The Big 12 was left out of last year’s playoff, but the conference is in good shape to get at least one team in college football’s top four this season. Baylor and TCU are two of the nation’s top teams after a combined 13-0 start and are on a collision course for a huge showdown in Fort Worth on Nov. 27. The Horned Frogs are still working to find the right pieces on a revamped defense, but quarterback Trevone Boykin helps to cover for a lot of flaws. The Bears are the more complete team at this point, but the schedule will get a lot tougher for coach Art Briles’ team in November.
Outside of TCU and Baylor, the state of Oklahoma is in focus for the Big 12. The Sooners and Cowboys are the biggest threats to the Horned Frogs and Bears, and both teams will play a key role in how the final order of the conference plays out. Elsewhere in the league, Texas is off to a 2-4 start, but coach Charlie Strong’s team has momentum after a win against Oklahoma. Kansas State has lost three in a row and has a tough rebound matchup in Austin this Saturday.
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Here are some award winners, plus second-half predictions from the Big 12 in 2015:
Big 12 Midseason Review and Second-Half Predictions
Offensive Player of the Year: Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU
TCU is still working to find the right pieces on defense, and injuries have hit this team hard across the board, but there’s one constant keeping this team in the mix for a playoff bid: Boykin. The senior has passed for 2,539 yards and 25 touchdowns in seven games and rushed for 440 yards and five scores.
Defensive Player of the Year: Emmanuel Ogbah, DE, Oklahoma State
Ogbah leads the Big 12 with 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for a loss after six games. He’s also forced two fumbles and recorded 33 tackles.
Coach of the Year: Gary Patterson, TCU
Despite injuries to a handful of key players and new starters on defense, TCU is 7-0 overall and 4-0 in conference play. The Horned Frogs still have plenty of big tests ahead, including the Nov. 27 showdown against Baylor.
Freshman of the Year: Malik Jefferson, LB, Texas
Jefferson is one of the building blocks for the future for coach Charlie Strong. The true freshman ranks second on the team with 37 tackles (5.5 for a loss), is tied for first on the defense with two sacks and has two pass breakups and five quarterback hurries in six games.
Newcomer of the Year: Baker Mayfield, QB, Oklahoma
Mayfield has provided a spark for Oklahoma’s passing attack and is the right fit for new coordinator Lincoln Riley’s offense. Mayfield has passed for 1,980 yards and 19 scores and added 166 yards and four touchdowns on the ground through six games.
Three Things to Watch in the Second Half
1. TCU-Baylor Showdown Looms Large
All signs suggest the Nov. 27 showdown between Baylor and TCU will decide the Big 12 title. But both teams have a few obstacles to cross before then, including Baylor’s road trip to Oklahoma State, and the Horned Frogs have to visit Oklahoma that same weekend. Will both teams make it through unscathed until the Nov. 27 matchup? And how much progress can both teams make by then?
2. Which Team Plays Spoiler?
As we mentioned above, TCU and Baylor won't have an easy path to an unbeaten regular season. Could Oklahoma or Oklahoma State spoil the unbeaten season for TCU or Baylor? The Cowboys host both teams in November, while Oklahoma hosts TCU a week before its showdown against Baylor. Even if both teams fall short of playing spoiler, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are the top contenders to finish third in this league and the Nov. 28 meeting in Stillwater should have plenty of intrigue and importance.
3. Will Texas Make a Bowl?
The Longhorns are 2-4 going into Week 8, and the goal for coach Charlie Strong over the second half of the year is to get this team into a bowl. Texas has winnable games – Kansas State, at Iowa State, Kansas, Texas Tech and at West Virginia – but it needs four victories out of that group. There’s little margin of error for Strong.
Top Five Games in the Second Half
1. Baylor at TCU (Nov. 27)
No doubt about this one. Playoff and Big 12 title implications are on the line on Fort Worth.
2. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Nov. 28)
Bedlam. That’s about all you need to know to tune into this one.
3. Oklahoma at Baylor (Nov. 14)
Oklahoma dominated this matchup from 1996-2010, but the Bears have won three out of the last four in this series.
4. TCU at Oklahoma (Nov. 21)
The Horned Frogs visit Oklahoma a week before the showdown against Baylor. Letdown alert?
5. Baylor at Oklahoma State (Nov. 21)
Similar theme to No. 4. Letdown possibility for Baylor? The Bears are on the road a week before the matchup against TCU.
Predicting the Final 2015 Big 12 Standings