CollegeFootballNews.com Preview 2017: Big 12 Rankings
The 2017 CFN Preview ranking of all the Big 12 teams.
Where do the Big 12 teams rank going into the season? This is NOT a ranking of how the teams are projected or predicted to finish. This is a ranking of how good they all appear to be going into the fall.
Preview 2017: Big 12 Rankings
There’s experience, and there’s hope for the passing game thanks to a good looking receiving corps and a potentially strong defensive front – at least DE Dorance Armstrong is a star. But the overall talent still isn’t there and the firepower isn’t in place to keep up the pace with the rest of the loaded conference.
9. Iowa State
The Cyclones are going to be better in Matt Campbell’s second season, mostly due to a running game that will take over at times, along with superstar WR Allen Lazard. The secondary should also be able to hold up against most of the Big 12 passing games. So what’s the problem? The talent on the lines won’t be quite good enough.
8. Texas Tech
C’mon, Texas Tech. Just a wee bit of defense will do. The safeties will be a plus, and there are a few defenders who can ball – Jordyn Brooks should be an All-Big 12 linebacker. There’s just not enough up front to stop the run. The Red Raider passing game will still be the Red Raider passing game, but there’s a step down from QB Patrick Mahomes to Nic Shimonek – if he’s the starter – and even with the now-Kansas City Chief draft pick, there wasn’t a bowl appearance.
It’s going to be different. New head coach Matt Rhule will mostly work around the ground game thanks to the league’s best group of running backs, but he doesn’t have the defensive talent in place to do everything he’ll want to. It’s a transitional season in so many ways, but the expectations to get bowling will still be there.
6. West Virginia
2016 was the year for the Mountaineers to step up and be a factor in the Big 12 title chase, and they didn’t quite get there. New quarterback Will Grier will help, the running game will be stellar, and the linebacking corps has talent – but there’s a ceiling, and a hard floor. They should be just good enough to be on the outside of the league’s top two, but they’re not going to be any worse than sixth.
5. Kansas State
The special teams will be the best in the Big 12, the secondary should be outstanding, and Jesse Ertz is a different sort of quarterback – at least in terms of the other conference passers. The big losses in the linebacking corps will be a problem, and there’s just enough missing pop from the passing game to be outside of the Big 12 title chase.
2016 won’t happen again. Gary Patterson won’t let his defense be that mediocre again, and it won’t be. The linebacking corps will be the Big 12’s strongest – or close to it – while the offense will be special again if QB Kenny Hill comes up with a more consistent year. Expect that to happen with all the excellent receiving talent returning.
3. Oklahoma State
Mason Rudolph-to-James Washington is an NFL-caliber pitch-and-catch combination that should be unstoppable. The defensive front has talent, but it’s going to take gigantic offensive performances to win the inevitable shootouts. No matter how everything shakes out, the Cowboys will be a whole lot of fun.
Win now, Tom Herman. Charlie Strong left behind the league’s best offensive line – or No. 1A behind Oklahoma’s – enough experience be far better defensively, and the skill talent to expect the offense to be sharper and more consistent. Of course, the veteran defense needs to be able to start tackling, and the running game has to prove it can go on without D’Onta Foreman, but the pieces are there to get to the Big 12 title game.
The show goes on. Bob Stoops walked away from a team strong enough to not just win another Big 12 title, but have a real, live shot at winning the national championship. The offense might lose the top running backs and star WR Dede Westbrook, but the O line is special, the quarterback depth chart ridiculous deep, the secondary will carry the defense at times. Now it’s up to Lincoln Riley to be good enough to handle the heater he inherited.