USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll: Grading the Ranking of Each Big 12 Team
The USA Today Preseason Coaches Poll was just released on Thursday, and the Big 12 has four teams ranked.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys received the highest ranking at 14th. Right behind them are the Texas Longhorns at 15th and Oklahoma Sooners at 16th.
The TCU Horned Frogs round out the Big 12 teams represented in the poll, coming in at 20th.
Two other teams, Kansas State and Baylor, are among the teams that are not in the poll but received votes.
Here's how each ranking will be graded in this post:
A: Ranked perfectly
B: 1-2 places off
C: 3-4 places off
D: 5 places off
F: 6 or more places off
No. 14: Oklahoma State Cowboys
The preseason favorite to win the Big 12 comes in at 14th in the Coaches Poll, the highest ranking for any team in the Big 12.
However, with an unproven quarterback in either Clint Chelf or J.W. Walsh as well as the loss of running back Joseph Randle, the Cowboys are a bit overrated.
A better preseason ranking for the Cowboys would be 17th or 18th. Mike Gundy's team lost two key pieces of its offensive line in Lane Taylor and Evan Epstein, and the defense ranked 64th in the country last year in points allowed.
The ceiling is high for this team, but 14th in the country is a little high to start out the season for a team that finished 8-5 in 2012.
No. 15: Texas Longhorns
Another overrated Big 12 team in the preseason poll are the Texas Longhorns, who fell in at the 15th spot.
This team has a lot of question marks heading into 2013, especially with the implementation of the no-huddle offense. Quarterback David Ash, while one of just two returning starters in the Big 12, is still very unproven and his career in Austin has been marred by inconsistency.
Defensively, the Longhorns have high expectations especially with the return of defensive lineman Jackson Jeffcoat. But last season's unit, which had similar expectations, gave up over 29 points a game.
This team is certainly one worthy of being ranked though, especially with running backs Jonathan Gray, Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown coming back.
A more accurate ranking for this team would be 20th.
No. 16: Oklahoma Sooners
One team that the Coaches Poll got right was the Oklahoma Sooners at 16th.
This team has a lot of question marks heading into 2013, but Bob Stoops and company know how to win consistently. The biggest uncertainly lies at quarterback, where it's projected that Blake Bell will takeover for four-year starter Landry Jones.
Bell has been used in the "Belldozer" packages in the past in Norman, but never as the sole quarterback. His ability to take the reins from Jones will play a big role in whether or not the Sooners have a good year in 2013.
But with defenders like Aaron Colvin coming back, this team looks very promising.
No. 20: TCU Horned Frogs
The only underrated Big 12 team in the Coaches Poll are the TCU Horned Frogs. But they're not underrated by much.
Two of the biggest strengths for TCU this season have strings attached. Quarterback Casey Pachall may be the best at his position in the Big 12, but his baggage is a risk. And defensive end Devonte Fields is suspended for the first two games of the season.
We'll find out just how good the Horned Frogs really are in Week 1, as they face the LSU Tigers.
The Horned Frogs deserve to be a little higher than 20th, but 18th or 19th ahead of Boise State and/or Nebraska would be a good fit.
Others Receiving Votes: Kansas State and Baylor
Kansas State Wildcats
The Wildcats are the de facto 26th-ranked team in the Coaches Poll, as they received the most votes of any team not in the top 25.
Still, this is a huge oversight by the coaches voting on the poll. The Wildcats are the defending Big 12 champions along with Oklahoma and Bill Snyder is arguably the best coach in the conference.
The Wildcats are also one of just two teams to make a BCS bowl last season and not be ranked this year, with Northern Illinois being the other team.
Bill Snyder's group deserves a better ranking, and a top 20 one at that.
After the Bears beat then top-ranked Kansas State last season, they ended the year as one of the hottest teams in college football.
Now in 2013 with plenty of returning starters, including running back Lache Seastrunk, the Bears deserve to be ranked in the top 25.
Instead, they received 80 votes, the fourth-most of any unranked team.
The Bears have a chance to win the Big 12 in 2013, so they deserve to be ranked.