Douglas: Predicting the way-too-early 2020 Big 12 football standings

Iowa State Head Coach Matt Campbell talks to his other coaches during the game against University of Kansas on Nov. 23, 2019. Iowa State won 41-31.

Zane Douglas

After missing out on any draft picks, former Iowa State players have been getting signed as undrafted free agents. Their departures from the team will leave some holes to be filled, but the rest of the roster has a chance to be better in the 2020 football season in a Big 12 conference that could be unremarkable.

A 7-6 season, a loss in the Camping World Bowl and questions about the future of the 2020 season are all the things working against the Cyclone football team, but where will they fit in the picture among the Big 12 if there still is a season?

1. Oklahoma

Who will step in as the next Lincoln Riley quarterback that puts up Heisman Trophy caliber numbers is the question for Oklahoma.

What seemed like a rocky year was capped off by an appearance in the College Football Playoff — a matchup against LSU that the Sooners were clearly outmatched for — and a Heisman Trophy runner-up in Jalen Hurts.

Hurts is gone, but the Sooners will be back next season with the recruiting power and coaching talent that still lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

2. Iowa State

Bear with me here.

Iowa State has been solid over the last three seasons, but it seems like the Matt Campbell-led team can never quite get over the hump into elite status.

Losing half of the offensive line and some core pieces on the receiving end sounds like it should sink the Cyclones from a chance at one of the top spots in the conference.

What Iowa State will benefit from is an improved defense, not just because players improve over the course of their careers, but also because the Cyclones will get possibly the best pass rusher in school history back in JaQuan Bailey.

The depth at defensive line is scary and the Cyclones will take what will be a dog fight in the middle of the conference and come out on top with stellar defense.

3. Oklahoma State

It’s a little surprising to see the Cowboys this high, but they deserve to be. Oklahoma State’s offense will be excellent in 2020, led by the three-headed monster of Spencer Sanders, Tylan Wallace and Chuba Hubbard, the last of which broke all kinds of records last season.

Hubbard and Wallace announced their decisions to return to school despite being likely NFL Draft picks and the Cowboys will reap the rewards.

Oklahoma State is a team to watch in the conference.

4. Baylor

The Bears were one of the big surprises in college football last season and the team will still be led by technically sound quarterback Charlie Brewer.

Baylor has a solid roster, but in addition to watching its coach join the NFL ranks, the Bears are losing a ton of impactful players that went to the NFL.

Baylor will fall to the middle of the pack, but will still edge out some of the other conference teams.

5. Texas

This might upset Texas fans, but as I stated before, it will likely be a dog fight after Oklahoma in the Big 12, so Texas would be on the cusp of earning a Big 12 Championship spot in that sense.

The main reason Texas is below Oklahoma State, Baylor and Iowa State has a lot to do with returning players, especially in Iowa State and Oklahoma State’s cases.

Baylor and Texas both lost excellent pieces, but the Longhorns were already a worse team than Baylor and will likely fall below them.

Still having Sam Ehlinger is nice so Texas has a shot to make some noise, but for now, fifth seems like a good spot.

6. Kansas State

A bit of regression might be expected for the Wildcats who exceeded all expectations last season as a legitimate contender in the conference.

Kansas State has the chance to repeat its season and cement the new Wildcats as a force in the conference, but a middling performance wouldn’t be too much of a step back as the Wildcats weren’t supposed to be this good this fast.

7. West Virginia

The Mountaineers lost a lot prior to last season and it showed, especially early in the season.

A decent run at the end of the year gave the illusion of a solid team, but West Virginia will likely be down near the bottom again unless it outplays expectations.

8. Texas Tech

Another team with a bleak future, the Red Raiders don’t have too much going for them as the 2020 season inches closer.

Unless Texas Tech can find an extra gear, it’ll likely be near the bottom again.

9. TCU

It’s a little surprising to see TCU down this low, but what was already a bad team with some of the better NFL Draft prospects in the nation will be even worse without those guys.

The Horned Frogs had two first round picks and were still not very good last season, not to mention their star running back tandem is completely gone now.

It should be a tough season for TCU.

10. Kansas

Until the Jayhawks prove otherwise, they’ll have to sit down here. Les Miles will enter his second season with the Jayhawks looking to see some results as the Jayhawks finished last again in 2019.

Pooka Williams will be a good start for the Jayhawks, but nothing Kansas has shown makes them a contender in the Big 12 in 2020.