Sooners seek fourth straight Big 12 title

Published 11:15 am Monday, July 16, 2018

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Oklahoma won another Big 12 title and made it to the College Football Playoff again in its first season without coach Bob Stoops on the sideline.

The Sooners, who have won the past three Big 12 titles with quarterback Baker Mayfield, will now be trying to do it again without the Heisman Trophy winner under center.

Even with Mayfield preparing for his first NFL season, 11-time Big 12 champion Oklahoma goes into the league’s football media days as the preseason pick to win another title ahead of West Virginia.

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Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator for two years before succeeding Stoops last summer, will be the last of the five coaches who will take the main podium Monday for the first half of media days at the Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters, which is in suburban Frisco north of downtown Dallas.

TCU coach Gary Patterson, who is going into his 18th season has the second-longest active streak among FBS head coaches, will be the first coach to take questions. Kansas’ David Beaty, Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury and Iowa State’s Matt Campbell will then go before Riley.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will get things started Tuesday, before a pair of second-timers — Texas coach Tom Herman and Baylor coach Matt Rhule — precede Kansas State’s Bill Snyder and Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy.

The 78-year-old Snyder — 44 years older than Riley — is going into the 10th season of his second stint with the Wildcats. Snyder went 17 seasons (1989-2005) in his first stint before a three-year “retirement.”

Mayfield, now with the Cleveland Browns after being the first overall pick in the NFL draft, is the only player to be the first-team quarterback on the AP All-Big 12 team three straight seasons. He led the Sooners to Big 12 titles each time, the starter throughout Riley’s time with the Sooners as offensive coordinator and head coach.

Mayfield’s expected replacement, Kyler Murray, was picked ninth overall in the Major League Baseball draft last month. The speedy quarterback/outfielder got a $4.66 million signing bonus from the Oakland Athletics, but Murray will play football for the Sooners this fall.


Murray isn’t among the five quarterbacks from four teams scheduled to appear at Big 12 media days. Kansas State is bringing two quarterbacks, Alex Delton and Skylar Thompson. West Virginia’s Will Grier, the preseason Big 12 offensive player of the year, will also be there, along with Iowa State’s Kyle Kempt and TCU’s Shawn Robinson.


Oklahoma this season will try to become the first team to win four consecutive Big 12 titles. The Sooners got 46 of 52 first-place votes from a panel of media in the preseason balloting. West Virginia was picked second, ahead of TCU, Texas and Oklahoma State. Kansas State, even with two first-place votes, was picked sixth, followed by Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor and Kansas.


West Virginia quarterback Will Grier and TCU defensive end Ben Banogu have gone from being top Big 12 newcomers as juniors last season, after both had to sit out a year as transfers into the league, to preseason players of the year as seniors in 2018. Grier, the former Florida QB, threw for 317 yards per game last season in 11 games for the Mountaineers before a season-ending hand injury. Banogu, who started his college career at Louisiana-Monroe, had 16½ tackles for loss and 8½ sacks last season.


Even with Oklahoma’s two-overtime loss to Georgia in the Rose Bowl that was one of the national semifinal games, the Big 12 finished 5-3 in postseason games last season. It was the second year in a row the league had a winning record in postseason games. The previous time the league had consecutive winning postseasons had been after the 2007 and 2008 seasons.