Preseason prognostications are a crapshoot, particularly in college football, with its constant roster turnover, and particularly in the wide-open Big 12.
Sports Illustrated came out with its preseason rankings this morning: Oklahoma State wasn’t even in the top-25, slotted lower than four other Big 12 teams. Soon after, CBS came out with its bowl projections: Oklahoma State was in the Fiesta Bowl, as likely winners of the Big 12.
That’s indicative of the ‘we really have no idea’ mentality facing most when predicting the 2013 college football season.
But regardless, it’s always interesting to get a look at what some of the prominent minds of the sport think. And that includes Kirk Herbstreit, the former Ohio State quarterback turned face of ESPN’s college football coverage.
Along with broadcast partner Brent Musburger, Herbstreit took questions during a teleconference on Tuesday afternoon and, when asked about the Big 12, immediately turned the attention toward Oklahoma State.
“I have Oklahoma State to win the Big 12,” Herbstreit said. “I think everybody has to be impressed with their offense, but I think the defense has a chance to be better this year. So I like Oklahoma State in that storyline. They are no longer a team that battles for three or four years and gets up and competes with the guys and they kind of go away for a few years.”
“I think Mike Gundy deserves a ton of credit,” Herbstreit continued. “And, obviously, the facility and the way they have upgraded, they are a legitimate top program now, not just in that conference, but in the country. I think Oklahoma State has definitely arrived with Mike Gundy’s leadership.”
Those statements may come off as a bit surprising for Cowboy fans, who felt Herbstreit has been somewhat critical of the program in the past, particularly during its bid for the national title game in 2011.
But Herbstreit has been complimentary in his comments recently, including Tuesday, and so was Musburger, who also picked OSU to win the conference.
“I think the coaching staff down there has done an outstanding job and they know how to score some points,” Musburger said. “They always get a little bit overlooked, and I know that Oklahoma is a big brand down there along with Texas. But Herbie, I’m going to keep an eye on the Cowboys here, especially in that Mississippi State game.”
Herbstreit also commented briefly on the rest of the Big 12:
-”I think TCU, I think this is the year we see them being more competitive in the Big 12. As we said they have had some off the field problems of their own and they seem to be poised to have a better year.”
-”Baylor, I think at this point, with Art Briles, we all know that whoever is quarterback is going to put up crazy numbers and this year it’s going to be (Bryce) Petty. But Lache Seastrunk, anybody that’s watched film of him play would realize that he’s one of the most explosive running backs in the country.”
-”Obviously Oklahoma, you go all the way down to Kansas State with Bill Snyder, 22nd year. I know he loses his quarterback but everything I’ve heard about this Jake Waters is he’s a legitimate player and coming out of the junior college ranks is one of the best players at that level. If he can pick up this offense, the Big 12 has got a lot of depth and there really isn’t any leak that you can let your guard down and you could lose to about anybody in that conference.”