How Four At Bottom Of Big 12 Can Rise To Top
By Mike Casazza
When we woke up Wednesday morning, we were 100 days away from the start of the Big 12’s season. We’re that far from Friday, Aug. 29, that far from watching North Dakota take a crack at a curious Kansas State team, that far from seeing if Kliff Kingsbury will wear sunglasses inside Cowboys Stadium for his first game as Texas Tech plays SMU.
There are so many questions to consider and to track throughout the summer, none greater than who’s starting at quarterback at Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, TCU and West Virginia, but there are people who already have the answers. They’ve taken what they believe they know to be true and have cobbled it together to present a post-spring practice top 25.
There are six pretty good ones you can find on the Internet (Bleacher Report, The Big Lead, SI.com, CBSSports.com, ESPN.com and the National Football Post) and you can take them for what they are, which is to say you can take them as well-researched power rankings that evaluate teams after spring football and position them for the preseason top 25 poll.
What you find is that those folks think the Big 12 will be pretty good next season. Not great, but competitive and somewhat deep. Oklahoma State was the only team to make its way into a top 10 as The Big Lead put the Cowboys at No. 8. That same poll had six Big 12 teams in its top 25. CBSSports.com, Bleacher Report and ESPN.com had five teams in its top 25. SI.com and the National Football Post included four, though SI.com’s Andy Staples included Oklahoma State and Kansas State among “Teams I might regret not including.”
The same six schools (Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas) were represented in the polls. TCU, Texas and Oklahoma State were the top teams in different polls while those three and Oklahoma appeared in all six.
- Bleacher Report: TCU (15), Texas (16), Oklahoma State (17), Oklahoma (19) and Baylor (24)
- CBSSports.com: Texas (13), Kansas State (14), Oklahoma (15), TCU (19) and Oklahoma State (22)
- ESPN.com: Texas (14), Oklahoma State (15), Oklahoma (17), TCU (18) and Kansas State (20)
- National Football Post: TCU (14), Oklahoma (15), Oklahoma State (19) and Texas (23)
- SI.com : TCU (15), Oklahoma (17), Texas (18) and Baylor (20)
- The Big Lead: Oklahoma State (8), Oklahoma (13), TCU (17), Baylor (18), Texas (21) and Kansas State (25)
Obviously, a lot can and will change in the next 100 days to alter those rankings. TCU, which would seem like the preseason favorite, is already preparing for one such circumstance. Star defensive end Devonte Fields was suspended last week for the first two games of the coming season. That means the Horned Frogs are without the reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year for the opener against LSU and then the home opener a week later against Southeast Louisiana.
But if things can change up top, why not down low, too? Kansas State won the league last season. The Wildcats were picked sixth in the coaches’ preseason Big 12 poll. What’s stopping one of the four teams completely omitted from those post-spring polls from finding the right mix of talent, coaching and chemistry and winning the conference?
It won’t be easy, but it could happen. Here’s how.