Nothing can go wrong when you draw sweeping conclusions from tiny data sets in sports or financial markets. My rankings are sound science like astrology and alchemy.
Also, the Big 12 is a giant flaming garbage barge.
If only someone could have predicted that the P5 league with the worst natural recruiting base, minor program success built on excellent individual coaches, early adoption of the spread, and terrible television exposure would see a performance decline over time.
1. Texas. A healthy Texas has as good a chance of winning the Big 12 as anyone. The Longhorns have a real QB, an offensive system that keeps discovering new talent and a defense that’s 1-2 pass rushers away from being well suited to keeping Big 12 offenses in the 20s. Or 30s.
Cal is a big proving ground. Road test. First crazy offense to game plan against. Let’s see what’s up.
2. Oklahoma. The Sooners suck, we’re going to roll them etc. Houston game etc. Fine. They also have great skill position talent, some defensive talent (if not properly utilized) and a coaching staff that should get better OL and WR play over time. On the positive side, Mike Stoops does their defensive game planning and he still think it’s 2002. The Red River Shootout is nothing if not unpredictable.
3. West Virginia. A veteran team that can run the hell out of the ball and hurt you deep. They physically smashed Missouri in their opener and then struggled a bit with Youngstown State. Until you note that they out gained Youngstown by 219 yards and moved up and down the field at will.
The Mountaineers’ dark horse candidacy rests on QB Skyler Howard, who has shown a penchant for coming up big against bad defenses and coming up small against good units.
3. Baylor. The impact of their disastrous 2016 and 2017 recruiting classes won’t be felt until next year and there is still plenty of shrewdly evaluated talent wearing Gold & Green, but their DL is thinner than Art Briles’ excuses and hair line. I have a hunch that they’re mentally weak mercenary front runners who have a good chance of starting the season 6-0…and finishing it 8-4. Texas needs to start that process for them on October 29.
5. TCU. The Horned Frogs pretty much replaced last year’s offense, they’re still struggling to get coached up on defense on the back end, and need to find a way to take the pressure off of Kenny Hill to win the game by himself. Betting against the long term improvement of a Gary Patterson coached team is a poor proposition.
6. Kansas State. I saw them play in person at Stanford. The defense is lively and if they can continue Ertz’s developmental path at QB, they’re going to be a pain in the ass. As usual.
7. Oklahoma State. Sweet Lady Karma, thy talons are righteous. Or something. F these guys.
They’re a veteran team, but they’re having trouble running the ball and Mason Rudolph looks like a NFL prototype until he gets pressure and starts making decisions under duress. I think the jury is still out on the Cowboys. They host a game Pittsburgh squad and that contest will tell me a great deal about their Big 12 prospects.
8. Texas Tech. I watched them play Arizona State in Saturday night’s powder puff contest. No. No. Just, no. 68 points. Texas Tech hasn’t fielded a viable defense of upright mammals since 2009. Whither Ruffin McNeill? Can Tech conceivably upset Texas, OU or WVU in Lubbock? Sure. Could they also yield 700 yards in a game this year? It’s within reach.
9. Iowa State. New head coach Matt Campbell has a tough row to hoe. They’re 0-2, Joel Lanning earned a benching against Iowa, but the real issue for the Cyclones is that they have upper half of the league talent at RB and WR, but bottom of the league infrastructure in the trenches.
10. Kansas. They crushed Rhode Island. Things are turning around in Lawrence! And then lost to Ohio at home. Guess not.