The preseason analysis from the Congrove Computer Rankings indicate that the race for the top spot in the Big 12 will once again come down to TCU and Baylor. A 4.35-point home win over the Bears will ultimately give the Horned Frogs the title and help preserve a perfect season.
That doesn't necessarily assure TCU of a spot in the Final Four, however, as the Big 12 overall looks to be considerably weaker and TCU's nonconference slate doesn't offer anything more challenging than last year with Minnesota, FCS member Stephen F. Austin, and SMU on the docket. TCU merely swaps out its FCS opponent while keeping the same two FBS schools on the schedule. Overall, TCU's strength of schedule ranks just 69th out of 128 FBS teams.
Baylor's SOS is even lower at No. 78 with nonconference games vs. SMU, FCS member Lamar, and Rice.
West Virginia is given a solid 3rd-place finish by the computer. The Mountaineers will begin the year trailing Baylor by 6.56 power points, and TCU by 7.90. WVU has to face both the Bears and the TCU on the road in back-to-back games in October, separated only by a bye week.
The competition for 4th- through 8th-place is much tighter than the battle for the top 3. Predicted 4th-place finisher Oklahoma State trails West Virginia by 6.35 power points, but only leads Kansas State by 2.26. Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech are all within 3.5 points of each other in the 6 through 8 spots.
9th-place Iowa State trails 8th-palce Texas Tech by over a dozen points, and Kansas lags another 11 points below the Cyclones.
The won-loss projections for Oklahoma (6-6) and Texas (4-8) leap off the page.
Oklahoma has to travel to Tennessee, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State. Bob Stoops' squad is also give home setbacks vs. West Virginia and TCU.
Texas has troublesome road games vs. Notre Dame, TCU, West Virginia and Baylor. The Longhorns are also given narrow home losses to California (+1.05) and Oklahoma State (+4.92) on the last two weekends of September, as well as a 4.21-point defeat in the Oklahoma rivalry game in Dallas, and a 3.47-point home loss to Kansas State.
Kansas begins the season with a 43.72-point power rating. That's nearly 45 points below 1st-place TCU, and only 6.55 points greater than the average FCS program.