2013 Pre-Preseason Big 12 Rankings
Texas RB Johnathan Gray
Texas RB Johnathan Gray
Posted Jan 20, 2013

The too early look at how good the Big 12 teams should be in 2013.

CFN 2013 First Look Rankings

Big 12 - No. 1 to 5

2012 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-29 | Rankings 30-48 | Rankings 49-67
- Rankings 68-86Rankings 87-105The Bottom 19

FINAL 2012 Rankings By Conference
- ACC | Big East | Big Ten | Big 12 | C-USA | Ind
- MAC | Mountain West | Pac-12 | SEC | Sun Belt | WAC
- Based On Opinion ... CFN 2012 FINAL Rankings, Top  25

- 2013 Big 12 Rankings - No. 6-10

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 2013 based on how good they appear to be at the moment. 
1. Texas (9-4)

Is this the year the Longhorns finally start playing up to their talent level? 2012 wasn't as bad as it's being made out to be, but 9-4 doesn't cut it at a place where BCS appearances are considered the norm. It was an inconsistent year, but that could change with so much returning talent.

Defensive tackle Brandon Moore is the only starter taking off early to the NFL, but losing end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro will be a problem. On the plus side, the linebacking corps should be among the fastest and most athletic in the country, but it would be nice if the defensive front could be stronger against the run – it's going to be an offseason of position battles on the line.

Is David Ash really going to be the starting quarterback, or is Case McCoy – who was reinstated after violating team rules – ready to make a big move in spring ball? In all, depending on the formation, ten starters are back on offense including all five starters up front and a deep and devastating stable of running backs with Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron in the rotation. All the top receivers are back for a passing game that should be among the nation's most efficient. Throw in the expected healthy return of former Penn State kicker/punter Anthony Fera, and Texas is loaded. Again.

2. Oklahoma (10-3)

Things keep on humming along. Another good recruiting class is expected to come in, there's good talent in place, and the expectations will be Big 12 title or bust again. Is there enough to make a run for the BCS championship? That will depend on a few key replacements.

Blake Bell gets to make the transition from the Belldozer into the next great Sooner passer. At 6-6 and 254 pounds, he has the size, and now he's about to show why he's more than a bigger Collin Klein. He'll lose a few weapons, but Trey Metoyer has the skills to be a superstar target and Jalen Saunders is a potential No. 1 receiver. The biggest plus is a line that went through a slew of major lumps last year after suffering injury after injury. Now there's depth and talent led by Gabe Ikard, one of the nation's best centers.

The defense will have to survive without tackling machine Tony Jefferson at safety and linebacker Tom Wort in the middle, but the big problem early on will be in the middle of the line with the depth lacking and starters Casey Walker and Jamarkus McFarland gone. Top pass rusher Chuka Ndulue is back, but he's going to need lots of help in what should be an interesting offseason. The special teams loses a few key parts with punter Tress Way and punt returner Justin Brown done.

3. Oklahoma State (8-5)

2012 was supposed to be a rebuilding year, and the youth and inexperience showed at times in close losses to Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor, but the firepower was still there for the nation's third-ranked scoring offense. This season, watch out.

The Cowboys have some big decisions to make, particularly at quarterback with Clint Chelf, J.W. Walsh and Wes Lunt all proving last season they could play. The won't have Joseph Randle to hand off to, but Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson are emerging as one of the Big 12's most dangerous receiving tandems. The line loses guard Lane Taylor, but three starters are back along with enough good options to play around with the lineup.

The defense that has been such a problem at times under Mike Gundy actually took a big step forward last year, finishing in the middle of the conference pack. Shaun Lewis and Caleb Lavey are sound veteran linebackers, while Shamiel Gary will be one of the Big 12's top-tackling defensive backs in a promising secondary. While the team is improving and should be stronger, it'll have a hard time replacing Quinn Sharp, the nation's best all-around kicker.

4. Kansas State (11-2)

Okay, this has been a fun ride and an interesting resurgence, but enough is enough, right? Maybe not.

Collin Klein is gone, but Daniel Sams and Sam Johnson are interesting options to fight for the starting quarterback job. John Hubert will be even more involved in a workhorse role behind a terrific O line that welcomes back all five starters. The passing game might take a bit of a hit, and losing tight end Travis Tannahill hurts, but the running game will work like usual.

Snyder always finds ways to fill in the gaps on defense, but he'll have to do more work than normal with the entire front seven – including linebacker Arthur Brown – gone. The safeties should be solid – Ty Zimmerman is an all-star lock – but corners Allen Chapman and Nigel Malone are gone. Tyler Lockett will be one of the nation's premier kick and punt returners again, but kicker Anthony Cantele and punter Ryan Doerr have to be replaced.

5. TCU (7-6)

Compared to last offseason, this one is a piece of cake. Despite all the controversy and all the issues, the Horned Frogs were still a respectable 7-6, fighting their way through a nasty Big 12 slate. This time around, they might actually have the pop and talent on both sides of the ball to be a major player.

Step One to throwing a bigger scare into the league was getting back Casey Pachall, the immensely talented bomber who returns after missing most of last year getting his life back in order after being arrested for a DWI and spending time in a treatment center. He loses receiver Josh Boyce early to the NFL, but Aaron Green and the running backs should be strong and the front line – particularly the tackles – will be terrific. LaDarius Brown and Brandon Carter aren't bad targets to throw to.

The defense that led the Big 12 gets nine starters back including breakthrough star pass rusher Devonte Fields along with Stansly Maponga, forming one of the nation's most dangerous pass rushing tandems. Outstanding corner Jason Verrett leads a loaded secondary, while linebacker Joel Hasley will have to do a bit more with the loss of the team's leading tackler, Kenny Cain. Ethan Perry is back after leading the Big 12 in punting, and rock solid kicker Jaden Oberkrom also returns.

- 2013 Big 12 Rankings - No. 6-10