- Max Olson, ESPN Staff Writer
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On Monday, we broke down the Big 12 conference title race predictions according to newly released projections from the ESPN Stats and Information folks. You know Oklahoma and Baylor are considered the big-time favorites to win the league. But what should the other eight teams expect?
The following are the win-loss result projections for each and every Big 12 team in 2014. Remember, these are just preseason projections based on a lot of number crunching. New projections will be released weekly during the season.
Take note of the projected win totals on the right. OU and Baylor are each projected for close to 10 wins, while Oklahoma State leads a group of five teams that all seem likely to be in contention if one or both of the Big 12 favorites falter.
Here's how the ESPN preseason projections see this Big 12 season playing out:
Baylor: The defending Big 12 champs are projected to win 9.6 games with a 5.3 percent chance of going undefeated. The Bears have at least a 75 percent chance of winning all but three of their games: Texas (61.1 percent), Oklahoma (39.9) and Oklahoma State (69.4). Baylor is favored by 2 TDs or more against seven of its foes, including Kansas State and TCU.
Iowa State: ISU is projected to win 4.7 games -- essentially a 5-7 season projection -- and the computers see four of its Big 12 games as being especially winnable: Kansas State, Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia. The Cyclones are favored in two nonconference games and projected to be 10.2-point underdogs to Iowa in the annual rivalry game.
Kansas: ESPN's projections have KU winning 3.3 games, which is fewest for any program in Big Five conference (Purdue and Wake Forest were tied at 3.6) and third-fewest among all FBS teams. The Jayhawks' best bets for wins are against Southeast Missouri State (91.4 percent), Central Michigan (64.5) and Iowa State (41). They're projected to be double-digit underdogs in every other game.
Kansas State: The Wildcats are projected for 6.1 wins, but ESPN's data sees a schedule loaded with games that can go either way: K-State is considered a slight favorite against Iowa State, Texas Tech and West Virginia and a slight underdog versus Texas, Oklahoma State and TCU. As for the big battles, KSU is seen as a two-TD dog against Auburn, Oklahoma and Baylor.
Oklahoma: ESPN preseason projections see 9.6 wins but suggest Oklahoma will be favored in all 12 games and a serious playoff contender. OU's chances of winning dip below 75 percent for only five contests: TCU (69.6 percent), Texas (74.2), Baylor (60.1), Texas Tech (67.5) and Oklahoma State (70.9). Gotta like those odds.
Oklahoma State: The computers like this team more than a 7.6-win projection might suggest. These ESPN projections give OSU only an 8.6 percent chance of upsetting Florida State in the opener, but the Cowboys are then considered favorites in their next nine games before wrapping up with Baylor (30.6 percent) and OU (29.1).
TCU: The Horned Frogs' projection is almost exactly 7-5, with five of those wins coming by double digits. The defining stretch hits at midseason following projected losses to OU and Baylor. TCU is seen as a slight underdog to OSU but projected for very-close victories over Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas State in consecutive weeks.
Texas: Charlie Strong's debut season gets a projection of 6.9 wins. In addition to the trio of top-10 games in which they are underdogs (UCLA, Baylor, Oklahoma), the Longhorns are not projected to be favored vs. Texas Tech (46.7 percent) and Oklahoma State (34.3). Two more tough ones: Texas is a 1.2-point favorite at K-State and a 4.3-point favorite against BYU.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders' 7.1-win projection is very similar to TCU's, and beyond an easy one vs. Kansas (87.9 percent favorite), every Big 12 game is projected to be within single digits. Tech is projected to be an underdog against OSU, Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma and Baylor, though the K-State game is basically a toss-up (48.1 percent). TTU is actually projected to have a better chance vs. OU at home (32.5 percent) than against Baylor at AT&T Stadium (22.8).
West Virginia: ESPN's computers have little love for the Mountaineers in the preseason projections: 4.6 wins and underdogs in all but one Big 12 contest (KU, 78.4 percent favorite). In fairness, three games look extremely close in the projections: Kansas State (49.1 percent), Iowa State (47.2) and TCU (45.2). WVU's chances of stunning Alabama in the season opener have been set at 5.9 percent.