It has been 12 years since Vince Young ran all over USC in route to the Big 12’s last National Championship. Before that, Oklahoma won it all just five years before. Those, along with Nebraska’s 1997 split title, are the Big 12’s only national titles since the Big 12 was formed in 1994.
The conference has suffered some tough breaks in recent years. Oklahoma State was left out of the championship game by voters in 2011, and the conference has cycled down since. However, there are signs that the conference could be on the way back up starting this season. That got us thinking, who will be the Big 12’s next national champion?
Patrick Mayhorn: It’s tempting to name a non-traditional blue blood like Oklahoma State, West Virginia or Kansas State, but in the current landscape of college football that’s just hard to see. With the way Tom Herman recruits, and what he did at Ohio State and Houston, my answer has to be Texas. It won’t be until he gets a few full recruiting classes under his belt, but a few seasons from now, maybe 2021, I think Texas will win the Big 12’s first College Football Playoff champion.
Travis Guidry: To be able to win the national championship in the four team playoff format, you have to get in the playoff…a crazy concept I realize. History has shown that the playoff committee has given a bias to either traditional blue bloods or the SEC. If Oklahoma State or West Virginia has one loss after the regular season and Ohio State has one loss, you have to think the Buckeyes will get the nod. Therefore, smaller schools will have run the table.
Daniel Ross: The Big 12 has three legitimate contenders this year alone: Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State. I agree though, OSU and KSU would have to go undefeated to make the playoff.
Oklahoma, because the committee has shown a name brand preference could lose one game (a close loss to Ohio State, Texas, or Oklahoma State in the regular season) and still make it in. Out of the three potential for this year K-State is my least likely because lack of a name brand. I would think that OU and OSU have the inside track on the conference for at least 2-3 more seasons before Texas legitimately challenges for the conference crown.
So, unlike Patrick, I do not see it being Texas. I like the Big 12 winner of this year. I’m 50/50 on Oklahoma or Oklahoma State. Flipping the coin, I pick the Sooners because they could survive a regular season loss.
Brady Trantham: Oklahoma State has been consistent the last few years, but I have yet to see them be able to put it all together. 2011 was an excellent year, but overall all, the planets have to align for the cowboys to have a complete team — mainly defensively. Gundy always has an offense.
Jay Jordan: If you don’t have a full roster of transcendent players, then you must have a transcendent player to win it all. Ideally, a quarterback. Florida State had one, Clemson had one, and Alabama has a bunch of them. Who is that guy in the Big 12? Or who will it be? Texas has the best chance to load a roster in the next two or three years.
Presently, I think Mason Rudolph has a chance to be that guy. So, my answer is Oklahoma State this year. If they don’t, I agree that it will be Texas in 2019 or 2020.
Daniel Ross: Jay, I like your thoughts on 2018/19, but Oklahoma’s recruiting is not going to drop off either. I think the Big 12 could be heading back to something similar to the early 2000’s with OU and Texas, and a third (I think it will be OSU) playing at high levels and competing in major bowls and the CFB Playoff.
Jay Jordan: Agree daniel, was thinking more of a chance to grab another win from those schools. Oklahoma will have to break in a new quarterback next season, which is maybe two losses instead of zero.
Kyle Sinkbeil: I’ll go ahead and say Texas, just looking at what Herman is currently doing in recruiting. A couple more classes like this the next couple years, and the Longhorns could have the talent to pass by the Sooners and be a legit contender. I think OU will remain very solid, but I’m not convinced they’re going to take the next step in the next few seasons.
Brady Trantham: If Lincoln Riley is the guy at Oklahoma — we’ve seen smart coordinators suffer as head coaches, but this appears to be a unique situation with many advantages for him — then it will be Oklahoma. The recruiting has improved since his arrival two years ago and is looking to sky-rocket with success.
If it isn’t Oklahoma, it will be Texas. However, historically, Texas has squandered too many opportunities when they have stacked rosters for me to say with confidence that they would win one before the Sooners.
Chris Ross: The easy picks are Oklahoma or Texas. Historically, they win a National Championship every 15 years or so, so they should be due here soon. Oklahoma is the favorite to win the Big 12, and if the defense improves going back to the 4-man front, then there’s a chance they make it to the playoff as early as this year. Texas is still a few years off, but a quick look at their current recruiting class, and it’s hard to believe they aren’t building something special.
As I said though, OU and Texas are the easy pick. I’m not here to make easy picks. I like Oklahoma State, and I like them to win it all this year. If just a few of the votes went differently in 2011, the Cowboys would be the most recent Big 12 National Champion. They would have delivered a shock and awe performance the likes of which LSU had never seen. This year’s squad may be better than that 2011 squad.
Brady Trantham: TCU is actually an interesting pick. Patterson is one of the top coaches in the nation and always has his teams compete. He was close a few years ago but you can always count on him to have a defense. It comes down to QB play and the conference strength being down.
Mason Ballard: WVU could get close, but Oklahoma State is a few steps ahead of the Mountaineers. This may be their year to make a run. However, while I think OSU makes the playoff this year, they won’t win the it all. Oklahoma will be next to win the big one.
Brady Trantham: West Virginia has a lot of ground to cover. They have yet to prove they have the depth to compete week in and week out in a Power 5 conference. They are on their way up, though. The next five years are incredibly important for their future trajectory.
Matt Kappele: I’m going with Oklahoma as the next national champ out of the Big 12. Even though Lincoln Riley hasn’t coached a game yet, the caliber of recruits coming in the next few recruiting classes, with Riley’s offensive track record, and Oklahoma is probably the safest pick.