Big 12 Conference 2020 Preseason Superlatives
It's been Oklahoma's conference lately, and the College Football Playoff has only seen the Sooners from the Big 12. Will that change? There are a number of challengers waiting to take over the crown, but all roads go through Norman, Oklahoma. The Big 12 boasts plenty of offensive talent yearly, and that won't change in 2020. If there is a season, buckle up your seat belts yet again.
Best Offensive Player: RB Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State
How do you improve upon a season in which you rushed for over 2,000 yards? It's tough to imagine a season that could top what Hubbard produced in 2019, so it's about replicating the personal success and elevating the team's goals. Oklahoma State's a dark horse for the College Football Playoff because they have talent like Hubbard running the offense. If teams start to load the box, Tylan Wallace will punish them deep, so there has to be a balance. If defenses don't tip their scheme one way or another, the Cowboys and Hubbard are in business. Maybe even in the Heisman and national championship business.
Top at each position:
QB- Brock Purdy, Iowa State
WR- Tylan Wallace, Oklahoma State
TE- Charlie Kolar, Iowa State
C- Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
G- Josh Rivas, Kansas State
OT- Samuel Cosmi, Texas
Best Defensive Player: LB Garrett Wallow, TCU
Yes, there are more naturally gifted players in the conference, but you can't teach what Wallow brings to the table. There's not a quicker player in the Big 12 to the football. His naturally instincts allow him to react before anyone else, and many times he beats his blocker to the spot and makes the play. That's evident in his 125 tackles, including 18 for loss last year. Gary Patterson's defense will once again be a stingy group with a leader like Wallow, and this side of the ball won't be one the Horned Frogs need to worry about in 2020. Oh, and Wallow wears a neck plate, giving him some extra style points. Hard to beat that look.
Top at each position:
DT- Darius Stills, West Virginia
DE- Wyatt Hubert, Kansas State LB- Wallow
CB- Anthony Johnson, Iowa State
S- Trevon Moehrig, TCU
Most Pressure to Succeed: Texas
It's tough to put any one individual over a team that's been under the spotlight since Tom Herman arrived. Herman's success at Houston gave Longhorn fans plenty of hope, but he hasn't quite produced a season that satisfies the fan base. Even after quarterback Sam Ehlinger's declaration that Texas was back in 2018, they haven't lived up to that billing. Fortunately for this team, a run at the College Football Playoff appears a possibility in 2020. Ehlinger returns for his final year, Herman brought in Chris Ash to run the defense, and the conference is as winnable for Texas as it's ever been. Can they rise to those expectations? Herman's job might rely on it, but meeting them would ramp up the hype even more.
Newcomer: WR JD Spielman, TCU
Arguably the most surprising transfer in college football, Spielman found his new home in Fort Worth. With an offense needing a playmaker to replace Jalen Reagor, his arrival elevates that group instantly. Spielman brings 2,546 career yards and 15 career touchdowns to the Horned Frogs passing attack, and that could be just what this team needs. Max Duggan is a young rising star, but also still learning. Bringing a player like Spielman to campus will help him on that trajectory.
Top Freshman: QB Spencer Rattler, Oklahoma
The biggest question in the Big 12, maybe even in all of college football: is the Spencer Rattler hype legit? Lincoln Riley and his staff continue to produce elite college football quarterbacks, but Rattler would be the first one he's groomed as a head coach. Following Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts won't be easy, but many think Rattler could be the best.
Don't Forget About: C Dawson Deaton, Texas Tech
When you're playing the same position as Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey, it's tough to get noticed. Humphrey's been a stud for the Sooners ever since he started in Norman, and has commanded the top center spot in the conference for a while. That means guys like Deaton get overlooked. The Texas Tech veteran is as solid as they come, and should join Humphrey in next year's draft. Plus, he'll get quarterback Alan Bowman back behind him, so the Red Raiders offense will be tough to stop one again.
Breakout Player: LB DaShaun White, Oklahoma
Kenneth Murray received all of the attention defensively outside of Alex Grinch, but now he's gone. Luckily, DaShaun White's back to fill his spot. He only recorded 51 tackles, which isn't surprising when you're competing with Murray to get to the ball carrier, but now it's his time. White's a high flying linebacker who isn't afraid to fill and make a play, but he'll need to learn how to round out his game in coverage and become a leader of the defense. The Sooners offense has done a lot to carry the team to the playoff the last three years, but it's always going to come down to the defense. White can help that improvement.
Sleeper Team: TCU
Gary Patterson's in familiar territory, and the should excite his fanbase. Every time the Horned Frogs finished with a losing season under Patterson, they followed it up with a double digit win year the next. In 2004 they finished 5-6. The next year they went 11-1. In 2013 the Horned Frogs limped to a 4-8 finish, but followed that up with a 12-1 year in 2014. Finally, Patterson's team went 6-7 in 2016 and 11-3 in 2017. A losing season isn't something to celebrate, but maybe it actually is in TCU's case. Patterson's team has the talent to continue that trend, so it wouldn't be a surprise if they pulled it off again.