How will Texas fare in this year’s Big 12 race? Our staff takes:
BRIAN DAVIS: Big 12 chances depend on the D
When we left Notre Dame Stadium, I had the same thought as everyone else: This is going to be a long season. It’s amazing how one personnel decision can change things overnight. Now with Jerrod Heard at the controls, Texas has a legitimate chance to win all nine Big 12 games. That’s not to say the Longhorns will go 9-0. But does Oklahoma State really look that tough? TCU’s defense is in the infirmary. Anything can happen against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl. Making a bowl is more realistic today than it was on Sunday, Sept. 6. If the defense improves, then a 7-5 or 8-4 record is possible. And who wouldn’t want that?
KIRK BOHLS: No longer a clear Big 12 favorite
This promises to be a wild and woolly Big 12 race. TCU is losing players by the minute and Baylor’s off-the-field issues of coaching suspensions and player discipline threaten to distract the Bears from their goal. Nobody’s defense seems to be setting the standard. As it looks now, I expect the Big 12 champion to have a loss, possibly two, and the conference might not have a team in the College Football Playoff. With Jerrod Heard transforming the team and freshmen showing up more and more, Texas will knock off a TCU, Baylor or Oklahoma and will be a much better team in November this year than it was last.
CEDRIC GOLDEN: Horns have become a tough out
Pre-Jerrod Heard, I had a really bad feeling about the Big 12 season as it applies to the Longhorns. Now, with Heard, the Longhorns are a much tougher out in conference play. I still see TCU — even with the recent injuries and arrests — winning the league title, with Baylor finishing a close second. The winner of the Texas-Oklahoma game will get the third spot, and I say it that way because I’m not ready to pick that game just yet. If things fall right, the Horns have a great chance to finish 6-3 in the Big 12 and 7-5 overall, but for that to happen, the defense is going to have to show up soon.
RYAN AUTULLO: Hot-and-cold Horns a mystery
Aside from the finale at Baylor, there’s not a game left on the schedule that the Longhorns can’t win. Yes, aside from Iowa State and Kansas, I can’t find a sure win. What’s left is a smorgasbord of tossups, beginning Saturday against No. 24 Oklahoma State. This will be a big win for whichever team can get it. Texas was seventh in my preseason poll, and I see no reason to adjust my prediction just yet.