Oh, hey. Didn’t see you there. I’m just over here basking in the glory of an actual football game week. All of the hope and potential of an unwritten season are spread out before us, but who really has a chance to make some noise this season? Let’s take a first look at the Big 12 power rankings to see how things might shake out this year.
10. Kansas Jayhawks
Kansas has another new head coach, with Lance Leipold taking the reigns in Lawrence after five successful seasons at Buffalo. However, a fresh new face under the headset doesn’t cure all of Kansas’ deficiencies quite yet. The Jayhawks are going to have a rough time this fall, but at least they’ll look good when they play Texas Tech on Homecoming.
Kansas wearing new throwback unis for Homecoming game against Texas Tech pic.twitter.com/bkT7k5YN4s— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) August 31, 2021
9. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Tech’s quarterback carousel spins along, with Oregon transfer Tyler Shough named the starter heading into this season. Last year’s starter Alan Bowman has transferred to Michigan, where he seems to be third at-best on the depth chart, and Henry Colombi - who also started six games for Tech last season - will be the primary backup. Of course, the relevant storyline for TCU fans is former offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie returning to his alma mater looking to boost Tech’s offense.
8. Baylor Bears
Dave Aranda gave the starting quarterback job to Gerry Bohanon a week and a half ago, and looks to put his defensive mind toward improving on Baylor’s defense that ranked 68th in EPA/play in 2020. The good news for the Bears is that they get both Iowa State and Oklahoma at home this year, but that might be where the good news ends.
Kansas State is what Kansas State is. They’ll win a few games they probably shouldn’t, and lose a few they shouldn’t too. Skylar Thompson is entering his 100th season at quarterback for the Wildcats and Deuce Vaughn is a human highlight reel, but beyond that there’s not much to talk about.
It’s year three for Neal Brown, and Mountaineer fans are ready to see the step forward they’ve been waiting for after watching WVU go 11-11 over the past two years. With another year of Jarret Doege, a good amount of returning starters on both sides of the ball, and a few transfers to fill out the roster, things could break West Virginia’s way. That being said, I don’t think there’s enough there to get them into the top half of the league.
Ranking Oklahoma State really depends on how you feel about Spencer Sanders and the weapons around him. I like Sanders fine, he’s a good quarterback, but I’m curious to see how the Pokes recover from losing Tylan Wallace, Dillon Stoner, and Chuba Hubbard. Until we get some info, OSU sits right in the middle of the pack.
Hudson Card earned the starting QB gig as Texas enters Steve Sarkisian era, but the Horns offense looks to lean on preseason All-American RB Bijan Robinson early and often. Robinson, plus a senior-laden secondary, should bring some stability while Card gets his sea legs under him.
3. TCU Horned Frogs
Max Duggan. Zach Evans. Quentin Johnston. Ochaun Mathis. Dee Winters. Tre Hodges-Tomlinson.
2. Iowa State Cyclones
As of this moment, Iowa State is the clear leader to dethrone Oklahoma as perennial Big 12 Champion (TCU could absolutely get there too, imo). With Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, and Charlie Kolar all returning on offense, and a stacked defense led by Mike Rose, the Cyclones look ready to take on the Sooners and come home with some hardware.
The reigning champs only have two scholarship running backs on the roster, and they’ve dismissed a handful of guys this offseason, but there’s no reason to think Lincoln Riley and Co. won’t be back on top when it’s all said and done this winter. Iowa State poses the biggest threat, while TCU and Texas are lurking and hoping to make some noise, but the rest of the Big 12 has to show it on the field before the Sooners will concede their crown.