No. 1: Oklahoma
Even after Kyler Murray’s magical, Heisman-winning year ended and the star quarterback packed his bags for the NFL, the conference still runs through Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners brought in Alabama graduate transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts to fill the (allegedly) 5-foot-10-inch hole left by Murray, and once again, Lincoln Riley has a top-tier quarterback to fit into his prolific offense.
No. 2: Texas
It looks like it’s just about time to catch a ride on the Texas hype train. The Longhorns will sport an offense that returns big-name starters in junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger, senior receiver Collin Johnson and a talented offensive line. The defense, however, has quite a few holes to fill after losing most of the starting front seven from last season. The good news? Texas does not play Maryland Week One.
No. 3: Iowa State
If programs were stocks, Iowa State would be the hottest one on the market. Matt Campbell has turned the program around in just three years as the head coach of the Cyclones. Led by one of the conference’s best defenses, look for the team from Ames, Iowa to make a run at the Big 12 Championship.
No. 4: TCU
2018 was a down year for the Horned Frogs. After starting the season ranked in the top 20, TCU finished 7-6, including a loss to consistent bottom-of-the-conference Kansas. But junior receiver Jalen Reagor, one of the country’s best big-play threats, should help turn 2019 into a turnaround season for the Horned Frogs.
No. 5: Baylor
The Bears gave Texas a home scare in a 23-17 thriller at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium last October. That game was no fluke. Matt Rhule has Baylor looking like a sleeper contender for the conference championship. While it may still be a year away, this Baylor squad is on its way back.
No. 6: Oklahoma State
It’s tough to count out Mike Gundy, but there’s not much going for the Cowboys heading into this season. While the offensive talent remains high in junior receiver Tylan Wallace and redshirt sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard, the defense will continue to be a point of contention for this squad.
No. 7: West Virginia
The Mountaineers looked poised to take a step back this season. Losing head coach Dana Holgorsen to Houston and quarterback Will Grier to the NFL leaves huge shoes to fill and a lot to prove for a team that narrowly missed out on a conference championship game berth a year ago.
No. 8: Texas Tech
This spot in the rankings is not to say that the Red Raiders will not be a tough out on any given Saturday. But until they prove otherwise, it’s a long road to the top of the Big 12 for Tech, with head coach and offensive wunderkind Kliff Kingsbury heading off to the Arizona Cardinals.
No. 9: Kansas State
Bill Snyder’s retirement after his 27th season — this time for good — has left the Wildcats in a clear state of rebuilding. A 5-7 finish in 2018 left them out of bowl season, and with a first-year head coach it may be tough for them to make it back to the six-win plateau.
No. 10: Kansas
Even Les Miles can’t save Kansas from the cellar. Although this year’s team may be more intriguing than most that come out of Lawrence, Kansas, it sure seems like an uphill battle for Miles in his first year at the helm of the Jayhawks. Until the Mad Hatter can prove he can turn Kansas around, they’ll be sitting at No. 10.