Oklahoma State and Texas are the 5-2 co- favorites to win the Big 12. Keep in mind the preseason choice has failed to win the league title the last two seasons.
One other key point to remember come December and January. The conference has been flat-out awful against the spread (ATS) in postseason play. In fact, outside of 2011's 5-3 mark, the Big 12 has not had a winning record since 2005. All told, the conference is a combined 21-35 in its last 56 bowl games. That equates to a 38 percent winning percentage.
Time now to take a deeper look into the league, along with predicted straight- up (overall and conference) records for those wagering on over/unders for total team victories. The over/under number posted is for the entire season, not conference totals. In addition, all statistics provided in the offensive and defensive sections are from conference-only play unless otherwise indicated (all odds to win the league title and totals courtesy of 5Dimes).
10) KANSAS (100-1) - The Jayhawks are 5-12 as road underdogs the last four years.
Offense - Trending up. Kansas averaged one point lower per game than in 2011 but gained an average of 71 more yards per game. Now the Jayhawks bring in Jake Heaps to run the offense, which should be much improved after the Dayne Crist experiment.
Defense - Trending steady. Kansas has allowed 40 points or more for three straight seasons, so it is doubtful the Jayhawks will suddenly stop the trend after they lost eight of their top 10 tacklers.
Prediction - Not only are the Jayhawks 17-17 ATS in their last 34 games, but they alternated ATS wins and losses for more than half the 2012 campaign. Look for more ATS victories this season. Over/under total - 3.5 (3-9, 1-8).
9) IOWA STATE (45-1) - The Cyclones are 10-7 as road underdogs the last four years.
Offense - Trending down. Iowa State outscored its opponents for the first time since 2005. However, the Cyclones were outgained by an average of 147 yards per game. Expect a drop in points, especially because it is improbable the club will lead the league in red zone touchdown percentage for a second straight season.
Defense - Trending down. The defense brought back seven of its top 12 tacklers in both 2011 and 2012. This year, the Cyclones have lost seven of their top 12, including four of the top six. The defense also returns its lowest percentage of sacks since 2007.
Prediction - Don't count on many Cyclones victories in 2013. Over/under total - 5.5 (2-10, 1-8)
8) WEST VIRGINIA (25-1) - The Mountaineers are 9-3 as road underdogs the last eight years.
Offense - Trending down. Only 10 lettermen return to an offense that lit up the Big 12 last year. Even with the additions of Clint Trickett and Charles Sims, the Mountaineers will still find it difficult to come within 10 points of their 40-point average of a season ago.
Defense - Trending up. Last year's defense ranked 117th nationally in scoring and 122nd in pass defense. Furthermore, only Colorado allowed more touchdown passes in the entire country. A new coordinator has been brought in and the defense should be better prepared in its second season in the Big 12.
Prediction - West Virginia is not getting any respect so look for an improved ATS record from its 5-8 mark in 2012. Over/under total - 5.5 (6-6, 3-6).
7) KANSAS STATE (16-1) - The Wildcats are 15-3 as road underdogs the last six years, but 4-12-1 as road favorites the last nine.
Offense - Trending down. The Wildcats were 59th nationally in total offense last season. However, they were 11th in scoring. With the loss of Collin Klein, the running game will take a hit, especially since John Hubert's yards per carry average has dropped significantly over the second half of the past two seasons. Look for Kansas State's scoring numbers to fall into the mid-30s.
Defense - Trending down. The Wildcats led the conference in scoring defense, yards allowed per play and sacks. Unfortunately, after bringing back seven of the top 11 tacklers in 2012, just four of the top 15 come back this season. They also have lost players who accumulated 89 percent of the team's sacks.
Prediction - It's always difficult to bet against Kansas State (17-6-1 ATS since 2011). However, with the loss of Klein and many playmakers on defense, the SU and ATS records will tumble. Over/under total - 8.5 (5-7, 3-6). Take under 8.5 wins at -195.
6) TEXAS TECH (25-1) - The Red Raiders are 5-0 as road favorites the last two years.
Offense - Trending steady. If Texas Tech's young and inexperienced offensive line can become a cohesive unit early on, the offense could be well on its way to lighting up the scoreboard. But that's a big "if," especially with a new coach running a system different from what the previous coach ran.
Defense - Trending up. Under Tommy Tuberville's watch, the defense allowed an average of 37 points per game. That's 12 points higher than the final three seasons under Mike Leach. Expect improved numbers in 2013, particularly because just two teams in the country had more turnovers gained than the Red Raiders a year ago.
Prediction - Texas Tech has not covered more than half of its games since the 2009 season. The Red Raiders will snap the streak this year. Over/under total - 7.5 (6-6, 4-5).
5) BAYLOR (15-1) - The Bears are 4-0 as home underdogs the last two years.
Offense - Trending down. Who would have thought the Bears would finish fourth nationally in scoring and second nationally in total offense without Robert Griffin III? The offense will still be effective with Lache Seastrunk at running back, but Bryce Petty doesn't have the game-day experience Nick Florence had when the latter took the snaps last season.
Defense - Trending up. The Bears ranked 123rd nationally in total defense last year, but both starting cornerbacks were lost after six games. With the return of eight of the top 10 tacklers, look for improved numbers all around, including the total number of sacks as Baylor is extremely deep at defensive end.
Prediction - The Bears are 16-7 ATS the last two years. They might not cover 70 percent of their games in 2013 but they will come close. Over/under total - 7.5 (8-4, 5-4).
4) OKLAHOMA (7-2) - The Sooners are 9-2 ATS off a SU loss the last four years.
Offense - Trending down. Oklahoma has not averaged fewer than 39 points per game since 2009. If a new quarterback does not develop, the Sooners could see last year's 42-point average plummet by anywhere from a touchdown to 10 points.
Defense - Trending steady. Last year's 25.5-point scoring average was the team's highest since 1997. The Sooners allowed opposing teams to rush for 6.3 yards per carry over the final seven games. Four of the top five tacklers are gone, but because last year's defense was so weak, the numbers won't rise that much.
Prediction - Oklahoma will win fewer than 10 games for just the third time in 14 years. Over/under total - 9.5 (8-4, 6-3).
3) TCU (7-2) - The Horned Frogs are 7-2 ATS off a SU loss the last five years.
Offense - Trending up. Last season was a wash for the offense due to the loss of quarterback Casey Pachall. The Horned Frogs wound up 107th nationally in third down efficiency after ranking fourth in 2011. They also had 22 turnovers lost - the most in the Big 12. This year, they are stacked at the skill positions but return just two starting linemen.
Defense - Trending up. TCU ranked first in total defense despite losing 11 of its top 16 tacklers coming into 2012. This season, nine of the top 11 come back, including eight starters - the team's most since 1994.
Prediction - TCU went 4-8 ATS last year, Expect an 8-4 mark in 2013. Over/under total - 9.5 (9-3, 7-2).
2) TEXAS (5-2) - The Longhorns are 11-6 as road favorites the last five years.
Offense - Trending up. The offense was not the problem last season as the Longhorns improved their scoring average by five points and gained almost a full yard more per play than in 2011. With virtually everyone back, look for another rise in scoring.
Defense - Trending way up. Injuries crippled the defense a year ago as the Longhorns went from first (in 2011) to last in rushing defense. Texas lost two of its top four tacklers but only one other letterman leaves Austin. The Longhorns could have the most improved defense in the country.
Prediction - Texas finished in the bottom half of its conference in scoring offense and defense last year and still won eight regular-season games. One can only imagine what its record could be with improved numbers on both sides of the ball. Over/under total - 9.5 (10-2, 7-2).
1) OKLAHOMA STATE (5-2) - The Cowboys are 34-12 ATS as favorites the last five years.
Offense - Trending up. The Cowboys saw their scoring average decrease by nine points. but that was to be expected with the loss of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. The passing game should improve this season even though they will be without running back Joseph Randle.
Defense - Trending steady. Two years ago, Oklahoma State was No. 1 nationally in turnovers gained. The Cowboys also led the Big 12 in scoring. Last season, they tied for 57th nationally in turnovers gained and were fifth in the conference in scoring. Look for them to improve in both categories this season.
Prediction - Oklahoma State has finished above .500 ATS (in the regular season) for six consecutive years. Number seven will be on its way. Over/under total - 10.5 (11-1, 8-1). Take over 10.5 wins at +170. The Cowboys also are the value play at 50-1 to win the national championship.