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Stock up, stock down: Where the Big 12 sits ahead of 2021

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Ellman Photography - Max_Duggan2_TCU-OSU_120520.jpg

TCU vs Oklahoma State football at Amon Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas on December 5, 2020. (Photo/Sharon Ellman)

Big 12 media days wrapped up and after hearing coaches and players talk about their upcoming season, I’ve decided to provide my analysis on how I think the season will go for each team.

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Oklahoma

Oklahoma continues to get better as the years go on and they had two Heisman winners in the last five years. This team has something different about them. The defense is stronger led by linebacker Nik Bonitto and quarterback Spencer Rattler continues to get more comfortable. Expect the Sooners to win their seventh straight Big 12 Championship and go to the playoffs.

Verdict: Stock up

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Oklahoma State

The key concern for Oklahoma State right now is can quarterback Spencer Sanders win with less? His top two receivers and running back have gone to the NFL, forcing new Oklahoma State talent to step up. They’re projected fourth this year and it’s probably a safe bet they match their win total of eight from last year. The Big 12 will be tougher this year, and Oklahoma State takes a very small step back this year.

Verdict: Stock down

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Texas

Texas have a new coach in Steve Sarkisian and a new quarterback in Casey Thompson who looks better than the last one (At least in the one game he appeared in). Combined with running back Bijan Robinson, the combo is one of the scariest duos in the Big 12 and the lack of film on Thompson right now will be used to UT's advantage early. Can it carry into November and December? We shall see - the media has done the Texas is back song and dance before.

Verdict: Stock up, but be weary

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TCU

The last time TCU had 10 or more wins was in 2017. Since then, the Horned Frogs have a record of 18-17 the past three years. TCU is due for a big year. Quarterback Max Duggan showed a lot of promise last year and the Horned Frogs had some very nice wins against Texas and Oklahoma State, as well as a nice three game win streak to end the season. TCU has a lot of underclassmen from last year looking to make an impact and shake up the Big 12.

Verdict: Stock up

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Iowa State

The Big 12 is a two man race between Oklahoma and Iowa State. The Cyclones offense returns quarterback Brock Prudy and running back Breece Hall. Big 12 defensive player of the year Mike Rose returns and the hottest name in coaching right now, Matt Campbell enters his sixth year in Ames. ISU comes off its an impressive season with a Big 12 championship game appearance and Fiesta Bowl win over Oregon. Momentum is on their side, and it will carry into next season. 

Verdict: Stock up

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Kansas State

The Wildcats are an enigma. This could be a year they're a dark horse, or a year they barely make a bowl game. Quarterback Skylar Thompson returns from injury after having an undisclosed upper-body surgery. Coach Chris Klieman is gritty, and enters his third year in Manhattan. Their defense is questionable, but with a lot of their offensive players returning, including running back Deuce Vaughn, they should be in around the same position they were at the beginning of this past season.

Verdict: Stock holds

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Baylor

Baylor loses quarterback Charlie Brewer and a lot of other talent off a 2-7 team from 2020. There’s a QB competition at the moment with three guys fighting for the job. Coach Dave Aranda is still rebuilding and the lack of experience for some of their players is detrimental. They have some good pieces with the possibility of earning a bowl game bid.

Verdict: Stock down

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Texas Tech

This is a deciding year for coach Matt Wells and Texas Tech. Wells lured offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie back to Lubbock after six years at TCU and picked up former Oregon quarterback Tyler Shough, who started in all of Oregon’s games last year. Wells is getting his groove back in Lubbock and the Red Raiders should make a bowl game for the first time since 2017.

Verdict: Stock up

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West Virginia

The Mountaineers went 6-4 last year, defeating Army in the Liberty Bowl to end the season with momentum. Neal Brown returns as coach with assets like running back Leddie Brown, but West Virginia won't a big step forward. Expect six to eight wins sounds and a return to a bowl game. 

Verdict: Stocks holds

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Kansas

The Jayhawks hire coach Lance Leipold for yet another rebuild of the program after Les Miles' failed attempt. As the program continues to bleed players via the transfer portal (KU has lost the second-most transfers this offseason, behind Tennessee), Leipold has a tough task at hand. Jayhawks fans can expect a familiar home this season - the basement of the Big 12. 

Verdict: Stock down

sports.ed@ocolly.com