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Big 12 well represented in Sporting News rankings

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Several Big 12 teams were prominently mentioned by the Sporting News' Matt Hayes on his lists of the top five positional units in the country.

Oklahoma State was ranked as the No. 1 team in special teams -- the only Big 12 team to receive a top ranking on Hayes' lists. And that's understandable considering the Cowboys will return top kickoff returner Perrish Cox and punt returner Dez Bryant, who both scored two touchdowns last season. OSU also will return kicker Dan Bailey, who converted all but two of his field goal attempts inside 50 yards last season.

Here are Hayes' defensive positional lists, along with where top Big 12 finishers were ranked.

Defensive line: 1. Florida, 2. Oklahoma.

Linebackers: 1. Alabama, 4. Oklahoma.

Defensive backs: 1. USC, no Big 12 teams ranked.

Special teams: 1. Oklahoma State.

And here are Hayes' offensive positional group leaders.

Quarterbacks: 1. Florida, 2. Oklahoma, 3. Texas.

Running backs: 1. Georgia Tech, 2. Oklahoma State.

Wide receivers/tight ends: 1. Notre Dame, 2. Kansas, 5. Oklahoma State.

Offensive line: 1. USC, no Big 12 teams ranked.

It was a strong across-the-board showing for the conference, although the deficiencies in the two areas where no Big 12 teams were ranked -- the secondary and along the offensive line -- were notable.

Big 12 defensive backs don't receive much national love because of the high-powered offenses across the conference. I'm a little surprised Texas wasn't ranked among the national leaders along the offensive line because of the experience and depth of their talent.