Big 12 Media Days kicks off in Arlington, Texas, this week, marking the unofficial start of what will be a marathon few months between fall camp and the 2023 football season. So buckle up, folks, because …. dare I say it …. it’s football season. (There’s still 54 days standing between now and when the OSU season kicks off, but seriously, who is counting?)
This week in particular represents a wild shift in the league’s landscape that will be on full display, where for the first time there will be 14 teams — including incoming members UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU as well as outgoing members OU and Texas — giving us plenty of storylines to preview and discuss.
So before we dive into the meat and potatoes preview — that’s to say, before we look at all 10 of the Big 12 teams we’ve been rolling with — we’ve broken up our Big 12 media days preview into two parts. Tuesday we’ll take a look at the long-standing Big 12 teams. But for now we’re talkin’ newbies, with UCF, Cincinnati, Houston and BYU on the docket.
Let’s jump in with a look at each of the four teams’ preseason ranking in the Big 12 media poll, their 2022 record and a storyline to follow.
Preseason Big 12 Ranking: 11
2022 Record: 8-5
Storyline to Follow: Stabilizing defensively
BYU joins the Big 12 after 12 years as an independent. The Cougars’ offense should be in good hands with former Pitt and USC QB Kedon Slovis, but the Cougars’ defense will go through a transition (under new DC Jay Hill) after head coach Kalani Sitake cleaned house of his defensive staff this offseason. BYU allowed 29.5 points and 407 yards per game last season. — Cox
Preseason Big 12 Ranking: 13
2022 Record: 9-4
Storyline to Follow: New faces in a new place
Cincinnati takes a step up into the big leagues without the head coach that brought them so much success over the last five years. Luke Fickell is on to Wisconsin, and Scott Satterfield is in to captain the Bearcats into the Big 12. Cincy will also have to gel under a new QB, Arizona State transfer Emory Jones, along with several other new faces taking on key roles. — Cox
Preseason Big 12 Ranking: 12
2022 Record: 8-5
Storyline to Follow: Quarterback battle
The Cougars have a quarterback battle entering their first year in a new conference: Donovan Smith vs. Lucas Coley. Smith joins the Cougars from Texas Tech, where he played 21 games the past two seasons and threw for 2,686 yards and 19 touchdowns. Coley is in his second year with the program after transferring from Arkansas. He played sparingly in three games last season. — Scott
Preseason Big 12 Ranking: 8
2022 Record: 9-5
Storyline to Follow: Protecting John Rhys Plumlee
UCF returns starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, who led the Knights in passing (2,586 yards and 14 TDs) and rushing (861 yards at 11 TDs) last season, but the Knights also allowed 36 sacks last season. For comparison, OU was ninth in sacks allowed in the Big 12 last season with 31, and Texas Tech was 10th with 41. The Knights brought in three transfer portal offensive linemen this offseason in hopes of fixing that problem in their first year in the Big 12. — Scott