The Big 12 will only exist as we know it for a few more years. Texas and Oklahoma will be moving to the SEC while Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, and BYU will be joining the conference. In the meantime, the conference will have a new look after Oklahoma, TCU, and Texas Tech changed coaches. Baylor is the reigning Big 12 champion and returns enough talent to be the favorite. The Big 12 has interesting story lines entering the 2022 season and should be a fun conference to watch on a weekly basis.
How Will Quinn Ewers Fare in His First Season? – Quinn Ewers is one of the highest ranked recruits since recruiting services have existed. Ewers was originally committed to Texas out of high school but uncertainty within the Texas program resulted in the quarterback reevaluating his options. Ewers transferred from Ohio State to Texas after just one semester in Columbus. He did not attempt a pass while on Ohio State’s roster. In two seasons as his high school’s starting quarterback, Ewers threw for 6,445 yards and 73 touchdowns to only eight interceptions. He is a mobile quarterback with a strong arm to complete accurate passes down field. Steve Sarkisian will likely name Ewers the starting quarterback for 2022. Can Ewers be the quarterback messiah Texas fans have been waiting for?
Can Brent Venables Bring Oklahoma Back to Glory? – One of the most surprising moves of the off-season was Lincoln Riley accepting the head coaching position with USC. Oklahoma turned to Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables to take over the program. Riley won four Big 12 titles and made three College Football Playoff appearances. Venables enters a program who has recruited well over the past few years but will also be in a partial rebuild. Both of the Sooners starting quarterbacks from 2021 have transferred out of the program. Dillon Gabriel transferred to Oklahoma and should be in line to start next season. The Sooners are also waiting to hear if USC transfer, Jaxson Dart, will be joining Gabriel. Oklahoma has enough talent to return to the Big 12 championship next year but how will Venables handle challenges in his first season as a head coach?
Will West Virginia Move On from Neal Brown? – West Virginia has largely been irrelevant over the past three seasons which has begun to raise questions if Neal Brown is on the hot seat and how warm is his seat. Brown is 17-18 in three seasons as the West Virginia head coach. Brown will be searching for a new quarterback after Jarrett Doege transferred to Western Kentucky. West Virginia has ranked 82nd or lower in scoring offense in each of Brown’s seasons. The Mountaineers only ranked lower than 50th once during Dana Holgorsen’s tenure (79th in 2013). West Virginia has challenging games against Pitt and Virginia Tech in 2022 which could spell the end of Brown’s tenure with West Virginia. How many games does Brown need to win in order to keep his job?
Will the Big 12 be Left Out of the Playoff Again? – The Big 12 has missed four of the eight College Football Playoffs including the last two. Oklahoma is also the only team from the conference to make the playoffs. Entering the season, the Big 12 does not have a clear cut favorite. A two loss team has yet to make the College Football Playoffs but inevitably a two loss team will eventually make an appearance. Would the Big 12 be the first team to get a two loss team in? Can a team other than Oklahoma put together a strong enough resume to make their debut in the playoffs? The Sooners are also candidates to return to their throne in the Big 12 and make another appearance in the playoffs. Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma State have all had close encounters with potential playoff births.
Who Will Be the Surprise Team in 2022? – Neither Baylor or Oklahoma State were ranked to start the 2022 season but both teams made the Big 12 championship. Baylor and Oklahoma State should be contenders for the Big 12 title again next season. Will we see any teams make a jump to surprise the conference? Kansas State and Texas Tech appear to be the likely contenders. Texas Tech finished 7-6 after firing Matt Wells in the middle of the season. Tyler Shough is likely to start at quarterback for the Red Raiders. Shough was injured early in the season and did not play after September. Texas Tech hired Joey McGuire from Baylor who previously was a successful high school coach. McGuire has been considered an up ad coming coach in the college ranks who many expect to be successful. Chris Kleiman enters his fourth season as the Kansas State Wildcats head coach and is 20-16 in his first three seasons. The Wildcats finished last season at 8-5 with all of their losses coming by 13 points or less. Kansas State is led by running back Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn was named an All-American after totaling 22 touchdowns in 2021. For Kansas State to have a successful season in 2022 they will need Vaughn to have another All-American caliber season.