- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Now that spring ball is over and we know just a little bit more, here are five relatively bold Big 12 predictions. But, you know, don't hold me to any of these.
1. This won’t be the year of the QB: Nearly every Big 12 team will experience frustrating instability at the quarterback position. Only two or three offenses (Baylor and West Virginia; maybe Iowa State or Kansas) will manage to start the same guy from start to finish. Either by injuries or instability, other teams will be forced to try multiple starters. That includes TCU and K-State, which each managed to survive on one quarterback in 2014. That goes for Oklahoma State too. We haven’t heard the last from J.W. Walsh. Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech will have to rely on two. Plan on expecting the unexpected from this unit in 2015.
2. But the WRs will explode: Filling out the first-team All-Big 12 ballot at wide receiver will be impossibly challenging. Corey Coleman, Sterling Shepard, Josh Doctson, KD Cannon, Jakeem Grant, Kolby Listenbee and a handful of other wideouts are all capable of surpassing 1,000 yards this season. Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Iowa State will establish breakthrough go-to targets too. We’re in for a fun year from the Big 12’s pass-catchers, and there will be a good debate at season’s end about who’s No. 1.
3. Every coach stays: For only the second time in the past 15 years, the Big 12 will enjoy an offseason that includes zero coaching changes. That’s right, Paul Rhoads will fight to earn another year. Kliff Kingsbury will get away from any hot seat talk with a bounce-back season. Bob Stoops isn’t going anywhere, either. So unless Bill Snyder retires or Mike Gundy’s suddenly peachy situation at OSU changes dramatically, I think the Big 12’s coaches are safe for ’16.
4. Most important game? Texas at Baylor: Not calling this the Big 12’s biggest or best game of 2015. Nor am I saying Texas will be in contention for the Big 12 title when these two teams meet at McLane Stadium. I’m circling this one on the calendar because TCU does not play a game on Dec. 5. Neither does Oklahoma State. Baylor will get the championship weekend stage all to itself, finishing the regular season on its home turf for the third straight year. The past two ended with Big 12 titles, and this game could have all sorts of tiebreaker implications. Charlie Strong is trying to avoid Texas’ fifth loss to Baylor in six years and had an excellent defensive scheme for slowing down the Bears last season. This has the makings of a memorable finale.
5. Another close call for playoff: No team is going to emerge from this league undefeated, so its one-loss true champion is still going to need some extra help to secure a bid in the College Football Playoff. Once again, the conference will be crossing its fingers and hoping somebody else slips up on Dec. 5. And this time, it comes down the Big 12’s champ against the SEC’s second-best squad for a spot in the final four. That debate surely leads to chaos and another high-drama Selection Day.