Preseason polls aren't worth much more than the paper they're written on but hey, you have to start somewhere.
For the Big 12, the first USA Today Coaches Poll looks solid without any real surprises. Oklahoma was the only team that landed in the top ten but the league placed 60% of its teams in the top 25 and two more teams had at least a point in the poll.
Here's where the six teams from the Big 12 landed in the opening poll.
11. West Virginia
19. Oklahoma State
21. Kansas State
Oklahoma checked in at number four behind the three obvious choices for the top spot; LSU, Alabama, and USC. Some might argue the Sooners are ranked too high, but really after the top three, it's a crap shoot anyway. They deserve to be there as much as anyone else. What did Denny Green say? "They are who we thought they were," and if they're not, then they'll play their way out of it by season's end.
There's little doubt Kansas State continues to be disrespected when it comes to their national image for whatever reason. The thing is, I'm guessing Bill Snyder couldn't give a hill of beans where his Wildcats start. Not that they needed any, but it's just one more piece of motivation they can use when the season kicks off.
I'm not making any predictions on exactly where K-State finishes other than to say, they'll finish ranked higher than at least three Big 12 teams ahead of them in the preseason when the final polls are released.
Moving to a stronger conference certainly didn't do anything to hurt the Big 12's newcomers in the polls. The Mountaineers finished last season ranked 18th in the finals coaches' poll after playing the season in the Big East. They'll begin their first season in the Big 12 ranked 11th.
Looking at it that way, it doesn't make a ton of sense, but either way, the Mountaineers are bringing a rock solid team with them to the Big 12. Can they handle the increased expectations to go along with much tougher schedule? The voting coaches apparently think so.
No disrespect to the Horned Frogs here, but I'll be surprised if TCU finishes the year ranked in the top 25. If they do however, they will have earned it. How's this for a finishing stretch in conference play? At Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, home versus Kansas State, at Texas, and at home versus Oklahoma. Like I said, if they finish in the top 25, it won't be any fluke.
Oklahoma State came in at number 19 after finishing the last year at number three. They are by far the hardest team to predict in the Big 12. The talent is there to make another run at the top ten, but how they develop around freshman West Lunt at quarterback is the obvious question mark that will surround them in the early part of the season. I tend to fall into the camp the Cowboys are in for another solid season led by an underrated defense, but they 're still going to have to put points on the board to win in the Big 12.
Baylor checked in at what would be the 31st position receiving 23 points. That sounds about right considering the losses on offense and a defense that still has to prove its capable of holding good teams under 30 points.
Who's the homer that voted Texas Tech #25? The Red Raiders received one point in the poll meaning there's at least one person out there who thinks they'll be much better than last season. It wouldn't be surprising to see them back in a bowl game - maybe even expected - but finishing in the top 25 might be overly optimistic. If they can find a way to beat either Oklahoma or West Virginia at home, however, their chances of finishing as a ranked team would go up considerably.
As for the rest of the poll, the SEC dominated the top of the poll with five of their teams ranked in the top ten. They led all the conferences with seven teams ranked overall. The Big 12 finished a close second with the aforementioned six teams. Not bad considering the SEC now has four more teams overall than the Big 12.
As for Missouri and Texas A&M, the changing of conferences didn't have near the same affect it did for West Virginia and TCU. The Aggies checked in at 30th receiving 28 points while Mizzou received three points coming in just behind Florida Internation and just ahead of Northern Illinois.