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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The Big 12's new spot in post-spring Top 25

By David Ubben

Colleague Mark Schlabach updated his preseason Top 25 after the spring, and there's still no Big 12 teams in the top 10, but two made his top 15.

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I agree with shutting the Big 12 out of the top 10, though it would be the first time in league history it lacked a team in the preseason top 10. Where we disagree? The order.

Schlabach has Texas as the Big 12's top team at No. 13.

"(Mack) Brown also believes UT's defense, which ranked 73rd nationally in scoring defense (29.2 points per game) last season, will be more equipped to defend hurry-up offenses after seeing one in practice every day," Schlabach writes.

Maybe Texas ends up winning the league, but that defense has to show me something more and the offense has to be more consistent before I really believe the league's best team is the Longhorns. Two spots later, my Big 12 favorite, Oklahoma State, makes its appearance.

"(Defensive coordinator Glenn) Spencer inherits an experienced defense -- 13 of the top 27 players on the defensive depth chart are seniors," Schlabach writes.

Good points there, and one that gets overlooked. It'll pay off for the Pokes, who actually moved up five spots from No. 20 since Schlabach's last update. Texas had moved up one spot, from No. 14.

Oklahoma, though, is at No. 17, down two spots from the last update.

"The Sooners have to settle on a starting quarterback (all signs point to Blake Bell replacing record-setting passer Landry Jones), but their biggest concerns are still on the defensive side of the ball," Schlabach writes. "OU coach Bob Stoops admitted this spring that defensive coordinator Mike Stoops (his brother) might have underestimated the strength of Big 12 offenses in his first season back in the league."

Very interesting revelation from Schlabach there, who made a visit to Norman this spring. I definitely agree about the defense being a bigger issue, but Stoops sounded optimistic last week about the progress of some younger players like Frank Shannon and Cortez Johnson.

The fourth Big 12 team is right at No. 18, down from No. 17. That's my Big 12 No. 2: TCU.

"The Horned Frogs learned plenty while finishing 7-6 in their first season in the Big 12. They know defense is still their strength, after leading the Big 12 in total defense, allowing 323.9 yards per game," he writes.

That's no small accomplishment, especially considering how their fellow Big 12 newcomer, West Virginia, handled the offenses. TCU had to deal with tons of injuries and a whole lot of youth on defense, and still had the league's best defense. Amazing stuff.

Schlabach's much higher on Kansas State than I am, keeping the Wildcats at No. 20 coming off their Big 12 title season.

"Kansas State is renovating Bill Snyder Family Stadium this spring, and the Wildcats' venerable coach is rebuilding his football team, too," he writes.

Certainly seems like we have differing opinions on just how well that rebuilding project will go.

That's quite a logjam, and you can see why the league looks so wide open. That's five Big 12 teams in seven spots from No. 13 to No. 20. There's just not much separation between the league's No. 1 team and No. 7 team. Baylor and Texas Tech won't have to do much to crack the Top 25 this season, but I still see the Big 12 with four major contenders and three teams who could definitely get in the mix.