Big 12 Power Rankings: Week 1
AUG 25, 2014 12:37p ET
It's game week, people. This is not a drill. A week from now, we'll be looking back on the first real games in almost eight months.
I can't wait. I'll be at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday for Oklahoma State's shot at defending national champion Florida State and I'll make my way to Waco on Sunday for Baylor's game against SMU, the first-ever in McLane Stadium.
Before that, it's time to get caught up on what's happened to the Big 12 power rankings since preseason camps opened at the beginning of the month.
1. Oklahoma. This week: vs. Louisiana Tech. Blake Bell is reportedly taking some practice reps at quarterback, but this is Trevor Knight's team. The irony of that statement is Oklahoma's defense will be its biggest asset in 2014. Baker Mayfield won't be on the field this year (which is completely absurd), but sanity reigned in the NCAA's decision to not grant receiver Dorial Green-Beckham immediate eligibility by way of the run-off waiver.
2. Baylor. This week: vs. SMU. The Bears' nonconference slate is pretty snoozeriffic, so BU won't be playing any relevant games until its game at Texas on Oct. 4. Until then, Baylor can rack up some crazy offensive numbers and maybe sneak into the top five of the polls as teams above them get picked off. I'll be here waiting for a good answer to why BU keeps agreeing to play small conference teams on the road on Friday nights. It's Buffalo this year.
3. Kansas State. This week: vs. Stephen F. Austin. Big 12 preseason Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields thought he would be suiting up for SFA after being permanently "separated" from TCU. That lasted about a day, and when it ended, so did any shot for real intrigue in this game. I'm curious what K-State's running back rotation looks like, but the most newsworthy thing to arise out of Manhattan in camp was Bill Snyder's emotional but measured take on the state of college athletics.
4. Texas Tech. This week: vs. Central Arkansas. If the Red Raiders protect Davis Webb and stop the run, they're going to be in the hunt for the Big 12 title. Bank on it. Le'Raven Clark shuffled positions in camp, but he's at left tackle for good and due to make a whole lot of money soon. Also, former quarterback/future of the program Michael Brewer won the starting QB job at Virginia Tech. I'm just sad Tech isn't playing on UCA's field this week. One quick note you ought to stash away for a rainy day: Texas Tech's two-deep at corner is made up of two freshmen and two sophomores.
5. Oklahoma State. This week: vs. No. 1 Florida State in Arlington, Texas. Stop me if you've heard this before, but Mike Gundy's playing coy with his QB situation. Safe money is J.W. Walsh will be the man from start to finish against FSU. The Cowboys rebuilt defense couldn't ask for a much tougher test in Week 1, but CB Kevin Peterson and DL Jimmy Bean should be breakout stars for what I'm betting is an underrated unit by year's end. Glenn Spencer's D is only underrated because of inexperience and lack of name recognition, not a lack of talent.
6. Texas. This week: vs. North Texas. The Longhorns have a lot to prove, and Dan McCarney's Mean Green will be a tougher test than many realize. The Longhorns will be the most intriguing team in the Big 12 in September by far. David Ash's first meaningful action in almost a full year is a must watch.
7. TCU. This week: vs. Samford. The Frogs are the only other team in the Big 12 who don't have a settled quarterback situation. Gary Patterson says both Trevone Boykin and Matt Joeckel will play this week. The Frogs won't be tested in Week 1, but it's still going to be hard to watch this defense and not wonder "what if" in the wake of Devonte Fields' exit from the program.
8. West Virginia. This week: vs. No. 2 Alabama in Atlanta. Dana Holgorsen's not making a big deal about WVU's big-name opening opponent, and I'm guessing the biggest reason is this game won't decide much about WVU's fortunes in the Big 12 race or Holgorsen's long-term future in Morgantown. Transfers Rushel Shell and Shaq Riddick will be fun to watch in their debuts. The Mountaineers are deep at the skill positions and have talent, but keeping Clint Trickett healthy is the most important thing for 2014. WVU's O-line has to show up against the Tide to make that happen. It's not fair to ask Trickett to play banged up all year again like he did much of last season.
9. Iowa State. This week: vs. North Dakota State. Three-time defending FCS national champion NDSU lost its head coach and most of its offense that bullied Kansas State in last year's season-opening win, but the Bison will still give the Cyclones a tough challenge in Week 1. ISU's offense, meanwhile, is one of the Big 12's most experienced, but the Cyclones were the Big 12's worst rush defense a year ago. If that doesn't improve, ISU will be 0-1 this time next week.
10. Kansas. This week: Idle. Poor Kansas fans. For the second consecutive season, Jayhawks fans won't have a game of their own to watch on college football's opening weekend.