The Big 12 placed four teams in USA Today’s preseason Amway Coaches Poll. The poll has been in existence since 1991 and it’s chosen by a panel of college football coaches from a variety of conferences.
On the heels of their stunning win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, the Oklahoma Sooners checked in at No. 3 in the poll. Quarterback Trevor Knight played superbly in that Sugar Bowl win and is expected to build on that performance. The Sooners received three first-place votes.
The defending Big 12 champion Baylor Bears showed up at No. 10 in the poll. Quarterback Bryce Petty hopes to bring home the school’s second Heisman Trophy in the past four years. The Bears lost several starters on defense, but coach Art Briles believes he might have one of the best defensive lines in the country. Road games at Oklahoma and Texas will make it very difficult for Baylor to run the table in the conference.
Kansas State checks in at No. 21. The Wildcats got off to a slow start last season, but they rallied behind the improved play of quarterback Jake Waters. Coach Bill Snyder alternated Waters and Daniel Sams last season, but that won’t be the case in 2014 because Sams has transferred. You should see more consistency at the quarterback position throughout the conference this season.
In somewhat of a surprise, the Texas Longhorns are ranked 24th in the coaches poll. New coach Charlie Strong has received a lot of attention in recent weeks for dismissing several players from the program. A lot of it will come down to whether quarterback David Ash is ready to go after missing much of last season with a concussion. The Longhorns definitely have some NFL talent both in their defensive line and secondary.
Oklahoma State, TCU and Texas Tech all received votes in the poll. The Cowboys and Frogs finished 30th and 31st in the poll. The Red Raiders checked in at No. 42. The SEC led the way with seven teams in the top 25. The Pac-12 was next with six, and the Big 12 and Big Ten each had four teams. There was not a single team from a non-power conference in the top 25, unless you count independent Notre Dame. Central Florida, which lost quarterback Blake Bortles to the NFL draft, is ranked 28th.
As expected, the reigning national champion Florida State Seminoles were the overwhelming choice as the No. 1 team. They received 56 of 62 possible first-place votes. Oklahoma State has a chance to strike an early blow for itself and the conference against the Seminoles. It could be a tough test for a Florida State team that doesn’t face that much competition in the ACC. If the Cowboys can at least keep the game close, they could gain a ton of confidence moving forward.
The coaches poll won’t directly impact the college playoff committee, but you’d have to think the members will take a peek at it in the weeks leading up their first rankings release.