That isn't the case this season.
Baylor and OSU have capitalized. Both programs have been improving in recent years, upgrading their talent, their coaching and their facilities. Still, having star players like Robert Griffin and Justin Blackmon and offensive masterminds like Art Briles and Dana Holgorsen only gets you so far.
You have to go out and win.
Baylor and OSU have this season.
Before this year began, the pundits and the prognosticators didn't think that the Bears or the Cowboys would.
"If I can remember correct, we were second to last and Baylor was last," McGee said of preseason predictions for the South Division.
"There's definitely been a flip this year."
Granted, OSU and Baylor still have difficult games ahead. After Saturday's showdown — yes, Baylor at OSU is a showdown — the Cowboys have road games at Texas and Kansas along with Bedlam while the Bears have home games against Texas A&M and OU. Mathematically, both Baylor and OSU could still finish in the bottom half of the division.
But that isn't going to happen. No way. No how.
One of the three teams currently at the top of the Big 12 South will win the division — and the winner of Saturday's game in Stillwater will have the inside track.
"I never would've believed that going into the season," Cowboy wide receiver Isaiah Anderson said. "I probably would've started laughing. But now, it's reality.
"We've got to take advantage of it."