I went through the schedules, game by game, and selected a winner for each. Let’s get to it…
1) Oklahoma (7-2) – I hate doing this, but the Sooners come away winning the tie-breaker in a three-way tie for first with Kansas State and OSU. OU is incredible at home in games that should, or even could, be close.
Losses: @TCU, @WVU
2) Kansas State (7-2) – I’m dumbfounded that their over/under win total is at 7 games (on Sportsbook.ag). Most of the media is criticizing the way they won last year: Close games, being outgained by opponents, a one dimensional QB, etc. Bill Snyder brings back key components of last season’s 10-win team: Collin Klein and their two best defensive players, Arthur Brown (LB) and Nigel Malone (CB).
Losses: @OU, @TCU
3) Oklahoma State (7-2) – It’s a shame the two losses come against the other teams at 7-2. Many are already getting carried away with projections for Lunt. He’ll have plenty of success in our offensive system, but he’ll also make quite a few mistakes. With the offense taking a step back this year, the defense will step up and gain the respect of the hating media.
Losses: @KSU, @OU
4) West Virginia (6-3) – I love what West Virginia brings to the Big 12, but I’m not buying into the hype for their first year just because they rolled Clemson in the Orange Bowl last year. The Big East has ZERO teams in this year’s preseason USA Today Coaches Poll. The Big 12 has five, and that’s not including the Mountaineers. It’s naïve to think they’re high-powered offense will steamroll a new, tougher conference.
Losses: @OSU, @Texas, vs KSU
5) TCU (6-3) – The top half of the league all finished within one game of each other, which shows how wide open I believe this league is. Basically ditto what I said about West Virginia, but nobody is going to have any issues with predicting the Horned Frogs at #5. Gary Patterson is the real deal, and I wonder how many recruits he’ll steal from us in years to come. It will take some time before they can make a run at a conference championship.
Losses: @OSU, @Texas @WVU
6) Texas (5-4) – Your 15th ranked team in the nation! It didn’t matter who they put at QB. If either McCoy or Ash had made a significant improvement, it wouldn’t have taken so long for Mack to make a decision. They had a good defense last year, good enough to lift them to a 6th place finish in the conference and a trip to the Holiday Bowl. Oh, and let me address the Malcolm Brown hype. As their primary rusher, he racked up 74.2 ypg. But it’s Texas so I’m not surprised to see some media members crowning him as the best running back in the Big 12 (Randle ran for 93.5 ypg in 2011).
Losses: OU, @OSU, @TTU, @KSU
7) Iowa State (2-7) – After a quick run through their schedule, I had them winning 4 or 5 games, but I knew I was giving them too much credit for one game that will occupy a portion of my mind forever. The Cyclones still aren’t good, and are actually a home underdog to open their season against Tulsa…at home!
Wins: Baylor, TTU
8) Baylor (2-7) – I’m such a hater. The Bears aren’t “sic’ing” anything this year. Bob Griffin, Kendall Wright, Terance Ganaway…all gone, and they’re taking a big chunk of those 45 points per game with them. As for the defense, I don’t think it matters how many guys from a 113th ranked defense (by points, not yards) are suiting up again.
Wins: KU, TTU
9) Texas Tech (2-7) – If I were to pick a team that might surprise me, it’s Tech. I’m putting them ninth because I haven’t bought into Tuberville as a Big 12 coach. Not all is lost for the Red Raiders because they’re going to get a huge rivalry win over the Longhorns in early November.
Wins: KU, Texas
10) Kansas (1-8) – They’re on their way up, in wins that is. Jayhawk fans have one date circled on their calendar, October 30. If you checked their schedule, you probably Googled the wrong one. It’s all hoops in Lawrence this year, per usual (as my boys @ScooterandJack would say).
Win: Iowa State
I know you disagree somewhere up there. What are your projections? What upsets do you see coming? Who’s winning the Big 12?