Rider's Early Big 12 Breakdown


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Rider's Early Big 12 Breakdown

The Oklahoma Sooners Currently Sit Atop Tommy Rider's Power Rankings. 

After making power ratings for the SEC, the next conference I tackled was the Big 12. From top to bottom, the Big 12 is loaded this year and could wind up producing more good teams than any other conference in 2008, even the mighty SEC. I grade teams on a scale from 1-10 in the following categories:

Running Back
Receiver/Tight End
Offensive Line
Defensive Line
Special Teams

Power Rating Numbers in Parentheses

1. Oklahoma Sooners (83) - After breaking down the SEC and Big 12, the Sooners rate as my top overall the team in the country. The only teams standing in OU's way for my preseason top spot are Ohio State and USC, which I haven't assigned numbers to yet. The Sooners graded out at a nine or above in six of 10 categories, grabbing a 10 as my top rated offensive line in the country. This team is loaded. Sam Bradford is one of the nations best quarterbacks and the Sooners have tons of talent at RB, WR and LB, to along with a stellar defensive line. OU also has one of the best schedules in regards to making a National Title run. The only question marks OU has entering the season are at placekicker and cornerback.

2. Missouri Tigers (80) - The Tigers rank just below OU, Florida and Georgia right now in my power rankings. Missouri was very consistent in the rating system, getting an eight or higher in eight categories. That includes a rare 10 at quarterback, thanks to the presence of Chase Daniels. What a lot of people who don't follow the Tigers closely may not realize is that they have a strong defense to go along with their explosive offense. Missouri returns a ton of experience and really only needs to find a starting punter. Their schedule also sets up nicely for at least a 10-win season.

3. Texas Tech Red Raiders (78) - A lot of people like the Red Raiders heading into this season and there's a reason for that. This could end being one of the most prolific offenses ever fielded in college football when it's all said and done. With an experienced, talented offensive line, QB Graham Harrell and a dangerous receiving corps headed by stud Michael Crabtree, very few defenses are going to slow down the Red Raiders this season. The improvement comes from a defense that made strides last year and should be even better in 2008. If the defense pulls its weight, the schedule sets up for Tech to be a spoiler in the Big 12 South.

4. Texas Longhorns (76) - I actually thought the Longhorns would grade out higher than this but when I looked into this team closer, I found quite a few questions that need to be answered. Both lines should be strong but the secondary and receiving corps have major concerns heading into the year. Then there is Colt McCoy who is good when he's on but awful when he's not. He needs to be much more consistent for Texas to take the next step. The offensive line, a weakness in 2007, should be a strength this season. The schedule is much tougher than the top three teams in this conference.

5. Kansas Jayhawks (75) - The Jayhawks won't be as good as they were last season but they aren't about to fall off the face of the earth either. This is a solid football team that is strong at quarterback, receiver, defensive line and linebacker. The schedule is much tougher this season with road tests at South Florida and Oklahoma. There is also the neutral site battle with Missouri. Running back could actually be an upgrade this year with the addition of NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year Jocques Crawford. This is a solid all-around team that should be in the mix for a conference title all year long.

6. Oklahoma State Cowboys (74) - I'm probably higher on the Cowboys than most people but I think this is a team that's two years away from possibly competing for a National Title. I believe Zac Robinson is the best spread quarterback in the country behind Tim Tebow and he's going to be even better in his second year as a starter. Sophomore WR Dez Bryant and senior TE Brandon Pettigrew are both future first-round NFL draft picks and the offensive line has the potential to be one of the best in OSU history. While the Cowboys graded seven or higher in every offensive category, seven was the highest score they received on the defensive side of the ball. The secondary should be a strength but the front seven needs to improve drastically if the Cowboys want to contend with the big boys. The schedule sets up for OSU to start the season 5-0.

7. Colorado Buffaloes (66) - Normally when I break down the conferences, there will be a gap between two teams that signals the divide between strong teams and the rest of the bunch. In the Big 12, that divide is between Oklahoma State and Colorado. I like the direction the Buffs are headed and they are definitely a bowl team in 2008, but major question marks in a couple of areas, along with a brutal schedule, could hurt the Buffs progression. Colorado is solid in most areas, grading out at a seven or higher in six categories. However, concerns at receiver and cornerback need to be addressed. Not to mention a schedule that includes games with West Virginia, Florida State, Texas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma State. Ouch.

8. Kansas State Wildcats (64) - The Wildcats grade out as my eighth and final bowl team from the Big 12. They are also my team in this conference that I think could surprise and be better than I have them rated right now, making them a strong "bet on" team for me early in the season. The thing Kansas State has that most other projected lower-level teams don't is QB Josh Freeman. A tremendous talent, Freeman looks ready for a breakout season. The offensive line, linebackers and secondary all graded out at a seven in my rating system. Two other things to like about the Wildcats is they have a favorable schedule and one of the best special teams units in the country.

9. Texas A&M Aggies (63) - The Aggies actually scored a little higher than I thought they would in my objective grading system but I still think they are a team that will struggle this season. Mike Sherman is installing a pro style passing attack but Stephen McGee isn't a great fit for that system. The Aggies received a rating of nine at running back and have a strong secondary and special teams. However, they received a five or lower for schedule, quarterback, receiver/tight end and defensive line. With a murderous schedule, a lot of things will need to go right for A&M to reach a bowl game.

10. Nebraska Cornhuskers (60) - A see a lot of people picking the Cornhuskers rather high this season and I'm not sure why. Bo Pelini may be a great defensive coach but that side of the ball needs a major overhaul after allowing 232 yards rushing per game in 2007. The offense should be solid. The Huskers received strong grades at quarterback, running back and offensive line. However, they must replace three of their top receivers and the defense is still a mess. In three defensive categories, the Huskers received a combined score of 14. That's not good. They must also navigate through a schedule that includes Virginia Tech, Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Kansas. It looks like the second straight season without a bowl berth for Husker Nation.

11. Iowa State Cyclones (57) - The Cyclones should be a much tougher team in Gene Chizik's second season. Iowa State isn't great in any one area but they have a solid offensive line to lead the way for a talented group of runners. If the running game can keep the defense off the field, the Cyclones have a chance to be successful. However, keeping the defense off the field is a must. The group is extremely weak in all three areas, as well as special teams. The schedule is as easy as they come for a lower level Big 12 team.

12. Baylor Bears (49) - This may be the worst team in any of the big conferences. The Bears hired Art Briles away from Houston to build up the program and he'll have a lot of work to do. Baylor is the only team I've done so far that didn't receive a rating of seven in any area. The Bears have my lowest rated offense up to this point and they don't get any help from a weak special teams unit. Bottom line: Baylor will be lucky to win two games this year and keep in mind they play Division I-AA Northwestern State.

  • Cornhuskers gave up an ave. of 232 yds per game on the Ground! THAT'S BAD!

  • As a Big12 specialist in capping the past 17 years (actually used to be the Big 8 when I started) and in the midst of my annual report, I do agree with allot of the takes here, however, I think Nebraska can win one of those tough games you mentioned and the defense does stink but after attending their spring game, their offense is Top 5 in the Big 12, and I do think they will make a minor bowl game this season.  

    Pelini will have the defense better and very aggressive.  VT and Mizzou and Kansas all come to Lincoln, someone will walk out a shocked loser..mark my words.

  • Hey Tommy i think Texas A&M Aggies are going well and they may win. I think there is a < a href="www.probettingsystemsreview.com/">pro betting</a> is going on the play.

  • TR, Great Writeup. OU & MIZZ look like the Favorites going in.

  • Thanks a lot Dave and there's no doubt what you said could happen. This is a tough conference and as you can see, I like teams like Oklahoma State, Colorado and Kansas State. They certainly have the talent to upset any of the higher ranked teams. Just for a point of reference, I find that these power rankings really help me when it comes to the lower portion of the conferences. We all know OU and Missouri are supposed to be good. But a couple of things I got out of doing this is that Nebraska is much worse than I originally thought and Baylor is downright awful. Nebraska plays a team like Western Michigan early on and if that spread is between 17-20, I may find a lot of value there. And any spread that has Baylor less than a 17 point do is going to get pounded by me early on. Personally, I really like Missouri but I can't sit here and say I would be shocked to see them lose even three games in a conference this tough.

  • I understand Mizzou has an improving D, two legit Heisman contenders and a great offense, but they are too high in the preseason polls IMO. With a coach that continues to shoot himself in the foot with poor in-game decision making, they will lose a game or two this season that they shouldn't.

    Great blog TR, can't wait for football!

  • OU will dominate this year, its that simple.

  • Great answer Tommy - thanks for the clarification.

  • Good question Matty. This is objective power ratings based on numbers. I come up with this grading system based on research and I try not to allow my own personal opinion to creep in. Personally, I like Missouri's chances to win it all this year based on their schedule and overall team makeup. But as far as assigning grades, they fell a couple of points short of OU. When I made them the top team, I assumed they would play OU in the Big 12 Championship Game and win but things like that are along way away. Again, I use these power rankings for early betting purposes. For instance, you'll notice that Nebraska gets a low rating from me. However, they are still Nebraska and a lot of the public probably thinks they will be much improved this season. I don't, so this may help me catch some favorable lines betting against the Huskers early in the year.

  • Hey Tommy, didn't you have Mizzou ranked as your #1 team in the country?  If so, do you think the Tigers will finally beat Oklahoma, or are you starting to have second thoughts about them?