With the Big 12 being one of the best conferences in the country, its champion is almost guaranteed a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
The Oklahoma Sooners were picked as the league favorite in the preseason poll with 47 first-place votes, with defending champion Baylor projected to finish second with nine first-place votes. Kansas State, Texas and Oklahoma State rounded out the top five.
As wild as the Big 12 can be, the preseason poll means almost nothing in the grand scheme of things. However, certain teams like Kansas, West Virginia and Iowa State are at extremely long odds to make the playoffs.
With that, let's check out every team's odds to make the College Football Playoff.
|Every Big 12 Team's Odds to Make College Football Playoff|
|Team||Odds||Preseason Poll Rank||2013-14 Record|
Picked as the preseason league champion, the Oklahoma Sooners have the best odds in the Big 12 to make the College Football Playoff at 2-1. The Sooners have a ton of talent coming back, including linebacker Eric Striker and defensive back Zack Sanchez.
The biggest question mark for the Sooners surrounds quarterback Trevor Knight. Wildly inconsistent during the regular season, he ended last season on the best note possible by throttling the Alabama secondary in the Sugar Bowl. Which Knight the Sooners get this year will determine how well they perform this season.
The Sooners also have a very advantageous schedule, with home games against Tennessee, Texas, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma State. Their toughest road game is their trip to Lubbock, Texas, to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders on November 15.
With a favorable schedule, as well as arguably the best coach in the conference in Bob Stoops, there's no question that the Sooners are strong candidates to make the playoffs.
The Best Value
This year, it seems that Big 12 pollsters finally figured out to not bet against Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats, placing them in the third spot in the preseason poll.
After a rough start to last season, the Wildcats ended the season on a 6-1 tear, capped off with a Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl victory over Michigan.
Now with the Wildcats loaded on both sides of the ball, they're projected to be one of the top contenders in the conference. And at 11-3 odds, they're also the best value bet in the league.
The best thing going for K-State is the passing tandem of quarterback Jake Waters and wideout Tyler Lockett. Both are among the best in the Big 12 at their positions, with Lockett being possibly the best receiver in the nation.
The Wildcats' first big test comes in Week 3, where they'll host reigning SEC champion Auburn under Thursday night lights at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Adam Kramer of Bleacher Report made the case for this game being the best of the year in all of college football, writing:
"It’s not circled four times with oversized exclamation points on your schedule—at least not yet—although it should be. And on that note, clear your calendar accordingly. Avoid all obligations and make it to Manhattan, Kansas, on this date if you can."
If the Wildcats can grab an upset win that night, they'll be on the inside track to the playoffs.
K-State's biggest concern is at running back, where they'll have to replace three-year starter John Hubert. DeMarcus Robinson, Charles Jones and Jarvis Leverett are all in the running, and they all could end up being utilized by Snyder. Either way, the Wildcats routinely rely on a strong run game, so Snyder will need a quality back to take the load off of Waters.
If you're looking to cash in on a sleeper in the Big 12, look no further than Stillwater, Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma State Cowboys have been routinely one of the Big 12's best teams in recent memory. They won the conference in 2011 and were one win away from claiming the league again last year before losing to Oklahoma in the Bedlam game.
Last season, the Cowboys spoiled Baylor's bid at a perfect season and what would've almost certainly been a ticket to the final BCS National Championship. They also were the Big 12's representative in the Cotton Bowl.
The Cowboys, as always, have plenty of offensive firepower this year, including quarterback J.W. Walsh and wideout Jhajuan Seales. Plus, with Mike Gundy's high-powered air raid offense, you can never count the Cowboys out of a contest.
Florida State faces off against Gundy and Co. in Week 1 of the season, so that'll be as good an early-season test as you can get. Should the Cowboys upend the reigning national champions, they could find themselves on the inside looking out when it comes to making the playoffs.
The Best Long Shot
The magical touch of Kliff Kingsbury could not only turn around Texas Tech this season, but make them dark horses in the Big 12.
The Red Raiders started last season 7-0 before dropping their last five games. But with Davis Webb now the bona fide starter in Lubbock, and all the first-year jitters worked out of Kingsbury, Texas Tech could very well shock fans around the Midwest.
At 64-3 odds, you shouldn't put your smart money on the Red Raiders to make the playoffs. But as always with college football, anything goes.