Big 12 Football Preview 2014
By Matt Hetzler
Big 12 Football Predictions 2014
Offense: Trevor Knight will be the starting QB for the 2014 Sooners. Knight will look to improve on 2013 where he was injured part of the season. Knight was impressive against Alabama in the Sugar which has led to the hype of the Sooners. Keith Ford will be the starting RB replacing Brennen Clay. Sterling Shepard is a solid WR. Shepard had seven TD receptions last season. The Sooners will return three starters on the offensive line.
Defense: The defense returns nine starters from last season 11-2 team. LB Frank Shannon led the Sooners in tackles last season with 92. Dominique Alexander will also return at LB, Alexander had 80 tackles in 2013. The defensive line returns three starters from last season, including Charles Tapper and his five and half sacks. LB Eric Striker led the team with six and half sacks. The secondary will be one the best in the country. SS Quentin Hayes had 75 tackles and two picks. CB Julian Wilson led the team in interceptions with three.
Special Teams: Michael Hunnicut returns at kicker, last season Hunnicut hit 24 of 27 FG’s with a long of 47. Jed Barnett will be back as the Sooners punter.
Overview: Oklahoma is coming into 2014 with a ton of hype and excitement. The win over Alabama last season has vaulted the Sooners into the championship picture. The defense will be very good, possibly one of the best in the country. The offense loses a couple key players from last season and there will be questions if Knight cannot stay healthy. Oklahoma is blessed with a very manageable schedule. The Sooners get Baylor and Oklahoma State at home. The Red River Shootout may be the toughest test for the Sooners and that isn’t saying much. Oklahoma usually trips up when they come in with this much hype, but looking at the schedule I don’t see one. Oklahoma should be in the first CFB playoffs, if not the season will be considered a failure.
Offense: Baylor returns six starters on offense this season. QB Bryce Petty is coming off of a magical season. Petty threw for 4,200 yards, 32 TD’s and only three interceptions. Shock Linwood will start at RB, Linwood rushed for 881 yards and 8 TD’s. The receiving core is the best in the conference with Antwan Goodley returning. Goodley caught 71 passes for 1,339 yards and 13 TD’s in 2013. Levi Norwood also had a great 2013 with over 700 yards and eight TD’s receiving. The offensive line should be among the best in the league.
Defense: The defense returns just four starters from 2013. MLB Bryce Hager is the leading returning tackler for Baylor. Hager recorded 71 tackles last season. Jamal Palmer will be a breakout player on the defensive line. Palmer had five sacks last season. Terrell Burt will be the top player returning in the secondary. Burt finished with 61 tackles and two picks. The defense will have a lot of holes to fill coming into 2014.
Special Teams: Freshman Chris Callahan will be the starting kicker and Spencer Roth returns as the punter. Levi Norwood will be the return man, Norwood took 2 punts for TD’s last season.
Overview: Baylor will once again be one of the best teams in the BIG 12. Bryce Petty is a legitimate Heisman front-runner. Baylor has to visit Austin early in the season and Norman late in the year. The Bears get both Kansas State and Oklahoma State at home. Baylor dominated Oklahoma last season so the game in Norman will be huge. I like Baylor a lot, however the questions on defense are huge factors in my picking of Baylor finishing 2nd. Art Briles has done a phenomenal job at Baylor and the Bears should reach double digit wins and a big bowl game in 2014.
#3 Kansas State
Offense: QB Jake Waters returns for his senior season for the Wildcats. Waters is coming off of a good 2013 season. Waters completed over 60% of his passes, threw for 2,469 yards and 18 TDs. Waters also added over 300 yards on the ground and six TD’s. The running attack loses both John Hubert and Daniel Sams. DeMarcus Robinson will start at RB. Kansas State has great receivers in Tyler Lockett, Curry Sexton and Deante Burton. Lockett is a playmaker and caught 81 passes last season for 1,262 yards and 11 TD’s. The Wildcats return only 2 starters on the offensive line.
Defense: The defense should be one of the better units in the league. DE Ryan Mueller is one of the top players at his position in the country. Mueller had 62 tackles and 11.5 sacks. Travis Britz added three and half sacks at DT and is back this season. The linebackers will be led by Jonathan Truman at OLB. Truman finished 2013 with 89 tackles. The secondary returns Dante Barnett who had four interceptions last season and 75 tackles.
Special Teams: Both Jack Cantele and Ian Patterson return in the kicking game, they went 14 for 18 combined on FG’s last season. Freshman Mitch Lochbihler will handle the punting duties. Tyler Lockett will be the return man again this season.
Overview: Bill Synder has turned the Kansas State program around yet again. The Wildcats team this year is my sleeper in the BIG 12. Kansas State has the talent across to board to make some noise this season. Kansas State gets a huge non-conference game at home against Auburn in September. Kansas State has to travel to both Oklahoma and Baylor. Tyler Lockett is a special talent and if Jake Waters can improve on last season, the Wildcats offense could be great. Kansas State could reach double digits wins this season.
#4 Oklahoma State
Overview: JW Walsh will get another chance at being the starting QB for the Cowboys. Walsh has struggled with accuracy, throwing five picks in only a few games last season. Desmond Roland returns to give the Cowboys a solid option at running back. The receiver position is light, but Jhajuan Seales is a potential breakout star. The offensive line is one of the better lines in the conference. The defense is going to take a step back this year with only four starters returning. OSU loses the top three tacklers from last year’s team. Jimmy Bean at DE had four and half sacks last season. Kelvin Peterson had a pair of INT’s last season, and is the best corner returning. The kicking game struggled last season going 11 for 18 and Ben Grogan returns. Oklahoma State has an extremely tough schedule. The Cowboys open against Florida State in Arlington. Road games at TCU, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma are reason for concern. The offense should continue to be one of the best in the conference, but the defense will have issues early. Oklahoma State may not get to ten wins again, but eight is manageable.
Overview: TCU comes in to 2014 with high expectations after a 4-8 season in 2013. The Horned Frogs lose one of the best defenders in the country with the suspension of DE Devonte Fields. The offense returns eight starters and gets Texas A&M transfer QB Matt Joeckel to begin the season. The running game should be decent with Aaron Green getting the bulk of the carries. TCU gets its top two receivers back from last season. The offensive line has a few holes, and could be a problem for the offense to improve. The defense is one of the best in the conference, even with the loss of Fields. With seven returners back, the Horned Frogs have plenty of depth and experience. Leading tacklers Paul Dawson and Chris Hackett are back. The kicking game will be great with both kicker and punter returning. TCU gets Oklahoma and Kansas State at home, but travels to Texas and Baylor. The loss of Fields and the questions at QB are big for TCU, if Joeckel can come in and perform, TCU has a chance at having a great season.
Overview: Texas will be looking to improve after an 8-5 season, which saw Mack Brown leave the program. Charlie Strong takes over in Austin and will have a roster full of talent. David Ash will be the QB, Ash suffered an injury that kept him out most of the 2013 season. Ash played well before his injury throwing for 760 yards and seven TDs. The run game may be one of the best in the conference, Malcom Brown and Johnathan Grey are a solid
1-2 combo. Jaxson Shipley and Kendall Sanders will be the top targets at WR. The offensive line has a couple starters returning but should be solid for QB David Ash. The Longhorn defense may be one the best in the entire country. Texas returns eight starters, including DE Cedric Reed who had ten sacks in 2013. The linebackers are full of talent and return every player from last season. The secondary is full of experience and should be able to defend well in the pass-heavy BIG 12. There have been off-field issues in the offseason which has led to a handful of dismissals. Texas gets Baylor at home, but plays UCLA and Oklahoma at neutral sites. Road games at Kansas State and Texas Tech will be key games for the potential success of the season.
#6.5 Texas Tech
Overview: Kliff Kingsbury has brought a certain swagger to the Red Raiders program. Texas Tech started out 7-0 before losing its last five regular season games. An upset of then #16 Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl has Raiders fans excited about 2014. Texas Tech returns 9 starters on offense. QB Davis Webb burst onto the scene as a true freshman and threw for over 2,700 yards and 20 TD’s. Kenny Williams and DeAndre Washington return at RB. WR Jace Amaro is gone, but the Raiders return Jakeem Grant and Bradley Marquez. Four starters on the offensive return, adding even more potential for the offense. The defense returns only four starters total from last season, but the defense was not great last season. The defense gave up 38 or more points in each of their losses. The Red Raiders will be an exciting team to watch this season. Texas Tech gets Oklahoma at home late in the season, which could be a huge upset. I like the Red Raiders to continue to get better under Kingsbury, another eight win season should be in the cards for Texas Tech.
#8 West Virginia
Overview: West Virginia had one of its worst season in recent memory in 2013. The Mountaineers limped to 4-8 record. QB Clint Trickett returns, but Trickett is very inconsistent week to week. Trickett will have his top three receivers back. The running game loses Charles Sims which is a huge blow. Only two starters back on the line will hurt the offense. The defense returns seven starters and should be better than last season. Brandon Golson had four sacks last season, and leading tackler Nick Kwiatkoski is back. Josh Lambert returns at kicker after hitting 17 of 23 attempts last season. The Mountaineers open against Alabama, so they will be tested early. Three weeks later they will welcome Oklahoma to Morgantown. West Virginia also gets Baylor and Kansas State at home. The problem with the Mountaineers is that they lack the major talent that most teams in the BIG 12 have. It feels as if it will be another long season for West Virginia, and Coach Dana Holgorsen could be sent packing.
Overview: The Jayhawks are going into the programs third season under Charlie Weis. Weis has 17 total starters returning. The offense loses James Sims who rushed for over 1,100 yards last season. There isn’t anyone to replace him, which is a problem. Montell Cozart and Jake Heaps return at QB. Most of the WR core returns from last season, but the leader only had 24 grabs last season. The defense returns nine players, including Michael Reynolds and his 6.5 sacks. Leading tacklers Ben Heeney and Isaiah Johnson return. Kansas has brutal BIG 12 slate with road games at Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, and Kansas State. This very well may be the last season for Charlie Weis if he can’t find a way to win a couple of conference games.
#10 Iowa State
Overview: Iowa State returns ten starters on offense, which would be great news if the offense played well last season. The QB position has been weak the past couple seasons, Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach will battle for the starting spot. Leading rusher Aaron Wimberly is back. WR Quenton Bundrage is a playmaker at WR, he caught 9 TD’s last season. The offensive line returns every starter from last season. The defense loses key players and has little returning talent. The defense has been near the bottom of the BIG 12 for a while now, and this year will be no different. The Cyclones get Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma at home. Matching last year’s win total is manageable, but may be harder than expected.
Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year
Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year
Ryan Mueller, DL, Kansas State
Big 12 Coach of the Year
Bill Snyder, Kansas State
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