The Oklahoma Sooners have an opportunity to win their sixth consecutive Big 12 championship. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are loaded with their own rendition of star power in Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace. But maybe this is the Texas Longhorns’ year after all.
From coaching to quarterback play, the Big 12’s intriguing storylines are worth monitoring. Most of the conference’s teams are expected to improve at the quarterback position, as 70 percent of the league’s starting quarterbacks return this season. Of the three teams that don’t return a starting quarterback, the Texas Tech Red Raiders brings back a healthy Alan Bowman and – *drum roll* – the Spencer Rattler era is set to begin in Norman.
With Matt Rhule out and Dave Aranda for the Baylor Bears, now half of the league’s coaches are in their first or second-year as head coach, making fourth-year Tom Herman a wise man of sorts.
Those are just a few of the most exciting narratives at play. Let’s get into it.
We’ll continue with ... the transitioning programs.
It’s year two of the Matt Wells era — after losing 8 games in 2019, are the Red Raiders poised to make a leap with quarterback Alan Bowman back under center?
The Red Raiders may be the Big 12’s most unpredictable team entering this season. Last season, they lost four conference games by three points or less. With Bowman back at quarterback, 4-8 could very well turn into 8-4 in 2020.
Texas Tech opens the year with six winnable games leading up to a week eight home matchup against Texas. If they manage to win at Iowa State, and take care of business at home against Arizona, West Virginia and Kansas State, that late October game will be a daunting matchup for the Longhorns.
Head coach Matt Wells initially hired former Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando to take over a defense that ranked No. 127 in total defense. That hire lasted just 12 days — he left Lubbock for the same position at USC and brought Craig Naiver with him. Considering the timing of it all, it’s unfortunate how that transpired for Wells and his staff.
After the Orlando betrayal, Tech decided to settle on defensive coordinator Keith Patterson for another year. He coached the Red Raiders defense last season. Patterson has served as a Power Five defensive coordinator for seven seasons — his units have averaged a total defense finish of 100.3.
Scoring has never been the problem for Texas Tech. Their defensive play is what has prevented them from competing among the top-half of the Big 12 over the years.
If Bowman maximizes the potential of Tech’s offense in Wells’ system, they’ll be tough to defend against.