The Big 12 appears to be a race that can be broken into 4 groups.
Front-runners Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are all within fewer than 3 power points of each other in the Congrove Computer Rankings. The second group of Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU and Baylor are all separated by less than a single power point. West Virginia and Iowa State are both about 10 points behind the second group, while Kansas brings up the rear as the solo member of the 4th group at more than 20 points behind the Cyclones and Mountaineers.
The Longhorns are given perfect regular season marks of 12-0 overall and 9-0 in conference play. They would rank 2nd in the nation heading into conference championship weekend. But a predicted Georgia win over Texas A&M in the SEC title game propels the Bulldogs into the BCS National Championship game against Stanford with the Cardinal winning the title.
It's a fathomable scenario for Texas fans to be concerned about come December, but the Longhorns could easily get into position for a title shot due to a favorable schedule. Texas gets Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in Austin while games at BYU and Baylor would appear to be the most threatening road contests. Of course, the Red River Rivalry is no breather as the Longhorns only get a 0.17-point edge in that annual mid-season classic.
Oklahoma State is predicted to finish second with the only loss coming at Texas on November 16 by 5.68 points. The 'Pokes get a mere 0.49-point home edge over the Sooners in the Bedlam season finale to put themselves a game up on their state rival. The 11-1 projection is the best the computer has ever given the Cowboys.
The computer rates Oklahoma's slate as the toughest when comparing the average opponent power rating to the other 124 FBS teams. As noted above, Oklahoma is only a 0.17-point underdog to Texas and a 0.49-point road dog to Oklahoma State. The Sooners are also on the wrong side of a 6.56-point pick at Notre Dame. The 3 losses are the most the computer has predicted for Oklahoma since the 2006 season.
Texas Tech, under first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury is forecasted to make a surprising 4th-place showing and get his tenure off to a quick start with 7 straight victories. However, the backend of the schedule has the Red Raiders finishing with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor and Texas. The former record-setting QB returns to his alma mater after serving as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M last year when Aggie QB Johnny Manziel won the 2012 Heisman Trophy. Kingsbury set 39 school, 16 conference and 17 NCAA records under Mike Leach from 1999-2002. He replaces Tommy Tuberville who moved on to Cincinnati after three seasons. Tuberville was 20-17 overall with all of the losses occurring in conference games (9-17).
None of the other 9 teams were subjected to a head coaching change, and the Big 12 avoided the conference re-alignment craze that affected 17 teams and forced the complete collapse of the WAC.
Kansas State, TCU and Baylor fill the computer's projections for 5th-place through 7th.
West Virginia is picked to win just 3 of its first 10 games this season. The Mountaineers ended last year on a 2-6 run after starting 5-0.
Kansas State has out-performed the computer's projected regular season win total by 14 over the last four years. The Wildcats won 11 games a year ago when the forecast called for 9.
Iowa State has out-performed the computer's projected regular season win total each of the last four years by a total of 12 victories, including a 6-6 record last year when it was forecasted to earn only 3 wins. The computer once again picks the Cyclones win just 3 games this year.
Kansas has won a total of 11 games over the last four years and those seasons have been progressively worse each year, falling from 5 victories in 2009 to 3 in 2010 to 2 in 2011 to just 1 a year ago. The computer has the Jayhawks repeating last season's 1-11 disaster, but the average margin of the losses is expected to be about 10 points worse than last year.
The Jayhawks have lost 21 straight FBS games, 21 straight conference games and 19 straight road games.