Preseason Power Rankings: Big 12 Conference
Please note that power rankings are meant to rank teams based on current team strength on a neutral field. It is not necessarily a projection of where I think teams will finish or who has a better resume. It is forward thinking but does not factor in strength of schedule, schedule breakdown, etc.
ICYMI Other Conference Preseason Power Rankings:
2021 Big 12 Preseason Power Rankings
- Oklahoma: Spencer Rattler came on really strong after getting benched in the Texas game last season and we know Lincoln Riley can do wonders with an experienced QB. The offense is loaded with playmakers and the defense has gotten worlds better under Alex Grinch. They look like they will have a Top 10 defense to go along with that offense this year, making them a legitimate National Title contender.
- Iowa State: The Cyclones bring just about everyone back from a team that came up just short in the Big 12 title game last season but still finished in the AP Top 10. Matt Campbell is thought of as one of the best coaches in college football and RB Breece Hall is the reigning Big 12 offensive player of the year. They also have the Big 12 defensive player of the year in Mike Rose. This is a stacked roster that is capable of winning every game on their schedule.
- TCU: TCU vs. Texas was a tough call but I’m giving a slight edge to the Horned Frogs. TCU’s offense really got it going as the season went on last year averaging 259.5 rushing yards on 6.1 yards per carry in the last six games of the season. Freshman RB Zach Evans was the highest ranked RB prospect but his recruitment was a circus that ended up with him falling into TCU’s lap. He came on strong last season and will have an experienced offensive line in front of him. Max Duggan is an experienced QB who improved statistically in almost every area last season. The defense is strong across the board, especially at D-Line and secondary.
- Texas: I think Steve Sarkisian will end up being a good hire in Austin, but transition years are always a little tricky. RB Bijan Robinson is a monster that Sark will know how to use and the QB race sounds like a competitive one between Casey Thompson (who had a huge Alamo Bowl when Sam Elhinger got hurt) and Hudson Card. It doesn’t look like they have the stud WR corps that Sark got used to at Alabama and the defense might take a little time with a new defensive coordinator. But there is still plenty of talent on this roster. We’ll see.
- Oklahoma State: Somewhat surprisingly it was the defense that carried Oklahoma State last season, not Mike Gundy’s offense. A lot of those defenders return this season including LB Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper who are both coming off of big seasons. QB Spencer Sanders has gotten a lot of snaps but was nagged by injuries last season. He will need to take the next step for the Cowboys to vault into the top 4 of the conference.
- West Virginia: Quick – tell me how had the best defense in the Big 12 last season? Believe it or not, it was West Virginia and it wasn’t particularly close. A lot of that production returns this season on a defense that figures to be strong again. The offense will need to improve this season but QB Jarret Doege is back along with RB Leddie Brown and just about all the WR. This is another competitive team in what figures to be a very competitive conference.
- Texas Tech: It’s the 3rd year of the Matt Wells era which is often when coaches make their jump. He brought it Sonny Cumble to run the offense and landed his big fish in the transfer market, Oregon QB Tyler Shough. Shough is coming off a season in which he completed 63.5% of his passes for 13 TD vs 6 INT and could thrive in Cumble’s pass heavy system. They return 8 starters on defense and won’t be an easy out for anyone this year.
- Kansas State: Kansas State got crushed by the injury to QB Skylar Thompson last season. They we’re averaging 33.3 points per game with him in the lineup vs only 18.5 without him. Thompson will be back this season along with super explosive RB Deuce Vaughn who is coming off a freshman of the year season. They should be able to score this year but the defense wasn’t good last season and lost a good amount from that team. They may have to win shootouts if they’re going to win games.
- Baylor: It was a tough first season for Dave Aranda (but I feel like first year coaches were at a huge disadvantage with all the covid craziness effecting practice schedules). He brought in a new OC in Jeff Grimes (who is coming off a great season at BYU) to try to get the offense going but veteran QB Charlie Brewer has transferred to Utah. They have a solid defense and a defensive-minded head coach. If things break right for them, they will be back in a bowl game. But this is a pretty tough conference 1-9 and somebody had to be #9. I think it might take Aranda another year to get it going.
- Kansas: Kansas was brutal last season (0-9, 0-8) and then parted ways with HC Les Miles because of the allegations that came out against him from his tenure at LSU. On top of that, 20+ players transferred or entered the draft leaving new HC Lance Leipold with a really bare cupboard. He brought a ton of transfers with him from his old job at Buffalo, but that won’t be enough. Set the Big 12 win total at 0.5 and bet the under.