Another great college football season has come and gone. Sure, we still have some bowl games to get through but for some teams, the season is over. Before we know it, July will have come around and we will all be picking our preseason Big 12 teams for next year. However, before we get into the offseason, I wanted to look back at some of my picks before the season and see how they played out.
Where I was Right
This shouldn’t come to a surprise to anyone considering it would be crazy not pick the Jayhawks to finish last in the Big 12. While Kansas went 2-10 this year, they were more competitive than I thought they would be in year one of the Lance Leipold era. They still have more work to do, but who had them beating the Longhorns in Austin? I didn’t.
Some people were believes in Texas Tech this year, but I had my doubts about this team. I didn’t buy into the Tyler Shough hype, but my big issue with the Red Raiders was on the defensive side of the ball. They were near the bottom of almost every major defensive category in the conference and struggled to stop opposing offenses. Tech benefitted early due to an easy schedule and faded when the games got tougher. What I didn’t see coming was Matt Wells getting fired after a 5-3 start.
Much like Texas Tech, certain people bought into this West Virginia team. Everyone knew they would have a solid defense, but I wasn’t quite ready to label Jarret Doege as a good quarterback. The Mountaineers struggled offensively for most of the season and were held back due to poor quarterback play and offensive line play. Until they figure things out at quarterback, this program will not be taken seriously as a Big 12 title threat.
I know I had them picked to finish fifth, but the preseason media poll had them finishing third. A few of my colleagues bought into the Texas hype (again), but I was not going to fall for it this season. Each and every year Texas is overhyped and ends up being overrated. I had serious questions about the offense, especially the quarterback position, and I was right. Neither Casey Thompson nor Hudson Card was ready to step up this year and the defense had plenty of issues of their own. Until I see it, I am not going to buy into the Longhorn preseason hype because nobody wins the offseason like Texas.
Where I was Wrong
I have a rule when it comes to preseason ballots. Until Oklahoma gets knocked off from the throne then I will put them at number one. The same applies to Kansas when I put them last every year as well. I honestly thought the Sooners could have won a national title this year but that didn’t happen. In fact, they didn’t even make it to the Big 12 title game and Spencer Rattler was not Offensive Player of the Year. Not only did Oklahoma lose their head coach but they also lost Rattler to South Carolina. While they may be fine with Brent Venables moving forward, it is fair to say that this past season was a complete disappointment.
There were high expectations for this Iowa State team that had a ton of talent coming back this season. They didn’t play up to their standard and lost some games against teams they were better than. I understand losing to Oklahoma on the road, but they should have beaten Baylor, West Virginia, and Texas Tech. Those losses are inexcusable. There were too many times this season where I felt like they didn’t play complementary football. Sometimes the defense was a letdown and other times the offense stalled. I don’t think anyone thought that this team would be 7-5 at the end of the year.
This was supposed to be the year were TCU took that leap forward. They had some key players on defense coming back and an offense that had some young talent. However, Max Duggan struggled, and the defense ended up being worse than I could ever imagine. They couldn’t stop the run as they gave up over 220 yards per game on the ground and it ended up costing Gary Patterson his job after four-straight subpar seasons. I finally bought into TCU, and it came back to bite me.
I knew I should have been a believer in this team especially with Skylar Thompson coming back, but once again, I doubted Chris Klieman. I put the Wildcats at seven finishing with a 6-6 record, but I still had them two spots too low as they finished fifth. They managed to get off to a 3-0 start, and even when they lost their first three Big 12 games, they reeled off four-straight wins. Yes, they ended the season on a sour note when they lost Skylar Thompson, but I still give Chris Klieman a lot of credit this year and with some changes coming, I am interested to see what this team looks like next year.
Picking the Cowboys fourth like the rest of the media didn’t seem like a bad idea and if I had to do it over, I would put them in the same spot. However, I didn’t see their defense being one of the best in the entire country. What Jim Knowles did with that defense is incredible. Since I started covering this conference back in 2016, I haven’t seen a defense as good as the 2021 Oklahoma State defense. They still have some work to do on offense, but to make a Big 12 title game and play in a NY6 game is a big accomplishment this year.
I saved the best team in the Big 12 for last because out of this entire list, I couldn’t have been more wrong about the Baylor Bears this season. My stupid brain picked Baylor to finish eighth this year and they turned out to be everything I thought they couldn’t. I figured their defense would be good, but I had questions about their offense. Baylor answered those questions with a powerful rushing attack led by Abram Smith and Gerry Bohanon played at a level I didn’t think he was capable of. I am man enough to admit that I was wrong about the Bears this season, and they made me pay for it by winning a Big 12 title.
Much like everyone else, I thought Oklahoma and Iowa State would have a rematch for the Big 12 title. Instead, neither team lived up to the hype as Baylor and Oklahoma State became the most consistent teams. Those two teams took care of business more often than not and used a strong defense and running game to get through the rest of the Big 12. Neither team had an elite quarterback but both teams had a strong supporting cast. Overall, I didn’t think my preseason picks were too controversial at the time but putting Baylor at eight before the season seems like a crime now as they are Big 12 champions.