Best case and worst case scenario for every Big 12 team in 2021

·7 min read

As June is coming to an end, that means the return of Big 12 Conference football isn’t that far away.

Looking back at the conference standings from the 2020 season, the top two teams are likely to do battle again in the title game. Both the Oklahoma Sooners and the Iowa State Cyclones return a vast majority of their teams. The Cyclones also return the top rusher in all of college football, Breece Hall. The Sooners return the top Heisman candidate in Spencer Rattler. We could be on a collision course for another epic showdown in the Big 12 Championship game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Just below these two, you have the two biggest rivals for the Sooners in the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma State Cowboys. Both teams have a lot of issues to overcome as the season draws near. The Longhorns shuffled their entire staff after firing Tom Herman to bring in Steve Sarkisian as the new head coach. They lost four-year starter at quarterback in Sam Ehlinger to the NFL draft. Which quarterback will emerge is a major talking point.

For Mike Gundy and the Cowboys, their season will hinge on the growth of quarterback Spencer Sanders. He will need to guide OSU back to the top without two of his biggest weapons in 2020. Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace are now gone, so who will step up for the Pokes?

Once you get beyond the top four teams in the conference, it is more of a convoluted mess with a group of five teams and then Kansas at the very bottom. There is a lot to work through.

Sooners Wire provides the best and worst-case scenarios for every Big 12 team in 2021:

Kansas Jayhawks

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Best Case Scenario: 4-8

Worst Case Scenario: 0-12

Projected Record: 2-10

It is really simple when it comes to the Kansas Jayhawks for the 2021 season, don't go winless. They open the season with South Dakota, which is a winnable game for them. The game against the Duke Blue Devils will be a toss-up. New head coach Lance Leipold has plenty to work on but it appears that it will be a struggle to win many games in year one but maybe they can steal one. They came close to beating Texas Tech a year ago, so that might be their best shot for a conference win.

Texas Tech Red Raiders

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Best Case Scenario: 7-5

Worst Case Scenario: 3-9

Projected Record: 5-7

In year two of the Matt Wells era, nothing went according to plan. They struggled with a Houston Baptist football team that had only been playing collegiate football for eight seasons. They lost a heartbreaker to the Texas Longhorns and never seemed to put together consecutive games. Three of their wins came by a combined six points. New quarterback Tyler Shough comes in from Oregon hoping to fix their offensive woes as Sonny Cumbie returns home to take over playcalling duties. It is either become bowl eligible in 2021 or the Red Raiders will be looking for their third head coach in four years.

Baylor Bears

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Best Case Scenario: 7-5

Worst Case Scenario: 2-10

Projected Record: 5-7

For the first time in years, it was the Baylor Bears offense that left a lot to be desired. Larry Fedora is now out and in comes former BYU offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes. He will look to bring the Bears' offense back to life after a dismal performance in 2020. The defense is on the rise but a better offensive output could put the Bears back into a bowl game for 2021. The only question as of now is who will be under center when the games begin.

Kansas State Wildcats

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Best Case Scenario: 8-5

Worst Cast Scenario: 4-8

Projected Record: 6-6

In 2020, the Wildcats started off rough with a loss to Arkansas State. Then they had consecutive victories over Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU, and Kansas before the wheels came off. Klieman's squad lost the remaining five games to put the season to an end. The return of Skylar Thompson should help give this team a boost but they have plenty of questions on the defensive side of the ball. It might be a middle-of-the-pack type of season that ends in a lower-tier bowl game.

West Virginia Mountaineers

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Best Case Scenario: 8-4

Worst Case Scenario: 3-9

Projected Record: 6-6

Last season it was up and down depending on where West Virginia was playing their football games. On the road, they went winless, but at home the Mountaineers were undefeated. Neal Brown needs to get his offense to catch up to make WVU much more competitive in the conference. They will be tested by Maryland and Virginia Tech early on giving this team an idea of where they stand before they open Big 12 play in Norman, Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State Cowboys

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Best Case Scenario: 9-3

Worst Case Scenario: 6-6

Projected Record: 7-5

Mike Gundy and company are looking for a rebound after last season's promising start going up in smoke. The loss at home to Texas was the first step of the unraveling. Spencer Sanders needs to step up his game in 2021 to help bring OSU back towards the top of the conference. The game against Oklahoma is the biggest one on the schedule, can they finally breakthrough for the first time since 2014?

Texas Christian Horned Frogs

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Best Case Scenario: 9-3

Worst Case Scenario: 5-7

Projected Record: 7-5

Gary Patterson's team has always been known for defense and they lost a lot of key players to the NFL this past offseason. Max Duggan helped lead the team to wins in five of their final six games. They have the talent to do it, but putting it all together has been the real issue. Had it not been for the slow start to the season, the Frogs might have received a much higher bowl bid. They could challenge Iowa State or Texas for the opportunity to challenge Oklahoma in the title game.

Texas Longhorns

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Best Case Scenario: 10-2

Worst Case Scenario: 7-5

Projected Record: 8-4

Tom Herman out, Steve Sarkisian is in. The new head coach will have plenty to prove in 2021 with a talented roster. The Longhorns have never had a problem with collecting talent, they just need to develop their talent. Hudson Card or Casey Thompson looks to take the reigns and bring Texas back to the top. They just might have to do it on the legs of Bijan Robinson. Texas might be the biggest question mark among the group given that we don't know how long it will take this new staff and team to gel.

Iowa State Cyclones

Brian Powers-USA TODAY Sports

Best Case Scenario: 11-1

Worst Case Scenario: 8-4

Projected Record: 10-2

Iowa State went to new heights in 2020. They knocked off the Oklahoma Sooners early on and looked to be the team to beat until the Big 12 Championship game. The Cyclones were able to get to nine wins after defeated Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl. The ceiling is high with Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, Charlie Kolar, and Mike Rose all returning in 2021. They could be a playoff contender if they can find a way to beat Oklahoma twice in 2021.

Oklahoma Sooners

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Best Case Scenario: 12-0

Worst Case Scenario: 10-2

Projected Record: 11-1

Finally, we have the Oklahoma Sooners. The best-case scenario is simple, run the table and get into the College Football Playoffs. The worst case is much the same as 2020, lose a couple of games and likely miss out on being a top-four team. The issue is going to be trying to avoid the early season letdown. This is Lincoln Riley's most complete team in four years and this could be the year he runs the table setting up an opportunity at a national championship if he can erase his CFP semifinal demons of year's past.

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