This is the time of year when college sports annually go on summer hiatus. That means a couple of months with no college athletic competition to speak of. But while this might be a down time in the college sports world, Talking12 will not be taking that time off.
Over the next four weeks or so, I will be previewing the 2013 Big 12 football season, including a team-by-team examination of what to look for and who the standout performers will be in the upcoming season. I will provide an inside look at each team individually, but also offer up my outlook and which teams will battle for the conference crown and who will be battling just to hold on. I’ll also highlight the potential trap games on the schedule that stand out as must-see viewing and could make or break a team’s title chances.
We’ll begin our pre-preseason coverage of the Big 12 and the coming college football season with a look at what the national preview magazines are saying about the preseason rankings of the teams expected to be nation’s best heading into the 2013 season. Which Big 12 schools are drawing the attention of the college foorball experts as being worthy of a preseason top-25 ranking among the country’s elite teams for the coming season.
Three Big 12 schools – Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas, the top three teams in the final Big 12 standings a year ago – made the top 25 in both the final Associated Press media poll and USA Today coaches’ poll at the end of last season, with Kansas State the highest ranked of the three teams (12th in the AP poll and 11th in the coaches’ poll).
To show you how fast things can change from year to year in college football – and college sports in general – only one of the Big 12 co-champions in 2012 is ranked in the top 25 in a consensus of six 2013 college football preseason polls that have been published so far.
Oklahoma, which has been a preseason top 10 team throughout most of coach Bob Stoops’ 14 seasons at OU, has a consensus ranking of 18th among the six preseason polls (Athlon, Lindy’s, Phil Steele, Big Lead Sports [a property of the USA Today Sports Media Group], Sporting News and Sports Illustrated). Kansas State’s highest ranking was No. 24 by Big Lead Sports. The Wildcats did not make the top 25 in any of the other five preseason projections.
If you go by what the experts are saying so far, Oklahoma State will be back on top of the Big 12 standings in 2013 after a year’s hiatus from the top spot. The Cowboys rank 13th on a consensus basis (No. 6 in the Sporting News preseason rankings). The season preview magazines also feel highly about Texas in the coming season, ranking the Longhorns at No. 14, right behind Oklahoma State, in our consensus analysis.
The AP and USA Today preseason polls are not out yet and are the two popular polls that hold the most weight among fans throughout the course of the season. Don’t be too surprised if the coaches and the panel of media voters that make up the AP poll come up with a slightly different take on who the top 25 teams are to start the season. The reason for that is: The preview magazines are looking more at which teams are likely to be among the nation’s top 25 at season’s end. The AP and USA Today voters are projecting the best 25 teams at the beginning of the season, which is subsequently adjusted as the season plays out.
Another poll that matters, at least for one more season, is the much-maligned Bowl Championships Series ranking, which doesn’t come out until the second week in October and, of course, ultimately determines the two teams that will play for the national championship as well as the other eight schools that will appear in the current BCS bowls. The good news, as far as most college football fans are concerned, is that the BCS system will be discontinued after the 2013 season in favor of a new college football playoff format.
For those of you who are more interested in what the self-proclaimed experts are saying about the conference race in the Big 12 for the w013 season, a weighted average of the preseason conference rankings published by Athlon, Lindy’s, Phil Steele and Sporting News favors Oklahoma State as the team to beat this season. Phil Steele projected the Cowboys to finish second, but the other three preview polls had OSU No. 1. Phil Steele’s pick as the 2013 Big 12 football champion is Texas, which according to the four sources that constitute this analysis is expected to be in a battle with Oklahoma for the second and third spots behind favorite Oklahoma State.
TCU, Baylor and Kansas State are being viewed by the football preview publications as making up the middle level in the 2013 conference race and Texas Tech, Iowa State, West Virginia and Kansas are another notch below the six other teams. Based on this comparison, Oklahoma State, which ended last season in fourth place in the league standings after winning it all in 2011, is poised to make the biggest jump upward from a year ago. And similarly, Kansas State, the defending conference co-champion, appear sheaded for the biggest drop from the prior year.
So there yoy have it. Take it to the bank, or agree to disagree, if you’d like, but this is the lay of the land as we look out, still some 50 days before the first game is played in the 2013 season.
In the coming days, we will pull back the curtain on each of the 10 conference teams and also examine the top players to watch for on offense, defense and special teams throughout the league.
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