The Oklahoman's staff writers share their preseason Big 12 rankings.
1. Oklahoma State: The schedule lines up perfectly, the Cowboys' offense is going to be potent regardless of who is at quarterback and OSU's defense figures to be better. All of this adds up to a Big 12 title.
2. Oklahoma: There are plenty of questions for the Sooners, especially on defense, but Blake Bell is going to be all right at quarterback and OU still finishes near the top of the conference. Can the defense stop anyone, though?
3. TCU: The defense, led by sophomore Devonte Fields, is good enough to vault the Horned Frogs near the top of the Big 12. But with Fields suspended for two for offseason issues and quarterback Casey Pachall back after missing nearly all of last season for substance-abuse treatment, things could go either way for TCU.
4. Kansas State: Underestimate Bill Snyder at your own risk. Sure, the Wildcats replace quarterback Collin Klein but they have enough talent returning to finish in the upper-half of a league without dominant teams this season.
5. Baylor: With yet another potent quarterback coming down the line and the best running back in the league, Lache Seastrunk, the Bears don't show any signs of reverting to the bottom-dwellers they were before Art Briles came to Waco.
6. Texas: Picking Texas to win the league is kind of like picking someone other than Jenks or Union to win the 6A high school title. Sure, Texas will win eventually, but after being deceived for so many years thinking the Longhorns were back to contend for conference or even national titles, let's take a more wait-and-see approach.
7. Iowa State: Paul Rhodes has done a solid job keeping the Cyclones competitive. They don't have the talent to compete to finish near the top of the conference but in any one week have the potential to knock off anyone in the conference.
8. West Virginia: Everything seemed to line up well for the Mountaineers coming into last season. The offense did fine but the defense was gashed by anybody not named Kansas. Now, though, West Virginia doesn't have an offense potent enough to hang with teams through shoot-outs.
9. Texas Tech: Kliff Kingsbury seems to be building something in West Texas. He's recruiting well and brought aboard a boatload of alums on his staff. It'll take time for Tech to climb back to where they were just a few years ago, though.
10. Kansas: Charlie Weis looks to be much more Turner Gill than Mark Mangino as the Jayhawks still can't find footing in the post-Mangino years.
1. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys will be great – again – on offense, with so many weapons, including some you've never heard of. And while the defense has some proving to do, it looks to be much improved.
2. TCU: There's potential for a quarterback controversy, with Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin both owning starting experience and winning experience. Either can do the job, however, and the defense figures to be the league's best.
3. Texas: Mack Brown is shifting offensive gears again, suggesting desperation in Austin. And all the hype about the return of the Longhorns could prove to be empty promises yet again. Still, the defense is solid and there should be enough offensive talent to make a move up.
4. Oklahoma: Blake Bell could be good, really good, but it's doubtful he'll be as good as Landry Jones in his starting debut. Regardless, the offense will be perform. But will a defense with major limitations among the front seven?
5. Baylor: Art Briles has done a superb job of building a legitimate program in Waco. Already showing that he could carry on after losing a superstar in RG3, look for him to reload yet again.
6. Kansas State: The Wildcats lost their best players on both sides of the ball and will be pressed to contend again. And yet, who wants to doubt Bill Snyder. It's not advisable.
7. Texas Tech: It's a new day in Lubbock, with Kliff Kingsbury replacing the mis-fitted Tommy Tuberville. And while there's temptation to doubt that the Red Raiders will take immediate flight, there's also a buzz around the program.
8. Iowa State: The Cyclones continue to search to prove that they're good for more than the annual upset. And the program is in much better shape. Still, there are limitations that just can't be ignored.
9. West Virginia: Last season's major disappointment, followed by major personnel losses, could make for a season that puts Dana Holgorsen on the hot seat, if he's not there already.
10. Kansas: Tough job. Charlie Weis picked Lawrence to attempt a career rebuild? Winning but one game would be an improvement, yet it won't come easy.
1. Oklahoma: The Sooners have a new quarterback, a razor-thin defensive line and three new assistant coaches. Most years, that would be a recipe for a third- or fourth-place finish, but in 2013's wide-open Big 12, the Sooners have as good a shot as anyone.
2. TCU: The Horned Frogs feature the conference's best defense and a talented quarterback — whether it's Casey Pachall or Trevone Boykin — making them a strong contender for Big 12 supremacy.
3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys get Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma and TCU at home, so the schedule certainly lines up in their favor. Can quarterback Clint Chelf and new defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer elevate OSU to its second Big 12 title in three years? Perhaps so.
4. Baylor: Bryce Petty follows Nick Florence and Robert Griffin III as the latest prolific Baylor quarterback. The Bears continue to improve under Art Briles, but aren't in the Big 12's upper tier — yet.
5. Kansas State: KSU doesn't have Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein anymore, but still has Bill Snyder as its coach. The Wildcats won't drop off as much as some may think.
6. Texas: The Longhorns return lots of experience and are projected by some to be in the 2013 national-title discussion. Color me skeptical. If Texas doesn't reclaim its place among the conference's elite — and I don't expect it will — Mack Brown might be finished.
7. Texas Tech: Kliff Kingsbury was a great hire and should eventually have the Red Raiders closer to the top of the conference standings. Not this year, though.
8. West Virginia: Dana Holgorsen's squad couldn't be consistently competitive in the Big 12 with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Without the superstar trio? This season could be ugly.
9. Iowa State: Paul Rhoads is a great coach and could shock the conference with a strong season, but the talent gap might be difficult to overcome.
10. Kansas: The Jayhawks finally get that conference win that's eluded them the past two seasons, but won't escape the Big 12 cellar.
1. TCU: The Horned Frogs boast the most talented defense in the conference, with reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields on the line and Jason Verrett in the secondary. They have the best kicker in Jaden Oberkrom. And if Casey Pachall returns to form, they have the best quarterback, too.
2. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys still have plenty of offensive firepower returning, led by the wide receiver tandem of Josh Stewart and Tracy Moore. If the defense improves under new coordinator Glenn Spencer, OSU will challenge for its second conference title in three seasons.
3. Texas: Is this the year we finally see some consistency from David Ash? He's suddenly the most experienced quarterback in the conference. If he plays like it, that mid-November showdown against OSU in Austin could be for the conference title. If not, Mack Brown could be on his way out.
4. Baylor: Plenty of folks around Waco are fired up about new quarterback Bryce Petty, but Lache Seastrunk looks poised to become a national star. There's no understating the remarkable job Art Briles has done at Baylor. It would not be surprising to see them in the championship hunt come November.
5. Oklahoma: Would not be shocked at all to see the Sooners finish much higher than this. OU has a slew of offensive playmakers returning in Damien Williams, Jalen Saunders and Sterling Sheperd. But there are too many questions on the defensive side of the ball.
6. Kansas State: Always hard to bet against Bill Snyder, but the Wildcats lost the pulse of its offense (Collin Klein) and defense (Arthur Brown).
7. Texas Tech: Kliff Kingsbury has ignited the Red Raider fan base. And rightfully so. But he won't turn Tech into a Big 12 title contender in Year 1.
8. Iowa State: Paul Rhoads can still coach his tail off, but now he's lost the dynamite linebacker duo of Jake Knott and A.J. Klein. Quarterback Sam Richardson, who was thrust into starting duty late last season, is an intriguing young talent.
9. West Virginia: The Mountaineers fell off the face of the college football Earth during the second half of last season, and that was with Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. How far will they slide without them?
10. Kansas: Look for improvement from the Jayhawks in Charlie Weis' second season, but not enough to crawl out of the conference's cellar. Running back James Sims is perhaps the conference's most underrated player.
1. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have a proven offense, no matter who quarterbacks, and better yet, a cushy schedule. Of the other top five contenders in the league — OU, TCU, Texas, Baylor and Kansas State — four have to play in Stillwater.
2. TCU: The Horned Frogs have the Big 12's best defense and, if he stays sober, the league's best quarterback in Casey Pachall. If only the Frogs didn't have to play in Stillwater for the second straight year.
3. Oklahoma: New quarterback in Blake Bell and hopefully a new defense. If the defense is as good as Bell promises to be, the Sooners could contend.
4. Texas: Longhorns are 11-16 in the Big 12 the last three years — and they've been winning the close games. Texas is 4-2 in games decided by six points or less over the last three years.
5. Baylor: Art Briles' offense is getting to be like OSU's. Doesn't matter who quarterbacks. But that defense has a ways to go — the Bears allowed 41 points a game in conference play last season.
6. Kansas State: Wildcats were picked eighth in 2011 and finished second. They were picked sixth in 2012 and finished first. So we've all been warned. But Bill Snyder often struggles without a veteran quarterback.
7. Texas Tech: Tommy Tuberville recruited well for the Red Raiders, though he was not well-received by the fan base, who thought he was a carpetbagger. Which turns out, he was.
8. Iowa State: Big 12's most consistent program. Don't believe it? Cyclones' records under Paul Rhoads — 7-6, 5-7, 6-7, 6-7. Big 12 records under Rhoads — 3-5, 3-5, 3-6, 3-6.
9. West Virginia: Major problems for the Mountaineers. Coaching upheaval, all the star power on offense is gone, the defense stopped no one. A big mess in Morgantown.
10. Kansas: At least the Jayhawks keep it interesting at quarterback. A Notre Dame transfer last season in Dayne Crist. Now a BYU transfer in Jake Heaps.