Texas has a good case here, but I buy Oklahoma State big time. The Cowboys have three quarterbacks on the roster who could win a Big 12 title, solid running backs and a really good group of receivers. That group includes Josh Stewart and Blake Jackson, and OSU has recruited the position well. OSU has been solid on the offensive line for a long time, and I don't expect that to change under Joe Wickline. The safeties are some of the best in the Big 12, and the cornerbacks should bounce back. Justin Gilbert is gifted, and the linebackers are some of the Big 12's best. The only weakness is along the defensive line. I could see that catching up to the Cowboys, but there is a reason the Big 12 won't have a top 10 team to begin the season.
Biggest upside: Texas.
Texas still has a lot to prove and needs some big-time wins this season, but is the Big 12's only team with the upside necessary to make a run for the national title. The defense fell apart last year, but has the personnel to be the Big 12's best again this season. The running game will continue to be solid, but the Longhorns will go as far as quarterback David Ash takes them. If he is consistent and doesn't have a game like he did against Kansas, Oklahoma or TCU, the Longhorns might finish the season in the top five.
Most likely to disappoint: TCU
The Frogs return tons of talent and showed a lot of promise last season, but this is still a seven-win team from 2012 and a team that has yet to prove it can win big in a major conference. Its biggest question is at quarterback, too. If Casey Pachall isn't close to his old self, the Frogs won't get very close to a Big 12 title. A possibly elite defense will keep TCU in most games, and an eight-win season is definitely in play for the Frogs.
Most likely to finish higher than I picked: Texas Tech
My gut tells me Tech should be better than the Big 12's No. 7 team, but I couldn't justify putting them above teams like Baylor and Kansas State. This definitely is not a top-four team in the Big 12 to start the season, but there is no reason Tech can't move into the top half of the league by the end of the season. The Red Raiders are good enough, and might even be in the Big 12 title hunt late in the season. They are experienced and talented. Can the coaching staff take them there?
Most likely to change your mind about them: Baylor
For all of Baylor's recent successes, its past failures still prevent it from getting major respect from Big 12 fans. Might that change this season? The defense has struggled for much of the past three years, but I buy this defense, which finally turned a corner late last season. Robert Griffin III is long gone, but Baylor is continuing to prove it is more than just a one-player program. Quarterback Bryce Petty will be better than last season's starter Nick Florence, and running back Lache Seastrunk might be in the Heisman hunt. A top-three finish in the Big 12 might lie ahead, and if doing that without the program's greatest player ever doesn't turn heads in the Big 12, those not paying attention are choosing not to do so.
Most likely to make me look dumb: Kansas State
Let me remind you that while "the media" picked Kansas State sixth in the Big 12 last season, I had the Wildcats finishing in a tie for second. That said, I picked Kansas State to finish eighth back in 2011, and the Wildcats won 10 games, reached the Cotton Bowl and were No. 8 in the final BCS poll of the regular season. I've got the Wildcats sixth in 2013. The Wildcats return just eight starters and will fill out the depth chart with a lot of guys you have never heard of, but it seems like coach Bill Snyder does some of his best work in situations like these.