Four from Big 12 in 'too-early Top 25'

January, 9, 2013
1/09/13
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I released my Big 12 2013 power rankings on Tuesday, and colleague Mark Schlabach dropped his "too-early Top 25," too.

How did the Big 12 fare? Four teams cracked the list, with Texas leading the way at No. 11.

"Will the Longhorns finally move back among the sport's elite? If quarterback David Ash plays the way he did in the second half of a 31-27 victory over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl, UT will have a chance to be a lot better in 2013," Schlabach wrote. "But if Ash and backup Case McCoy continue to struggle, it might be another long season for coach Mack Brown, who might be on his last legs in trying to turn things around."

I'd say that's too high for Texas, but if Ash matures and plays throughout the year with consistency, Texas will definitely be a force and a likely top 10-team.

He also had TCU as the second-highest Big 12 team, at No. 14.

"TCU limped to a 7-6 record in its first season in the Big 12, but it might have been Gary Patterson's best coaching job," he writes. "The Horned Frogs were stung by a drug bust that cost them four players in the offseason, then lost quarterback Casey Pachall to off-field problems after four games (he might return in 2013). By the end of the 2012 campaign, TCU's leading passer (Trevone Boykin), rusher (B.J. Catalon) and pass-rusher (Devonte Fields) were freshmen."

I couldn't agree more there. For TCU to stay afloat with all the problems and youth this season was unbelievable. Credit to Patterson, but we may see the big results next year.

Oklahoma checked in at No. 17.

"Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel will begin the task of replacing Jones, a record-setting quarterback, who threw for 4,267 yards with 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions this past season," he writes. "Sophomore Blake Bell, affectionately known as the Belldozer because of his 6-foot-6, 254-pound frame, is the favorite to win the starting job, but he'll have to hold off junior Drew Allen and freshmen Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson."

No doubt about this one: Oklahoma's fate in 2013 depends on how well the quarterback transition goes. The defense has a lot of questions and low expectations with the high volume of losses, but a good quarterback could keep the Sooners in the hunt for a Big 12 title.

Oklahoma State is the last team in the rankings, all the way down at No. 24.

"The Pokes will have plenty of firepower behind the quarterbacks next season, with running backs Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith returning to school," he writes. "The Cowboys had 20 players make their first career starts this past season; only five other FBS schools had more first-time starters. That experience should pay off in 2013, when OSU plays TCU, Kansas State and Oklahoma at home."

I like OSU's chances more because of its experience and flexibility at quarterback and a defense that should mature, too. I might have slipped Baylor in these preseason rankings, but it'll be close. What do you make of our too-early Top 25?

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