Who will win the Big 12 title?
With five weeks remaining in Big 12 conference play, it’s time to get ready for the wild month of November, where we’ll see undefeated Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU, and one-loss Oklahoma all battle it out with games against each other to end the year and crown a conference champion.
Here’s what you need to know about each team:
Current Record: 7-0
Remaining Schedule: at Kansas State, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State, at TCU, Texas
Why they win: Baylor have one of the most high powered offenses in college football. Despite the injury to starting quarterback Seth Russell (+18.7), his replacement Jarrett Stidham (+6.8) has looked very good in limited duty. Running back Shock Linwood (+11.3) has taken advantage of the wide open offense to have an impressive season, while wide receiver Corey Coleman (+15.4) has already scored 18 touchdowns.
Why they don’t: There are standouts on defense in defensive tackle Andrew Billings (+21.1) but that side of the ball definitely has holes. In the defensive backfield cornerback Xavien Howard (+7.3) has impressed, but Travon Blanchard (-3.3), Ryan Reid (-5.0), Orion Stewart (-4.5) and Chance Waz (-3.2) have all played over 400 snaps and have a negative grade in coverage.
TCU Horned Frogs
Current Record: 8-0
Remaining Schedule: at Oklahoma State, Kansas, at Oklahoma, Baylor
Why they win: Trevone Boykin (+40.8) is our highest graded quarterback in 2015, and it beginning to open up a gap on second ranked Jared Goff (+33.0) as the season wears on. Our highest graded quarterback a year ago was Oregon’s Marcus Mariota (+49.9) and Boykin will threaten that mark in the final four games. The wide open offense helps, as does having the best receiver in the nation in Josh Doctson (+24.7) to throw to, but Boykin is having a tremendous season.
Why they don’t: Like Baylor, while they have some standouts on defense, most notably safety Denzel Johnson (+11.8), they have some holes on defense that have caused them problems throughout the year. They’ve given up 37 points or more three times this season, and still have to take on the high powered offenses of the other three teams we’re talking about as challengers in the conference. On the defensive line, starting defensive end Josh Carraway (-4.9) and defensive tackle Chris Bradley (-6.1) have both logged the most snaps, but have graded negatively against the run.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Current Record: 8-0
Remaining Schedule: TCU, at Iowa State, Baylor, Oklahoma
Why they win: Aside from the advantage that comes with playing all three of their challengers at home — something that shouldn’t be overlooked — the Cowboys’ offense has started to really click lately, scoring 128 points over the past two games. Quarterback Mason Rudolph (+21.1) is our ninth-highest graded quarterback so far this year, and has graded positively in every game so far.
Why they don’t: They have fewer holes than both Baylor and TCU, but the play of the offensive line has to be something of a concern. Center Brad Lundblade (-12.4) has allowed two sacks, a hit and six hurries, while struggling against the run, while right tackle Zachary Crabtree (-4.6) has allowed three sacks, six hits and 11 hurries. Left tackle Victor Salako (+11.8) has impressed through, allowing just seven hurries so far this year.
Current Record: 7-1
Remaining Schedule: Iowa State, at Baylor, TCU, at Oklahoma State
Why they win: Quietly sneaking up on everyone in recent weeks, the Sooners boast our fifth-highest graded quarterback in Baker Mayfield (+28.2), who has graded at +3.2 or better in every game from the third week of the season onwards. They have a well balanced offense with wide receiver Sterling Shepard (+13.2) continuing to impressing, with the two headed attack of Samaje Perine (+4.9) and Joe Mixon (+5.6) in the backfield.
Why they don’t: Depth is an issue on defense. Their starters have impressed, but beyond them there are some question marks. At linebacker neither P.L. Lindley (-1.4) or Frank Shannon (+0.1) have stood out, while safety Hatari Boyd (-3.9) cornerback P.J. Mbanasor (-3.9) have struggled somewhat. Still, that’s searching for holes and, despite being the only team with a loss already, the Sooners are just as likely to run the table in November as the other three.