The LGG is excited to bring a few new writers into the fold. We’ll do some proper introductions here soon, but we thought this would be a good time to start doing some roundtable posts.
Every year we (as in the whole college football world) think we’ve got the whole season figured out before a whistle’s blown, a ball’s been kicked, or we’ve heard that sweet, sweet sound of pads popping. Shockingly, we aren’t always right. So that begs the question, who’s possibly being underrated right now? And of course the flip side, who could be receiving a little too much love?
Chris Ross: Not enough love is being given to the Red Raiders, while maybe too much is being given to the Cowboys
UNDERRATED – I’ll go ahead and kick this thing off. I’m tempted to take West Virginia here. I don’t think they’re getting the attention they deserve. However, I ultimately I think they end up in that mid-tier. Right where they are projected. So while they aren’t getting much attention, they aren’t truly being underrated either.
My pick is going to be Texas Tech. A lot of pundits have them finishing near the bottom of the league at just ahead of Iowa State and Kansas, but don’t be surprised if they pull off a couple of upsets though. The Red Raiders return a lot of talent, and there’s pressure on Kliff Kingsbury to show why the Tech brass took the gamble.
They have a tough stretch early with back-to-back-to-back games against Arkansas, TCU, and Baylor. However, with games against Iowa State and Kansas immediately following they’ll have a chance to get back on track before traveling to Norman. They’ve already proven they’re capable of pulling off the upset in the house of crimson and cream.
Tech’s biggest issue, as it always seems, is defense. They were awful last year. However that could change behind new DC David Gibbs. They won’t become world beaters overnight, but if the offense can get any help it could be enough to put Tech in that mid-tier group. We shouldn’t underestimate the Red Raiders. Especially if QB Patrick Mahomes lives up to his potential.
OVERRATED – As far as teams that could fall well short of expectations — I can’t believe I’m saying this — but the Cowboys might be receiving a little too much love.
The feeling in Stillwater is eerily familiar to the feeling in Norman this time last year. The Sooners were flying high after a huge win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, but finished the season outside of the Top 25 as they continued to be plagued with QB inconsistency.
A year later and the Cowboys are in almost the same situation. After stealing a Bedlam win in Norman, and dominating a bowl game against the PAC-12’s number seven, expectations all of a sudden skyrocketed. I have to wonder if Poke fans are setting themselves up for disappointment.
An offensive line with more gaps than the malls across North America, a secondary that was just abused, and a QB position that’s seen more faces over the last few years than a teenage girl’s selfie stick is a lot of problems to fix in one year. Most of last season’s issues seem to be worked out, but until we see it on the field…
The good news for the Cowboys is the schedule plays into their favor by getting TCU, Baylor, and OU at home.
Tracy Guest: Maybe Baylor shouldn’t be the favorite, and watch out for Texas
I am not sure I agree regarding Texas Tech, and I am speaking as a Tech fan. I would love to be wrong, but the defense just has so far to go and I am not sure how much shoring up has really been done.
UNDERRATED – I would not overlook Texas this year. I like what the Horns are doing with the hurry up offense. It could potentially mitigate some of their weak areas. I know the QB situation is not what they would like, but think the Strong approach will begin to reap dividends.
A lot will depend on Whitely and Beck and the blocking and pass catching abilities of the tight ends, but there is potential there. Plus a healthy Jonathan Gray can be a potent weapon. The defense is a question mark, but Malik Jefferson is very impressive so should be fun to watch. I’m definitely not picking them to dominate anyone, but they could be better than expected.
OVERRATED – Baylor is my overrated team. Only because I don’t think they’ll win the conference, and that’s what they’re projected to do. Three-peating is just too hard.
I understand the stats, and of course, I believe they will be very, very good. I don’t mean to indicate otherwise. It’s just a matter of probability, and the Bears aren’t without weakness. The defense has its question marks. Oakman is obviously a force, but they gave up a lot of points last year and I am not convinced that will be different this year. The offense will be able to score a lot with some of the best receivers in the country, a bruising RB and another good QB. Overall, however, just do not believe they are as balanced as TCU.
David Potter: Texas Tech is going to struggle, but don’t ever count out a Bill Snyder team
Agreed on Baylor. While it seems like they could plug anyone in at QB and put up 700 yards, I expect losing Petty to have an effect. And while they still have a stable of capable receivers, I don’t see a Terrence Williams or even a Tevin Reese there. All that said, they do bring back a lot of starters, and I fully expect them to be competing for the title even if they can’t bring it home.
UNDERRATED – Yes, the Wildcats return only 6 starters on each side of the ball, and yes, Jake Waters, Kevin Lockett and Ryan Mueller have moved on, but let’s face it, Bill Snyder has a tree in his back yard on which he grows impact football players. The tree doesn’t even need much sunlight or water. It’s basically self-sustaining. That, or ol’ Snyder made a pact with the devil. Either way, he’ll find solid college football players to fill these gaps, and while I don’t expect K-State to compete for a title, I think they can win eight games easily and be a team that no one wants to see coming up on the schedule.
The wildcats lost some big names, but return their leading rusher, six of their 10 team leaders in tackles for loss, and every single player not named Ryan Mueller who registered a sack last year. The Bill Snyder magic will keep the KSU machine running another year, with three easy victories in the non-con, and a virtually guaranteed three game winning streak near the end of the season as KSU faces Texas Tech, Iowa State and Kansas back-to-back-to-back. Throw in a couple of victories against middling teams like Texas, Okie State and West Virginia, and you have yet another solid year of football in Manhattan.
OVERRATED – It’s hard to be too overrated when most over/unders have you at just 5.5 or 6 wins, but I think even that is too high for Kliff Kingsbury’s Red Raiders. Per Football Outsiders, Tech ranked just 82nd in their F/+ ratings last year, and Sagarin rated them 79th. Sure, they return a bunch of starters, but this team wasn’t exactly loaded with talent, getting pushed to the brink by UTEP and Central Arkansas, losing handily to a wayward Texas team and giving up 82 points to TCU.
Tech’s offense is supposed to be their calling card, but they finished just 65th in points per possession last year, racking up a lot of yards but failing to finish drives. Even if that improves, their defense was arguably the worst in the Big 12 last year. I don’t give Kingsbury much benefit of the doubt at this point in his career, so I see six wins as an absolute ceiling if everything goes their way, not a reasonable over/under point.