4 Big 12 Teams Included in Preseason AP Top 25 Poll
Oklahoma predictably got the No. 3 spot in the recent poll due to return of redshirt junior QB Baker Mayfield and junior RB Samaje Perine, who are considered one of the best backfield tandems in the country, while TCU came in at No. 13 after an impressive rally against Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.
Rounding out the list is No. 21 Oklahoma State and No. 23 Baylor, who dropped in the rankings even after their bowl win against a higher ranked North Carolina.
Baylor Opens Season with New Coach
Interim head coach Jim Grobe was hired after Baylor had a particularly rough off-season. The summer started with the firing of celebrated coach Art Briles after he came under intense scrutiny about how he handled his players’ sexual abuse allegations and continued with the transfers and decommitments of several key players. Briles had transformed the Bears into a perennial powerhouse, making his firing a big shakeup for the school and the Big 12.
Grobe and the Bears will be looking to put the summer behind them when they play their home opener against Northwestern State on Sept. 2.
Jayhawks and Cyclones Seeking to Right the Ships
Kansas and Iowa State were two of the three teams from the Big 12 (the other being Texas) to not play in a bowl game, and both are looking towards their season opener to get a long awaited win.
Iowa State’s last win was its shutout of Texas last Halloween, and their 3-9 record was enough to prompt the replacement of veteran coach Paul Rhoads with former Toledo head coach Matt Campbell. The Cyclones will play nearby FCS school Northern Iowa.
The Jayhawks, for their part, have yet to win a game under second year head coach David Beaty and have yet to win a game since Nov. 8, 2014. After going 0-12 last year, Kansas is hoping to break their losing streak against FCS school Rhode Island. While no win against a FCS team is certain, Rhode Island’s 2015 record of 1-10 indicates that Kansas may finally snap the streak.
Kansas State and Oklahoma Open with Tough Competition
While most other schools in the conference, barring Texas, will open with what should be an easy win, Kansas State and Oklahoma will do just the opposite.
Oklahoma will face No. 15 Houston in Houston, and while the Sooners are ranked well ahead of the Cougars, Houston’s fantastic 2015 season, including a win at the Peach Bowl over Florida State, has proven that they’re not to be shrugged off.
The Wildcats will head to Palo Alto to face No. 8 Stanford, who ended last season strongly and have standout RB and Heisman-hopeful Christian McCaffrey behind their line. While Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has led the team to strong performances most seasons, the Cardinal may prove too big a challenge.