Big 12 Football: Teams to Buy, Sell in 2022
While everyone including is throwing out their way-too-early top 25 rankings, I thought I would do something a little bit different. I am generally not a fan of doing predictions in January due to the fact that so much can change in a matter of a day or two, but it wouldn’t hurt to share a few thoughts regarding the 2022 season.
Here I will tell you what teams I am buying and what teams I am selling in the Big 12 for next season.
How about the reigning Big 12 champions? While they are going to lose a few key pieces, I am going to show them some respect, as I am still a strong believer in the Bears going into the 2022 season. Almost their entire offensive line returns as well as both of their quarterbacks with Gerry Bohanon and Blake Shapen. Just like on the offensive line, they return several key guys on the defensive front including Siaki Ika. While Baylor will have to replace stars like Terrel Bernard, Jalen Pitre, Tyquan Thornton, and Abram Smith, they have experience in the trenches which I like. Look for Baylor to compete for another conference crown next season.
This may be a shock to some due to the fact that the Cowboys lost their defensive coordinator and will be without some really good players on defense. While the defense will take a step back, they still should be good with a solid defensive line with Trace Ford, Brock Martin, and Collin Oliver. The offensive line should be improved, and I am still a big believer in wide receiver Brennan Presley. The key to next season will be Spencer Sanders. I still have my concerns about Sanders but overall, I am still buying stock in this Gundy-coached team.
I have been down on Kansas State over the last few years, but I am really excited to see what they can do in 2022. Collin Klein is now the play-caller and I loved what I saw from him in the Texas Bowl. They will have experience on the offensive line and return Heisman hopeful Deuce Vaughn at running back. If they can get Phillip Brooks and Malik Knowles back at receiver, then I am going to be a big fan of this offense especially with Adrian Martinez at quarterback. Plus, Kansas State will get the sack master Felix Anudike-Uzomah back as well.
There has been a lot going on in Norman over the last six weeks. From Lincoln leaving and Brent Venables coming along with some players heading to the transfer portal. Whatever people think about Brent Venables and new quarterback Dillon Gabriel, I think it would be foolish to say that is an upgrade over having Lincoln Riley and Caleb Williams. The defense should see some changes under Brent but when I look at this team there are still some key question marks. The Sooners still have talent on the roster and Dillon Gabriel could have a big year, but I am not as high on Oklahoma as most people are. Could they compete for a Big 12 title? Absolutely, but I don’t think they are the clear-cut favorite like some think.
Let me start by saying that I love the hiring of Joey McGuire and the staff he has put together. Quarterbacks Tyler Shough and Donovan Smith return along with their two great running backs in Tahj Brooks and SaRodorick Thompson. Those guys will be the key pieces on offense however I have concerns about the offensive line and the pass catchers. Defensively, this program has been bad over the years, and I would like to see more from that side of the ball. Hopefully, the new staff can get things established and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tech win a game or two they have no business winning in 2022.
There is no doubt that this past season was a disappointment. Iowa State was supposed to compete for a Big 12 title and instead, they ended up with a 7-5 regular-season record. They will lose a bunch of key players on both sides of the ball including Brock Purdy and Breece Hall. Despite the losses, I still am sure that the defense will be pretty good under Jon Heacock. Will McDonald returns, and they have several young players who are intriguing. But the defense isn’t where my concerns are. How will the offense look without Breece and Brock? Hunter Dekkers looks to be the guy at quarterback and while he is still unproven, he will have reliable targets to throw to with Xavier Hutchinson and Jaylin Noel. The offensive line should take a step forward from 2021 and if there was one thing their bowl game showed me it is that their depth is much better than it was a few years ago. I am not saying Iowa State will win a Big 12 title, but this team could still win some games.
Not in a million years would I have thought I wouldn’t sell a team like Kansas but here we are. While I am not ready to say Kansas will go to a bowl game or even win four games next season, I do like what Lance Leipold is doing in Lawrence. Quarterback Jalon Daniels showed some promise late in the season and I like running back Devin Neal. They should improve offensively but they need to get the defense figured out. Last season their defense gave up 7.5 yards per play in their conference games.
For the last two years, I have not fallen for the Texas hype. Going into the 2022 season, I still am not falling for it. I do think Quinn Ewers will become a good quarterback and obviously, Bijan Robinson is one of, if not, the best running back in college football when healthy. And of course, I can’t forget about Xavier Worthy who was phenomenal as a true freshman at wide receiver. That trio of players should give a nice boost to the offense but what about that defense in Austin? It was non-existent last season, and I don’t see some magical turnaround happening in a year. I don’t think Texas will go 5-7 again but I am not going to buy them as a Big 12 title contender at the moment.
I am a fan of TCU hiring Sonny Dykes but there are just too many concerns for me to buy into this team for next season. Max Duggan and Chandler Morris return at quarterback as well as the talented receiver Quentin Johnston. The offense will be a challenge but could be improved under Dykes however the defense will be a mess. TCU was pathetic last season on defense, and they couldn’t stop anybody. It’s great that Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is returning but TCU is going to need even more help on defense to get things turned around.
Forget about the defense; the reason I am out on West Virginia is due to the poor offensive play I have watched under Neal Brown. The offensive line has been a mess for years and the quarterback situation hasn’t been good. The good news is that Jarret Doege has moved on and we will now see a quarterback battle between Garrett Greene and incoming freshman Nicco Marchiol. However, the Mountaineers have been hit hard by the transfer portal as several big-name players have moved on. While I love the addition of offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, I still have some concerns on offense and with Neal Brown going into year four, they better pick things up quickly.