So I had a great intro and first team write-up done, then my comp crashed and here’s what I can recap.  While there isn’t a technical split division like there is in the B1G (East vs West) the Big 12 is now a round robin tournament with the top two teams in the conference facing off in the Championship game.  They used to be split North/South, but with the departure of Nebraska and Colorado, the game was on pause until it was renewed back in the 2016 season.  While I know there isn’t technically a “North” division in the Big 12, for purposes of not putting a whole conference in one blog, I’m going to split it into 2 divisions but in Pt. 4 will be sure to put my final prediction as the conference is setup (round-robin).  With all that being said, lets take a look at my pseudo North division last year standings :

TEAMCONFOVR
Iowa State8-19-3
Oklahoma State6-38-3
West Virginia4-46-4
Kansas State4-54-6
Kansas0-80-9

Iowa State

When you start off your college football season to the Ragin’ Cajuns by 17 you’re outlook on the season can’t be that great.  That being said, Matt Campbell is a psychopath (I mean that in the most complimentary way possible) and turned the season around.  Brock Purdy progressed, as I think he’s the best QB ISU has had since Seneca Wallace, more of a pocket passer, was a 3 star coming out of High School, but won Gatorade Player of the Year in Arizona in senior year so you know the talent was there, don’t quite understand the 3 star rating.  In my personal opinion the Big 12 had a down year overall strength wise, but had some solid contenders.  They did beat ranked Oklahoma and Texas at home but lost to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. Should be an interesting year coming off ISU’s best year in NCAAF, lets take a look at the 2021-22 schedule and key losses.

Key Losses :

JaQuan Dailey – DE – Iowa State all-time leader in Sacks and TFL, declared for NFL

Two other DT’s transferred so basically a whole new line, outside on returning 4-year starter

2021-22 Schedule :

DATEOPPONENT
Sat, Sep 4vsNorthern Iowa
Sat, Sep 11vsIowa
Sat, Sep 18@UNLV
Sat, Sep 25@Baylor
Sat, Oct 2vsKansas
Sat, Oct 16@Kansas State
Sat, Oct 23vsOklahoma State
Sat, Oct 30@West Virginia
Sat, Nov 6vsTexas
Sat, Nov 13@Texas Tech
Sat, Nov 20@Oklahoma
Fri, Nov 26vsTCU

I will start by saying I am an ISU Alum, but a Hawkeye fan through and through.  It was a bit depressing not having the in-state rivalry last year, however, I will be in Ames for this year’s game and expect a GREAT one.  That being said, otherwise (according to ESPN Top 25 Power Rankings on May 4th) they currently have 3 ranked teams on the schedule.  You get #14 Iowa and #22 Texas at HOME and then at #1 Oklahoma in Norman.  If you look at this team, outside the Defensive Line, they return a great RB in Hall, Purdy continues to develop into his pocket passing role, and the defensive (for the most part) remains intact.  One thing I want to point out though is that games last year could’ve gone either way – they were good in one possession games.  3 point win at TCU, 7 point win over OU at home, 7 point win home vs Baylor, 3 point win at Texas – and these are only the wins, they’re 2 of 3 losses were one possession as well.  Point is, this team has a strong defense, great running game, however, can Brock Purdy manage the game efficiently?  That right there Cyclone fans, is how I see you’re season going.

Oklahoma State

Approaching the 2020 season, it was supposed to be Chubba’s year to carry on what he did in 2019, however, it turned out not to be the case.  In doing research on this team, I had no idea their past coordinators of Mike Leach and Dana Holgrensen were there under Gundy.  Since they’re departure, it’s been more of a run/balanced attack.  FiveThirtyEight recently wrote a great article on this transition that I encourage everyone to read.  Regardless, lets take a look at Key Losses and the upcoming schedule :

Key Losses :

Chubba Hubbard – didn’t play in the 2nd half of last season anyways

Tylan Wallace WR – NFL

Teven Jenkins OT – NFL

2021-22 Schedule :

DATEOPPONENT
Sat, Sep 4vsMissouri State
Sat, Sep 11vsTulsa
Sat, Sep 18@Boise State
Sat, Sep 25vsKansas State
Sat, Oct 2vsBaylor
Sat, Oct 16@Texas
Sat, Oct 23@Iowa State
Sat, Oct 30vsKansas
Sat, Nov 6@West Virginia
Sat, Nov 13vsTCU
Sat, Nov 20@Texas Tech
Sat, Nov 27vsOklahoma

You got tough road games at Iowa State and at Texas, otherwise they do finish the season at home against Oklahoma in the instate rivalry and potential playoff implications on the line.  Also, not to overlook the Tulsa game in week 2 as they were a well above average team last year. Even though Chubba is gone, they have a 3 headed monster at RB so I see their continued balanced offense continuing.  On the defensive side of the ball, they do return their leading tackler from last year at LB.  Definitely solid on the defensive front and many are returning.  Outside of a 41-34 OT Loss to Texas and 50-44 win over Texas Tech, this defense didn’t give up more than 30 points in the regular season in any of their games.  Finishing off the recap, we have QB Spencer Sanders.  Consistency is key, if you look at the last two years of playing it’s pretty incredible that the numbers are EXACT lol.  In both 2019 & 2020 he was 155 for 247, with 2000+ yards passing.  While TD’s were down by two in 2020, his picks were down by 3.  Expect this team to come through and have a solid season overall.

West Virginia

This was an odd team to watch last year.  Towards the end of the season they played Texas close AT Texas in a loss 13-17, then just two weeks later AT Iowa State they got blown out 42-6.  For the most part they won the games they should’ve and tried to be competitive in the ones they lost.  Ever since Dana Holgrensen left, it’s been a work in progress for now 3rd year head coach Neal Brown.  Something that you wouldn’t think of when talking WVU football is their defense, but last year they were 4th in the nation and 1st in the Big 12 with only allowing 291 yards and 21 points per game.  It definitely kept them in the games they needed to be (for the most part).  Now it’s off to Key Losses and next year’s schedule :

Key Losses :

Tykee Smith S – transfer to Georgia

Darius Still DT – NFL

2021-22 Schedule :

DATEOPPONENT
Sat, Sep 4@Maryland
Sat, Sep 11vsLong Island University
Sat, Sep 18vsVirginia Tech
Sat, Sep 25@Oklahoma
Sat, Oct 2vsTexas Tech
Sat, Oct 9@Baylor
Sat, Oct 23@TCU
Sat, Oct 30vsIowa State
Sat, Nov 6vsOklahoma State
Sat, Nov 13@Kansas State
Sat, Nov 20vsTexas
Sat, Nov 27@Kansas

Starting off AT Maryland is not good, but it should be a good test for this defense.  Following that for conference play you do have to go to OU but do get ISU, OSU, & Texas at home.  The schedule, outside the first couple games does favor the Mountaineers.  Also, I don’t say this often, but I love their QB.  He started his career at Bowling Green and finally got the starting job last year for WVU.  In his career, Jarrett Doege, has thrown for 7500 yards, 60 TDs and 22 picks.  Last year, his first full season, he had 14 TD and 4 picks.  With a great defense, and a QB that protects the ball, I can see this potentially being a surprising team with Neal’s recruits finally starting to come in and get their reps.

Kansas State

Roller coaster.  That’s one way to explain K-State’s 2020 season.  You open the season with a loss at home to Arkansas State, then follow it up by beating OU in Norman.  The team then goes on to win 3 in a row, but suffer an injury to QB Skylar Thompson.  Dude, is a super senior coming back now for his 6th season.  After the injury, they did finish the season with 5 losses in a row.  Including, 37-10 to WVU, 45-0 to ISU, and 69 (nice)-31 to Texas.  Again, another “newer” coach taking over for long time and legendary coach Bill Snyder.  Should be an interesting season coming up, especially if they can stay injury free – the talent is there, will the schedule cooperate?

Key Losses :

Wyatt Hubert – DE

Drew Wiley – DT

2021-22 Schedule :

DATEOPPONENT
Sat, Sep 4vsStanford *
Sat, Sep 11vsSouthern Illinois
Sat, Sep 18vsNevada
Sat, Sep 25@Oklahoma State
Sat, Oct 2vsOklahoma
Sat, Oct 16vsIowa State
Sat, Oct 23@Texas Tech
Sat, Oct 30vsTCU
Sat, Nov 6@Kansas
Sat, Nov 13vsWest Virginia
Sat, Nov 20vsBaylor
Fri, Nov 26@Texas

If you’re going to put together a season, now’s the year to do it.  You get Stanford which isn’t Stanford of the past, known to have a more balanced offense.  At OSU who relies more heavily on the run nowadays (see above).  Home against OU who you proved you can beat last year, then ISU AT Home thereafter.  I’d be nervous with the Tech game and their West Coast offense, but otherwise, your tougher opponents are at home and the teams you should beat are away (for the most part).  KSU ranked LAST in the Big 12 in passing defense, but with a number of good transfers coming in the secondary, a healthy Thompson at QB, and a schedule that’s in your favor.  Expect to see some better days ahead in Manhattan.

Kansas

I don’t know of a program I can think of at this moment in more shambles then KU.  They went winless last year under Les Miles – supposedly a great hire at the time, but as we all have seen, that hasn’t gone as planned on and off the field.  New HC Lance Leipold takes over the reigns.  Guy was a beast winning multiple D3 NCAAF championships then taking Buffalo into a conference title contender thereafter.  Honestly, he had something good going at Buffalo but the man must have some confidence to come try and turn this Kansas program around.  They need to decide on a QB1 for the year, with incoming transfer from North Texas (Bean) looking at the most likely pick.  Lastly, their Pass Protection needs to simply “be better”.  They gave up 47 sacks and 96 tackles for loss in just 9 games in 2020 LOL.  Alright, Kansas – lets see how this season looks for you.

Key Losses :

2 guys on the DLine – otherwise, not much (they were transfers to other P5 teams)

2021-22 Schedule :

DATEOPPONENT
Fri, Sep 3vsSouth Dakota
Fri, Sep 10@Coastal Carolina
Sat, Sep 18vsBaylor
Sat, Sep 25@Duke
Sat, Oct 2@Iowa State
Sat, Oct 16vsTexas Tech
Sat, Oct 23vsOklahoma
Sat, Oct 30@Oklahoma State
Sat, Nov 6vsKansas State
Sat, Nov 13@Texas
Sat, Nov 20@TCU
Sat, Nov 27vsWest Virginia

I’ll be brutally honest, outside of that South Dakota game to start the year – I don’t see another win on this schedule.  Unless Bean turns out to be a superstar that can help buy some extra time in the pocket with his legs, this team just doesn’t have the pieces to compete in a Power 5 conference like the Big 12.  I’ll keep this short and sweet as this just isn’t going to be KU’s year, but 3 wins would be a great accomplishment for this first year head coach in the Big 12.

I will finish up my review and conference predictions after Pt. 4 when I have the whole conference reviewed due to them being a non-divisional conference and instead, a Round Robin one.  More to come – as always, Lets. Eat.