Big 12 Football Power Rankings – Week 0

By Brendan Dzwierzynski | @BrendanDzw on Twitter

Power rankings are one of the most subjective and vague forms of rankings you can have. Are they just based on record? Strength of schedule? Inherent biases of the writer?

Whatever the reasoning may be, we’ll try to make sense of the wild world of Big 12 football every week this college football season. There’s a class far above the rest of the pack, at least on paper, but chaos has found a home in flyover country in recent years.

1.     Oklahoma (LW: –) The Sooners are not just a Big 12 powerhouse, they’re one of the finest programs in the nation. With one of the country’s best coaches and most talented rosters, Oklahoma has its eyes set on the College Football Playoff yet again. If Jalen Hurts, the graduate transfer quarterback from Alabama, can fit into Lincoln Riley’s system seamlessly, OU should be a favorite to be in the playoff for a third consecutive year. They should probably develop a competent defense at some point, too.


2.     Texas (LW: –) Are they back? Well, it hard to say. The Longhorns are coming off of an impressive Sugar Bowl win over Georgia (regardless of what Dawg fans say about their team’s desire in New Orleans), and they return one of the better quarterbacks in the nation in Sam Ehlinger. Consistent appearances in New Years 6 bowls is a big step, but Texas fans won’t be satiated without playoff appearances. This is a deep Texas roster with a lot of talent, but they belong behind OU until they prove they can win “the big one” (The Big 12 title game was “the big one” last year, and that didn’t go so well for UT).


3.     Iowa State (LW: –) Matt Campbell’s Iowa State Cyclones are trying to zig while the rest of the Big 12 is zagging. ISU’s defense should be the best in the conference, with a dominant defensive line and a senior presence throughout that side of the ball. It also helps to have a talented passer on offense, and Pro Football Focus has Brock Purdy as its eighth-best quarterback in the country. The big question for Purdy and the Cyclones this year will be if their offense has enough juice to fight with the Big 12’s blue bloods without weapons like David Montgomery and Hakeem Butler.


4.     TCU (LW: –) TCU is one of several Big 12 teams with an offseason quarterback battle, one which includes former Kansas State Wildcat Alex Delton. That’s an important thing the Horned Frogs need to figure out, but if there is any team you should have faith in after a down year with plenty of question marks, it’s Gary Patterson’s TCU. The wild thing is that TCU wasn’t even that bad last season, but things never quite clicked all the way (even their bowl game, which they won, was a disaster for mankind). Patterson is a legend for a reason, though, and this is a talented Frogs team that has a great chance to make some noise this season.


5.     Baylor (LW: –) Matt Rhule should be commended for what he’s done to turn the on-field product at Baylor around quickly from the mess it was just a couple years ago. Now he’s got a roster with two preseason all-conference selections in the front seven and an enigmatic quarterback in Charlie Brewer, with a shot at playing spoiler for a lot of hopeful teams in the Big 12. Whether or not Brewer takes a step forward in his development could be the deciding factor in how well Baylor performs this year. The Bears may have the most potential variance of any team in the league.


6.     Oklahoma State (LW: –) Oklahoma State has a handful of bona fide studs on its roster this season. Chubba Hubbard is a sleeper pick to be the best running back in the conference. Tylan Wallace probably is the best wide receiver in the conference. You could say the same about cornerback A.J. Green at his position. But this is a team that finished tied for seventh in the Big 12 last year and there’s more quarterback controversy this year. The Cowboys’ bowl streak probably isn’t in danger (they’ve gone bowling 13 years in a row) but add them next to Baylor as the most high-variance teams in the Big 12.


7.     Texas Tech (LW: –) You’ll notice a trend with the final four teams on the list after Week 0: They all have new coaches. Matt Wells comes to Lubbock from Utah State, where his Aggies finished second in the country last year in scoring at 47.5 points per game. He inherits a talented quarterback in Alan Bowman, who could light the conference on fire if he remains healthy (which he couldn’t last season). This won’t look completely like the Red Raiders teams old (you guys know what a tight end is, right?) but they should still put up plenty of points.


8.     Kansas State (LW: –) Chris Klieman has a few things working for him as he enters his first season coaching Power 5 football. For one, his pedigree is undeniable, winning four FCS national championships in five years at the helm of North Dakota State. Secondly, national media loves his potential at K-State, ranging from Joel Klatt of FOX to Paul Myerberg of USA Today. There are plenty of question marks on the Wildcats’ roster, most notably at the offensive skill positions. But with a veteran quarterback and talented groups on both lines, K-State should contend for a bowl game appearance.


9.     West Virginia (LW: –) Speaking of Paul Myerberg, he told 580 Sports Talk recently that he thinks West Virginia is a mess. A lot of talent is gone from last year’s team (notably their record-setting duo of quarterback Will Grier and wide receiver David Sills), and OU transfer Austin Kendall has a big task in front of him in keeping the Mountaineers offense churning as they transition from the Dana Holgorsen era to the Neal Brown era. WVU isn’t helped by a gruesome schedule, either; the Mountaineers have 11 P5 opponents, their lone non-P5 opponent is FCS powerhouse James Madison and they will play all of their potential toss-up games (KU, K-State, TCU, Baylor) on the road.


10.  Kansas (LW: –) In terms of improvement compared to past performance, Kansas has the biggest percentage increase on paper in the league by far. Whatever you think of Les Miles, he’s light years above the previous KU coach. That said, the Jayhawks deserve to be last in the rankings for numerous reasons, chiefly the fact that until they can prove that they can win and compete regularly, it’s hard to believe they will (having a bleak roster doesn’t help, either). You won’t find someone more excited for the Kansas turnaround project, but this is KU’s rightful spot for now.