Oklahoma has won five Big 12 titles in a row, and coach Lincoln Riley’s program is a heavy favorite to win the conference crown once again in 2020. The Sooners have a few personnel question marks to address on both sides of the ball but should be a playoff contender once again. While the top of the Big 12 won’t have much debate in preseason predictions, the uncertainty begins at No. 2. Which team is the biggest threat to Oklahoma for the conference title? Is Texas primed for a rebound? Or will Oklahoma State, Baylor or Iowa State emerge as the No. 2 team in the Big 12 for 2020?
Which team will emerge as the top threat to Oklahoma in the Big 12 for 2020? That was the question posed to Athlon editors and a college football contributor.
Big 12 Football: Which Team is the Biggest Threat to Oklahoma in 2020?
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Iowa State and Baylor are in the discussion, but I think second place in the Big 12 comes down to Texas or Oklahoma State. For now, I’ll give a slight lean to the Longhorns. The lack of spring practice with two new coordinators and question marks on both sides of the ball is a concern for Texas. However, quarterback Sam Ehlinger is one of the best in college football and there's no shortage of raw talent on the roster to restock the receiving corps and build around at running back. A defense that struggled with injuries and performance should rebound some under coordinator Chris Ash. The road trip to Stillwater at the end of the year could play a huge role in shaping the final standings in the Big 12.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
Texas would seemingly be the obvious answer because the Longhorns are typically closest to the Sooners in terms of talent. But Tom Herman is breaking in a pair of new coordinators and he also has to replace some key pieces on both sides of the ball. On the other hand, Oklahoma State returns plenty of offensive firepower, including the nation's leading rusher in Chuba Hubbard, and remains largely intact on defense as well. The Cowboys, who lost to Texas by just six points in Austin last season, also get the Longhorns at home to end the regular season. Since that game could very well decide a spot in the Big 12 Championship, I'll give Mike Gundy and the Pokes the advantage.
Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib)
Texas is a popular pick, but I've been snakebitten too many times since Mack Brown left town. Instead, I'll take a school that has perhaps the best returning offense in the conference: Oklahoma State. Running back Chuba Hubbard is back after posting 2,292 total yards last season, while wide receiver Tylan Wallace has totaled 2,394 yards over the last two years. The return of those two seniors will be huge for Spencer Sanders' continued development at quarterback. The defense also stayed largely intact and has been trending in the right direction.
Nicholas Ian Allen (@NicholasIAllen)
There is plenty of optimism surrounding Oklahoma State ahead of the 2020 season, and for good reason. But Texas is still the biggest threat to Oklahoma. The Longhorns are one of the most talented teams in the nation (Texas ranks No. 5 overall and No. 1 in the Big 12 in CFB Winning Edge Roster Strength), and the team gained a lot of experience last season. Changing both coordinators is always difficult, and doing so could be even harder this year, but with better injury luck – especially on defense – and with senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger leading the way, Texas has the talent to win the conference title.