones in Ames.)
11/2 vs. Arizona (Man! This season is just FULL of first-time meetings for UCF. Yep, Arizona will face them in Orlando in what might be a shootout.)
11/29 vs. Utah (Ending the season on Black Friday against Utah?! ...Well, at least Utah will have to make the 2,314-mile trip to Orlando for this one.)

Bottom line: Despite some losses, Central Florida is still looking to contend in the Big 12. And that's why they're my wild-card team for the league in 2024. They got a great-looking offense, but how fast will the new defense get up to speed? And they got QUITE a few 1st-time meetings on the schedule. They'll contend, but how far will they go?
 

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Utah

Preview segment: The Utah Utes

Last season: Geez, Utah! In 2023, you lose only 2 players for the season, and you fall to pieces! Sure, the defense was still awesome, but your offense sucked! Oregon whacked you, and so did Arizona! And then there was the bowl loss that dropped you to 8-5, and-
What? Those two players were Cameron Rising and Brant Kuithe? And they're both coming back for 2024? ...Okay, let's see how Utah rebounds.

Good news: If Cameron really is at 100%, the Utah offense should immediately get better. Doubly so with Kuithe still around. And the Utes defense should still be great, as 7 starters from last year are back.

Bad news: It wouldn't hurt Utah to find some new ballhawks in the secondary, as that place looks a little bare. Finding a new top running back will also be key for Utah. And as for team depth? ...Let's just hope that they don't run into more injury problems.

Key games:
9/21 @ Oklahoma State (September will be a busy month for the Utes; they'll deal with Baylor [in a non-conference game] and in-state rival Utah State before their big debut in the Big 12. And that debut will be at OK State, who will be LOADED for bear.)
9/28 vs. Arizona (Did Arizona really beat Utah by a score of 42-18 last year? You know that Utah wants payback.)
11/9 vs. BYU (Whoops, almost forgot about this one. The "Holy War" will double as a conference game for the first time since 2010.)
11/23 vs. Iowa State (Utah can clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game if they beat the Cyclones.)
11/30 @ UCF (That is, of course, if they don't get sidetracked by a late November trip to Orlando.)

Bottom line: Utah will be facing some old concerns (the health of their offensive stars) along with a new set of schools and new styles of play. And despite that, people are seeing Utah as a favorite to win the Big 12? If Cameron's play is back to normal, and the defense remains tough, Utah's crazy dream might happen. But I'll be watching their early efforts VERY carefully.
 
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