Preseason polls are beginning to come out from college football experts and Phil Steele, perhaps the most well-known season preview source, has released his Preseason Top 40.
Four Big 12 teams make the Top 25 on his list, with the highest being ranked No. 8 going into the year. Steele sees the conference as somewhat of a logjam, as he four Big 12 teams ranked between No. 18 and No. 8.
The first team mentioned in Steele’s list is actually Kansas State, who comes in at No. 38. This actually feels a bit low for me, as the Wildcats quietly return several of their top players from a year ago and may have upgraded at the quarterback position with Adrian Martinez under center.
The next team on the list is Texas, who cracks the Top 25 and comes in at No. 18 on Steele’s list. The Longhorns will look to turn things around after going 5-7 last season and many feel that they might have their best quarterback in a decade in Quinn Ewers. The defense will be the question in 2022, but adding Gary Patterson to the staff should help shore up some issues.
Oklahoma State is next on the board, coming in at No. 15 after a 12-2 year in 2021. Spencer Sanders will be the key to success for the Cowboys in 2022 as the defense is due to take a step back from their historic performance a season ago. The running back room is uncertain, but we can trust by now that Mike Gundy will have a stable of capable ball carriers by time the season rolls around.
Baylor is one spot ahead of Oklahoma State at No. 14 as the reigning Big 12 champions will look to be the first team not named Oklahoma to win outright back-to-back conference championships. Dave Aranda named Blake Shapen his starting quarterback this spring and will need the sophomore to perform with the losses the Bears have in the defensive secondary and skill positions.
Oklahoma comes in at No. 8 on Steele’s list, meaning that the preseason guru feels that the Sooners won’t be taking any steps backward under first-year head coach Brent Venables. There is a quiet confidence around Sooner Nation that things will even improve in Venables first year and a lot of that confidence comes from the staff’s belief in quarterback Dillon Gabriel. The UCF transfer is one of the most experienced passers in college football and could have a special year in Norman.