Football is officially back, folks (I say as I cross my fingers). 2020 will be a football season unlike any other. Get ready for empty stadiums, socially distant sidelines, and coaches in masks still covering mouths with play cards. Since the AP Top 25 is still littered with teams not playing this fall, we need an official ranking system to go by and I am here to nominate the WRNL Big 12 Power Rankings(tm) as the standard. Let’s get to it.
1. Oklahoma (This Week: vs Missouri State)
Spencer Rattler is offically in as QB1 for the Sooners after not playing a meaningful snap last year. Kennedy Brooks opted out of the season. CeeDee Lamb is on the Cowboys. And there still wasn’t any doubt about who starts the season at #1. That’s the Lincoln Riley effect. Until proven otherwise, the Sooners get the top spot and will be in position to make the Playoff for the 5th time, even after losing a game to an unranked team along the way.
2. Texas (This Week: vs UTEP)
Is this the year Texas is back? Or was it each of the last 10(!) years now? The good news is with only 10 games on the schedule, the Longhorns chances of losing 5 games in 2020 is lowered. Sam Ehlinger, the 2nd best QB in the conference, leads the way. Not a lot feels different.
3. Iowa State (This Week: vs Louisiana)
Here’s where I get to show my bias. I’ll lean on the best m’fing QB in the league, the best TE group in the country, and the All-Big 12 RB + the best defense in the conference. Louisiana is a tough first opponent, and one of the only games on the schedule this week that can teach us anything meaningful about the quality of this Iowa State team. Let’s goooooo.
4. Oklahoma State (This Week: vs Tulsa)
It’s Chuba Hubbard or bust this year. Gundy’s squad will score points, especially against Tulsa this week. We’ll see how good their defense is in 2020. That’s the key, as it is every year, to competing for a conference title.
5. Baylor (This Week: vs Louisiana Tech)
Dave Aranda was a sneaky great coaching hire after Matt Rhule left for the NFL. A defensive-mined coach in a league dominated by offense is an interesting zag. Charlie Brewer isn’t the most dynamic QB in the world, but he does bring experience. The biggest question is how does a first-time coach manage an offseason with almost no in-person work?
6. Kansas State (This Week: vs Arkansas State)
I’ve got to be honest. I’m struggling to find much to say about K-State. They’ll run the ball. They’ll play defense. Skylar Thompson will be efficient, but not flashy. It’s like The Wizard never left.
7. West Virginia (This Week: vs Eastern Kentucky)
I think Neal Brown is a good coach. The ‘Neers are starting a senior QB with experience, Jarrett Doege. They also bring back leading rusher Leddie Brown. Continuity is key in 2020, so here’s a slight bump up in the hallowed power rankings for the preseason.
8. Texas Tech (This Week: vs Houston Baptist)
Tech could be improved this year, but we still don’t know who is going to play QB. Alan Bowman returns, but has struggled with injuries. There’s basically no experience after him. They’ll beat Houston Baptist by 100 this week and we won’t know anything more.
9. TCU (This Week: vs SMU)
Yeah, about that....
COVID news aside (and seriously, hopefully things get contained), it’s disappointing. TCU-SMU would’ve been the most fun matchup of this patchwork Week 1. TCU is going forward without QB Max Duggan this year, and even with Duggan they struggled to score a year ago. So this might be my hot take of the preseason, but I’m down on TCU.
10. Kansas (This Week: vs Coastal Carolina)
Same story, different year. Although Kansas does have some talent. Pooka Williams and Andrew Parchment are both 1st Team All-Big 12 preseason, believe it or not. In other news, Kansas won’t have fans at the game this weekend. Let’s see how the news was received!