Top 25 predictions show a balanced Big 12

Chris Williams

Publisher

Bill Snyder and Paul Rhoads talk before their 2012 contest in Ames.

We’re getting to that time of year when preseason magazines hit newsstands and once that happens, July media days are just around the corner. So by using that logic, football season is already here (yeah right). 

If you look around at what is currently out there as far as predictions go, nobody seems to be very confident as far as what to expect from the Big 12 in 2013. The experts say that there isn’t going to be one dominant team.

For instance Athlon Sports, who is releasing its preseason top 25 team-by-team over the next few weeks, has Oklahoma State (winning the Big 12) ranked 16th, Oklahoma 17th, Texas 18th and TCU 20th.

Although I’d argue that Kansas State deserves to at least be in the conversation, those are the top four teams in the league heading into the fall according to most. Athlon only has those schools four spots apart. That is close my friends - a true toss-up if you will. 

Elsewhere, ESPN has Texas ranked 13th and highest among Big 12 schools. In those same rankings, Oklahoma State comes in at 15, Oklahoma at 17, TCU at 18 and Kansas State at 20 (rightfully so).

Again though, we’re splitting hairs.

One of my favorite columnists in the business, Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com, has Texas at 13, Kansas State at 14, Oklahoma at 15, TCU at 19 and Oklahoma State at 22.

Do we have a little groupthink going on here or what? Let's go people! Will somebody please go out on a limb? 

And just to hammer out my point even more, Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated has TCU at 15, Oklahoma at 17, Texas at 18 and Baylor at 20. He swapped the Wildcats for the Bears, which is somewhat refreshing. Staples changed things up a little bit but still, pretty much everybody has the top programs in the Big 12 in the 15-20 range, albeit in a different order. 

So what does all of this mean for Iowa State? The league is wide-open. Wide-freaking-open, which is a good thing for for Paul Rhoads' young Cyclones. 

If I'm Rhoads, I'd much rather have this Iowa State roster play in a balanced league that lacks one or two great teams than one with the Texas' and Oklahoma's of the early 2000's. Remember those years when once the schedule was released, you could already chalk up at least three and sometimes four losses for the Clones? Remember those games in which you knew no matter how good Iowa State played, they simply had no chance?

Look at the 2013 schedule and find one of those games. 

2013 Iowa State Football Schedule 

Northern Iowa
Iowa
@ Tulsa
Texas
@ Texas Tech
@ Baylor
Oklahoma State
@ Kansas State
TCU
@ Oklahoma
Kansas 
@ West Virginia

I see a lot of difficult games there but none that I would check off as unwinnable - not with Rhoads' history of upsets and unexpected road wins.

JOTTINGS 

A league that has been known for its quarterbacks over the last five years or so now has a bunch of guys that nobody has heard of getting ready to lead it into 2013. A few thoughts...

*** Jake Waters, Kansas State's new quarterback, is going to surprise some people. Just watch. Waters, who attended high school at Council Bluffs St. Albert, threw for 3,501 yards and 39 touchdowns last season in route to a JuCo national championship.

Back in my radio days, I called play-by-play for Waters’ state championship team and let me tell you, this guy is the real deal. He isn’t Collin Klein but if you’re in the camp that thinks Kansas State is in for a major drop off this season, I caution you to beware of that prediction. If Bill Snyder can put the right guys around Waters, I fully expect the Wildcats to be contenders in this league once again. 

Plus, it is Bill Snyder we're talking about people. His teams always surprise you. Always. I don't see why this one will be any different. 

*** Casey Pachall is coming back to TCU and most expect him to be Gary Patterson’s starter in week one.

Am I the only person out here who would opt for Trevone Boykin though? I absolutely love this kid that threw for 2,054 yards and 15 touchdowns (with 10 interceptions) while filling in for Pachall a season ago. He’s a dual-threat guy that installs fear into every defensive coordinator he faces.

It’s a good problem for Patterson to have but to me, Boykin’s upside is off the charts. 

Patterson has recently stated that Boykin had an outstanding spring, hence the reason he has not named a starter at this point in time. I have to imagine that Pachall's history of being a not-so-good leader has something to do with it too. 

I like Patterson's approach of making the proven senior win his job back. Pachall has nobody to blame but himself for the competition that he now finds himself in. 

*** Last offseason, I was way down on TCU. I saw a good Mountain West team trying to get ready for life in the Big 12 that lacked depth. This offseason, I see a good Big 12 team that played 16 true freshmen a year ago. Those freshmen will be better off for that in 2013 and depth won't be nearly as much of a problem. Plus, pound-for-pound, I think that Patterson is one of the top coaches in this league. A lot has changed regarding my opinion of TCU in 365 days. I like the Horned Frogs to battle for a league title in 2013. 

*** I agree with Andy Staples when it comes to ranking Baylor in his top 25.  Art Briles is an underrated coach that really has his program heading in the right direction. Life after RG3 isn't going to be so bad after all. Look past the quarterback position and you'll find a program that is getting deeper and better by the year. I won't be surprised if they turn some heads at all this season. 

It's just that whole playing defense thing...

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  • September 27, 2014
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