What To Make Of The Big 12’s Preseason Poll
By Bob Hertzel
Mid-July is a wonderful time for football.
Everyone is undefeated and will be for another month and a half.
If you want to cry “We’re No. 1,” go ahead.
West Virginia, for example, believes it might be on the verge of a really big season. It has brought in a quarterback in Will Grier, a Florida transfer, who figures to be a step up from a quarterback who last year won 10 games in Skyler Howard.
What’s more, the Mountaineers brought in an offensive coordinator in Jake Spavital who is considered one of the bright young offensive minds in the game of football, a prodigy developed by head coach Dana Holgorsen who showed he could develop high-powered offenses on his own.
So, if you drive around Morgantown and hear that “We’re No. 1!” cry, don’t just dismiss it out of hand.
But, if it was getting too strong and a dose of reality needed to bring things back to earth, it has come in the form of the Big 12’s Preseason Poll as voted upon by selected media who cover the conference.
To that group of media members, WVU is not No. 1; not No. 2 or No. 3; not even No. 4 or No. 5.
No, their analysis of the Mountaineers’ place in the Big 12 is at No. 6, and if no one can say right now that those who believe the WVU believers cries of “We’re No. 1” are wrong, equally no one can say putting the Mountaineers sixth is wrong either.
So how did they see the league?
Well, in most quarters it is conceded that the league race will be Bedlam, which is what they call the annual showdown between Oklahoma and in-state rival Oklahoma State.
The media gives the nod to Oklahoma over Oklahoma State by the narrow margin of 203 points to 194, the Sooners collecting 19 votes for first place and the Cowboys 12.
The other first place vote went to Kansas State and one suggests it might be a sentimental vote out of the zip code 66506, which is that of the university. Veteran Wildcats coach Bill Snyder has fought cancer this year and many believe he is entering his final season as coach.
Logic certainly says you have to put both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State ahead of WVU, the Sooners returning maybe the best quarterback in the nation in Baker Mayfield among 16 returning starters.
Mayfield was a Heisman Trophy finalist last year and you can’t find too many people that don’t expect him to be there for the presentation again this year. And if the predictions are right, he may very well wind up being the man accepting the trophy.
But here’s the thing — if Mayfield is the No. 1 quarterback in the nation, Oklahoma State probably has No. 2 in Mason Rudolph, who is nearing the start of his final season with the Cowboys.
What’s more, he’s hardly alone on offense. While Mayfield lost such offensive talents as wide receiver Dede Westbrook and running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine, Rudolph can hand the ball to Justice Hill, who set the freshman rushing record at Oklahoma State last year … and Oklahoma State knows something about running backs with Barry Sanders and Thurman Thomas having played there.
Rudolph also has a spectacular receiver in James Washington and an LSU transfer, Tyron Johnson, once a five-star recruit, as targets.
Perhaps the most important thing Oklahoma State has going for it is the schedule for games against TCU and Oklahoma are at home.
However it works out, it should be a great season in the Big 12. Texas was chosen fourth in the conference and projects to regain much of the prestige that had been sapped away over the past three years, while TCU, picked fifth, figures to regain its place among the top half of the conference.
So sit back and enjoy, it’s getting close with Media Days coming up next week where everyone will tell you why they are No. 1 right now.