It's time for the inaugural Frogs O' War Big 12 Power Rankings- where we keep track of the Big 12 standings and give our best guess of how the teams of our happy little conference stack up with each other. This will be updated every week, generally on Friday (It's getting bumped up this week because I'm not done with the Video Rewind yet, don't tell Patrick when he gets back!). Please give me your input on where you'd like to see teams ranked and why, and I'll make sure to take it into consideration for next week's power ranking. With that said, here are the preseason best guesses, otherwise known as how good I think each of the teams is going to be coming into this season.
#1.) TCU Horned Frogs
Yes, I'm a homer, but in a preseason power poll why not put your favorite team in the first position? That said, TCU will have the best defense in the conference as well as one of the most talented offenses- it will be up to the coaches to make sure that that talent is put in the best position to succeed. More importantly, it will be up to the players and the fates to stay healthy in both a physical and mental way. If we beat LSU I'm going to have a hard time moving us down the list even if we end up dropping games to teams below us.
#2.) Texas Longhorns
Yes, UT will doubtlessly disappoint me based on coaching, coddling and what may not actually be a very good defensive scheme by Manny Diaz (you can't rush 9 guys and be sound against the pass, Manny). That said, they return a ton of talent on both sides of the ball and that talent is all of the highly recruited insanely physically gifted sort. Do I think Texas will win the conference? No, but I think that they'll at least beat...
#3.) Oklahoma State Cowboys
The Cowboys are getting a lot of preseason love, which is understandable given Gundy's track record, but they return just two starters on the o-line and their star running back will be playing for a different team of Cowboys this year. This spells trouble to me for the Cowboy running game, and may make putting games away difficult for the Cowboys. Still, I love the scheme and the firepower on offense and I like their new coordinator on defense, they'll be all right.
#4.) Baylor Bears
I like Baylor's quarterback situation more than I like the one in Norman right now, which is the entire reason that I'm ranking the Waco crew ahead of OU. If you're looking for Baylor's offense to take a step back this season you're likely to be disappointed, as the quarterbacks are pretty much plug-and-play while Lache Seastrunk will be giving the Bears a more solid threat in the backfield than they had early in the season last year. On defense however, I'm expecting an upgrade to mediocrity that will keep the bears firmly in the top half of the conference, as much as I'd prefer otherwise.
#5.) Oklahoma Sooners
I'm still kind of shocked that Blake Bell isn't the starting quarterback here, as his strong physical running threat would have caused defenses to play softer coverage, but Trevor Knight is a faster dual threat so Stoops may be trying to capture a bit of that Johnny Manziel (I'm not calling him "Johnny Football", it's a really dumb nickname) vibe after being shredded in the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma is Oklahoma, so there will always he a boatload of talent, but this year the Sooners return just four starters on defense- just one on the D-line and in the secondary and I just don't see them achieving anything higher than the Alamo Bowl this year.
#6.) Texas Tech Red Raiders
I'm throwing a dart while blindfolded on this one, because I'm really not sure what to make of Tech this year. I think they'll be improved on defense, despite the seniors on the team learning their fourth defensive system, but on offense it's going to be a big question mark. Kliff Kingsbury will put up points on the weak defenses of the conference, I have no doubt, but is his system going to be running at full capacity quickly with a roster of Tuberville players? I don't have a clue, but the defense is a nice thing to lean on, which you don't really get from...
#7.) Kansas State Wildcats
I'll start by throwing out a mildly controversial statement: Kansas State will be just as almost as good on offense this year as they were last year with Heisman finalist Colin Klein at the helm. Their new quarterback is an absolute stud, and the entirety of last year's offensive line returns- I'm not a big believer in untested quarterbacks as a rule, but I set that aside for returning tons of O-line experience. If I think K-State will be so good on offense, why have them so low though? The defense was absolutely decimated by graduation last year, so even though key safety Ty Zimmerman returns I think Kansas State will have difficulties stopping anyone from doing whatever they want on offense. As we saw with West Virginia (and early Baylor) last year, that's a recipe for disaster and a mediocre season in the Big 12. Speaking of mediocre...
#8.) Iowa State Cyclones
A cheap shot at a team that gave us our most frustrating loss last year? Darn right. Paul Rhoads is an excellent coach and will somehow get this group to 6-6, but like OU the Cyclones return only 4 defensive starters from last year. Unlike OU, the Cyclones are replacing those starters with 2-3 star types instead of furious mini-hulks, so expectations have to be lowered for the defense. Iowa State has settled on their quarterback of the future after waffling throughout last season, but the guy they've decided on has only been average so far and the Cyclones are going to need more than that if they're going to play a thirteenth game. Still, they'll find a way to go bowling, which I'm having a hard time seeing in the cards for...
#9.) West Virginia Mountaineers
I know I shouldn't doubt Dana Holgorsen's offensive acumen, but this looks like a recipe for disaster. September Heisman winner Geno Smith, All-world weapon Tayvon Austin? Gone, along with every other starting wideout and three of the O-line. On the other side of the ball, West Virginia was dreadful on defense last year and still they lost some talent. What does the future hold for this team if the defense doesn't step up their game to assist an offense that lost almost all of last year's firepower? I'm thinking 4-8, which would be an excellent season for...
#10.) Kansas Jayhawks
Believe it or not, I almost had the Hawks at #9, but keeping them in last seems right. Charlie Weis will be trying to instill his schematic advantage into new quarterback Jake Heaps who can't help but be better than the garbage performance put together by both of KU's quarterbacks last year. Kansas also should have some success running the ball, but the problem for Kansas is one of talent. I like their scheme on defense (much more so than on offense, really) but it's not going to be enough to keep the Jayhawks out of the basement. I do see them getting at least one conference win though and ending at 3 wins total, so feel free to feed me crow (or hawk if you prefer) if they're as useless as last year.