The CBS Sports college football staff is laying it all on the line ahead of the season, calling out each of our most overrated and underrated teams, picking a champion, making a bold prediction and predicting the order of finish for the Big 12.
Let's take a look. You can also check out our Big 12 superlatives and awards.
Most overrated team
Baylor: It's hard to know exactly what to make of Baylor after the abrupt firing of Art Briles. There's still talent there, for now, but history suggests losing a coach so soon before the season is a recipe for disaster. Ask 2011 Ohio State and 2012 Arkansas. -- Jon Solomon (In agreement: Tom Fornelli, Chip Patterson, Ben Kercheval)
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys were blessed by the scheduling gods in 2015. They opened the season with eight very winnable games (and won them) before getting their three toughest opponents at home (going 1-2). They took advantage of that on their way to a 10-3 season, but this season there are still serious questions about that defense and the Pokes have to go to TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma, with a tougher nonconference opponent than they faced last year in Pittsburgh. -- Robby Kalland (In agreement: Jerry Palm)
Texas: Charlie Strong is most likely starting a true freshman at quarterback. What could go wrong? Plenty. Strong has changed the offense to be more in line with Big 12 culture (spread) but putting your job in the hands of an 18-year-old is a dicey proposition. Strong has to win eight games to have a chance at a fourth season. Don't believe the hype just yet. -- Dennis Dodd
Most underrated team
Texas: Texas has been undergoing a painful rebuild under coach Charlie Strong, who enters his third year in Austin. He had to clear out a lot of older guys who weren't buying in to the new ways. Strong's also had to play a lot of younger guys, and this is the year that it could pay off, especially if new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert can produce the kind of quick improvement that he is known for. Texas showed signs of promise last year when the Longhorns beat Baylor and Oklahoma. This season, they get the Bears and TCU at home in conference play, along with Notre Dame. So the schedule is there for them to make that jump their fans long for. -- Jerry Palm (In agreement: Jon Solomon, Ben Kercheval)
TCU: The Horned Frogs have a lot of roster turnover on offense, but this is a team that, despite being decimated by defensive injuries, was still third in the conference in 2015 allowing 27.5 points per game. A healthy Gary Patterson-coached defense with a leader on the line like Josh Carraway could be scary. While they lose stud quarterback Trevone Boykin, Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill is an intriguing replacement. Oh, and TCU gets Oklahoma at home this year. Don't be surprised if the Horned Frogs find a way to capture the Big 12 crown. -- Robby Kalland (In agreement: Chip Patterson)
Baylor: Seth Russell is the second-best quarterback in the league. Offensive coordinator Kendal Briles is the de facto head coach, running Art Briles' lethal up temp scheme. Shock Linwood should run for 1,000 yards. The Bears should be able to outscore enough people to win 10 games. -- Dennis Dodd
Texas Tech: Really this pick is more about believing everybody in the Big 12 is projected to finish in a reasonable spot based on what we know going into the season. The reason I picked the Red Raiders in particular is that I'm of the belief this is a team with the offensive firepower to cause real problems ... as long as we see any kind of improvement on defense. -- Tom Fornelli
Oklahoma: The Sooners are looking to repeat as conference champions, and in a league ruled by offense, they are well equipped for the fight. Quarterback Baker Mayfield is coming off of a huge year and has established himself as one of the favorites for the Heisman Trophy this season. OU also has one of the top running back tandems in the nation in Saaje Perine and Joe Mixon. The Sooners will get Baylor and Oklahoma State at home this year, which is as favorable of a schedule as you can ask for in the Big 12. -- Jerry Palm (In agreement: Dennis Dodd, Jon Solomon, Tom Fornelli, Chip Patterson, Robby Kalland)
TCU: In recent years, the idea of a dark horse conference champion in the Power Five has been more fairy tale than reality -- a fun talking point that usually disappears by November. The exception, however, has been the Big 12. Contrary to major trends, it's routine for a non-favorite to win this league. Think Baylor in 2013 or Kansas State in 2012, for example. With that in mind, I'm disregarding the safe choice (Oklahoma) for a team I expect to be better than advertised nationally: TCU. The Frogs were the trendy playoff pick last season, but a rash of injuries ultimately derailed those hopes. However, that means a once-green team is now more seasoned. If Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill becomes the quarterback many think he's capable of being, TCU is a real threat. -- Ben Kercheval
Bold Big 12 prediction
Dennis Dodd: Baylor will go into the final two weeks of November with a legitimate chance to win the Big 12.
Jon Solomon: Tom Herman will be coaching in the Big 12 in 2017. The only question is whether he's doing so at Houston or Texas.
Jerry Palm: Despite an offseason filled with turmoil, Baylor will still finish near the top of the league.
Tom Fornelli: Texas will finish top three in offensive yards per play in the Big 12.
Chip Patterson / Ben Kercheval: Charlie Strong will not only keep his job, he'll take Texas to nine or more wins.
Robby Kalland: Texas Tech will upset someone big and ruin someone's season. I'm not sure who just yet.
Predicted order of finish
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