Big 12 Conference Preview

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The Big 12 Conference is remarkably wide open this season, creating a world of possibility for bettors and a world of opportunity for the teams in the league. Anything really can happen this season.

Team That Could Surprise: Baylor

The Bears won the Southwest Conference in 1980 and earned a berth in the 1981 Cotton Bowl against Alabama. That’s the last time Baylor played in a prestigious January bowl game. This program fell on hard times from the mid-1990s through the first decade of the new century, but the arrival of two people, head coach Art Briles and a quarterback named Robert Griffin III, transformed the program. Baylor is now a regular bowl team, and it thumped UCLA in the Holiday Bowl last December. This season, Baylor isn’t expected to win the Big 12, but with no single team in the conference owning a particularly airtight profile – there are glaring deficiencies on every roster – the Bears have a chance to make a darkhorse run at the championship. Oklahoma State is the slight favorite, but Oklahoma and Texas are not what they used to be. If Baylor slips in the back door and wins the Big 12, don’t be overly shocked.

The Best NFL Prospect In The Conference Is…: Cyril Richardson, Baylor.

The quarterbacks and running backs get the attention during the regular season, but on draft day, offensive linemen snag a lot of the top draft spots, as you saw this past spring with Eric Fisher of the Kansas City Chiefs and Luke Joeckel of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Richardson is a beefy yet agile interior lineman whose lateral movement, combined with his size, makes him an integral part of Baylor’s offense. If the Bears flourish this season, you know that Richardson will be substantially responsible for his team’s success. He’ll then cash a very large paycheck in 2014 in the NFL.

Team That Will Win: Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys aren’t miles ahead of every other team in the Big 12, but they get most of the tougher teams in the conference at home. TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma must all go to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Pokes. That kind of detail matters in a close and contentious league race. If you had to pick one team today, not knowing how September will unfold and create the framework for the bulk of the conference season, Oklahoma State would be the best and most sensible choice. TCU’s run of injuries and departures really makes it hard to choose the Horned Frogs at this point. Oklahoma just doesn’t have the imposing defensive linemen and linebackers it used to own. Texas still faces some glaring issues at quarterback and on the offensive line, with its linebackers needing some work as well. Baylor doesn’t play defense. Oklahoma State has to like its position at the moment.

Big 12 Champion (odds from 5Dimes)
Oklahoma State +260
Texas +295
Oklahoma +390
TCU +395
Baylor +1500
Kansas State +1600
Texas Tech +2500
West Virginia +2500
Iowa State +4500
Kansas +10000

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