Teams ranked too high and too low in Big 12 preseason football poll

The Big 12 football preseason poll is out so let's take a look at teams that were incorrectly ranked by the media members.
UCF v Texas Tech
UCF v Texas Tech / John E. Moore III/GettyImages

Another annual right of passage has arrived. The Big 12 preseason media poll has been released meaning that one more offseason checkpoint has been cleared on the way to football season.

This year, the conference preseason poll was a bit more intriguing than in years past when either Texas or Oklahoma was almost always assured of being ranked in the top spot. With those two programs now on to other ventures in another league, the preseason expectations for the Big 12 have to fall somewhere else.

This year, they fall on the shoulders of Utah, which tops the poll with 908 total points and 20 first-place votes. Second is Kansas State with 899 points and 19 first-place votes. Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Arizona round out the top five teams.

As for the Red Raiders, they check in at No. 9 right in between UCF at No. 8 and TCU at No. 10. It's a sign that the media members don't really want to give the Red Raiders the benefit of the doubt this year like they did last summer when Tech was picked fourth in the preseason poll.

We know that preseason polls are typically wrong, though. For instance, last year, Oklahoma State played for the conference title despite being picked seventh in the preseason poll. Also, West Virginia was picked last in 2023 only to end the season tied with Iowa State and Kansas State for the fourth-best record in the conference.

So with those examples in mind, let's comb through this year's preseason poll and see who was picked too high and who was picked too low.

Too high: Kansas

It seems that everyone is buying into the Kansas hype this year. Perhaps there's just a general desire to see a program that for years was one of the worst in the NCAA reach the top of the mountain.

Whatever the reason, the Jayhawks check in at No. 4 in this year's poll. That's far too generous considering that the player that stirs their drink can't stay on the field.

Back for his super-senior season, quarterback Jalon Daniels is one of the darlings of the conference. In fact, he'll likely get some preseason love as one of the favorites for player of the year honors.

However, there's an elephant in the room that everyone who projects KU to be a conference title contender seems to be ignoring. Daniels can't stay healthy.

In his four years of college football, he's never played a full 13 games in a season. In fact, he's topped out at nine games, which he accomplished in 2022.

Last season, Daniels saw action in only three games. But Kansas had an excellent backup in Jason Bean, who played in 12 games.

With Bean leading the way for most of the season, KU managed to go 9-4 overall but just 5-4 in Big 12 play. What's going to happen, though, this season when Bean isn't around to save the day when Daniels goes down once again?

At just 6-feet and 200 pounds, Daniels isn't built to withstand the rigors of Big 12 play. Thus, betting on KU to be a top-four team in the conference doesn't seem like a wise proposition.

Too low: Arizona State

At the bottom of the poll, you will find Arizona State. After a 3-9 season in 2023 in Kenny Dillingham's first campaign in the desert, not much is expected of the Sun Devils this year.

However, they won't be the worst team in the conference. In fact, look for ASU to take a step forward this season.

Remember, last year, ASU had nothing to play for thanks to a postseason ban. This year, that penalty is gone and there will be far more motivation in Tempe.

What's more, ASU had woeful injury problems at QB in 2023. This year, they will rely on Michigan State transfer Sam Leavitt to steady the ship. Though he's just a redshirt freshman with only four games of experience under his belt, he impressed in the spring and he should be at least serviceable at QB meaning Dillingham won't have to go to gimmick offenses such as the wildcat to mask his quarterback woes.

No one is predicting that Arizona State will finish in the top half of the conference. However, they won't be the worst team in the league this year. That distinction might go to BYU, Houston, or Cincinnati but it won't be the Sun Devils in last place.

Too high: Arizona

Another darling that the Big 12 pollsters are propping up after a recent run of futility is Arizona. One surprising 10-3 season in 2023 after five straight losing seasons and now some think the Wildcats could play for the conference title.

The problem for Arizona is that they lost the architect of last season's improbable rebuild, Jedd Fisch, who is now the head coach at Washington. In his place is Brent Brennan, an underwhelming hire.

Spending the last seven seasons at San Jose State, Brennan doesn't move the needle much. In fact, he was just 34-48 overall with the Spartans. That included a record of 25-30 in Mountain West play.

Brennan managed just three winning seasons with San Jose State. While two of those were in 2022 and 2023, he never won more than seven games at his previous stop.

Now, we are to assume that a man who didn't exactly dominate the Mountain West at a lower-tier football school by that league's standards is going to come to a lower-tier football school in the Big 12 and immediately have the Wildcats as one of the best programs in the conference. That seems like a stretch.

Sure, Arizona returns a ton of talent from last season. However, new coaches often take a step backward in year one before establishing their system and culture. So let's not just assume that a man with a losing career record overall and in conference play is going to jump right into the ultra-competitive Big 12 and replicate what Fisch did in 2023.

Too low: Texas Tech

Call me a homer if you want but Texas Tech is going to be better than the ninth-best team in the conference this year. In fact, I would have voted them as a top-five team in the conference poll had I been given the opportunity.

For starters, Texas Tech may have the most manageable conference schedule of any Big 12 team. Not having to play Utah, Kansas State, or Kansas, Tech will miss three of the top five teams in the preseason poll.

What's more, this is the year that the Red Raiders are playing five conference home games. Remember that Joey McGuire has gone 10-3 at home in his two seasons as head coach.

Also, the media is woefully underrating QB Behren Morton. Texas Tech fans know how talented the junior is and they know that the version of Morton we saw a season ago was a watered-down version due to the sprained right shoulder that plagued him all year.

What's more, Tech enters this season with an offensive identity thanks to the return of running back Tahj Brooks. After running for over 1,500 yards last season, he will give the Red Raiders a star to build their attack around meaning the team won't spend the first month of 2024 looking for its identity as it did a season ago.

Yes, there are questions about the defense and the offensive line. Those can't be ignored. However, there is simply too much talent on this offense at the skill positions to think that Tech will have just the ninth-best team in the conference.