Time to go on the record. Here's what I'm projecting in the Big 12 race this year.
BH's Official 2016 Big 12 Projected Standings
1. Oklahoma, 7-2
2. Baylor, 6-3
(tie) TCU, 6-3
(tie) Texas Tech, 6-3
5. Kansas State, 5-4
(tie) Oklahoma State
7. Texas, 4-5
(tie) West Virginia, 4-5
9. Kansas, 1-8
(tie) Iowa State, 1-8
Notes and whatnot:
*I still view the Sooners as the cream of the conference's crop, but there are landmines everywhere on their schedule. As of now, I'm guessing they drop road trips to Texas Tech and West Virginia, two of the Big 12's weirder stops.
Bedlam might be for the Big 12 title, and while playing in Norman favors OU, you'd have to wonder about the team's mindset if a playoff big were most likely off the table.
*I've said since the spring that I'll ride with TCU as the second-best team in the league. Unfortunately for the Horned Frogs, they catch a tough scheduling break with OU coming off a bye to prepare. Road games at Baylor and Texas are formidable, too.
*To me, the big surprise is Texas Tech finishing in a tie for second place. It's not that I'm particularly high on the Red Raiders. The schedule just seems to break well for them this year, as they catch a couple 50-50 games at home, UT and WVU. Taking on Baylor's paper-thin roster late in the season bodes well Kliff Kingsbury's team, too.
And it never hurts to have Pat Mahomes as your quarterback.
*Kansas St. has the most underrated defense in the league. Keeping quarterback Jesse Ertz healthy will be paramount to the Wildcats living up to this projection.
*Love the Longhorns' defensive talent. An offensive overhaul with a freshman QB, however, portends growing pains.
If I'm right about the record, Charlie Strong should probably figure out a way to take out either Notre Dame or California before conference play starts. Finishing below .500 again will put his job in jeopardy. In fact, 6-6 might not cut it, either.
*I'll take Kansas to not finish alone in last this season. David Beaty managed to get that team to play hard last season, so I'll call for the Jayhawks to win their first Big 12 game since Mark Mangino was wearing short pants. The victim? The equally sad-sack Iowa St. Cyclones in Lawrence on Nov. 12.