The Big 12 has a new look with the additions of TCU and West Virginia to offset the departures of Texas A&M and Missouri. Both new teams have the chance to come in and possibly win the league if things go their way.
In the preseason polls, the Big 12 has six teams ranked in the Top 25, with Oklahoma leading the way as a Top Five team, so the race to the league title will be a hotly contested one.
With multiple teams in contention for the crown, it seems unlikely that the league champion will go undefeated. There are just too many good teams in the league. There is West Virginia’s offense guided by Dana Holgorsen, TCU’s defense, Kansas State has Collin Klein under center, and Oklahoma has the experience with double-digit returning starters.
The schedule will be key in determining who can win the Big 12. Oklahoma travels to TCU and West Virginia late in the year; Kansas State has possibly the worst schedule, as it must travel to TCU, Oklahoma and West Virginia; West Virginia has the best schedule, playing host to TCU and Oklahoma, but the Mountaineers do have to travel to take on Oklahoma State.
Conference Champion: Oklahoma Sooners
The difference in Oklahoma winning the Big 12 is that Mike Stoops has returned to be the Sooners' defensive coordinator. Stoops was at Oklahoma until 2003, when he left to take the Arizona head-coaching job, and ever since then, the Oklahoma defense has never been the same.
Now that he is back, there is pressure surrounding Stoops to make the Oklahoma defense what it was nearly a decade ago. However, the defense does not have all of the pressure on it because the offense is going to be good. It returns five starters, including quarterback Landry Jones leading the way.
For the Sooners' offense to be effective enough to win the league, it definitely needs running back Dominique Whaley back in the lineup and being productive. Whaley suffered an ankle injury last year midway through the season, and the rushing attack dipped in production with him on the sidelines.
The wide-receiver corps features Kenny Stills and freshman Trey Metoyer to help with the passing attack that once again should be at the top of the charts when the season ends.
Bowl projection: Oklahoma will appear in the Fiesta Bowl.
Offensive Player of the Year: Landry Jones, Quarterback, Oklahoma
Landry Jones has a career average of 317.4 passing yards per game, which is the highest among active FBS quarterbacks. The way Oklahoma likes to sling the ball around, Jones should be able to stay above that 300-yard-average mark for his career.
He is the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12, and he has the security blanket of Stills, who is a three-year starter at the wide-receiver spot, as well as stud freshman Metoyer, who had a great spring camp.
Defensive Player of the Year: Arthur Brown, Linebacker, Kansas State
There are a lot of players who could have taken this spot, but Arthur Brown is key to the Kansas State defense. Last year, the Wildcats' defense was middle-of-the-road in the Big 12, but Brown was the star with 101 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, a pair of sacks and he managed to get an interception as well. He will be their undisputed leader on defense and make or break how good that unit can be.
Freshman Player of the Year: Trey Metoyer, Wide Receiver, Oklahoma
Metoyer is a much-needed addition, since the Sooners lost a few wide receivers who transferred over the spring. In spring practice, Metoyer did not drop one single ball and he could be in line to replace Ryan Broyles.