Texas a top-five preseason team?

I've written a bit this offseason about the Big 12's downer of a preseason that is likely to be the first in league history without a top-10 team in the Associated Press preseason poll.

Phil Steele's magazine hits newsstands next week, but he took to ESPN Insider this week to break down his top five. Who makes an appearance at No. 4? None other than the Texas Longhorns.

That's sure to rouse some rabbles, but Steele says the Longhorns are one of just three teams -- Alabama and Ohio State are the other two -- that have eight position units ranked in Steele's top 25, and Texas is actually in the top 20 of all eight.

Steele ran the numbers and five of his nine power ratings see an undefeated season for the Longhorns, and he says Texas will win the Big 12. Critique if you'd like, but Steele reminds us of the last time he picked Texas to win the Big 12: 2009, when the Longhorns went 12-0 and played for a national title.

I get it, even though I disagree. It's not hard to see why it's easy to buy into the Longhorns. On paper and on the depth chart, Texas is loaded. If you break it down to how much talent the Longhorns have at each position, of course they look like a top-five team.

For me, though, it's hard to shake memories of lopsided losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma, and a near loss to Kansas that would rank among the most embarrassing for the Longhorns in a long time. The Jayhawks have won four games against BCS-level competition since October 2009.

Nobody denies Texas' talent, but those same guys are coming back this season, and for me it takes some faith to see them progressing enough to run up a 12-0 record or walk away with a Big 12 title. I wouldn't blame anybody who has that faith, and nobody would be truly surprised to see Texas do it, but the Longhorns have to show some more on-field results before I buy them as the Big 12 favorite or a team that belongs in the preseason top five.