Oklahoma State rates as early favorite … for now

Posted Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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1Oklahoma State

The Cowboys have two quality quarterbacks (Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh), a veteran defense and a favorable schedule. Against the five other top teams, OSU plays four of them in Stillwater, Okla. The lone road trip is at Texas, Nov. 16. That should be enough to swing a close race in the Cowboys’ direction.

QB Clint Chelf

Mike Gundy is likely to withhold his starting quarterback until the Cowboys open against Mississippi State, but in the case of Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh, who starts is not all that important. They are similarly skilled and both, like last season, will play a lot.

Key number

170.11 Pass efficiency rating for Denton Guyer alumnus Walsh, who started three games as a true freshman before an injury. He led all freshman quarterbacks nationally and had a sizable edge on Chelf, who finished with a 147.15 rating in 2012, which includes five starts.

Quotable

“We’ve got two young men that we feel very comfortable with, and they’ve worked and they’re extremely dedicated to our program. They’re great team players. They’ll get equal reps [in practice].” — OSU coach Mike Gundy to the Tulsa World in July.

Schedule
Aug. 31 vs. Mississippi St.*
Sept. 7 at UT San Antonio
Sept. 14 vs. Lamar
Sept. 28 at West Virginia
Oct. 5 vs. Kansas State
Oct. 19 vs. TCU
Oct. 26 at Iowa State
Nov. 2 at Texas Tech
Nov. 9 vs. Kansas
Nov. 16 at Texas
Nov. 23 vs. Baylor
Dec. 7 vs. Oklahoma

*Houston

2Texas

From a national perspective, no team has a higher upside than the Longhorns. Texas features the league’s most experienced nucleus (19 returning starters) and most experienced starting QB (David Ash). But questions loom about potential and desire for a team with a combined mark of 22-16 the past three seasons.

QB David Ash

The junior is primed to help lead the ’Horns back to prominence after a solid, if sometimes erratic, 2012 season in which he started 12 games. That’s the hope anyway for Mack Brown, who has laid much of the team’s fate at the feet of Ash.

Key number

259.06 Pass efficiency rating against Ole Miss in 2012 after completing 19 of 23 passes for 326 yards and a career-best four touchdowns. He completed 15 consecutive passes during the 66-31 win.

Quotable

“[David Ash is] leading the team much better, and they believe in him right now. Sitting here the last two years, I haven’t been able to say that.” — Texas coach Mack Brown at Big 12 media days

Schedule

Aug. 31 vs. New Mexico St.
Sept. 7 at BYU
Sept. 14 vs. Ole Miss
Sept. 21 vs. Kansas State
Oct. 3 at Iowa State
Oct. 12 vs. Oklahoma*
Oct. 26 at TCU
Nov. 2 vs. Kansas
Nov. 9 at West Virginia
Nov. 16 vs. Oklahoma State
Nov. 28 vs. Texas Tech
Dec. 7 at Baylor

*Dallas

3Oklahoma

During the Bob Stoops era, the Sooners have won at least a share of eight championships in 14 seasons. But the defense is in transition, the quarterback will be new and a once-lengthy list of offensive difference-makers has dwindled. History suggests it is foolish to count out OU. But logic suggests a 2013 title is unlikely.

QB Trevor Knight

The redshirt freshman won the job from more experienced junior Blake Bell late in camp after an impressive spring and August. Knight could follow in the footsteps of predecessor Landry Jones, a four-year starter who eclipsed most OU passing records. Knight has the added bonus of Johnny Manziel-like mobility.

Key number

16,646 Career passing yards, third-most in NCAA history, for Landry Jones, who ran OU’s offense the last four years.

Quotable

“Both Trevor and Blake have competed hard, and both will be ready to play against Louisiana-Monroe. Like every other position on our team, I expect them both to continue competing for the starting job.” — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops

Schedule
Aug. 31vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Sept. 7vs. West Virginia
Sept. 14vs. Tulsa
Sept. 28at Notre Dame
Oct. 5vs. TCU
Oct. 12vs. Texas*
Oct. 19at Kansas
Oct. 26vs. Texas Tech
Nov. 7at Baylor
Nov. 16vs. Iowa State
Nov. 23at Kansas State
Dec. 7at Oklahoma State

*Dallas

4TCU

If the Horned Frogs’ offense benefits from the return of QB Casey Pachall and the infusion of several new offensive weapons (transfers and freshmen), TCU has the ability to win the Big 12 title. The defense is good enough. But much is still to be determined on offense.

QB Casey Pachall

Pachall hasn’t been declared the starter as coach Gary Patterson plans to keep that a secret until the Aug. 31 opener against LSU. But whether he starts the opening game or comes in a play later or even trades series with Trevone Boykin, there’s no getting around that, in 2013 at least, Pachall’s accurate passing is the way to big-time success for the Frogs.

Key number

163.1 Career pass efficiency rating for Pachall, who has thrown for 36 touchdowns and eight interceptions in his career.

Quotable

“If it’s even, we’ll go with the older guy.” — TCU coach Gary Patterson the day August camp opened.

Schedule
Aug. 31vs. LSU*
Sept. 7vs. SE Louisiana
Sept. 12at Texas Tech
Sept. 28vs. SMU
Oct. 5at Oklahoma
Oct. 12vs. Kansas
Oct. 19at Oklahoma St.
Oct. 26vs. Texas
Nov. 2vs. West Virginia
Nov. 9at Iowa State
Nov. 16at Kansas State
Nov. 30vs. Baylor

*Arlington

5Kansas State

The Wildcats lost the brunt of their defense as well as dual-threat quarterback Collin Klein to graduation after last year’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Oregon. But there is ample returning offensive firepower (eight starters), a pair of promising QBs and coach Bill Snyder, who regularly turns two-star recruits into four-star producers.

QB Jake Waters

Bill Snyder might be the one coach in the league who has a legitimate reason for not naming a starting quarterback in early August. Waters, a community college transfer, beat sophomore Daniel Sams for the job. Sams played sparingly as Collin Klein’s backup last season. Both are expected to see action.

Key number

273.9 Total yards per game quarterback Collin Klein contributed in 2012, more than half of K-State’s 401.4 average.

Quotable

“Whoever wins it out, the other guy has got to be ready to play as well. That’s the biggest thing. The last couple years we haven’t really had that luxury. We have been on pins and needles. The first guy goes down and we are in trouble. Now if we stay healthy and the first guy goes down, there isn’t going to be that big of a difference.” — K-State offensive coordinator Dana Dimel in the Kansas City Star

Schedule
Aug. 30vs. North Dakota St.
Sept. 7vs. La.-Monroe
Sept. 14vs. Massachusetts
Sept. 21at Texas
Oct. 5at Oklahoma State
Oct. 12vs. Baylor
Oct. 26vs. West Virginia
Nov. 2vs. Iowa State
Nov. 9at Texas Tech
Nov. 16vs. TCU
Nov. 23vs. Oklahoma
Nov. 30at Kansas

6Baylor

The Bears could jump from sixth to first if they can finish plus-10 or better in turnover margin (last year’s team was minus-1). The burden falls to a leaky defense to make more stops because the offense should hum with RB Lache Seastrunk in the Heisman Trophy mix.

QB Bryce Petty

The fourth-year junior from Midlothian finally gets the keys to the sports car that is the Bears’ offense, which has finished second nationally in yards per game the last two seasons. He has little experience with only 11 stints as a backup.

Key numbers

4,200 and 33 Benchmarks for passing yards and touchdowns set by former Baylor quarterbacks Robert Griffin III (4,293 yards and 37 TDs in 2011) and Nick Florence (4,309 yards and 33 TDs in 2012).

Quotable

“A reasonable expectation [for Petty], the first thing that popped into my mind is break every Baylor record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do. His expectations are to win every game and be the best quarterback in the United States of America.” — Baylor coach Art Briles

Schedule
Aug. 31vs. Wofford
Sept. 7vs. Buffalo
Sept. 21vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Oct. 5vs. West Virginia
Oct. 12at Kansas State
Oct. 19vs. Iowa State
Oct. 26at Kansas
Nov. 7vs. Oklahoma
Nov. 16vs. Texas Tech*
Nov. 23at Oklahoma State
Nov. 30at TCU
Dec. 7vs. Texas

*Arlington

7Texas Tech

First-year coach Kliff Kingsbury inherits a young team with talent, led by intriguing QBs Michael Brewer and Davis Webb. But the Red Raiders lack depth in the offensive line and will feature their fifth defensive coordinator in five seasons. Expect growing pains but a hard-earned bowl berth.

QB Michael Brewer

Brewer is likely to miss several weeks with a back injury, so Tech will be forced to use a freshman in its opener. They have two true freshman options in Davis Webb and Lake Travis walk-on Baker Mayfield.

Key number

1984 The last year Texas Tech started a true freshman in its season opener.

Quotable

“They’re all performing well, so it’s been exciting to see them step up.” — Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury on his young quarterbacks in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Schedule
Aug. 30at SMU
Sept. 7vs. Stephen F. Austin
Sept. 12vs. TCU
Sept. 21vs. Texas State
Oct. 5at Kansas
Oct. 12vs. Iowa State
Oct. 19at West Virginia
Oct. 26at Oklahoma
Nov. 2vs. Oklahoma State
Nov. 9vs. Kansas State
Nov. 16vs. Baylor*
Nov. 28at Texas

*Arlington

8West Virginia

Last year’s primary offensive playmakers are in the NFL. The nucleus from last year’s porous defense returns. That’s a dangerous combination. But the Mountaineers could be bowl-bound if the pass rush improves and plug-in RB Charles Sims, a transfer from Houston, elevates the ground game.

QB Clint Trickett

Coach Dana Holgorsen, like many of his Big 12 brethren, declined to name a quarterback until late in August camp. Junior and Flower Mound High ex Paul Millard could start just as easily as Trickett, who tranferred from Florida State in May. In fact, Trickett, a redshirt junior, has two years of of eligibility remaining.

Key number

17 Games played by Trickett at Florida State, including completing 22 of 34 passes for 272 yards in 2012. Millard has played in 11 career games at WVU, completing 16 of 34 passes for 211 yards with three TDs and three INTs.

Quotable

“Paul and Ford have elevated their game. ... I think they’ve gotten better, which isn’t making our job any easier.” — WVU coach Dana Holgorsen on deciding his starting quarterback

Schedule
Aug. 31vs. William & Mary
Sept. 7at Oklahoma
Sept. 14vs. Georgia State
Sept. 21vs. Maryland*
Sept. 28vs. Oklahoma St.
Oct. 5at Baylor
Oct. 19vs. Texas Tech
Oct. 26at Kansas State
Nov. 2at TCU
Nov. 9vs. Texas
Nov. 16at Kansas
Nov. 30vs. Iowa State

*Baltimore

9Iowa State

A scrappy team led by a savvy coach will need to win at least three conference games to qualify for a bowl berth. It happened last season. It could again. But there is too much youth on defense (four returning starters) and too little firepower on offense to expect a lot from these Cyclones.

QB Sam Richardson

The redshirt sophomore from Winter Park, Fla., sat on the bench for much of 2012 until playing extensively in the Cyclones’ last three games. He threw for 541 yards and eight touchdowns with only one interception.

Key number

1,009 Combined yards in 2012 for returning running backs James White (505 yards) and Shontrelle Johnson (504 yards), both seniors.

Quotable

“I think Sam has had a really, really good camp. If he’s going to play well, he’s got to be able to carry us a little bit at times, especially if we have lulls.” — Iowa State offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham to the Des Moines Register

Schedule
Aug. 31vs. Northern Iowa
Sept. 14vs. Iowa
Sept. 26at Tulsa
Oct. 3vs. Texas
Oct. 12at Texas Tech
Oct. 19at Baylor
Oct. 26vs. Oklahoma State
Nov. 2at Kansas State
Nov. 9vs. TCU
Nov. 16at Oklahoma
Nov. 23vs. Kansas
Nov. 30at West Virginia

10Kansas

Coach Charlie Weis compared his team’s talent level to “a pile of crap” at Big 12 media days. Not much elaboration is necessary, considering the Jayhawks were 1-11 last season. Hope for a turnaround rests with new QB Jake Heaps, a transfer from Brigham Young.

QB Jake Heaps

The junior sat out 2012 after transferring from BYU, where he threw for 1,452 yards and nine touchdowns with eight interceptions in six starts in 2011.

Key number

No. 1 Heaps’ rating as the top quarterback recruit in the country by Scout.com and No. 1 pro-style quarterback by Rivals.com coming out of high school in 2009

Quotable

“I think we have all been very upbeat and pleased with how things have gone with Jake. But now is the next step. We need to get to the next step. If what we are anticipating ends up happening, then I think we have a chance.” — Kansas coach Charlie Weis, Aug. 7

Schedule
Sept. 7vs. South Dakota
Sept. 14at Rice
Sept. 21vs. Louisiana Tech
Oct. 5vs. Texas Tech
Oct. 12at TCU
Oct. 19vs. Oklahoma
Oct. 26vs. Baylor
Nov. 2at Texas
Nov. 9at Oklahoma State
Nov. 16vs. West Virginia
Nov. 23at Iowa State
Nov. 30vs. Kansas State

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