- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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In the final Big 12 Twitter mailbag before the start of the season, we discuss Kirk Herbstreit's Oklahoma playoff prediction, Texas' over/under win total and what Big 12 QB after Trevone Boykin I'd take to win a big game.
On to the 'bag:
@Jake_Trotter How crazy is Herbstreit for picking OU in the CFP? What needs to stand out for them to get there?
— CoachD (@CoachDedmon) August 27, 2015
Trotter: I thought it was pretty crazy. I mean, the last time the Sooners were on the field, they were getting completely annihilated by a pretty average Clemson team in the Russell Athletic Bowl. Then again, Kirk Herbstreit was basically alone in suggesting Oklahoma might topple Alabama in the Sugar Bowl two years ago. So maybe he knows something again. Among other things, Baker Mayfield would have to have a special season for OU to be a factor. It's been very rare that a team has won the Big 12 without having an elite performer behind center.
— Red Raider Ranting (@RaiderRantings) August 27, 2015
Trotter: I was actually having this discussion just two days ago. There's a plausible scenario in which TCU, Baylor and either Oklahoma State or Oklahoma are all undefeated in conference heading into November, then finish in a three-way tie at 8-1 atop the standings. You can read the league's new tie-breaking procedures here (though wouldn't it be just the Big 12's luck to have to go all soccer and resolve such a tie through scoring differential).
@Jake_Trotter Say OU surprises a lot of people and end up 11-1 (loss to BU or TCU). Could they see themselves squeezed out of the CFP?
— Caleb Aaron Taylor (@Stubbs213) August 27, 2015
Trotter: In that scenario, I actually think OU could get squeezed out. The Sooners finish the season with Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. I'm not sure OU (or TCU or Baylor for that matter) could survive a loss so late in the season. None of last year's playoff teams suffered a regular-season loss after Oct. 4. On the flip side, if OU lost early, say, at Tennessee, such a grueling finish would give the Sooners an opportunity to play their way back into the conversation (by the way, I would like to thank Herbstreit for the deluge of OU playoff hypotheticals now in my Twitter mentions).
@Jake_Trotter what qb starts at Tech this year and why?
— Dee Fryar (@deefryar) August 27, 2015
Trotter: Texas Tech is one of only three Big 12 schools yet to officially name a starter. But like with Tyrone Swoopes at Texas and Jesse Ertz at Kansas State, I feel reasonably confident in saying Patrick Mahomes will get the first snap behind center. Mahomes has an intriguing skill set, and was terrific toward the end of last season. The Red Raiders have to give Mahomes a chance, if only to see whether that flurry of a finish was the sign of something special.
@Jake_Trotter best OL in the big 12
— Mike Bennett (@RedDawg3312) August 27, 2015
Trotter: Baylor, then TCU have the league's top two offensive lines. But Texas Tech isn't that far behind. Tech's left side of tackle Le'Raven Clark, guard Alfredo Morales and center Jared Kaster is as good as any in the league.
@Jake_Trotter Texas... 7 wins... over or under?
— Jeremy Ballew (@jballew_horns26) August 27, 2015
Trotter: I think I'd lean toward the under. Six wins feels about right for this team. Look at the schedule. There's a decent chance Texas could actually play well and still be 2-4 out of the gate. QB is still a major concern; the offensive line is incredibly green with a pair of starting true freshmen; and I still don't know who the big offensive playmakers are going to be. The defense could actually be stout again, thanks to a host of tantalizing underclassmen. But Texas had the best defense in the Big 12 last season, and still went just 6-7. Charlie Strong has Texas on the right track. But he also still has a ways to go.
@Jake_Trotter Does the Big 12 expand after this season? Or do they just go with a championship game?
— Joshua Johnson (@JoshWJohnson) August 27, 2015
Trotter: It could largely depend on what happens this season. If the Big 12 gets a team into the playoff, then it will likely be status quo. But if the league gets left out again, I think you'll see a conference championship game be implemented for 2016, and expansion discussions begin to gain more traction. I have a hard time seeing the Big 12 tolerating another snub without taking action.
@Jake_Trotter big 12 misses the playoff again....who do they add in expansion?
— JD Shoemaker (@j_shoey) August 27, 2015
Trotter: If it's me, I go get BYU and Boise State. As football programs, they bring more to the table than any other available one out there. But if the Big 12 expanded next week, my guess is that Cincinnati and Central Florida would be the frontrunners. Cincinnati, because it would expand the footprint into Ohio and give West Virginia a travel partner; UCF, because it would provide the Big 12 recruiting inroads into Florida (there you go, UT), expand the footprint into another large state and incorporate the largest undergraduate enrollment in the country.
@Jake_Trotter which young defensive player is most likely to emerge as a sleeper? See: Taylor Young for BU last year.
— Thomas F. Prehn (@T_Prehn) August 27, 2015
Trotter: Keep an eye on K-State DE Tanner Wood. This is a guy who once rushed for a Kansas state high school record 659 yards in one game. It sounds like the third-year sophomore has begun to emerge this preseason. At 6-foot-5, he has the length and athleticism to be a factor for the Wildcats the way Young stepped in for Baylor last year.
@Jake_Trotter if you had to take one Big 12 QB not named Boykin to win a big game against a top tier opponent, who would it be?
— Melissa Triebwasser (@TheCoachMelissa) August 27, 2015
Trotter: That's a great question, and could be one that has a big say in who wins the Big 12 title. Because the league is so collectively unproven at the position, I have to go with my gut on this one, and my gut says Mason Rudolph. I know he's only started three games. But the poise and composure he showed in those appearances suggests he has the "it" factor to win big games. That was the book on him coming out of high school, and nothing he's done since has dispelled that.