- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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In Thursday's Big 12 roundtable, we reflect on this week, analyzing conference games we're looking forward to, our All-Big 12 team and backup QBs to watch:
Beyond the top 10 here, what league game are you most looking forward to?
Jake Trotter: A Sept. 26 trip to Austin, Texas, will be sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph's first big test of the season. Rudolph was terrific in three games last season, and this is an opportunity to silence the doubters while catapulting Oklahoma State into the Big 12 title chase. This could be a must-win for Texas. The Longhorns' next two games: at TCU and Oklahoma. An 0-3 start in Big 12 play would all but spoil Charlie Strong's second season.
Brandon Chatmon: West Virginia at Oklahoma along with TCU at Texas Tech are very interesting, but it has to be Texas’ visit to Baylor. There’s a very good chance Charlie Strong’s youthful roster will be experienced enough by this point to cause real problems for Art Briles team. Even if the Longhorns are long out of the title race, they’ve love to play spoiler for Baylor on the final day of the regular season, not to mention the constant bickering back and forth between the two programs. It should be a great finale to a entertaining Big 12 season.
Max Olson: Now that we know Baker Mayfield going to be the guy, I couldn't be more excited for Oklahoma's showdown with Texas Tech on Oct. 24. It'd be a bit more dramatic if that game were going down in Lubbock this season, but still, this game will be a must-see. Let's just say Mayfield burned a bridge or two on his way out of town, and I know the Red Raiders are going to be mighty motivated for the reunion.
Who had the biggest gripe being left off our all-conference team?
Trotter: Kansas State left tackle Cody Whitehair didn't make the cut, but only because we didn't cheat and slide three offensive tackles onto the team. Baylor's Spencer Drango and Texas Tech's Le'Raven Clark were more deserving at the bookend spots. But Whitehair, a 38-game starter, is still one of the best five offensive linemen in the league.
Chatmon: Baylor receiver KD Cannon must look at the list and think, “What more do I have to do? 58 receptions, 1,030 yards and eight touchdowns as a true freshman is not enough?” Guess not. If his Cotton Bowl (8 receptions, 197 yards, 2 TD) is a precursor, Cannon is going to make us look silly for not finding him a spot on the list.
Olson: I think Jake is right with this one. Whitehair is definitely one of the best linemen in the Big 12, but Drango and Clark are elite blockers with a ton of experience and neither of them could get left out. I'll throw in TCU's Halapoulivaati Vaitai as well. Really intriguing, all-conference caliber player. He just doesn't play guard.
Wednesday, we ranked the Big 12 starting QBs; what backup QB will have the biggest impact this season?
Trotter: I realize Tyrone Swoopes has clearly been Texas' best quarterback this preseason, but Charlie Strong has said that intriguing redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard is going to get a chance to play early. Maybe Swoopes takes command of the job for good. But if Swoopes struggles again against a rugged schedule like he did toward the end of last season, Heard will have an opportunity to take the job.
Chatmon: I’m going with Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh. It’s his final year in Stillwater, he’s a proven winner and he’s embraced his role as a backup as a senior. I expect him to play a key role in spot duty and set the tone for the entire team as a leader. I think he leaves Oklahoma State with a bang and becomes a fan favorite on his way out.
Olson: Walsh stayed at Oklahoma State for all the right reasons, and I think he'll be rewarded for his loyalty at some point this season. I'd also keep an eye on Davis Webb. He wants to go into coaching someday, and I think all the help he can give Patrick Mahomes this season will be invaluable. Plus, the guy is healthy and ready to sling it if needed. I won't be surprised if he earns a couple starts this season.
6dSam Khan Jr.
13dSam Khan Jr.