Early Big 12 College Football 2013 Power Rankings

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2013 big 12 power rankings

NCAA
Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE

The start of the 2013 college football season is only 8 months away, and in terms of football time, that's going to fly. Spring ball, fall practices and pretty soon it's time to strap those helmets on and get after it.

For the Big 12, this past season was one of the worst in recent memory. Seemed like the teams across the board underachieved and in a season of changeover things did not go as planned.

But looking ahead to 2013 there is a light at the end of the tunnel and I'm fairly sure it's not a train. While many of the top programs have taken some significant, there are still 3 or 4 teams who can still compete with the big boys of college football and if a few things fall in place for these teams they could be competitive in the BCS.

And along those same lines, the bottom of the Big 12 is bad. Really bad. Losses have cut into some teams really deep and some programs are simply doomed to never be competitive. Looking at the conference as a whole we see a split of 3 or 4 at the top, 2 or 3 at the bottom and everyone in between.

So, how do these teams stack up as we have finished up the 2012 college football season and start to peek ahead with spring football just around the corner? Here are my Early Big 12 College Football 2013 Power Rankings.

Come find me on Twitter @nfldraftboard for all my football ramblings.
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10-University of Kansas

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John Rieger-US Presswire

It’s been a long time since the Jayhawks have been good in football. Well let me re-phrase it’s been since 2007 when the Jayhawks made it to the Orange Bowl and won, since they have been good. But this past season they fell below .500 for career winning percentage for the first time since 1890.

2012 was a miserable failure of a season for head coach Charlie Weis. He inherited a bad team and was unable to make much of anything work. And this year even with what is a shaping up to be a really nice recruiting class for 2013, things don’t look much better. Weis is working hard to load up the roster with community college players in hoping of making 2013 a push year where they can show some big improvements in a single season and lure in better high school players. I think the Jayhawks will be better this year, and in coming seasons, but I still can’t move them out of the basement of the Big 12 right now.

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9-Iowa State University

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Peter Aiken-US Presswire

The Cyclones aren’t a terrible football team. In fact even having them at 9 on this list, I won’t be at all shocked if they make a bowl game in 2013. Their running game returns in tact and if they can replace quarterback Steele Jantz, the offense should be able to move the football. Losses were not good on defense either as they lost linebackers AJ Klein and Jake Knott; which will be challenging to replace. Their schedule is daunting, and I’m not sure they have the playmakers on either side of the football to be competitive all year.

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8-Texas Tech University

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Richard Rowe-US Presswire

The Red Raiders are sporting a shiny new head coach as a favorite son returns and Kliff Kingsbury comes home to coach the Red Raiders. Long term this is a tremendous hire, and I can see Kingsbury will put his stamp on this team quickly. In 2013 the biggest question will be who will Kingsbury select to play quarterback, and depending on how that goes will determine the 2013 season.

And along those lines of who the quarterback is, which offense will they see in 2013? Will it be the high powered passing offense where the quarterback never ran that Kingsbury ran while the signal caller at Texas Tech? Or will he use a more athletic quarterback and run the hybrid run/pass offense he was orchestrating at Texas A&M? Either way, I can see this team winning 8 games again, and building on that in 2014.

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7-University of West Virginia

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Robert Mayer-USA Today Sports

The Mountaineers are a lot like Baylor in that they leaned so heavily on their passing offense in 2012, the defense was no longer became a priority and now a year later, they are missing a good chunk of their passing game. I mean a huge chunk of it. So also like the Bears the Mountaineers are going to have to make some big changes. Quarterback Geno Smith is a WVU legend, and so whoever comes in will not be Smith. The rest of the squad will need to rally around whomever takes his place and aid that transition. And with the top 2 receivers also headed to the NFL, it’s still in doubt just who will be out there to catch the passes of whichever quarterback ends up with the starting job.

So it might be time for the West Virginia defense to step up and make some plays if they want to keep their team in games. There are some talented pieces in place, but they just had far too many lapses to keep them competitive no matter how many yards they threw for, or touchdowns they scored. 7 or 8 wins is still feasible but it’s going to take a strong defensive effort to make it happen.

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6-Baylor

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Tim Heltman-US Presswire

The Bears are another team that is in a state of remodeling so to speak. They are losing their starting quarterback and top wide receiver, and everyone knows that if there’s one thing Baylor head coach Art Briles wants to do is throw it. So the success of this season will depend heavily on if quarterback Bryce Petty can integrate into the offense and how quickly.

Or will Briles chose instead to lean on his talented running back Lache Steastrunk who has promised a Heisman Trophy in 2013? Regardless of which he chooses, it could end up being the defensive side of the football that decides this team’s fate as last year they struggled to stop anyone. 8 or 9 wins is very possible again this year, but I won’t rule out a slide backwards if the defense can’t improve.

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5-Kansas State University

NCAA
Peter Aiken-US Presswire

I include the Wildcats this high for a couple of reasons. While they did lose their starting quarterback and Heisman finalist Collin Klein, I have no doubt that head coach Bill Snyder isn’t going into this season unprepared. He runs a very simple, fundamentally sound run heavy offense that requires discipline and good coaching. Quarterback Daniel Sams is going to be that guy in this offense and if Snyder things he can play, then I am sure he can play.

On defenses the losses were significant as well, but as with the offense, this scheme is built on players who can fill their assignments and do their job, not on flashy play and standout individual performances. Because of this, I also think the Wildcats will be able to replace guys like linebacker Arthur Brown and defensive end Meshak Williams within the scheme they run. This is another of those middle Big 12 teams that should be able to muster up 8 or 9 wins with their schedule.

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4-Oklahoma State University

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Matt Kartozian-US Presswire

As we find our way to the top 4, this is where teams start to separate themselves. The Cowboys are in a great position because they return not 1 but 2 quarterbacks in Clint Chelf and JW Walsh who can run this high-powered Oklahoma State offense well. The battle for the starting spot should be very interesting all the way to August. The offense also returns their top wide receiver and a rock solid offensive line. This is a team that’s never been shy about putting up lots of points, and 2013 won’t be any different.

They are fortunate it appears their offense is in good hands, because the defense while athletic lacked discipline last season and game up far too many points. This team could win 10 games without their defense stepping up and do even better if they can get a few more big plays out of the defense. If they can put it all together on a consistent basis, they can contend for the Big 12 title.

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3-TCU

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Charles LeClaire-US Presswire

If there is a wild card in my power rankings, it’s TCU. Last season they didn’t meet expectations at all. The offense was in a state of disarray starting at the quarterback position and many of the young defensive players didn’t play up to what they are capable of.

So in 2013, I think things will level off for the Horned Frogs and especially on defense there will be a huge uptick in terms of production. There are players on this roster who can be dynamic and explosive defensive players. This unit as a whole could be the best in the Big 12 in a hurry.

But on offense there are still questions. I love the game of quarterback Trevone Boykin, and I expect he will have a huge season. But with the possible return of quarterback Casey Pachall could again upset the apple cart. If TCU head coach Gary Patterson decides to go with Boykin from the beginning this offense could be special. But if he lets Pachall back into the mix, this team might take a big tumble.

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2-University of Oklahoma

NCAA
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Lots of Sooners fans are looking at 2013 with concern about the changing of the guard at the quarterback position. I personally think that quarterback Blake Bell running the offense means that this offense is going to be much more balanced and much more difficult to defend. Bell is a big bruising athlete who can bowl people over, but make no mistake a full off-season of throwing the football and he’ll be just fine. And he has plenty of weapons returning as his top 3 running backs and 4 of his top 5 wide receivers will all be back in the mix.

The problems of course are on defense. This team still lacks elite athletes on the defensive side of the football, and so it will be up to defensive coordinator Mike Stoops to put schemes in place that deal with those deficiencies and puts the Sooners defenders in good positions to make plays. They must do a better job using their linebackers, leaving them on the field more and be more aggressive with them. If he can get maximum production out of this defense this team can certainly compete for a Big 12 title.

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1-University of Texas

NCAA
Brendan Maloney-US Presswire

As much as it pains me to say it, the Longhorns are most likely the most balanced and talented team in the Big 12. On offense their losses were minimal and every game that this young group plays together the better they seem to get. Now that they have committed going forward to quarterback David Ash, it appears their entire unit has gotten better. They have a nice mix of speed and power in their running backs and the wide receivers are young and improving. Even the offensive line seems to be showing some stability and historically when the Longhorns get great play out of their offensive line, they win games.

On defense the losses were more significant, with defensive end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro as the highlights, but there are still plenty of great players to step up including defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat who’s season was cut short last year due to injury, and cornerback Quandre Diggs who are ready to take the torch as the anchors of this Longhorn defense. Their success could end up weighing heavily on how they play in the Red River Shootout against the Sooners. Both teams are going to be very good and that game could give the winner the lead in the Big 12 that the other cannot over come.

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