The Longhorns are poised to take back the top of the conference again

Big 12 preview: Time for Texas

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I will be writing about the Big 12 this season on SportsMap. I welcome all your comments and takes about the conference and college football. I will have my big college football bold predictions article and Heisman trophy preview next week.

Texas is back...on the right track

The Longhorns are poised for success this season. The most success they've had in a long time, in fact. I believe they are the team to beat in the Big 12. Not the Oklahoma Sooners.

Sam Ehlinger is the best quarterback to play for the Longhorns since Colt McCoy. Let that sink in. It has been ten years since Texas entered a season with this much talent and ability at the quarterback spot. Ehlinger is legit. He has a little more Baker Mayfield in him than he'd like to admit. The attitude and mentality, he's tough as nails and not afraid, is something the signal callers of the last decade have lacked. Sure, I could spout off how he was one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the nation statistically, but what you need to know is he can be better and if he is, watch out for the Horns.

The rest of their offense has potential in some areas and plenty of question marks too. A few new starters on the offensive line will be a hurdle Texas has to get over fast with LSU coming up quick on the schedule. I believe in this group of offensive linemen more than previous incarnations. They feel tougher even if they were an average pass blocking group when it comes to sacks and poor when it comes to the rushing game. They need some help and good luck with the running backs. Keaontay Ingram hurt his knee recently leaving Daniel Young and Jordan Whittington as the backs next up. If Ingram gets all the way healthy soon, he has a chance to be special. Collin Johnson is a huge target and could be one of the best college wideouts this season.

On defense, they're one of the deepest teams in the nation in the secondary. Stud safety Caden Sterns hurt his knee recently but should be back in time for to help lead the defense with Brandon Jones. They have to be solid there with so many starters to replace. The front seven is a mix of young talent and players with some experience. Defensive coordinators Todd Orlando and Craig Naivar have a tall task but if they can pull it off Texans should roll through a lot of teams.

Players to watch

​Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb

Oklahoma TE Grant Calcaterra

Lamb will be a first round pick next year. Calaterra made a ton of catches in big moments. They're a freaky duo for Sooners quarterback Jalen Hurts to reach his full passing potential.

TCU WR Jalen Reagor

Impressive stats last year with quarterback play leaving plenty to be desired. If the Frogs get some consistency at quarterback this is potentially a Biletnikoff Award winner.

Texas Tech Safety Adrian Frye

A defensive player from Texas Tech? You're damn right. Five interceptions as a freshman last year and this year with a different defense, hopefully better, and some experience under his belt he will try to repeat his freshman all-american season.

Baylor QB Charlie Brewer

Brewer isn't getting a ton of love ahead of the season, likely considered the fourth or fifth best quarterback in the Big 12, but he might end the season as the most statistically impressive passer. This could be a very top heavy Big 12 group of quarterbacks and Brewer has a chance to stand out among them.

Bold Predictions

The winner of the Red River Rivalry game loses the Big 12 Championship rematch

Baylor is the third best team in the conference

Matt Campbell is coaching his last season with Iowa State

Matt Rhule is coaching his last season with the Baylor Bears

Oklahoma State is the fourth best team in the conference and knocks off multiple ranked opponents

Texas Tech's Alan Bowman throws for the second most yards in the conference, behind Baylor's Charlie Brewer

The state of Kansas only wins two Big 12 games and Les Miles and his Jayhawks win neither of those

The Big 12 produces eight bowl teams

Key Games

Sept. 7 LSU at Texas

This is a game that will determine if the Longhorns will have enough juice to get into the college football playoff. I believe a win here would allow the Longhorns a loss on their schedule and still keep them in the hunt for the national title.

Oct. 12 Red River Rivalry

This is a huge game for both schools. It will matchup likely two top ten teams and would be one of the best wins on anyone's schedule hoping to be in the college football playoff.

Nov. 9 Iowa State at Oklahoma

The Cyclones play in Norman and then host Texas the following week. Splitting those could drastically affect the Big 12 race. Winning both and suddenly the Cyclones have one of the best resumes in the nation. They could very well be a speed bump of the Big 12 elite.

Nov. 29 Texas Tech at Texas

This will be the last game on the Texas schedule before I believe they will play in the Big 12 Championship game. This potentially will be the game that decides if Texas Tech plays in a bowl game or not. The bowl game for the Red Raiders if you will. Not the easiest finish to the schedule.

Nov. 30 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

Bedlam will always be one of the most important games on the Big 12 schedule. Oklahoma's tough task before a potential Big 12 Championship game. It could be a really nice win for Oklahoma's playoff resume, or a great spoiler victory for the Cowboys.

Projected finish

Texas (Big 12 Championship game winner and best record)

Oklahoma

Baylor

Oklahoma State

Iowa State

Texas Tech

TCU

West Virginia

Kansas State

Kansas

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