We’ve looked through hundreds of polls all summer. We know how ESPN, Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, Your Cousin Vinny, and every other jackass with a sounding board feel about which teams should be ranked where, but none of them really matter. The Associated Press poll, on the other hand, does (although it hasn’t been used in the BCS formula since 2004 when the AP told the committee it didn’t want to be associated with the BCS).
The Wildcats were among the “other teams receiving votes,” and garnered 43 points in the poll. This would place K-State in 31st place if the poll kept track that far, which is approximately where we’ve been seeing the program land in other polls. This shouldn’t be a surprise as pollsters often take cues from each other (there’s a lot of fascinating science behind herd mentality and voters simply following what they think everyone else believes). We also know that preseason polls don’t mean squat at the end of the season – except for the fact that they do. If two teams stand at 6-0 midway through the season with an equally difficult schedule and equal number of close games, but one started the season ranked 25th and the other 5th, there will be a solid 3-5 places separating the two (groupthink again – voters are hesitant to move teams up in the rankings unless they receive cues from other voters that it’s ok to do so). But that’s a tangent for another day.
Looking at the Big 12 as a whole, no one is in the top ten and that should surprise no one. There will be one or two teams in the league this year that, if they were to play the #10 team in the nation in a best-of-five series, they would take the series. I have no idea which teams they are, although Oklahoma State (#13) and Texas (#15) are the two best bets. But with six legitimate contenders for the Big 12 championship this year, no one will go undefeated and I wouldn’t be surprised if every team ends up with at least two losses – and even quality losses don’t win points in the eyes of the voters.
It’s interesting that Oklahoma State is ranked ahead of Texas – conventional wisdom has been putting Texas as the highest ranked team due to the sheer level of talent on the roster makes the Longhorns’ ceiling so high (I can only assume they’re being knocked down a peg because the voters are counting on K-State beating Mack Brown again this year). Oklahoma is immediately behind Texas at #16 and TCU is #20. Baylor is actually left out of the poll, which is a surprise to see. The Bears received 92 points and come in at #27.
The Big 12 has lost some of its luster over the summer – most prognosticators were ranking five or six Big 12 teams in the spring, with K-State and Baylor cracking the top 25 as well. I assume that the more people talk about the personnel losses in Manhattan, the more skittish they become about the 2013 incarnation of the team (a very dangerous conclusion), and I have no idea why Baylor has been dropping given the national hype some of their players have been receiving (the Bears have one of the best running back-lineman tandems in the country with Lance Seastrunk and guard Cyril Richardson)
The Big 12 has a couple opportunities to look good in the nonconference season with Oklahoma visiting Notre Dame, TCU playing LSU, Oklahoma State taking on an SEC sleeper in Mississippi State, and Texas playing Mississippi and BYU (both of whom received votes in the AP poll). There are a few other good games as well, but the Big 12 must make the most of those five match ups. If the league’s teams start conference play with their noses already bloodied, don’t look for anyone to receive much poll love regardless of who takes home the conference championship this year.