CFN 2012 First Look Rankings
2011 CFN Pre-Preseason First Look Rankings
Top 10 |
Rankings 76-100 | The
2011 CFN Final Season Rankings
Top 10 |
11-25 | Rankings
Rankings 76-100 | The
- CFN 2011
It might seem way too early, but considering the returning starters and the teams coming back,
where does everyone stand before Signing Day and spring ball? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for 2012 based on how good
they appear to be at the moment.
1. Oklahoma (10-3)
Let's try this again. As always, Oklahoma has the talent and the potential to win the national title, but will this finally be the season Bob Stoops can get the program over the hump? Getting Landry Jones back for his senior year was a huge piece of the puzzle, and welcoming back Mark Stoops as an assistant coach should put the bite back in the D. Four starters return to an underappreciated offensive line, but the O needs Roy Finch and others to step up and shine for the ground game until Blake Bell can pound it in. Jaz Reynolds and Kenny Stills should blow up and be among the nation's best receiving tandems.
The defense that broke down in key parts last year loses leader Travis Lewis at linebacker and has to go on without pass rushing end Frank Alexander, but eight starters are back with good depth expected on the line and in the secondary to form a good rotation. Michael Hunnicutt should be among the nation's top kickers, while Tress Way is an all-star caliber punter.
2. Texas (8-5)
Enough is enough. The defense that led the Big 12, and finished 11th in the nation despite playing in a conference loaded with top offenses, will be fantastic. It's deep, talented, and full of next-level playmakers even with tackle Kheeston Randall, MLB Keenan Robinson, and WLB Emmanuel Acho gone. End Jackson Jeffcoat should be in for a huge year, while Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom form a good corner tandem for a great secondary. And then there's the offense. David Ash is expected to take the starting quarterback job by the horns, but he'll have to fight to keep it. Malcolm Brown has the ability and potential to be the program's best back since Cedric Benson, while the receiving corps of Jaxon Shipley, Marquise Goodwin, and Mike Davis could be the best Texas has had in a decade. The O line that started four underclassmen should be a rock. The biggest loss might be clutch kicker Justin Tucker.
3. West Virginia (10-3)
(Note: This is if the Mountaineers get to play in the Big 12 this season)
Which West Virginia will show up? Will it be the one that blew the doors off of Clemson in a jaw-dropping Orange Bowl win, or will it be the one that struggled in game after game against mediocre Big East teams? The offense should be unstoppable with quarterback Geno Smith a possible Heisman front-runner, and all the key skill weapons back at his disposal including RB Shawne Alston and WR Tavon Austin. The line has to replace two starters, but it should be fine with a little bit of time. The defense will be along for the ride, but it'll be loaded with experience with three starters back up front – but not top end Julian Miller – and two back at linebacker. Three starters return in the secondary only losing safety Eain Smith.
4. TCU (11-2)
TCU will be entering the Big 12 world with an offense built to keep up the pace with any high-octane passing game. Casey Pachall will be one of the league's most talented bombers, and his receivers Brandon Carter, Skye Dawson, and Josh Boyce are special. Throw in the running back trio of Ed Wesley, Matthew Tucker, and Waymon James, and the attack should explode once the line jells. After taking a year off, the defense has the potential to be back up to TCU's normal standards with seven starters returning. The front four should be devastating, however, heart-and-soul linebacker Tank Carder is gone along with key safeties Johnny Fobbs and Tekerrein Cuba.
5. Oklahoma State (12-1)
The Cowboys aren't going to fall off the map, but they're going to take a step back after losing QB Brandon Weeden and two-time Biletnikoff winner Justin Blackmon. Clint Chelf will get the first look at quarterback, and he'll get a star back to in Joseph Randle to take the heat off. Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson have to shine in place of Blackmon. Losing three starters off the offensive line is a big deal, and Josh Cooper will be missed after thriving on the other side of Blackmon. The defense was better and more aggressive than it got credit for, and now it has to replace both ends and leader Markelle Martin, who might be the first strong safety taken in the draft. All three starting linebackers, and leading tacker Daytawion Lowe at free safety, return. Quinn Sharp will be in the hunt for both the Lou Groza and the Ray Guy awards.
6. Kansas State (10-3)
What can Bill Snyder do for an encore? After nearly getting to the BCS by winning close game after close game, the team needs to find more offensive weapons and has to be even stronger on defense. Collin Klein will get the hype as one of college football's best running quarterbacks, but he'll have a patchwork line in front of him. John Hubert is a quick back who should do even more, while Brodrick Smith and Chris Harper are big targets who should do more as Klein expands the passing attack. The D has to find a playmaker in the secondary to replace Tysyn Hartman and corner David Garrett, but Nigel Malone should be among the nation's top defensive backs. Arthur Brown is a terrific linebacker to build around, but three starters are gone off the front seven.
7. Texas Tech (5-7)
Are the Red Raiders going to be able to overcome the nightmarish end to the 2011 season? QB Seth Doege is a veteran who struggled to keep the chains moving, but he's a good talent who could be far better if the receivers can help him out a bit more. All the top targets return except for Adam James – that Adam James – with Eric Ward looking like a star in the making. RB DeAndre Washington showed flashes, and now he'll get more chances behind a nice-looking line that gets three starters back. The defense was the biggest problem, finishing 114th in the nation in 117th in scoring. Experience won't be an issue with ten starters returning – only losing end Scott Smith – but the pass rush has to be better and the linebackers have to be better factors.
8. Iowa State (6-7)
The Cyclones came up with one of the most important wins of 2011, beating Oklahoma State, and went to a bowl game. There's a ceiling on what the program can do, but the hope is to do a bit more with a veteran team returning led by QB Jared Barnett. He'll be without receivers Darius Reynolds and Darius Darks, but he'll get Josh Lenz back. LT Kelechi Osemele is impossible to replace, but three starters are back up front. The defense that wasn't too bad at times gets back tackling machines A.J. Klein and Jake Knott to form one of the nation's best linebacking duos, and they'll have plenty of work to do with three starters gone from the line. CB Leonard Johnson and SS Ter'Ran Benton are done.
9. Baylor (10-3)
Is it the offense or the parts? Remember, Art Briles' teams put up huge numbers at Houston before taking over at Baylor, but Robert Griffin took things to another level. Nick Florence has the unenviable task of replacing the Heisman winner, and he won't have Kendall Wright to throw to or Terrance Ganaway to hand off to. Three starters return up front and Terrance Williams and Tevin Reese are good receivers, but there's a ton of turnover. The defense that was so awful – finishing 116th in the nation – loses both starting tackles, but nine starters are back after trotting out six sophomores. The punting game was among the worst in America, but Spencer Roth is back along with PK Aaron Jones.
10. Kansas (2-10)
New head coach Charlie Weis will try to crank up his decided schematic advantage with Dayne Crist trying to pull a Russell Wilson as a free agent quarterback, and with BYU's Jake Heaps coming in for next year – pushing Jordan Webb out and effectively off the team. Weis is cleaning house, giving the boot to ten players including one-time star running back recruit, Darrian Miller. James Sims will have to carry most of the load, while the attack will mostly focus around the passing game. Crist has a knee problem and isn't going to move much, meaning the line that struggled so much last year has to be better in a hurry despite losing starting LT Jeff Spikes. The defense eight starters back including great-looking MLB Darius Willis, but there's a long way to go to be halfway decent after finishing dead last in America in total defense and scoring D.