Projecting final Big 12 standings
OU and Baylor will battle for No. 1, but don't sleep on the 'Horns and Frogs
Last season, Baylor captured its first Big 12 title and BCS berth and notched the most wins in school history (11). Incredibly, the Bears outgained their conference opponents by 223 yards per game, the best mark in the Big 12 since Oklahoma was plus-267 YPG in 2003. While the Bears were upset by UCF in the Fiesta Bowl, the Sooners did give the conference a jolt thanks to their upset win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, which is the primary reason they enter 2014 as the favorite.
Despite some recent player dismissals, both Texas and TCU could score major upsets in Big 12 play this season, while Oklahoma State -- due to its inexperience -- could be in store for a major drop-off.
Here are my 2014 projected Big 12 standings:
Projected Record: 12-0
Early lines on toughest matchups: at TCU (minus-3), Baylor (minus-6)
While analysts and Vegas experts can overreact to bowl wins, OU does have 14 returning starters, including an offensive line that returns 107 starts (15th-most in the country). They have my No. 12 offense, No. 8 defense and No. 9 special teams. The Sooners also have the path of least resistance among the top four contenders. They're 57-4 at home the past decade, and in their five true road games this season, they take on just one team (Texas Tech) that had a winning record last year. Plus, they don't have to play a Big 12 title game, and they get the revenge game against Baylor at home. I have OU favored in all 12, but four are by a TD or less.
To read the rest of Phil Steele's projected Big 12 standings, and for all of Insider's college football content, become an Insider today.
College Football on Insider
The Sooners remain No. 1 in the Playoff Forecast, but Auburn and Notre Dame are on the rise.