Jan 2, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; Oklahoma Sooners players celebrate with the Sugar Bowl trophy following a win over the Alabama Crimson Tide in a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Oklahoma defeated Alabama 45-31. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN Top 25 Power Rankings Include 4 From Big 12

ESPN joined the college football preseason party, coming out with its initial Top-25 Power Rankings for the 2014 season. Four schools from the Big 12 made the ESPN Power Rankings to start the new season.

Oklahoma is the highest-ranked Big 12 team in the ESPN Power Rankings, in the No. 3 spot. Baylor comes in at No. 11,, then there is a wide gap before Texas at No. 24 and TCU at 25.

ESPN.com writer Jake Trotter, who used to cover the Sooners for the Oklahoma City Oklahoman, pins the Sooners’ College Football Playoff hopes in 2014 on sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight sustaining the outstanding performances he had to end the 2013 season and an improved defense, Trotter says, appears to have the best front seven in the conference.ESPN-logo-001

Baylor will go as far as its defense takes the defending Big 12 champions this season, writes ESPN.com’s Max Olson. “We’ve got the (championship) belt around our waist and it’s buckled pretty tight,” Baylor head coach Art Briles told Olson.

“What stands in Baylor’way of a golden ticket to the College Football Playoff?” Olson writes. “The only question marks are on defense, where DC (defensive coordinator) Phil Bennett must find new starters who can play up to the level of last year’s game-changing unit.”

After 16 seasons under former head coach Mack Brown, the Texas Longhorns begin a new era under new head man Charlie Strong.

“Are you ready to buy into this Texas team?” Olson writes. “Entering fall practice, even the new head coach is hesitant. For all the uncertainty, Strong also inherits proven talent. He has the Big 12’s best running-back duo…and a potentially elite defensive line and a two-deep loaded with upperclassmen. The schedule isn’t friendly – Texas gets UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma (within the first six games)…Strong isn’t promising much, just a stout defense and a tougher football team.”

TCU has been relying on its defense far too long, head coach Gary Patterson says, and it’s time the offense began to pull it’s share of the load.

ESPN.com’s Trotter points out that the Horned Frogs could have won every game but one last season, when they were 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the conference. Six of their eight losses were by 10 points or less. They just weren’t able to generate any kind of consistent offensive production.

Patterson brought in two new coaches in the offseason to share the offensive coordinator responsibilities and install a more up-temp0 attack. The hope is that the new faces and new approach will result in more points.


Tags: Big 12 Football ESPN Top 25 Football Power Rankings

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