Now that all of the Big 12 teams have completed their spring practices, it is time to power rank the Big 12 teams heading into next fall.
The Sooners return quarterback Landry Jones, but will look to replace all time leading receiver Ryan Broyles. On defense OU has to replace Travis Lewis, Ronnell Lewis, and Frank Alexander. Although they have to replace a lot of production, OU still gets the nod at the top of the conference because of coaching and great recruiting.
2. Kansas State
K-State returns quarterback Collin Klein and most of their skill players on offense. They will have to replace most of their offensive line however. On defense, All-Big 12 linebacker Arthur Brown returns as well as shutdown cornerback Nigel Malone. Look for Bill Snyder’s Cats to play smart and not turn the ball over much in the fall.
3. West Virginia
Coming of a 70-33 win over Clemson in the Orange Bowl, West Virginia has high hopes headed into 2012. They are led by Heisman hopeful QB Geno Smith and wide receiver Tavon Austin. Look for Dana Holgerson’s offense to put up monster numbers in his second season at the helm.
Gary Patterson’s squad plays smart and is very tough on defense. Expect a somewhat rough transition into the Big 12, although quarterback Casey Paschall will keep them in games.
Mack Brown’s squad has probably the best roster in the country, if you don’t include the quarterback position. If they can get that figured out, look for them to move up these rankings quick.
6. Oklahoma State
True Freshman quarterback Wes Lunt won the job in spring ball. That raises many questions about the offense if a kid that has been on campus for 3 months wins the job. OSU has a great coach in Mike Gundy, but it will be tough to replicate the numbers that Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon put up last fall.
7. Iowa State
Iowa State has two of the three best linebackers in the league in AJ Klein and Jake Knott. Their defense will be stout as always, but their offense will be questionable.
How is Baylor going to replace RG3? They have a good secondary returning, but replacing RG3 is critical. That’s the million dollar question that will determine Baylor’s fate in 2012.
9. Texas Tech
Tech returns a lot of players including quarterback Seth Doege, but they didn’t produce much last year. It will be interesting to see what Tommy Tuberville can cook up down in Lubbock this season.
New head coach Charlie Weis takes over the reigns in Lawrence. He brought in former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist to be his starter in 2012 which should ease the transition into his tenure at KU. Don’t expect much from the Jayhawks in 2012, however.