Oklahoma was the lone Big 12 team to receive a first-place vote in the preseason Amway Coaches Poll, which was released on Thursday. The Sooners are the conference’s highest ranked team at No. 3 with Baylor, Kansas State and Texas joining OU as Big 12 representatives in the poll. Florida State, the defending national champion, is ranked No. 1.
Here’s the actual rank for each Big 12 team and a couple of quick thoughts on the ranking:
No. 3 Oklahoma (1382 points, 3 first-place votes): The momentum from OU’s Allstate Sugar Bowl win over Alabama continues but the Sooners still find themselves looking up at No. 2 Alabama in this preseason ranking. If OU, particularly quarterback Trevor Knight, plays like it did against the Crimson Tide, there’s no reason to think the Sooners can’t fulfill this ranking or higher. If not, they’ll likely find themselves outside of the top 10 at some point this season.
No. 10 Baylor (965 points): The Bears could be ranked even higher after a stellar 2013 campaign but memories of Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles making big plays against BU’s defense have cast a shadow that’s made people forget the Bears' 11-1 regular season and first Big 12 title. With Bryce Petty at the helm, Baylor has the ability to rise to the top of this poll. But it won’t happen until some untested players step up on defense.
No. 21: Kansas State (257 points): The Wildcats enter the season with plenty of respect after a strong end to the 2013 season and their first bowl win in 11 years. Quarterback Jake Waters and receiver Tyler Lockett are one of college football’s top quarterback-receiver duos and defensive end Ryan Mueller is disruptive and productive. A playmaker emerging at running back could be the key to K-State rising higher than No. 21 this season.
No. 24: Texas (143 points): The Longhorns are an interesting case. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Charlie Strong’s team rise into the top 10, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see UT fall out of the rankings altogether. UCLA provides a tough early-season test but also an opportunity for the Longhorns to send a Strong message to the nation.
NR/RV Oklahoma State (56 points): It wouldn’t be the first time the Cowboys entered the season with muted expectations then rose up the Big 12 standings and national polls. A date with No. 1 Florida State to start the season will be the first opportunity for Mike Gundy’s squad to show the world they’re being underestimated yet again.
NR/RV TCU (54 points): Gary Patterson’s squad is nipping at the heels of OSU despite a 4-8 season a year ago. We can always count on the Horned Frogs to play good defense, so TCU’s new offense would likely be the key reason if it finds itself as a consistent member of this Top 25 this season.
NR/RV Texas Tech (8 points): The Red Raiders’ National University Holiday Bowl win was an impressive finish to the 2013 season. The Sooners got all the attention but Tech and Davis Webb had a performance second to none in the Red Raiders' win over Arizona State. Webb will have to carry that stellar display into this season and get some help from a defense which is replacing several key playmakers if Tech expects to break into the Top 25 in Kliff Kingsbury's second season.