On Thursday, the HCS staff went around and debated who would be the most overrated team in the Big 12 Conference heading into the 2018 season. Now, it’s time to flip the script and look at who we believe will be the most underrated team in the conference. There are plenty of options in what should be an unpredictable fall in the nation’s Heartland. So here we go with the staff selections and explanations. Reminder: We are partnered with BetNow.EU – the website we are using to place our Big 12 bets this fall! Using promo code “Heartland” for a 100% sign up bonus!
Pete Mundo: It’s got to be the Iowa State Cyclones. They did receive some votes in the preseason AP Poll, but this team was picked No. 7 in the Big 12 Conference preseason rankings. The voters in the Big 12 should know better. This team returns the best defense in the conference and some of the most talented skill position players in David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler, along with a solid offensive line. I think Iowa State can challenge for a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. But even if they don’t get there, no one is going to look forward to playing the Cyclones like they had for several years before Matt Campbell arrived on campus. All this being said, my guess is Campbell and Co. prefer this underdog role anyway.
Derek Duke: I have two that I can’t make my mind up between Kansas State and Texas Tech. I’ll go with Texas Tech. They return almost everybody on an improving defense on the rise which they should be even better this season and offensively they return all five starters on the offensive line which I ranked as the 3rd best offensive line in the Big 12. They always find receivers so I am not too concerned there but who will be the quarterback? I believe Alan Bowman gives them their best shot at winning but we will find out soon enough. If Kliff can get the quarterback situation figured out, this team could surprise some folks.
Matthew Postins: The Iowa State Cyclones. The Big 12 preseason media poll pegged the Cyclones as the league’s No 7 team. I think they’re better than that and plenty capable of beating at least three of the teams sitting directly in front of them in that poll — Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas. Yes, they could take a step back after their watershed season a year ago, but I don’t see it being a dramatic step back. This will be a highly competitive team that, to me, finishes in the top half of the league again in 2018.
Cameron Brock: I have Iowa State playing in the Big 12 Championship. West Virginia’s defense is not reliable. Iowa State’s is. Many will point to the loss of Allen Lazard as a major issue, but Oklahoma State didn’t win the conference until after Dez Bryant graduated. Matt Campbell is clearly one of the hottest commodities in the nation. He’s also teaching young men instead of just racking up wins. The field is wide open, and I love the Cyclone’s defense. Let’s not forget, the Cyclones have the best running back in the Big 12 with David Montgomery. Many “experts” believe in Matt Campbell. They don’t believe in Iowa State. I’m here to tell you that the Cyclones are a contender this year. Mark it down.
Dave Beall: Look, I don’t think Oklahoma State can win the Big 12 but I also don’t think they’ll finish in the 7-9 range I’ve seen mentioned a lot. Justice Hill is a fantastic back, despite the lack of returning starters the offensive line should be better and have some depth, and the receiver group is still loaded. New defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ 4-2-5 defense might be a significant upgrade with Gundy’s almost Al Davis obsession with having speed on his team. Whoever plays quarterback just needs to manage the game and occasionally make opponents pay with the play action pass for the Cowboys to win 8 or 9, finish 4th in the conference, and go bowling again.
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