Oklahoma picked to win another Big 12 championship
Oklahoma earned a trip to the College Football Playoff after a 12-1 season in which the Sooners avenge their only loss, beating rival Texas in the Big 12 title game.
Oklahoma saw its national title hopes ended by Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
But despite losing a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for the second straight season, Oklahoma was selected as the favorites to repeat as Big 12 champions by the conference’s media representatives.
The Sooners have been the favorites seven times since 2011 and have captured a Big 12-record 12 league titles, including the last four.
In his lone season as starter, Kyler Murray was electric and his play earned him the school’s seventh Heisman Trophy. He was selected with the first overall pick in the NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals.
This comes after Baker Mayfield led the Sooners to the playoffs, winning a Heisman Trophy and then being the top selection in the 2017 draft by Cleveland Browns.
Can Oklahoma make it three in a row?
While Murray and Mayfield had little starting experience, this year Coach Lincoln Riley turns to former Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts.
Oklahoma garned 68 of the 77 first-place selections. Texas was picked second with the other nine first-place votes.
Texas was the only team to get the better of Oklahoma during the regular season, winning the annual Red River Shootout.
But Coach Tom Herman and the Longhorns were unable to replicate the feat in the Big 12 title game.
Texas brings back starting quarterback Sam Ehlinger, as well as one of the best kickers in the country in Cameron Dicker.
Coming in third was Iowa State.
Matt Campbell has done wonders since taking over in Ames and signed a contract extension last season after teams with openings came calling for him.
The Cyclones placed four players on the preseason All-Big 12 team in defensive linemen JaQuan Bailey and Ray Lima, linebacker Marcel Spears Jr., and defensive back Greg Eisworth.
TCU and Oklahoma State round out the top five.
Baylor comes in sixth, followed by Texas Tech, West Virginia, Kansas State and Kansas.
The bottom four teams will all be breaking in new head coaches.
Neal Brown takes over for Dana Holgorsen at West Virginia. Senior offensive lineman and Union Local product Colton McKivitz was the lone Mountaineers player to be selected to the preseason All-Big 12 team.
Matt Wells is the new man in charge of Texas Tech, which fired Kliff Kingsbury (who coincidentally was hired by the Cardinals and will coach Murray).
Longtime Kansas State coach Bill Snyder ended one of the most successful coaching careers in college football history. Chris Klieman will have the task of trying to replicate the Hall of Famer’s success in Manhattan.
One of the more intriguing hires in the Big 12 — and college football — was in Lawrence where former Oklahoma State and LSU coach Les Miles takes on what many consider the toughest Power 5 coaching job in the country.
Miles won a national championship with the Tigers before being let go a few years ago. “The Mad Hatter” won’t have a ton of talent, but does have a potential star running back in sophomore Pooka Williams.
The Big 12 championship will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.