Horned Frogs picked to beat out Bears; Sooners 3rd, Horns 5th

The TCU Horned Frogs will repeat as Big 12 champions, while Baylor will miss out on its bid for an unprecedented three-peat in 2015.

The best pick to challenge both 2014 co-champs for league supremacy? The Oklahoma Sooners. 

At least that’s the opinion of the media representatives who cover the league.

The Big 12 released the media preseason poll Thursday with TCU, entering only its fourth season in the league, garnering 32 of 42 first-place votes for 408 total points. Baylor was the only other team to receive first-place votes while totaling 384 points. Oklahoma received 312 points to finish third, Oklahoma State (289) was fourth and the Texas Longhorns (245) finished fifth.

It’s the first time since 1999, Bob Stoops’ first season at OU, that the Sooners were not picked to finish either first or second in the preseason poll.

The Horned Frogs, coming off a message-sending victory of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl after being excluded from the College Football Playoff, return 17 starters, including 10 from last season’s explosive offense. Quarterback Trevone Boykin returns as an early season frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. On Wednesday, Boykin was named the league’s preseason Offensive Player of the Year. TCU’s stiffest challenge will be replacing multiple starters from last year’s dominant defense.

Baylor is loaded with returning starters on both sides of the ball, and could produce its finest defense under coach Art Briles, led by defensive end Shawn Oakman, the pick for Defensive Player of the Year. However, Baylor is breaking in new starting quarterback Seth Russell, who must quickly learn to orchestrate a high-octane offense loaded with playmakers in the backfield and at wide receiver.

The Sooners, coming off a disappointing 8-5 season that spurred coach Bob Stoops to hire a new offensive coordinator, return to the Air Raid and to shake up other aspects of his staff, have been popping up as a potential dark horse in the College Football Playoff hunt.

With five players selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 team, including NCAA single-game rushing record holder Samaje Perine, OU doesn’t lack for talent, although it does remain in search of a starting quarterback.

Quarterback is not an issue at Oklahoma State, where excitement is high that Mason Rudolph can give the Cowboys a bounce back after the offense faltered last season.

Meanwhile at Texas, where again expectations are tepid, the quarterback position is everything. Incumbent Tyrone Swoopes is trying to fend off redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard. If either quarterback can bring consistency to Texas’ attack, which promises to go up-tempo in 2015, the Longhorns, it would seem, can at least challenge for a top-four spot and possibly play spoiler in the conference race. 

(h/t Big 12 Sports)

Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports