Baylor Bears

Five Big 12 Teams Listed as Most Improved Teams Ahead of 2024

While it’s far from a guarantee that teams consistently improve each offseason, five teams from the Big 12 appear to fit that bill heading into 2024.

In a recent list from 247Sports’ Carter Bahns, Utah, Colorado, UCF, TCU, and Baylor all earned praise as teams poised to take a step forward in the fall.

 

UTAH

“On the heels of back-to-back Pac-12 titles, Utah endured a major slide last season when it slipped all the way to eight wins,” Bahns said. “The primary issue for the Utes was a revolving door at quarterback, where the squad struggled mightily to produce any semblance of consistent offense, with Cameron Rising sidelined all year due to a major knee injury. Rising is back for 2024, though, and fellow seventh-year veteran Brant Kuithe is also healthy again. Their returns make the Utes the most well-rounded team in the new-look Big 12.”

COLORADO

“Another massive roster overhaul made Colorado better at nearly every position,” Bahns wrote. “The running back spot might be the only area in which the Buffaloes take a step backward or move laterally in 2024. If Deion Sanders gets his team to bowl eligibility in Year 2, the leap will likely stem primarily from improved play in the trenches, where the Buffaloes secured numerous immediate-impact players on both the offensive and defensive lines. Star quarterback Shedeur Sanders should have more time to operate in the pocket this year, which will unlock a new level of an offense that already had explosive tendencies.”

UCF

“The arrival of bounce-back candidate KJ Jefferson is the most exciting element of the 2024 UCF roster, but the transfer quarterback is not the only reason for optimism,” Bahns mentioned. “The Knights re-worked their defense and secured the Big 12’s third-ranked recruiting class during the 2024 cycle, so the talent on this roster has exciting potential for the coming season and beyond. UCF is probably not yet a conference title contender, but a winning campaign should be the expectation in Year 2 at the Power Four level.”

TCU

“New defensive coordinator Andy Avalos should breathe fresh life into a TCU defense that struggled to contain Big 12 opposition last year, and the Horned Frogs’ passing offense could be one of the more explosive units in the conference,” Bahns said. “That formula makes Sonny Dykes’ squad a candidate for a major bounce-back year after it fell far short of 2023 expectations on the heels of its run to the national championship game. Wide receiver Eric McAlister could prove to be one of the most underrated transfers in the nation, and he gives rising quarterback Josh Hoover a premier target to lead what should be a much better offense.”

BAYLOR

Baylor committed to another year of Dave Aranda as its head coach despite last year’s 3-9 record — Aranda’s worst mark over a full season since taking the job in 2020,” Nahns said. “Perhaps a shift in philosophy will trigger a rebound season as Aranda takes over the defensive play-calling duties and new offensive coordinator Jake Spavital brings an explosive scheme to Waco. Giving Spavital a terrific transfer quarterback to work with in former Toledo star Dequan Finn should help the Bears find greater success on that side of the ball, and Aranda’s defensive expertise could also spark a resurgence.”

While the five teams above will still have to put things together on the field, they each have more than earned a placement on the list thanks to some solid offseason moves.

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