Tony George knows the Big 12! Here are Tony’s exclusive Big 12 Power Ratings for you to digest.
1. Oklahoma – 92
Loaded at skill positions, best QB in the Conference, best RB in the Conference. Quite possibly a Final 4 team. Opener at Houston is tricky early on, also having Ohio State in Norman early (3rd game ) is going to test this talented team. If they clear those hurdles and sky is the limit if the QB stays healthy because Mayfield is a stud. Of course The Red River game with Texas (OU got crushed last year in that game and will have revenge on their mind), plus Baylor and Okie State on the road are going to be tough games as well. The schedule is brutal, if they can go undefeated or have a 1 loss scenario at seasons end and still win the Big 12, I think they make the Final 4 Playoff. They do have Okie State in Norman this year in the Bedlam Game. OU has a bad taste in their mouth after Clemson waxed them in the Orange Bowl last season, and this is a team on a mission.
2. Oklahoma State – 89
Loaded with 19 returning starters (including stud special teamers) I have the Cowboys ranked higher than many, but this team can flat out score with anyone behind QB Mason Rudolf, an absolute stud. 10 players back on offense, they have outstanding kicker and punter returning, playmakers all over the place on defense, entire OL back, and Gundy is a good coach who takes chances. I like them to contend all season and they get big brother OU in the Bedlam series at Norman in the final game which could be for the whole shooting match. They lost 3 straight after an undefeated season to that point in 2015 including the bowl game. Non conference schedule is soft with biggest game at home against Pitt in week 3. Texas, West Virginia and TCU and OU on the road, but still like them to be in the hunt all year and anything can happen in the Bedlam game December 3rd.
West Virginia -87
MY SLEEPER TEAM IN THE BIG 12 IN 2016. Look out as Dana Holgorsen is on the hot seat and will pull out all the stops this season. QB Skyler Howard is a rock star, and the high octane, risk taking offense returns 7 players. They open up the season as a 10 point favorite in Morgantown against Mizzou, and also play BYU in Landover Maryland in the non conference. Big games at home are an advantage, which is a snake-pit and brutal travel venue for opponents and TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor come calling. Talented skill players and speed everywhere, loaded at WR led by a strong armed QB will put up points. I like the Mountaineers to score a lot, the defense is suspect especially at LB but WV looks to just trade punches on the scoreboard which is Holgorsen’s style. Risk and Reward again but West Virginia can score with anyone in the country.
Texas – 86
Many have Texas lower, but I think Charlie Strong’s discipline takes hold this year, and the bad seeds have been weeded out. A Big Win over Oklahoma last year in the Red River War, plus a win at Baylor and a close loss by 3 to Okie State proved this team is on the rise and 14 starters return. A Veer and Shoot offense again this year and the QB position is still a 2 headed monster but they have speed and talent everywhere and a young defense last year has matured. They open with Notre Dame and also have Cal in the non conference but this is a pesky team who will give anyone a game. Strong’s job already on the line, I expect a offense a year into this system to put up more points and the talent level to jump us and scare some people and a few upsets when a dog would not surprise me.
Many had Baylor as high as 2 in the Big 12 and a Top 5 ranked team before the scandal hit, and many still do, but the off-season debacle and Art Briles and the AD both being fired, and many of the talented players bolting in the wake of the scandal has me down on them. I cannot imagine this talented team led by a talented QB in in Seth Russell can really overcome all the distractions and be a major contender this season as they were originally slated for. Jim Grobe from Wake Forest is the new guy, and a better than average head coach I might add, but he has to completely revamp the schemes and staff, and while loaded with talent, I think Baylor falls badly this season, thus bucking the public perception. This program was Art Briles and his alone, and he is gone, and it affects them this season in my opinion in a big way. They have a pathetic non conference schedule and play at OU, WV, TCU and Texas. 7 wins here and a bowl game would be huge success in Grobes first year.
TCU – 84
TCU lost everyone basically on offense (only 2 return) and I do not trust them to be better than a .600 ball club with the loss of so much talent on offense. You have to score points in bunches in the Big 12 to compete, and there are just many holes to fill for TCU on offense for me to like them, especially NFL talent at QB and WR to be replaced. Hill or Sawyer at QB is still undecided, as Boykin is gone and was a huge play maker for them over the past few years and the teams overall leader. Oklahoma at home October 1 will be the barometer and I think they fail badly. An average team who will compete but lack experience. TCU’s greatest strength is their defense but they will get tired in big games when the inexperienced offense goes 3 and out too many times.
Kansas State – 82
Bill Snyder in play here guys, the ol savvy veteran head coach, and never ever count him out. Snyder gets 14 starters back, and a weak non conference schedule as always in order to build his teams confidence and work in his always good JUCO players into the mix (including Bryon Pringle who is a stud WR). QB Jess Ertz is back to 100% and will be a boost on the offense, the defense will be better than average and maybe one of the best LB units in the Big 12, and K State have a decent 1-2 punch at RB, and no doubt Bill Snyder will have a few tricks up his sleeve and always give you a game. This is a physical team who was just killed last year with injuries to key skill players, they will be better in 2016.
Texas Tech -80
Texas Tech will be led by stud QB gunslinger Pat Mahomes on offense, they do have a good RB duo in Stockton and Felton who are both dangerous catching passes, and Mahomes does have 3 good WR to throw to. The defense in year 2 under David Gibbs still a work in progress, and quite frankly Cliff Kingsbury is not a good head coach in clutch situations and makes some bonehead play calls at times. You just cannot win with an undisciplined team lead by an undisciplined head coach. The defense will surrender points consistently.
Iowa State – 78
Paul Rhodes is gone at head coach, and while he was a great head coach, the W-L numbers were 2 bad to overcome for the Cyclones. 36 year old ex-Toledo head coach Matt Campbell takes over and has his hands full. Basically he brought his entire Toledo staff with him. I will admit his recruiting went better than expected and the youth movement at ISU will take hold this year and pay dividends in the future, and of course some learning curve issues in season 1 under a new head coach is expected. Only 4 return from a vastly unproductive offense, QB Lanning actually is a good QB with a deep ball arm and he is getting more accurate, but all this counts little when your entire OL has to be revamped. Mike Warren is one of the better RB’s in the Big 12 no one has heard of. Not sure how the Cyclones trade punches on the scoreboard and they do have some defensive talent and depth, and they have a very favorable schedule, but an entire new coaching staff, and a retooled OL. A work in progress
Kansas – 72
Well at least there is basketball season to look forward to at KU, there always is. A product of being a basketball school first and a football school second still is the scenario for second year head coach David Beaty who has yet to record a win as a head coach at Kansas after his first year went 0-12. KU has surpassed 21 points in a game only once in their last 28 games, that is just unreal. QB Willis is immobile but has a good arm, RB Kinner is good but no solid backup, the OL is a mess still. The defense is young and still learning and of course lack depth, and when your offense flat out stinks, lack of depth for a defense when they are on the field all the time is a huge issue. 2 Wins maybe this season, and near dead last almost in every stat category in Division 1 football may improve slightly .
Tony George posts at least one Big 12 game a week as part of his packages. Look for Tony’s plays here at Vegas Pro Insiders Daily or at www.tonygeorgesports.com ALL PLAYS are GUARANTEED!