By Jason Elmquist
STILLWATER, Okla. —
College football coaches across the country have the same feeling as media members covering the Big 12 Conference — it’s anybody’s league to win.
Oklahoma State led a trio of Big 12 teams in the middle of the pack of the USA Today’s Coaches Preseason Poll released Thursday.
The Cowboys received 726 votes to earn the 14th spot in the preseason rankings, and are followed by Texas at No. 15 and Bedlam rival Oklahoma at 16. Texas Christian University, the only other Big 12 team in the poll, came in at No. 20.
Oklahoma State, which had its players report on Thursday and is scheduled to begin fall practice Friday, was picked to win the Big 12 Conference by media members who cover the league.
OSU returns 20 starters from last year’s team, which tied for third place in the Big 12 and trampled Purdue, 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. Key returnees include the Big 12’s leading returning receiver, Josh Stewart, the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year Calvin Barnett and linebacker Shaun Lewis, all of whom were recognized as 2013 preseason first-team All-Big 12 selections.
OSU has been a fixture in the preseason USA Today Coaches Poll in recent years, ranked No. 11 in 2009, No. 8 in 2011 and No. 19 last season.
Defending national champion Alabama was the No. 1 team in the coaches’ preseason poll. Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and Georgia rounded out the top 5.
Half the top 10 is from the Southeastern Conference, which has won the last seven national championships. The SEC has a total of six teams in the top 25. The Big Ten and Pac-12 each had five teams in the poll, followed by the Big 12 with four and the ACC with two.
The Crimson Tide was an overwhelming choice, receiving 58 of 62 first-place votes. Ohio State was second and received three first-place votes. Oregon is No. 3, Stanford is 4, Georgia is five and No. 6 Texas A&M received the other first-place vote.
Notre Dame, which lost the BCS title game 42-14 to Alabama last season, is No. 11.