As the title says, which team that finished in the bottom-half of the Big 12 last season will have the better 2017 season? Let’s discuss.
First, let’s look at who finished in the bottom half of the conference last season. That is Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State and Kansas in that order.
Now, keep in mind, better is subjective. It does not necessarily mean who will have the most wins. After all a three-win season would be viewed entirely different by Oklahoma than by Kansas fans. So really the question is, which fan base will be the happiest with their season come January?
Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments, but for now, here’s ours:
Jeremy Hewin – I believe Coach Herman will have a quick turn around in Austin. I’m a believer in Shane Buechele and the backfield for the Horns. The only issue I see on the horizon for UT is their road schedule. They travel to Los Angeles to take on Southern Cal, to Waco, to Fort Worth, and to Morgantown. I don’t seem them winning the Big 12, but I do see Texas making it to a bowl and having the most improved season.
Patrick Mayhorn – I’m a firm believer in Mensa member Touchdown Tom Herman. He’s a proven winner, and his teams have played above their talent level everywhere he’s gone. At Iowa State he made a terrible offense watchable. He won a championship with a third string quarterback at Ohio State. He had Houston in a NY6 bowl in his first season there.
He has an incredible offensive mind, and with a guy like Shane Buechele already on campus, he won’t have to play with a Frankenstein quarterback. He’ll need to develop Buechele, but Texas has all kinds of talent, and could very well win 9 games this upcoming season, as long as the defense is at least average for most of the season. I don’t think any of the other teams mentioned have a ceiling that high.
Chase Wilder – Hey, remember that one time Iowa State had a 42-28 lead over Baylor in the 4th quarter? What about that one time when Iowa State took a 10 point lead with them into the final frame against Oklahoma State in Stillwater? What about the close, one possession loss to K-State or the 10-point loss to Oklahoma that was closer than the score says? Then they ripped the Red Raiders 66-10 in what was probably the most utterly bizarre upset in the Big 12.
The point is that ISU showed so much promise in 2016 in 4 of their losses. A couple of things bounce the other way and you’re talking about bowl eligible ISU. Crazy right? Matt Campbell went 3-9 in his first year but has certainly pointed his ship in the right direction. ISU returns QB talent and Allen Lazard to the offense, along with a stable of backs, plus a solid secondary. It’s not out of the realm of possibility for a 6-6 ISU team in 2017.
Robert Spradley – The Texas Longhorns, without question. The Horns had a very disappointing 2016 campaign, as we all know. Nothing against Kansas, but you can NEVER lose to the basement team if you’re Texas. Despite that humbling loss, this team still somehow managed to win five games.
Charlie Strong wasn’t totally wrong when he stated that the cake was baked and just needed the frosting. The cake consisted of some fine ingredients, at least according to our good friends at all the recruiting services with their fancy stars. The problem being that it was a lopsided cake with inconsistent flavor. At times this cake gave us tasty morsels to enjoy. But for every tasty bite, the next couple of bites tasted like warm Bantha fodder.
Enter Tom Herman. The man turned Rice into a Top 10 offense. RICE! He helped develop Iowa State’s Austen Arnaud into a lethal quarterback – one who happens to be the Cyclones second all-time leader in offensive yardage. He MacGyvered a national title for the Ohio State Buckeyes with two backup quarterbacks in a playoff in which many pundits claimed they didn’t even belong. For his next trick he turned a fourth-place American Athletic Conference Houston Cougars squad into a giant killer.
That being said, it wouldn’t shock me to see an 8-4 Longhorns squad at the end of next season.
Chris Ross – While I believe Texas will be improved, I don’t see where the additional wins are going to come from. At least not enough additional wins to have Longhorn Nation dancing on the 40 acres. The Big 12 is a different animal since the end of the divisions. The round-robin makes it incredibly tough for teams to move up unless there is a clear spot opening, and I don’t see that this year. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and K-State are the clear favorites to win the conference and TCU and West Virginia are dark horse candidates. So that basically has Texas finishing in the exact same spot they did last year, and I don’t see the fans being too excited by that.
So, I have to agree with Chase. Iowa State has the most potential to make a jump in 2017. Mostly, because I wouldn’t be shocked to see them finish ahead of Baylor and Texas Tech. Coach Matt Campbell has this team buying in and quarterback Jacob Park has taken full control of the reins. This team only seemed to get better as the season went on last year, and now they have had even more time to learn the system. Their schedule also sets up well to have success early, which is huge for a team looking for some confidence. As much as I would like to pick Kansas and give Coach Beaty some credit for what he is doing in Lawrence, I’m going to have to pick the Cyclones.