Big 12 football kicks off next weekend. Think about that. No matter which Big 12 team you live and die for, you’ll see them take the field next weekend. Tailgating and touchdowns, college football is just a few days away, which means it is time for our first power rankings of the season.
Baker Mayfield returns in an attempt to return the Sooners back to the CFB Playoff, and on paper the Sooners look to be the class of the conference. However, things don’t always work out as they “should” and OU’s schedule won’t be doing them any favors. If they can get by Houston, UL Monroe, and Ohio State unscathed, look out, Big 12.
Many outlets have the Horned Frogs winning the conference, and for good reason. While TCU doesn’t a lot of returning starters, they have a ton of returning experience thanks to a myriad of injuries last season. Coach Patterson is playing coy with who will start under center now that Trevone Boykin is in the NFL, but whether it be Foster Sawyer or A&M Transfer Kenny Hill, the Horned Frogs look to be a contender.
3. Oklahoma State
The Cowboys are a conundrum. With absolutely no run blocking, and therefore limited yards on the ground, they managed to win 10 games in 2015. The Barry Sanders Jr is in Stillwater to pick up where his father left off, but how much can the run blocking improve in one season? And, can the “Cardiac Cowboys” continue to win the close games? We’ll find out soon enough.
The top three might want to start looking over their shoulder. Texas has struggled for far too long – allowing Baylor, Oklahoma State, TCU and K-State to join Oklahoma atop the Big 12 – but daddy’s back, or at least in the car and headed to the house, to put the kids in order. Don’t be surprised if the Horns make it to Big 12 play undefeated.
Don’t Count Them Out
5. West Virginia
West Virginia could easily finish higher, but I’m not sure where they’ll find more than 9 wins this season. The Mountaineers boasted one of the best defenses in the league last season, and while playmaker Karl Joseph is no longer lurking in the secondary, they’re still plenty talented. The season, like so many do in this conference, will depend on QB play. The Mountaineer o-line could be the best in the Big 12, so if Skyler Howard can settle down and eliminate the mistakes that plagued him last season, they could just be the dark horse of the Big 12.
6. Texas Tech
The top four appear to be the class of the Big 12. However, Patrick Mahomes and company are going to have plenty of opportunity to shake that up, and with some stability at defensive coordinator for the first time in what’s going on a decade, look for the defense to be improved from last year. They’re going to have to prove it on the field before we give them the benefit of the doubt though.
The Bears faithful aren’t going to be happy, and maybe 7th isn’t entirely fair. Afterall, They have the talent to compete at the top of the conference, and Seth Russell is an extremely talented quarterback. However, multiple defections has destroyed their depth, and coming off an injured neck, can Russell make it through the season unscathed? I expect things to get off to a well enough start, and wouldn’t be surprised to see them start the season 5-1. However, with Texas, TCU and Oklahoma in back-to-back-to-back weeks, I expect the wheels to come off as the losses rack up. If this team folds under scrutiny and player attrition, I’m not sure they don’t close out the season 0-6.
8. Iowa State
I really want to rank Iowa State higher. Running back Mike Warren is not to be underrated, and Matt Campbell is changing the culture in Ames. He expects to win. Just one problem, here we are at 8th in the conference and any of the seven teams above could compete for the conference crown should things break their way. So, while I fully expect a different team from a season ago, it might not show up in the standings.
9. Kansas State
If Bill Snyder wasn’t their coach, nobody would have K-State higher than 9th in the conference right now. Nobody does more with less than the Purple Wizard, but last year proved that even he can only do so much. A fresh batch of JUCO talent could shake things up, but right now, I can’t put the Wildcats in front of anyone ahead of them.
Poor Kansas. Coach David Beaty seems to have the Jayhawks going in the right direction, but it’s going to be a long, up hill climb. The good news is, they’ll win a game this year. The bad news is, it won’t be in Big 12 play.