Ah yes, it’s that time of year when the Big 12 Football Power Rankings return to Heartland College Sports. A reminder that these can change drastically from week to week. These are not supposed to be a mirror image of a given week’s standings. It’s based on the previous week’s performance and the opponent when compared to the rest of the conference.
So with the 2020 season on the verge of starting this weekend, let’s get into this week’s preseason Big 12 Power Rankings.
1. Oklahoma Sooners
Until proven otherwise, this is OU’s conference. I don’t care that two of their best defenders are likely out for the upcoming season and they’re working in a redshirt freshman QB, oh and star RB Kennedy Brooks also opted out of the season. None of it matters until someone actually steps up and smacks the Sooners in the mouth to take the Big 12 title out of their hands. And for five years running, no one has done it. As the preseason rankings are underway, there is no rational way to go any other direction at this point in time.
2. Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Pokes have certainly had a tumultuous offseason, to put it politely. Now they’re dealing with drama between Mike Gundy and a local, reputable media outlet. But regardless of all the noise, this team returns the majority of its defense that made nice strides last season and its stars on offense like Spencer Sanders, Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard. If there is a year for Gundy to get over the hump against OU, this might be it.
3. Texas Longhorns
Is Texas back? I don’t know and I’m done guessing. I do know this team is loaded with upperclassmen talent, but now Tom Herman and his new coordinators Mike Yurcich and Chris Ash have to reign it all in and produce because another 8-5 season won’t cut it in Austin. Plus, it’s Sam Ehlinger’s senior year. The time is now.
4. Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State is starting to get some nice national love and attention in recent days. It’s warranted. However this team hasn’t won the close game in recent season and for Iowa State to take that next jump, it needs to happen this fall. The Cyclones have a QB who some are projecting as a first round NFL Draft pick, so while we can give Iowa State plenty of preseason love, we are cautious as we did that last year and got (relatively) burned.
5. Baylor Bears
Baylor is arguably the most interesting team to watch in the Big 12 to start the season. Its the only team in the conference with a coaching change during an offseason in which there was no spring practice and a chaotic fall camp thanks to COVID. But now, Dave Aranda gets to show us what he’s made of and whether or not Matt Rhule winning all those close games last season was lucky or if Aranda has a base to keep growing this program off of.
6. TCU Horned Frogs
The loss of QB Max Duggan was a big blow for the team in the last two weeks, but the addition of LB Marcel Brooks who transferred from LSU and is eligible immediately is great news. All in all, this team has the defense to compete with anyone in the Big 12 this fall. The question remains: Does Gary Patterson have the horses he needs on offense to make some noise and break out of the mediocrity that has plagued this team the last couple of seasons.
7. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Matt Wells enters Year 2 following a Year 1 that was plagued by injuries and close losses. Stay healthy and flip a couple of those losses to wins and the Texas Tech faithful will feel much better about the direction of this program. There are a ton of transfers from Power 5 programs on the team this year that should give a nice boost of veteran leadership, but Alan Bowman needs to stay healthy and the defense does need to improve to see a big jump in the win column.
8. Kansas State Wildcats
Speaking of surprising folks, that’s exactly what Chris Klieman did last year during his first season with the Wildcats. Who saw the 8-5 season coming, including a win over OU? Not this guy. But there are key pieces gone, most notably the entire offensive line. Can Skylar Thompson carry this unit to an encore performance. I don’t think it will be easy and I am not as optimistic for 2020. I believe Klieman is doing a great job rebuilding on the recruiting trail and more, but that doesn’t change the fact that 2020 could be a slight step back for this team.
9. West Virginia Mountaineers
Another Year 2 coach in Neal Brown is hoping he has an offense that can match his defense. Jarret Doege was wisely named the starting QB last week after helping the team finish 2-1 to close the season. The WVU defense could be one of the best in the Big 12 and can carry this team to a few wins, but the problem was the offense couldn’t hold up its end of the bargain as the defense got left on the field for too long and too often. If that narrative can change, WVU will surprise some folks this fall.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Was there ever a doubt? Les Miles is building this program back up the right way by recruiting at the high school level and developing kids. That is what KU needs to build depth as a a program. That being said, it’s not going to be pretty and it won’t be easy.
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