After meetings took place between the Big 12 athletic directors Thursday evening, conference migration looks inevitable for the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns. Athletic directors from both schools didn’t participate, signaling their positions.
Though nothing is set in stone, developments are trending toward a new conference home for the Sooners and Longhorns.
As they look to head east, where would OU and Texas rank among SEC teams heading into the 2021 college football season?
Alabama Crimson Tide
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
In any ranking that concerns SEC or football at the college level, Alabama has to be first. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide have put together one of the greatest dynasties the sport has ever seen. They've won six national titles since 2009. Though they're transitioning at quarterback in 2021, it's hard to bet against the Crimson Tide being national title contenders yet again.
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
The Oklahoma Sooners have had some good football teams over the course of Lincoln Riley's tenure, but there's a chance this might be his best, most complete team. The offensive production continued as the Sooners transitioned from Jalen Hurts to Spencer Rattler, but what surprised many in the country in 2020 was the emergence of the defense. Looking ahead to 2021, the defense looks to be even more improved and ready to contend with the best in the country.
Photo/Joshua L. Jones, Athens Banner-Herald
One of the few schools at the top of the preseason top 25 rankings that is returning their starting quarterback, the Georgia Bulldogs hope to build off a strong finish to their 2020 season. Over the last four games, J.T. Daniels had a passer rating of 122 (NFL) according to Pro Football Focus. He threw 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions as Georgia won its last four contests.
Texas A&M Aggies
Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
No team saw their stock rise in the SEC more in 2020 than Texas A&M. The Aggies went from being a middle-of-the-pack team to an SEC West contender. With their 8-1 finish in the conference and 9-1 finish overall, the Aggies just missed the fourth seed of the College Football Playoff. As Jimbo Fisher continues his tenure in College Staton, the Aggies will have to replace Kellen Mond, but Fisher continues to have his squad on an upward trajectory.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
The Florida Gators, similar to the Aggies, are on an upward trajectory in the conference despite the loss of Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney to the NFL. Head coach Dan Mullen is building a solid program that will be Georgia's biggest threat in the SEC East.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
It was a disappointing season for Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers after their magical 2019. COVID-19 opt outs and inconsistent quarterback play kept the LSU Tigers from being a threat in the SEC West. They finished the season on a high note, however, winning their final two games to get to .500 on the season.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Some might argue this is a bit high for the Texas Longhorns. But as they turn the quarterback position over to Casey Thompson or Hudson Card to start the Steve Sarkisian era, the offense looks like it could take a step forward in 2021.
Ole Miss Rebels
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Lane Kiffen and Matt Corral had the Ole Miss Rebels humming in 2020. Corral's 29 touchdown passes were third in the SEC behind only Mac Jones and Kyle Trask. Among quarterbacks that had at least 244 dropbacks in 2020, Corral finished third in passer rating (NFL) according to Pro Football Focus. With him back for another year, Ole Miss will take another step forward if the defense can hold up its end of the bargain better.
Auburn wide receiver Zach Farrar (14) catches a pass for a touchdown at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. Auburn defeated Samford 52-0.
Perhaps I'm too high on a quarterback that threw just 12 touchdowns in 11 games, but his seven rushing touchdowns were the most among non-running backs and were ninth overall in the SEC. Though he's been underwhelming at times, his experience has to count for something in a conference that will see a lot of quarterback turnover at the top.
Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
In the reported move to the SEC, one of the more underrated matchups would be the renewal of the Oklahoma Sooners rivalry with the Missouri Tigers. In 2021, Missouri will bring back Connor Bazelak to man the quarterback position for the Tigers in their attempt to climb the ranks of the SEC.
AP Photo/David Stephenson
Transfer Wan’Dale Robinson, formerly of Nebraska, will be a player to watch for the Kentucky Wildcats. His elusiveness and playmaking ability will be key if the Wildcats hope to be more than bottom dwellers in the SEC.
Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Deapite the mass exodus that took place this offseason via the transfer portal, the University of Tennessee made a really strong hire in new head coach Josh Heupel. Though the cupboard might be bare for Heupel’s first season in Knoxville, the Volunteers will bring a fight to every game they play and will surprise some in 2021.
South Carolina Gamecocks
Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina is rebuilding a program that had been at the top of the SEC East standings for much of the Steve Spurrier era. With new head coach Shane Beamer, the Gamecocks will get some stability from a new head coach with legendary coaching ties. This may be Beamer’s first head coaching job, but he’s been preparing for this moment his whole life.
Mississippi State Bulldogs
Dec. 31, 2020; Fort Worth, Texas; Mississippi State Bulldogs wide receiver Lideatrick Griffin (81) and wide receiver Geor'quarius Spivey (11) celebrates a touchdown against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane during the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
After erupting for 44 points in their 2020 season opener against LSU, Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs struggled to score points for the rest of the season. It wasn’t until the final week of the year that they were able to break 30 points again when they erupted for 52 points in the regular season finale against Missouri.
University of Oklahoma back Spencer Tillman (20) heads for the goal line and the first of two touchdowns in the 53rd Orange Bowl Classic against the University of Arkansas. The Sooners defeated the Razorbacks of Arkansas 42-8 in Miami on Jan. 2, 1987. (AP Photo/Ray Fairall)
With Oklahoma potentially moving to the SEC, not only does it renew rivalries with Texas A&M and Missouri, but it brings back the border rivalry with neighboring Arkansas. The Razorbacks floundered in 2020, finishing 3-7.
Vanderbilt defensive back Donovan Kaufman (1) races up the field with a 58-yard kick return during the second quarter against LSU at Vanderbilt Stadium Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
The Oklahoma Sooners may be leaving the Big 12 behind but they’re not leaving behind Kansas. Vanderbilt is a great baseball school. Much like Kansas is a great basketball school. However, like Kansas, Vanderbilt has struggled in football. In 2020, the Commodores went 0-9 and there isn’t much hope for improvement in 2021.