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Big 12 Media Days Preview: Everything you need to know as Texas + Oklahoma go into their final year

Credit: Texas football

While most of the college football world is focused on Pat Fitzgerald, media days actually start today - with the Big 12 Media Days kicking off in Dallas.

What do you need to know about this league? Here are a few storylines to watch heading into the day.

Is Texas back to being on top of the Big 12? On paper, the Longhorns are the best team in the Big 12 this season. The return 15 starters overall, including Quinn Ewers at quarterback who looked good at times last season, despite getting injured. Nine starters are back on offense with the biggest hole to fill being Bijan Robinson out of the backfield. Expect a running back by committee approach to replace him. The wide receivers should be strong and are led by Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington, in addition to incoming transfers and freshmen that will bulk up the wide receiving corps. Also, the offensive line returns all five starters led by Kelvin Banks Jr. at left tackle. The defense should take a step forward with a defensive line led by T’Vondre Sweat and Byron Murphy II. Jaylan Ford is another factor in the linebacking corps. Ryan Watts and incoming transfer Jalen Catalon are the names to watch in the secondary at both cornerback and safety.

Can Oklahoma improve from last season? Brent Venables went to work on improving the Sooners this offseason after a disappointing 6-7 year in his first season as the head coach. Dillon Gabriel comes back at quarterback for another season in Jeff Lebby’s offense. Gabriel is immediately one of the best Big 12 quarterbacks this season too. The playmakers for Oklahoma are questionable and need to step up. Jalil Farooq is now the primary receiver, while Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk will split duties at running back. The offensive line also has some added talent with incoming transfer, Walter Rouse at left tackle. The biggest issue with Oklahoma is the defense. A Brent Venables coached team struggled on defense last year, but because of that they should improve this season. Danny Stutsman comes back at linebacker and is joined by incoming transfer Dasan McCullough as the two biggest pieces for the defense improving. This team should be improved, but by how much remains the question.

Is Texas Tech ready to take that next step? Joey McGuire’s first season in Lubbock was a big success with Texas Tech going 8-5, surprisingly. Now the team has 14 returning starters and is seen as a dark horse team to watch to contend in the Big 12. Tyler Shough is back under center after being injured most of last year. The question remains, on how much more Shough can do under center and if he can improve. The weapons are there in the receiving corps and in the running backfield. The biggest issue is what the offensive line can do because they were very inconsistent last season. Rusty Staats is an incoming transfer at center that should help them a lot. The Red Raiders are returning six starters on a defense that should be improved too. Jaylon Hutchings and Tony Bradford Jr. are the names to watch on the defensive line, who are both fifth year senior starters. Don’t be surprised if the Red Raiders are contending in the conference this season.

How does Kansas State respond as the defending champs? Will Howard is back at quarterback as the cemented starter after playing great in seven games last season. They lose Deuce Vaughn but have DJ Giddens and transfer Treshaun Ward as able replacements. Receiver is a big question mark with Philip Brooks being the only notable starter coming back. RJ Garcia II is a name to watch however because he seems ready to make a jump on offense. The offensive line returns every player, with Cooper Beebe being the biggest star at guard. On defense Daniel Green is back once again and is one of the best linebackers in the conference. They lost Felix Anudike-Uzomah to the NFL Draft, but still have Khalid Duke and Nate Matlack at defensive ends. The secondary is a big question mark because only Kobe Savage comes back but look for newcomers and transfers to step up. The Wildcats lost a lot but should still be very good with continuity at coach and quarterback being a factor.

How does TCU respond after a magical season? Sonny Dykes took an experienced TCU team to the national title game, but now they need to replace a lot of players now and have just 11 starters returning. Chandler Morris is a steady hand at quarterback and has experience splitting time with Max Duggan, but the team is now his with Duggan gone. Trey Sanders is a name to watch in the backfield after the Horned Frogs need to replace both of their top rushers. Savion Williams is the name to watch in the receiving corps after the Horned Frogs lost their top three receivers, including Quentin Johnson. The offensive line is also questionable with only a few players back. Mark Perry is a standout at safety in the secondary. The linebackers are also a strength with Johnny Hodges being a tackling machine. A pass rusher needs to emerge for TCU because Dee Winters and Dylan Horton were big for the Horned Frogs on the defensive line. TCU has a lot of questions, but they do have talent still too.

How do the newcomers far this season? BYU, UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati all join the Big 12 this season and all of them figure to have growing pains this season. BYU and UCF have a lot of talent but will go through some growing pains. UCF is the best of the four this season. John Rhys Plumlee is a dynamic playmaker at quarterback and the skill positions are also very good. Ricky Barber is a key piece up front for the Knights on the defensive line. BYU has Kedon Slovis at quarterback and then Jay Hill takes over the defense which needs a lot of help after last year. Cincinnati or Houston is going to be the worst of the bunch this season. Emory Jones is Cincinnati’s new quarterback, and the Bearcats have a new head coach in Scott Satterfield and the team only returns seven starters. Donovan Smith is Houston’s new quarterback and they should have a great receiving corps, but the defense is going to struggle, just like it did last year.

Follow Jake on Twitter - @Jake_Faigus

For full odds on the entire Big 12 - check out the Betfred Sportsbook


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