Now that we’ve hit game week it’s time to take a look at our initial Big 12 Football Power Rankings. The formula used is the same as our conference position rankings, where points are awarded based on the position of the vote. For example, a first-place vote is worth 10 points and a tenth-place vote is only one point.
As the back-to-back defending champions of the conference, the Oklahoma Sooners take our top spot but it’s very close as the top challenge Oklahoma State settles in just two points behind.
As with the case for many preseason rankings, we struggled to agree on our initial rankings. In fact, the only thing that all four of us did agree on is Kansas at #10. Below you’ll find some of the logic behind our voting.
|Consensus Big 12 Football Power Rankings|
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The Sooners are coming off of back-to-back Big 12 Championships, and they look primed to do it again. The defensive back position was questionable, but Parnell Motely looks ready to fill that position. Baker Mayfield will lead the offense behind one of the best lines in the nation. Oklahoma landed Jeff Badet from Kentucky, who was the leading receiver per catch in the SEC last season. These two could be a deadly combination this year.
The Pokes have one of the best arms in the nation in Mason Rudolph. When Rudolph can keep his head together he is hard to stop, especially with all the weapons around him. Adrian Baker transferred in from Clemson and is expected to start at cornerback. This is a huge boost for the Oklahoma State defense.
The Mountaineers come in at the number 3 spot in hopes that quarterback Will Grier is eligible to play. Grier looked excellent during the spring game, and was pretty solid when he played at Florida. If he cannot play, West Virginia will be in some trouble. The team will also need to find someone to fill the middle on the offensive line to allow Grier time to throw.
Texas Tech lost just about all of their fire power on offense last season. Patrick Mahomes headed to the NFL, and 2016 leading receiver Jonathan Giles transferred during the summer. The Red Raiders will struggle to find replacements for these high power offensive guys.
The Jayhawks will have the best defense that they have had in years, but it won’t likely matter without an offense. The talent level at Kansas is rising, and they soon may not be the bottom feeders of the Big 12. However, for now, they remain at the end of the rankings.
As the back-to-back defending Big 12 champions the Sooners are the Kings of the Conference until someone knocks them off. Obviously 2017 could be the year that happens but it certainly won’t be easy. Oklahoma has the best offensive line in the conference, a Heisman Trophy candidate at quarterback, and a defense that improved dramatically during the 2016 season. Long live the kings!
Oklahoma State is right on the heels of their in-state rival. Mason Rudolph is the best NFL quarterback prospect in the Big 12 and his receivers aren’t a joke. The Cowboys can stretch vertically and spread you out at the same time. Scoring points won’t be a struggle for them in 2017, preventing their opponents from scoring may be a different story though.
I’ve got both Kansas State and TCU as my conference sleepers this season but initially I’m giving the nod to the Wildcats over the Frogs based on defense. KSU is going to be nasty on the defensive side of the ball, where they’ll be both extremely physical and fast.
A couple of familiar faces appear at the bottom of the list with Iowa State and Kansas. The Cyclones may have things in order on the offensive side of the ball but I think defense is going to be a real struggle.
Kansas is at the bottom for the same reasons that Oklahoma is at the top. The Jayhawks have been cellar dwellers for so long that everyone just naturally places them there. They’ll have to prove they belong somewhere else before they get moved.
Oklahoma State returns a 1000-yard rusher and a 1000-yard receiver providing the program with plenty of firepower on the offensive side of the ball. Add to it an experienced offensive line and Mason Rudolph under center and this could be one of the best offenses in the country. On the other side of the ball, the Cowboys major concern will be at corner back. If the defensive line can’t get pressure on the quarterback, how will the CBS hold up? Even with the questions coming into the year, OSU looks solid on paper.
With a top notch offensive line and a Heisman caliber quarterback, the Oklahoma Sooners look to address a few concerns at the skill positions. Many hope Jeff Badet can be the big target down the field while Abdul Adams alleviates any concerns in the backfield. However, the defense is missing a few key pieces from a year ago as well. While a few names have set themselves apart, it could all change come game day. Still, the questions remain a bit high for me to place them at No. 1 on the list heading into week one.
At the bottom of the heap, Texas Tech looks to replace Patrick Mahomes at the quarterback position. Without the leading receiver returning, the job becomes much more difficult. It will be a tall task and a hurdle that must be overcome to move up in the power rankings.
Of course, it’s easy to place Kansas at the bottom of the list. Once a basketball school…always a basketball school. Granted, the Jayhawks have depth unlike any previous year but it’s going to take time to develop into a contender in the Big 12.
Oklahoma enters the season at the top of the Big 12 for a number of reasons. For one, they’re reigning Big 12 Champs, which is typically the case, and for two, they’re Oklahoma. The Sooners have owned the Big 12 in football since its inception, and with the return of Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield running the show, fans in Norman have a lot to be excited about for this season.
Oklahoma State comes in at a close number two, and the hype is real in Stillwater. For the first time since 2011, the Cowboys are being talked about in national conversations, and one writer from Sports Illustrated even has them in the National Championship game. While there is a lot of football to be played, which includes not just one but a very likely second meeting with the Oklahoma Sooners, this could end up being a very magical season for Oklahoma State.
Kansas State is somewhat of a distant third compared to the teams from Oklahoma, but the Wildcats could easily be considered a dark horse to win the Big 12. Bill Snyder is undoubtedly a wizard, and while there’s not a lot of outstanding talent in Manhattan, K-State seems to be able to put together a solid team year in and year out.
Texas Tech had a rough season last year, and it could be even worse this year. Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s seat is getting hotter every day, and if the Red Raiders don’t answer some of their preseason questions sooner than later, it could be a long season.
Kansas ranks dead last for a number of reasons, but the main is this: they’re Kansas. Outside of beating Texas last year, the Jayhawks have had very little to cheer about over the last decade. The days of winning seasons and the 2007 Orange Bowl victory are basically forgotten at this point, and Kansas hopes they can somehow come out of the season with a conference win or two.
|Heartland’s Week 1 Big 12 Football Power Rankings|
|Oklahoma State||Oklahoma State||Oklahoma||Oklahoma State|
|West Virginia||Kansas State||Kansas State||Kansas State|
|Kansas State||TCU||West Virginia||TCU|
|Iowa State||Texas Tech||TCU||Iowa State|
|Texas Tech||Iowa State||Texas Tech||Texas Tech|