Big 12 Football 2018 Predictions

Complete Big 12 preview for the 2018 season.

Oklahoma has a few key players to replace from last year's squad, but coach Lincoln Riley's team is the pick to win the Big 12 this fall. The Sooners have claimed the conference title three years in a row and hold an edge over Texas, West Virginia and TCU in the 2018 Big 12 predictions. The Mountaineers will have no trouble scoring points behind quarterback Will Grier, but the defense will be key in whether or not this team contends for the conference title. After eight teams reached bowl eligibility last season, it would not be a surprise to see the conference reach that level or if nine programs hit at least six victories in 2018.

 

Oklahoma Still the Team to Beat

The Sooners were just a couple of plays away from an appearance in the national championship last season, but won't have quarterback Baker Mayfield, tackle Orlando Brown or tight end Mark Andrews to lean on in 2018. Despite those personnel losses, Oklahoma is still Athlon's pick to win the Big 12. Riley's acumen should keep the offense performing at a high level, as he looks to build his 2018 unit around running back Rodney Anderson and one of the Big 12's top lines. New quarterback Kyler Murray is a dangerous runner but has room to grow as a passer. While Mayfield's loss will be felt on offense, the biggest concern for Riley remains on defense. The Sooners return five starters from a unit that surrendered 27.1 points a game in 2017, struggled to stop the run and gave up too many big plays through the air. Another reason to like Oklahoma: If the pick isn't the Sooners at the top, which team is ready to unseat Riley's program? With so much turnover in the league, Oklahoma is the most logical and safest pick at the top.

 

Texas Ready to Take a Step Forward in 2018?

Texas improved its win total by two games in coach Tom Herman's first year, and there's more than enough talent returning to Austin to suggest another step forward is likely in 2018. The Longhorns lost five out of their six games by 10 points or less last fall, including a five-point defeat to Oklahoma on Oct. 14. Converting those close losses into wins will hinge on how much Herman's offense improves this season. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger is a rising star, and graduate transfers Tre Watson (RB) and Calvin Anderson (OL) should provide immediate help. The line is Herman's biggest concern on offense, but Anderson, Patrick Vahe and Zach Shackelford provide a good foundation. Despite losing a couple of key players, don't expect Texas to take a significant step back on defense. Coordinator Todd Orlando will keep this unit near the top of the Big 12, especially with help from the incoming signing class. With USC, TCU, West Virginia and Iowa State all visiting Austin this year, combined with improvement on offense, the Longhorns should see another jump in victories in 2018.

 

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West Virginia…The Big 12's Most Entertaining Team in 2018

If you like offense, West Virginia will be must-see television this year. The Mountaineers are loaded with skill talent, including All-American David Sills and Gary Jennings at receiver, along with a solid collection of running backs, headlined by Kennedy McKoy. Senior quarterback Will Grier is rated as the No. 1 signal-caller in the nation by Athlon Sports after throwing for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns in 11 games last fall. Left tackle Yodny Cajuste anchors a solid offensive line, which should give Grier plenty of time to throw in 2018. Considering the rest of the Big 12 is in transition at quarterback, having a senior like Grier is a huge advantage for West Virginia's hopes of contending for the league title. Coach Dana Holgorsen's offense will have to carry the team early this fall, as the defense returns just four starters after giving up 31.5 points a game in 2017. Holgorsen and coordinator Tony Gibson dipped into the transfer ranks for help, but this group has to stop the run better and sort out its starters at cornerback. Despite the question marks on defense, West Virginia's offense is good enough to keep this team in the hunt to claim a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game.

 

TCU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State

Predicting the order of finish between TCU, Oklahoma State, Iowa State and Kansas State was the toughest decision of Athlon's Big 12 prediction meeting. TCU has to revamp its offensive line and break in a new quarterback, but the Horned Frogs got the nod at No. 4. That's largely due to a defense that will rank among the best in the Big 12, and coach Gary Patterson should prevent a steep drop in wins. New quarterback Shawn Robinson is promising, and there's no shortage of talent at the skill positions. Oklahoma State has to replace the potent pass-catch combination of quarterback Mason Rudolph and receiver James Washington. But it's hard to see a major drop off for the Cowboys. After all, coach Mike Gundy's team has won at least 10 games in four out of the last five seasons. If the Big 12 has a surprise contender in 2018, it's likely to be Iowa State or Kansas State. The Cyclones are a team on the rise under coach Matt Campbell, led by a defense that held opponents to 20.9 points a game last fall, as well as standout running back David Montgomery. The Wildcats enter 2018 with some uncertainty at quarterback, but a strong offensive line and ground attack is set to lead the way on offense. The bigger concerns for coach Bill Snyder rest on defense.   

 

Baylor on the Rise Entering 2018

As expected, the 2017 season was a transition year for Baylor. The Bears finished 1-11 under first-year coach Matt Rhule and ranked ninth in the Big 12 in scoring offense and points allowed on defense. However, Baylor was more competitive than the record indicated. The Bears lost eight of their games by 14 points or less and gave Oklahoma (49-41) a tough battle in Waco in September. The transition season should pay off for Rhule in 2018. Baylor will be the Big 12's most improved team this fall and has enough winnable games on the schedule to reach a bowl. Sophomore quarterback Charlie Brewer is a rising star, and the cupboard is stocked with talent at the skill positions. Denzel Mims is one of the Big 12's top receivers, with Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd and Chris Platt also taking a key role in the passing attack. The Bears return only five starters on defense but another offseason under coordinator Phil Snow should lead to improvement in 2018.  

 

 

Big 12 2018 Unit Rankings

Best RB

Units

Best WR

Units

Best OL

Units

Best DL
Units

Best LB

Units

Best DB

Units

1. 1. 1. 1. 1. 1.
2. 2. 2.   2. 2. 2.
3. 3. 3. 3. 3. 3.
4. 4. 4. 4. 4. 4.
5. 5. 5. 5. 5.   5.

 

Big 12 2018 Football Predictions
         
Rank Team   Projected Big 12 Record Projected Overall Record
1 Oklahoma 7-2 11-2
2 Texas 6-3 9-4
3 West Virginia 6-3 8-4
4 TCU 6-3 8-4
5 Oklahoma State 5-4 8-4
6 Iowa State 5-4 7-5
7 Kansas State 4-5 6-6
8 Baylor 3-6 6-6
9 Texas Tech 3-6 5-7
10 Kansas 0-9 2-10
         
Big 12 Championship Game
 Oklahoma over Texas 

 

Big 12 2018 Superlatives and Season Predictions
 

Steven

Lassan

Mitch

Light

Mark

Ross

Braden

Gall

  @AthlonSteven @AthlonMitch @AthlonMarkR @BradenGall
Offensive POY

Will Grier

QB, WVU

Will Grier
QB, WVU
Will Grier
QB, WVU
Will Grier
QB, WVU
Defensive POY

Breckyn Hager

DL, Texas

Breckyn Hager
DL, Texas
Ben Banogu
DL, TCU
-
Coach of the Year

Tom Herman

Texas

Lincoln Riley
Oklahoma
Matt Rhule
Baylor
Tom Herman
Texas
Coach on Hot Seat

David Beaty

Kansas

David Beaty
Kansas
Kliff Kingsbury
Texas Tech
Kliff Kingsbury
Texas Tech
Top Freshman

Brendan Radley-Hiles

DB, Oklahoma

Caden Sterns
S, Texas
Brendan Radley-Hiles
DB, Oklahoma
Brendan Radley-Hiles
DB, Oklahoma
Top Newcomer

Calvin Anderson

OL, Texas

Dru Brown
QB, Okla. State
Jalen Hurd
WR, Baylor
Calvin Anderson
OL, Texas
Sleeper Team Iowa State Baylor Iowa State Iowa State

Key Position

to Watch

Texas OL Texas OL Oklahoma DB Texas QBs
Best Coordinator Hire

Jim Knowles

DC, Okla. State

Herb Hand
co-OC, Texas
Jim Knowles
DC, Okla. State
Jim Knowles
DC, Okla. State

Hardest Team

to Evaluate

Kansas State Kansas State Okla. State Iowa State
Coach on the Rise

Todd Orlando

DC, Texas

Todd Orlando
DC, Texas
Matt Campbell
Iowa State
Matt Campbell
Iowa State
Must-See Game

Oklahoma vs.

Texas

Oklahoma
vs. Texas
Oklahoma at
West Virginia
Oklahoma vs.
Texas
Breakout Player

Gary Johnson

LB, Texas

Dillon Stoner
WR, Okla. State
Sam Ehlinger
QB, Texas
Marquise Brown
WR, Oklahoma
Comeback Player

Chris Platt

WR, Baylor

Chris Platt

WR, Baylor

Chris Platt
WR, Baylor
Will Grier
QB, WVU

 

Podcast: Athlon's Editors Discuss 2018 Conference Predictions

 

Event Date: 
Tuesday, June 5, 2018 - 20:08

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