Well, it’s finally time to lace ‘em up. And not a minute too soon!
The college football, and by extension, Big 12 football season kicks off this weekend. And 2014 shapes up as a very interesting year for the conference. Oklahoma is the consensus pick to win the sweepstakes, but positions two through seven are a bit of a crap-shoot.
Going into the season, here’s one man’s shot in the dark at that free-for-all:
1. Oklahoma: The Sooner defense figures to be the Big 12’s best, and the ground game should be potent as well. But is the Trevor Knight we saw lacerate Alabama the straight bill, or was that performance a fluke? The Sooner receiving corps also looks a bit iffy.
2. Kansas State: It almost seems as if Bill Snyder improves with age, and given that he palled around with Methuselah before the flood, he’s pretty darn good! But the Venerable One has some talent to work with, too. Jake Waters may be the second best signal caller in the conference and Tyler Lockett is probably its most dangerous offensive player.
3. Texas Tech: Perhaps a bit of a reach here, but don’t be shocked if the youthful Kingsbury staff makes a quantum leap forward on their second go-around. And speaking of second go-arounds, QB Davis Webb will be a national name by season’s end.
4. Texas: It may be a cliché, but the Longhorns always have championship talent. Now in Charlie Strong, Texas has a tough disciplinarian who will focus that talent. And a defensive-minded coach will also have a very good defense to mold.
5. Baylor: Most folks are slotting the Bears at No.2, but I’m not convinced. Sure, Bryce Petty is probably the best quarterback in America, and Antwan Goodley is an elite receiver, but Baylor must replace a great deal of talent in the lines, and some quality players in the back half of the defense. And Shock Linwood is no Lache Seastrunk.
6. Oklahoma State: Could Mike Gundy’s group finally be due for a down year? The last time OSU was average was 2007 when they went 7-6. But this year’s schedule is backloaded with bushwacks and ambushes. The final four games are against Kansas State, Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma, and only the UT game is at home.
7. TCU: Some pundits tab the Horned Frogs a Cinderella, but I see still see them as a frog. Even without Devonte Fields, there is decent talent on defense, but it will take Sonny Cumbie and company more than one year to turn around the Horned Frog offense.
8. Iowa State: It looks like a typical year in Ames. And what that means is that the Cyclones will scrap and claw and even punch above their weight a time or two, but there’s just not enough talent on the roster to move them into the top half of one of America’s best conferences.
9. West Virginia: Unless Dana Holgorsen pulls the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, this looks like his swan song in Morgantown. There don’t seem to be any real good answers at quarterback, and in Holgorsen’s spread, that means curtains. The Mountaineers have good players in the back half of the defense, but that won’t be nearly enough to lift this outfit out of the mire.
10. Kansas: Prior to the loss of top two running backs Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox, I thought it possible that Charlie Weis was making some headway in Lawrence. But given Kansas’ dependency on the running game, the injuries to Bourbon and Cox will set Weis’ rebuilding project back another year. If it weren’t for Jayhawk basketball, you’d feel pity.
Yeager’s Preseason Big 12 Power Ratings
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