Coach: Art Briles (89-63, 13 years)
2014: 11-2 (8-1 Big 12)
Opener: Sept. 5 at SMU
Key issues: Priority No. 1 for Baylor will be replacing quarterback Bryce Petty (3,855 yards, 29 TD), and the Bears will do that with Seth Russell (804 yards, 8 TD), who saw fill-in duty last year when Petty was injured. The Bears still have plenty of offensive options returning, though, including leading receiver Corey Coleman (1,119 yards, 11 TD), receiver K.D. Cannon (1,030 yards, 8 TD) and leading rusher Shock Linwood (1,293 yards, 16 TD). Defensive lineman Shawn Oakman (11 sacks, 19.5 TFL) will anchor one of the best lines in the Big 12.
Tarrant-area ties: LB Aiavion Edwards (Stephenville), K Spencer Evans (Arlington Martin), LB Mallory Franklin (Everman), DT Suleiman Masumbuko (Euless Trinity), DE Brian Nance (Euless Trinity), LB Xavier Phillips (Fort Worth All Saints), QB Jarrett Stidham (Stephenville), WR Trevor White (Arlington Martin).
Coach: Paul Rhoads (29-45, 6 years)
2014: 2-9 (0-9 Big 12)
Opener: Sept. 5 vs. Northern Iowa
Key issues: The Cyclones return offensive starters in quarterback Sam B. Richardson (3,090 total yards) and receiver Quenton Bundrage (676 yards, 9 TD). On defense, defensive back Sam E. Richardson (4 INT, 58 tackles) also returns for the Cyclones, who will be trying to reach a bowl game for the first time since 2012. They’ll get the chance to do so at the newly renovated Jack Trice Stadium, which was expanded to more than 60,000 seats in the off-season.
Tarrant-area ties: DB Matt Swoyer (Southlake Carroll), RB Brian Bonacci (Southlake Carroll).
Coach: Bob Stoops (168-44, 17 years)
2014: 8-5 (5-4 Big 12)
Opener: Sept. 5 vs. Akron
Key issues: The Sooners’ quarterback position isn’t settled yet, with returning starter Trevor Knight (2,300 yards 14 TD) vying with transfer Baker Mayfield, who had success as a walk-on at Texas Tech in 2013. Leading rusher Samaje Perine (1,713 yards, 21 TD) is back and so is leading receiver Sterling Shephard (970 yards, 5 TD). Linebacker Eric Striker (9 sacks, 17 TFL) returns to lead the defense.
Tarrant-area ties: DT Chase Frazier (Grapevine), K Nick Hodgson (Richland), OL Nila Kasitati (Euless Trinity), DE Kenneth Mann (Burleson), CB Zack Sanchez (Keller Central), QB Cody Thomas (Colleyville Heritage).
Coach: Mike Gundy (84-44, 10 seasons)
2014: 7-6 (4-5 Big 12)
Opener: Sept. 3 at Central Michigan
Key issues: The Cowboys’ offense returns sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph, who starred in their last three games of the season, throwing for 853 yards and six touchdowns. OSU loses leading rushers Tyreek Hill and Desmond Roland. Receiver David Glidden (team-high 42 catches) returns as an experienced offensive weapon, and defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (Big 12 defensive lineman of the year) does the same for the defense.
Tarrant-area ties: CB Ashton Lampkin (Fort Worth Dunbar), K Ben Grogan (Arlington Martin), LB Chad Whitener (Mansfield), OL Zachary Crabtree (Mansfield), LS Kaleb Smith (Fort Worth All Saints), OL Jesse Robinson (Hurst L.D. Bell), OL Lemaefe Galea’i (Euless Trinity), OL Michael Wilson (Aledo), WR Austin Parker (Grapevine), DE Vili Leveni (Hurst L.D. Bell), DT Taaj Bakari (Mansfield Legacy).
Coach: Charlie Strong (42-23, 4 years)
2014: 6-7 (5-4 Big 12)
Opener: Sept. 5 at Notre Dame
Key issues: Charlie Strong’s second season in Austin still brings with it the same indecision at quarterback, where Tryone Swoopes (2,409 yards, 13 TD) and redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard will compete during summer camp. Former Aledo star Johnathan Gray (637 yards, 7 TD) returns for his senior year healthy. On defense, Mansfield grad Hassan Ridgeway (6 sacks, 11 TFL) and defensive back Dylan Haines (4 INT, 86 tackles) return to anchor the solid unit.
Tarrant-area ties: WR Connor Huffman (Arlington), Aledo RB Johnathan Gray, WR Hunter DeGroot (Arlington High Point Prep), LB Edwin Freeman (Arlington Bowie), WR Michael Wilson (Arlington Martin), DT Hassan Ridgeway (Mansfield).
Ryan Osborne, 817-390-7760