Baylor won the Big 12 in 2013 and Oklahoma State finished in a tie for second place with Oklahoma. One big reason for that is both teams benefited from a senior laden team which of course means they'll be plenty of holes to fill heading into next season.
Mr. Phil Steele has been hard at work breaking down all the returning starters for next season and yesterday on his blog, he published the results.
As you can see, Baylor and Oklahoma State have the fewest number of starters returning next season with each returning five starters on offense and four on defense. Does that mean they're going to finish ninth and tenth next season in the Big 12? Hmmm, probably not.
But anyway, here are how the numbers shake out for the Big 12 heading into 2014.
2014 Big 12 returning starters
|* starting QB returning|
You'll notice that seven of the ten teams in the Big 12 return their starting quarterbacks. It's also worth noting that of the three team Steele's indicates do not return their starting signal caller, all three return a guy that has starting experience.
David Ash is expected to return healthy from his concussion suffered this season at Texas. TCU's Trevone Boykin has plenty of starting experience filling in for the suspended/injured Casey Pachall over the past two seasons. And at Oklahoma State, Clint Chelf is gone, but J.W. Walsh has started his share of games over the past two seasons, as well.
That's in stark contrast to the quarterback situation the Big 12 faced this past season. Coming into 2013, only Ash, Pachall/Boykin, and Chelf/Walsh had significant playing time.
**Art Briles talked a lot about the improved depth on his team this past season. With the Bears needing to replace seven starters on defense along with some key pieces on offense (Tevin Reese, Lache Seastrunk, and Cyril Richardson), they'll need that depth to step up in a big way to compete for another Big 12 title.
**TCU has struggled in their first two seasons in the Big 12. Injuries have played a part in that. So has the fact the Horned Frogs have played a plethora of young guys over that time. Well, now those young have plenty of experience under their belts. If TCU's new offense can figure out a way to put more points on the board, they have to be considered the odds on favorite to make the biggest turnaround in 2014.
**You have to love the Sooners chances of competing for a national title next season. Nine starters return on what turned out to be a very good defense by season's end in 2013. And if Trevor Knight plays anything like did in the Sugar Bowl, there aren't many teams in the country that will be able to hang with OU.
**How big of a difference will Mark Mangino make calling the plays for Iowa State next season? We'll find out, but he has 10 of 11 starters back which is reason for optimism in Ames. The biggest question mark this spring will be to find out whether quarterbacks Grant Rohach and Sam Richardson are capable of running what Mangino wants to run.
**Kansas State should be one of the favorites in the Big 12 next season so long as they can find suitable replacements for seven lost starters on defense. The good news is that Jake Waters and Tyler Lockett return on offense.
**West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen may or may not be on the proverbial "hot seat" in 2014 depending on who you listen too. The good news is that he returns 14 starters for next season. What's the bad news? Based on how the Mountaineers finished the season, I'm not sure the good news is actually good news. To make a long story short, there's plenty to improve upon heading into 2014.