Rating Every Big 12 Team as a Contender or Pretender in 2013

Ricky FrechCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2013

Rating Every Big 12 Team as a Contender or Pretender in 2013

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    The Big 12 conference boasts some of the best depth in the country, as it sent nine of it's 10 teams to bowl games in 2012.

    The conference might not be the cream of the BCS crop (that award probably goes to the SEC), but it is a major player in the national championship picture.

    However, before any team can have national title aspirations, they have to beat the teams in their own conference and capture a Big 12 title.

    Obviously, it's only January and things could easily change in the coming months, but here are the early Big 12 contenders and pretenders for the upcoming season.

Baylor

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    2012's Record: 8-5

    How 2013 Is Looking: Lache Seastrunk is the real deal.

    In fact, Baylor has a chance to be a big player on his merits alone.

    However, he's not the only guy who could be a major factor in 2013. Bryce Petty hasn't seen many snaps, but if anyone can turn him into a quality quarterback, it's Art Briles.

    Baylor does lose some major players in Nick Florence, Terrance Williams and Lanear Sampson, among others.

    That said, we have to believe that Baylor's late season run is going to have the team continuing to play inspired football in 2013.

    They might not win the Big 12, but they should make some noise and have an outside shot at the title.

    Verdict: Contender 

Iowa State

2 of 10

    2012's Record: 6-7

    How 2013 Is Looking: Iowa State barely squeaked into a bowl game this year and part of that can be contributed to inconsistency at the quarterback position.

    The good news for Cyclones fans is that Jared Bennett has decided to transfer, which opens the door for Sam Richardson to become the team's quarterback.

    Richardson showed some skill in his last two regular season games and played the team's bowl game while battling flu-like symptoms. 

    However, the defense is losing two All-Big 12 defenders and will likely take a step back.

    All in all, the Cyclones could spoil a few teams' seasons with upsets, but it's unlikely they'll challenge for the title.

    Verdict: Pretender

Kansas

3 of 10

    2012's Record: 1-11

    How 2013 Is Looking: Over the last three seasons, the Kansas Jayhawks are 6-30, including an atrocious 1-11 record in 2012.

    That said, the team actually played quite a few close games last year. They lost to Texas and Oklahoma State by a combined score of 10, and Texas Tech needed overtime to defeat them.

    However, it's doubtful that this team will make much noise in 2013.

    James Sims could make another run at 1,000 yards, but otherwise, this team is headed to another losing season.

    Verdict: Pretender

Kansas State

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    2012's Record: 11-2

    How 2013 Is Looking: The biggest news for the Kansas State Wildcats is that they're losing star quarterback Collin Klein.

    However, he's far from the only player the team will be without in 2013.

    Virtually every significant defensive player is gone, including Arthur Brown and Meshak Williams (along with the entire defensive line).

    That means the Wildcats will be without their best offensive weapon and have to fill in tons of holes on defense.

    Bill Snyder is a great coach, but we can't see him having this team do more than win seven or eight games next year.

    Verdict: Pretender

Oklahoma

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    2012's Record: 10-3

    How 2013 Is Looking: The Oklahoma Sooners sure are losing a ton of talent on both sides of the ball.

    Obviously, the big name is Landry Jones, but they also lose Kenny Stills, Lane Johnson, Tony Jefferson and Tom Wort, among many others.

    Couple that with a fairly difficult schedule, which includes away games against Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor; and you have what looks like a down year for the Sooners.

    OU probably won't compete for the league title. But, if Bob Stoops can work his magic and make one of his young quarterbacks a star, the Sooners could sniff double-digit wins and have an outside shot.

    Verdict: Contender 


Oklahoma State

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    2012's Record: 8-5

    How 2013 Is Looking: Any time a team loses it's best offensive player, there's cause for concern.

    Before Joseph Randle chose to go to the NFL, Oklahoma State was touted as one of the favorites to win the Big 12.

    However, now that he's gone, those expectations have to be tapered back some.

    Even without Randle, this is a dangerous team whose offense could be even better than last year, given that the Cowboys' three star quarterbacks have all had a year to grow.

    In the end, we all know how prolific this offense is going to be, with or without Randle. How far Oklahoma State can go will come down to if the defense can get back to it's ball-hawking ways.

    Verdict: Contender

TCU

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    2012's Record: 7-6

    How 2013 Is Looking: For my money, this is your current Big 12 favorite.

    Some other teams will surely challenge that, but this is the conference's best defense and it should feast on the many young quarterbacks who are trying to replace former studs.

    The return of cornerback Jason Verrett is a major boon, but Devonte Fields should be the bigger story, as he continues to dominate against a depleted Big 12 quarterback position.

    However, the biggest news for Horned Frogs fans could be the return of Casey Pachall.

    If he can come back and be the same quarterback he was before his exit, this team should find itself on top of the Big 12 in 2013.

    Verdict: Contender

Texas

8 of 10

    2012's Record: 9-4

    How 2013 Is Looking: Losing Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor is going to have an impact, but the Texas Longhorns will get Jackson Jeffcoat back from his injury.

    Jeffcoat's impact on the defense could be huge, as he was well on his way to double-digit sacks before tearing his pectoral muscle.

    It's on offense where the Longhorns could be at their scariest though.

    Texas boasts quite a collection of running backs that include all-around talent Johnathan Gray and touchdown machine Joe Bergeron.

    Possibly the most intriguing player in the Big 12 though, is quarterback David Ash, who had an incredible second half to come back and win the Longhorns' bowl game.

    If he can continue to develop, this team could become the favorite to win the Big 12.

    Verdict: Contender

Texas Tech

9 of 10

    2012's Record: 8-5

    How 2013 Is Looking: If Texas Tech hadn't lost Tommy Tuberville to Cincinnati, then maybe there would be more faith in the team developing Seth Doege's replacement in just one year.

    However, Tuberville did walk and the jury is still out on Michael Brewer.

    Granted, Kliff Kingsbury is going to make this offense fun to watch, but he's still a young coach in his first stint as a head coach.

    Look for this team to struggle a bit early on and then pick up steam as the season progresses.

    Verdict: Pretender

West Virginia

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    2012's Record: 7-6

    How 2013 Is Looking: West Virginia lost Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey to the NFL.

    Needless to say, this has the making of a rebuilding year.

    Andrew Buie should keep the team relevant as they work in Paul Millard to take over for Smith, but it's hard to see them being much better than a .500 team.

    The good news is that there's always going to be Karl Joseph highlights.

    Verdict: Pretender