College football fans come back for the excitement. They come back for the parity, the unexpected, the oddities, the "did you see that?!?!" plays. And, unfortunately, that includes watching teams suffer through nightmare moments and seasons.
Non-Texas fans loved watching the Longhorns lose to Kansas and Charlie Strong get fired last year. Though harsh, that's the reality. And because of that game, the Jayhawks will have hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of pseudo, one-day fans on Saturday, Nov. 11, when they visit Austin for a rematch that carries a bizarre amount of weight.
Here is what a nightmare would look like for Texas and every other Big 12 team in 2017. For the record, this is done in jest as a polite reminder that nightmares do occur and preseason predictions are almost always wrong.
Record: (4-8, 2-7 Big 12)
Matt Rhule's positive and widely applauded offseason improves the culture and off-the-field pieces of the Baylor program. However, the Bears take another big step back on the field and win their fewest games since 2009.
Taylor Young isn't enough to lead the defense and Zach Smith struggles for an offense seeking an identity. They suffer through a five-game midseason losing streak that includes blowout losses to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Record: (2-10, 1-8 Big 12)
Allen Lazard has another production season but Jacob Park can't take a step forward, nor can a defense that can't generate sacks or turnovers. Their only wins are against Akron and Kansas.
Record: (1-11, 0-9 Big 12)
David Beaty has brought new energy to the worst Power Five program in the country in the form of recruiting, roster development and level-headed expectations. All three — and a $300 million stadium renovation — would be questioned if Kansas can't win a few games in 2017.
They beat Southeast Missouri in the opener before dropping close games to Central Michigan and Ohio. The quarterback controversy bleeds through the whole season and a good defensive front seven can't carry an inexperienced secondary.
Record: (6-6, 4-5 Big 12)
It's almost impossible to see a truly nightmare season for Kansas State. Their roster is remarkably balanced.
They go 2-1 in non-conference play (lose at Vanderbilt) and beat Baylor at home on Sept. 30. The Wildcats then drop three-straight games against Texas, TCU and Oklahoma. Jesse Ertz's legs and their running game is moving the ball but Ertz can't find consistency through the air. Defensive studs D.J. Reed and Reggie Walker are avoided by opposing offenses and others can't make the plays.
Record: (8-4, 6-3 Big 12)
Big 12 championship and College Football Playoff or bust for Oklahoma.
Unfortunately, a Week 2 loss at Ohio State once again eliminates their playoff margin for error. Then the Sooners lose to both Texas and Kansas State on Oct. 14 and Oct. 21, respectively.
Baker Mayfield and an elite offensive line aren't enough to overcome the losses of Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon and Semaje Perine. And the defensive line can't get enough pressure to allow their playmakers to run wild.
Record: (7-5, 5-4 Big 12)
It's impossible to fathom the country's best quarterback-receiver duo going 7-5.
The Cowboys win a close one at South Alabama on Sept. 8 but lose at Pittsburgh a week later. A three-game winning streak to open Big 12 play is squashed when they lose three in a row to Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma.
Their high-flying Mason Rudolph-led offense is firing on all cylinders but the defense can't keep up, yielding almost 35 points per game in Big 12 play.
Record: (4-8, 2-7 Big 12)
Gary Patterson is unable to engineer another quick turnaround after last year's disappointing season and suddenly TCU has won 10 total games the last two years.
After losing at Arkansas in Week 2 and narrowly beating a much-improved SMU team a week later, the carnage begins. Quarterback Kenny Hill regresses and his receivers don't help him either, while Kyle Hicks is productive but not as elusive as 2016. And the defense's back seven isn't as reliable as expected.
Record: (5-7, 3-6 Big 12)
Let's make it three-straight five-win seasons for the Longhorns.
They get throttled by USC in Week 3 and can't recover in time for a Thursday primetime game at Iowa State 12 days later. Shane Buechele can't stop the losing streak from swelling to five when they lose to Oklahoma State at home on Oct. 21.
Malik Jefferson, Poona Ford and others defenders are good, not great. And the unit cannot generate any turnovers.
Record: (3-9, 2-7 Big 12)
An overtime win against Eastern Washington in the season opener sets the stage for a long season in Lubbock. Surprisingly, head coach Kliff Kingsbury not only survives a blowout loss to Oklahoma State at home on Sept. 30, he makes it through the entire three-win season.
Nic Shimonek is good enough in replacing Patrick Mahomes but they can't fully replace the gunslinger — or receiver Jonathan Giles. The defense doesn't improve at all.
Record: (4-8, 2-7 Big 12)
No one thing goes terribly wrong for the Mountaineers. A lot of small things go a little bit wrong.
Will Grier is underwhelming in his return to football. Justin Crawford has a monster season but can't carry a one-dimensional offense. And the stud secondary tandem of Kyzir White and Dravon Askew-Henry don't have any bounces go their way.