TCU is coming off a National Title appearance and the Big 12 is adding four new teams next season. Texas and Oklahoma will be on their way out but not before a few games with Houston, Cincinnati, BYU and UCF. Kansas State returns as the Big 12 champion and should be a contender once again. The conference appears to be improving so the headlines over the next two seasons will be worth watching. The Big 12 is an evolving conference which will make next year one of the most interesting seasons in their history.
Will 2023 be the last season for Texas and Oklahoma in the Big 12? – Texas and Oklahoma are slated to leave the Big 12 after the 2024 season. Recently a report came out stating both programs may look to leave after the 2023 season. This could be the last season for some classic Big 12 matchups. This may be the last year for the Bedlam series which Oklahoma State will host. Texas vs Texas Tech will also disappear as the two programs are unlikely to continue the series. Texas and Oklahoma have been staples of the Big 12 since it was created in 1994. The landscape of college football is always changing and here is another example. Oklahoma has 14 Big 12 titles in their history while Texas has three. The Sooner’s departure will allow other programs an opportunity to step in claim the throne.
Can TCU continue the momentum into 2023? – One of the biggest surprises of the 2022 seasons was TCU. The Horned Frogs were not expected to contend in the Big 12 last season but instead they made the College Football Playoffs and lost in the National Championship game. Sonny Dykes heads into year two but will experience significant losses on both sides of the ball. Heisman runner up and starting quarterback, Max Duggan, is off to the NFL. The Horned Frogs will also need to replace Kendre Miller, Quentin Johnston, and Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson who are all expected to be drafted within the first three rounds. Dykes has been active in the transfer portal bringing in Jojo Earle, Trey Sanders and Tommy Brockermeyer from Alabama to help with the offensive side of the ball. The Horned Frogs currently have nine transfer commits to go with their 23 players who signed a National Letter of Intent. Chandler Morris is currently expected to win the starting quarterback position but TCU may also look to add someone from the portal before fall camp. The Horned Frogs will be competitive again in 2023 but look for them to take a step back as they lost most of their key playmakers.
Which newcomer will have the greatest impact? – Cincinnati, BYU, UCF and Houston are all slated to join the Big 12 in July. All four programs have seen significant highs over the past decade but will any of them make an instant impact in their new conference? Cincinnati felt like the smart choice but Luke Fickell left for Wisconsin and the Bearcats made a questionable hire in Scott Satterfield. The Bearcats finished 9-4 in Fickell’s final season. UCF has a claimed National Championship in the last decade and appears to be on the upswing. Gus Malzahn’s team beat Tulane and Cincinnati last year but also suffered some questionable losses to ECU, Louisville and Navy. Houston entered the season with expectations of making a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. The Cougars stumbled to a 2-3 start before finishing 8-5 on the season. Houston has been active in the transfer portal brining in players from Oklahoma, Texas, Ole Miss and Oklahoma State. BYU also went 8-5 last year but suffered a four game losing streak in the middle of the season. The Cougars will rely on Pitt transfer Kedon Slovis to take over for Jaren Hall at quarterback. All four programs possess the ability to make a statement in their first season. UCF would be my bet but none of the teams would surprise me.
Does Kansas continue to improve in 2023? – The Kansas Jayhawks used to be the laughing stock of college football but Lance Leipold quickly turned the program around. The Jayhawks started the season 5-0 when TCU came to town. College Gameday came to Lawrence for the matchup. Starting quarterback, Jalon Daniels, was injured hurting the Jayhawks chances. Kansas would lose to TCU 38-31 which would start a losing streak for the program. The Jayhawks finished the season 6-7 and were competitive in almost every game. Daniels will be back under center next season fully healthy and should give the team a boost. Devin Neal is also one of the most underrated running backs in the country. Neal averaged over 6.0 yards per carry last season and scored 10 touchdowns. Leipold has been a winner at every school he has coached. There is no reason to believe he will not have Kansas moving in a positive direction next season.
What does Kansas State need to do to repeat as conference champion? – Kansas State was predicted to finish fifth in the Big 12 before the season began. The Wildcats finished 10-4 with an appearance in the Sugar Bowl. Kansas State was able to catch teams off guard but next year they will be the defending champs and have a target on their back. Adrian Martinez was the starting quarterback at the beginning of the season before he went down with an injury. Will Howard replaced Martinez and was arguably a better quarterback. Howard was just a sophomore meaning he will be back and the anticipated starter. The biggest hole for Kansas State is at running back. Deuce Vaughn was one of the best running backs and playmakers in the entire country. He had the ability to be a difference maker in the rushing and passing attack. DJ Giddens is likely to get the first shot at replacing Vaughn after rushing for over 500 yards and averaging 5.8 yards per carry last season.
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