Midseason Big 12 football awards and bold predictions for the second half of the 2016 college football season.
Top Big 12 Coach
Jonathan Bass – Jim Grobe. He was hired to be a stopgap, minimize the off-field distractions and maximize the talents of this current roster. He has performed as tasked. Baylor now enters the most difficult part of its schedule, but going undefeated during the first half of the season, coming off the ugliest offseason in program history, earns him this stripe. Honorable mention to Dana Holgorsen.
Jeff Bartl – I’ll go with Dana Holgorsen right now, but it’s pending on West Virginia beating someone of substance. Still, getting through a weak first portion of the schedule unscathed is an accomplishment considering how many teams in the conference didn’t.
Brian Stultz – David Beaty. Hear me out: the Jayhawks got their first win in more than two years, and played a competitively game against TCU. That is enough for him to get some honors.
Glenn McGraw – Jim Grobe. What he inherited at Baylor was not an easy situation, but here the Bears are at 6-0 and in the hunt for the College Football Playoff. The job Grobe has done to keep things moving forward is remarkable.
Top Big 12 Player
Jonathan Bass – D’Onta Foreman. He has 231 more rushing yards than the next closest Big 12 running back, this despite playing in only five games. Foreman gets a heavy workload for the revitalized Texas offense, and he’s thrived. He leads the conference in yards per game, attempts per game, rushing touchdowns and yards.
Jeff Bartl – Baker Mayfield. He wasn’t at his best against Ohio State, but Mayfield is completing 70.6 percent of his passes, ranks second in the nation with 10.2 yards per attempt and also has added three touchdowns on the ground.
Brian Stultz – Baker Mayfield. See above.
Glenn McGraw – West Virginia QB Skyler Howard. He’s the leader on offense for the undefeated Mountaineers, and is third in the conference in total offense, averaging 357 yards per game. He trails only Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes and TCU quarterback Kenny Hill. Despite each player’s stellar year so far, the Red Raiders are 3-3 and the Horned Frogs are 4-2.
Top Big 12 Team
Jonathan Bass – West Virginia. If there’s any question, look no further than last week’s snuffing of Texas Tech’s offense, on the road no less. At this point in the season, West Virginia looks like the conference’s most complete team.
Jeff Bartl – It’s Baylor until someone beats it. In a league full of disappointments, the Bears have had to ignore a ton of distractions to still be undefeated.
Brian Stultz – Baylor. The Bears have somehow gone undefeated so far with everything that is going on off the field. Kudos.
Glenn McGraw – Baylor. West Virginia is most certainly in the discussion, but given the Bears’ offseason and the fact that they’re 6-0, I’ve got to go with Jim Grobe’s team. They’re about to hit the gauntlet though, and things could change fast games against Texas, TCU, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech and West Virginia ahead.
Jonathan Bass – West Virginia holding Texas Tech to 17 points in Lubbock. It was the lowest point total for Kliff Kingsbury’s team since October 2014.
Jeff Bartl – The job Jim Grobe has done at Baylor. I didn’t think he was the right man for the gig when announced, but he has worked wonders keeping the Bears so focused.
Brian Stultz – Texas. When did you ever expect to see a Charlie Strong-coached defense be so bad.
Glenn McGraw – Baylor. I thought the Bears would have a down year given everything, but here they are at 6-0 and with the nation’s No. 5 total offense.
Jonathan Bass – TCU’s defense. The opening game against South Dakota State, in which the Jackrabbits scored 41, was a sign of things to come. In its two losses on the year – Arkansas and Oklahoma – Gary Patterson’s team has given up 41 and 52 points, respectively. The secondary was a concern heading into the season, but it wasn’t supposed to be this much of a sieve.
Jeff Bartl – The lack of College Football Playoff contenders. Baylor and West Virginia are the Big 12’s only hopes at this point, but even one of them going undefeated wouldn’t guarantee getting in.
Brian Stultz – Again, it’s Texas’ defense, which has been abysmal.
Glenn McGraw – Oklahoma. But should we be surprised. Anytime the Sooners come into the season with as high of expectations as this year, they tend to fall short. Nothing new here as Bob Stoops’ team lost two of its first three games to fall out of CFP contention.
Bold Prediction For Second Half
Jonathan Bass – Oklahoma runs the table in Big 12 play, wins the conference, and forces the CFP’s hand on how to treat the Sooners? The committee supposedly rewards teams playing difficult out-of-conference slates, so what will it do with a Sooners team that could conceivably be undefeated if it scheduled two cupcakes instead of Houston and Ohio State?
Jeff Bartl – Texas wins out, Charlie Strong keeps his job. Baylor, West Virginia and TCU all are left on the schedule, but all of them will come to Austin. The Longhorns get hot and make Strong’s seat cooler all at once.
Brian Stultz – Texas Tech’s top brass finally tires of the all offense, no defense act and Kliff Kingsbury finally gets the axe.
Glenn McGraw – I’m extremely high on Baylor through the halfway point, but this is where the bottom begins to drop out. The Bears will win, at best, two of their last six games to stumble to a 8-4 record.
Who Wins The Big 12?
Jonathan Bass – Oklahoma. See bold prediction above.
Jeff Bartl – Oklahoma. Baylor and West Virginia are mere pretenders.
Brian Stultz – Oklahoma.
Glenn McGraw – Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, Boomer Sooner
Boomer Sooner, OK U!