Big 12

Is Texas really back? Can OU keep streak going? Biggest Big 12 storylines for 2019

Texas Longhorns football: Eyes of Texas at Sugar Bowl

The Texas Longhorns sing "The Eyes of Texas" with their fans after a 28-21 victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019.
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The Texas Longhorns sing "The Eyes of Texas" with their fans after a 28-21 victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019.

The Big 12 always makes headlines when it comes to football and this season shouldn’t be any different.

Here are the top storylines going into the season with Big 12 Media Days being held early next week at AT&T Stadium:

Three peat?

Former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts is next in line as Oklahoma’s QB.

The program has produced two consecutive Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, and Hurts is hoping to follow suit.

Hurts joins a program that has several playmakers on offense with wide receiver CeeDee Lamb returning following a 1,000-yard season, as well as an elite backfield behind Kennedy Brooks and Trey Sermon.

Hurts is expected to make a seamless transition and all eyes will be on him this season as OU tries to win its fifth straight Big 12 championship.

Is Texas back?

Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger declared that Texas was back after the Longhorns knocked off Georgia in the Sugar Bowl last January, capping a double-digit winning season for the first time since 2009.

Expectations for Ehlinger and company to contend once again for a conference championship and the College Football Playoff are high going into this season.

Ehlinger was named the Big 12’s preseason offensive MVP following a sophomore season in which he passed for 3,292 yards with 25 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 16 TDs.

Defensively, Texas will have to find replacements for productive playmakers now gone such as pass rusher Charles Omenihu and linebackers Gary Johnson and Anthony Wheeler.

Sideline changes

The Big 12 will have plenty of new faces on the sidelines this season with 40 percent turnover among head coaches.

Les Miles is now at Kansas; Chris Klieman is now at Kansas State; Matt Wells is now at Texas Tech; and Neal Brown is now at West Virginia.

All four of the new coaching hires are intriguing in their own right, starting with Miles taking over lowly KU. Miles won a national championship at LSU, but is now facing one of the toughest rebuilding jobs in the country.

Klieman had success at the FCS level, but will that translate to a Power Five program? Wells is an intriguing hire out of Utah State, and inherits a promising quarterback in Grapevine product Alan Bowman.

Brown takes over a program that had success under Dana Holgorsen, who led the Mountaineers to bowl games in seven of eight seasons.

Coaching changes always rank among the top storylines going into a season.

Watch out for WRs

The Big 12 is loaded at the wide receiver position.

TCU’s Jalen Reagor, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace and Texas’ Collin Johnson all have NFL potential and all are primed for big seasons.

This is how it was last year when the league boasted receivers such as Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Iowa State’s Hakeem Butler and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley.

So expect plenty of offense and fireworks with another talented wide receiver corps across the league.

Baylor breakthrough?

Matt Rhule won 10 games in his third season at Temple. Will he have similar success in his third year at Baylor?

Rhule has turned the Bears into conference contenders after going 1-11 his first season in 2017. Baylor rebounded by going 7-6 and winning the Texas Bowl last season.

The Bears are in position to take another step, too, with Charlie Brewer entering his third season. Brewer is coming off a sophomore season that saw him throw for 3,019 yards with 19 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

If Brewer takes another stride, the Bears will be a dangerous team on Saturdays.

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