We cover the BIG-12 here, which is home to ten different programs and multiple national championship teams. The conference is highlighted by Oklahoma, which has made the playoffs for 3 straight years and had multiple Heisman trophy winners (Kyler Murray & Baker Mayfield) in recent years. Texas has played for a national championship as recently as 2009; plus won the Sugar Bowl against Georgia two years ago. Baylor has experienced a drastic rise to national relevance and even made a New Year’s Six appearance this past season. Teams like TCU & Oklahoma State have had very recent success and are on the rise coming into the 2020 season.
The BIG-12 has a national stigma of fielding the best offensive talent in the country, but as you read this list you’ll notice there are some extremely talented defensive players in this conference as well. I expect the BIG-12 to be one of the most competitive conferences in the country in 2020 and these players will play a huge role in how that race finishes in Dallas.
2019 Stats: 2094 yards rushing, 6.4 avg, 21 rushing TDs
This is my way too early pick to take home the Heisman Trophy in the 2020 season. This kid is really something special and should be the best running back in the draft when he decides to leave Stillwater. Hubbard led the NCAA in rushing yards last season and led the BIG-12 in rushing touchdowns (#3 in the NCAA). He decided to return to Oklahoma State and create unimaginable hype for a program that usually stays under the radar. The Cowboys will be a serious threat if Hubbard continues his ascent to the top of the NCAA. Oklahoma State will always love and cherish Barry Sanders, but this kid could put together a season that rivals Sanders’ 1988 season. Hubbard has the size, the vision, and the speed to put together one of the best seasons college football has ever seen. He has the ability to turn simple plays into game-changing plays, such as the one against Tulsa in the video below. If you love college football then make sure to watch Hubbard tear apart BIG-12 defenses throughout the 2020 season.
2019 Stats: 14 kick returns, 502 return yards, 35.9 avg, 3 kick returnsIf you love special teams then Joshua Youngblood needs to be your favorite player, because he has the potential to be the next Devin Hester. Youngblood did not get much playing time on offense this past season, but he made sure when the ball was in his hands that he delivered. Youngblood returned three kickoffs (#1 NCAA) this season and led the NCAA in total return years this season. Youngblood did this as a true freshman, which makes his accomplishments even more impressive. Youngblood was a unanimous BIG-12 All-Conference Player and appeared on multiple All-American teams (The Athletic, ESPN, & CBS Sports). I fully expect Youngblood to take the next step in his sophomore year and bring this explosiveness to the offensive side of the ball. If teams in the BIG-12 were smart, they would choose to kick away from Youngblood at all costs in the 2020 season. His three career kickoff returns already ranks #7 in BIG-12 conference history and Youngblood still has at least two seasons to add to his numbers. Crazy things seem to happen in Manhattan, KS and Youngblood can add to the legend of “The Little Apple” by shocking some teams this season.
2019 Stats: 1061 rushing yards, 5.2 avg, 3 rushing TDs, 2 receiving TDs
Untapped potential encompasses Williams and he makes this list due to the fact that he is due for an explosion in his junior season. Les Miles could not be happier that Williams is back for another year, since the Jayhawks have struggled at the QB position since Miles arrived in Lawrence. The output from Williams dropped this past season, but he still managed to eclipse 1,000 yards. The explosion seemed to be lacking for Williams and should be an area of focus going into next season. I expect Williams to be a main focus out of the backfield in this offense, which should make him even more dangerous to opposing defenses. One struggle in the 2019 season was finding the end zone (3 rushing TDs), but I do expect Williams to reach double digit touchdowns next season. Williams has the ability to be one of the most explosive players in the BIG-12 (See video below) and if he can reach his full potential then Kansas could be a scary team going into next season. Miles developed multiple NFL RBs at LSU (Leonard Fournette, Jeremy Hill, & Spencer Ware), which has my expectations extremely high for Williams and his development this off-season.
2019 Stats: 62 total tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions, 2 forced fumblesThere was no sophomore slump for Moehrig this past season. Moehrig seemed to be all over the field all season for the Horned Frogs and I only expect that to become more prevalent this next season. A turnover machine (7 total forced turnovers) in his second season, Moehrig looks to build off of an impressive sophomore campaign in which he was Top-5 in the conference in interceptions, passes defended and forced fumbles. Moehrig has the speed and size to be playing in the NFL after next season, especially if he continues his ball-hawking ways. TCU had a rough season last year, but return a lot of talent and will lean on players like Moehrig to lead this team to challenge for the BIG-12 championship in 2020. Moehrig is a candidate to lead the NCAA in interceptions next season, plus could be in the running for the Thorpe Award come December.
2019 Stats: 65.2% comp, 3663 passing yards, 32 passing TDs, 10 INTs, 7 rushing TDsThe love-hate relationship between myself and Sam Ehlinger is complicated, but his inclusion on this list was a forgone conclusion. Ehlinger will be the most experienced QB in the conference next year and arguably the most accomplished. Back-to-back 3,000 yard passing seasons has the expectations at an all-time high in Austin for Ehlinger. Yards & touchdowns increased this past season, but Ehlinger needs to clean up his interceptions which doubled this past season. Texas will achieve as much as Ehlinger allows this team to, which speaks volumes on his overall impact on this program. When Ehlinger is on his game, then Texas usually wins (See 2019 Alamo Bowl) but when Ehlinger is not making plays then this team suffers greatly (See 2019 Baylor game). I fully expect Ehlinger to have another 3,000 yard season, but he has to be more consistent and make less costly mistakes. Every year the expectations are extremely high for the Longhorns and fans are getting extremely anxious to see a championship in Austin, which further adds to the pressure on Ehlinger. If the Longhorns make a run this season, then I expect Ehlinger to dominate the BIG-12 this next season.
2019 Stats: 53 catches, 903 receiving yards, 17 avg, 8 receiving TDsThe best wide receiver in the country, in my opinion, appears here. Wallace had his season cut short by a knee injury, which limited him to only 9 games. Before his injury, Wallace was averaging 17 yards per catch and was on pace to surpass 1,200 yards and 10 TDs. Wallace still finished Top-10 in the conference in receptions, yards, and touchdowns even after only playing 9 games. His sophomore year was highlighted by finishing Top 3 in the Biletnikoff Award voting, which is given to the nation’s top WR. I expect Wallace to come in focused and out to prove a point in his senior season, which is why I am predicting Wallace to take home the Biletnikoff award next season. Wallace is averaging over 17 yards per catch over 3 years of playing, which shows his explosiveness. Combine that with defenses loading the box to stop Chuba Hubbard (1st player on the list); Wallace should have plenty one-on-one opportunities to make history in Stillwater this season. Wallace also has the advantage of a returning QB in Spencer Sanders, who should also be healthy going into the 2020 season. Look out for this explosive Cowboys offense and this program moving into 2020.
2019 Stats: 112 total tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 1 interception, 3 fumble recoveries, 1 TDIf you like playmakers on the defensive side of the ball then Benard is your man. Bernard is a big-time playmaker that can make plays all over the field and he has the hands to make careless QBs pay the price. Bernard was the #2 leading tackler in the BIG-12 last season and with Dave Arranda taking over the program, I expect Bernard to take a major leap in production next season. Bernard will be the leader of this Baylor defense next season and should be the favorite to lead the conference in tackles. It would not surprise me if Bernard led the NCAA in tackles and was a favorite for the Butkus Award, which is given to the best LB in the country. Bernard breaks the stereotype that the BIG-12 does not play defense, because this guy has elite talent and will be playing on Sundays very soon. Look for Arranda to turn this Bears’ defense into a scary unit and it will be led by elite playmakers like Bernard.
2019 Stats: 43 catches, 743 yards, 17.3 avg, 5 TDsLast season Rambo was not the top option in the Sooners’ offensive plan, but that should change in the 2020 season. Spencer Rattler takes over the QB position and this offense should feature a pass heavy attack again. I expect Rambo to be the top target, especially after the departure of CeeDee Lamb to the NFL and Rambo has shown that he can explosive with the ball in his hands (See video below). Lincoln Riley has shown he can develop NFL WRs (Dede Westbrook & Marquise Brown) and I think Rambo will be the next 1st round pick to come out of Norman. This program lost a lot of talent, but many experts expect Lincoln Riley to reload and lead this team to another BIG-12 championship, but the competition will be much higher with Texas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Kansas State, & Baylor all reloading and aiming to knock the Sooners off. Rambo is going to have to make plays for Rattler and the other youth on the offense. If everything clicks for this team, then I expect another playoff appearance to result in the 2020 season.