Welcome to the first edition of the Big 12 power rankings.
The Big 12 is in a fascinating position right now because of the colossal shift in power across the nation’s conferences. The SEC’s reign has finally come to an end after a decade of domination. The Big 10 and ACC are battling it out for the top spot, and I like the Big 10 just a bit better because of the coaches in the conference.
That leaves the SEC, PAC-12 and Big 12 all fighting for third place, and the Big 12 is perceived nationally to be the weakest of the three.
That can change.
There are four teams in the conference that have at least a chance at making the College Football playoff, and eight teams I believe should play in a bowl game. Those teams are identified as follows, in the season’s first Big 12 power rankings:
1. Oklahoma State
Xerox U may be loathed among Red Raider fans, but their talent is undeniable. Mason Rudolph can lead the Cowboys to the Promised Land.
The Sooners lose key playmakers on offense, but remain the deepest team in the conference with the most talent on both sides of the ball.
Tom Herman is a great coach, and if he can get Shane Buechele to just be average, the defense will lead the Horns to a 9-win season.
Speaking of great coaches, Gary Patterson has followed every losing season with a conference championship.
5. Kansas State
Two things are certain: the sun rose today, and Jesse Ertz will rush for a thousand yards in 2017.
6. West Virginia
Will Grier is going to win Big 12 newcomer of the year as he leads the Mountaineers to a bowl game, despite an abysmal defense to support him.
7. Texas Tech
It’s now or never for Kliff, and the defense is primed for its best season since Kingsbury took over the head coaching job.
Will we finally start seeing the effects of the thin recruiting classes over the last two years?
9. Iowa State
Cyclones fans will be guzzling Natty Lite until basketball season.
The Jayhawks are a year away from becoming a mid-tier Big 12 program.