1. Oklahoma State: I was one of the 15 who voted for the Cowboys to win, and they'll rightfully enter the season as the favorite. They're not the favorite by much, but it's hard to argue with the amount of talent they bring back on both sides of the ball and this roster's pedigree. A lot of these guys don't have to think back long to remember how to win a title.
2. TCU: The Frogs probably have more to prove than any team in the league, with a strong roster and their best team yet in what should be a brutal Big 12 schedule. They should have the Big 12's best defense and a very balanced offense. That's a recipe for success. That LSU opener will tell us a lot about the Frogs, though.
3. Texas: The Longhorns flopped against the Big 12's co-champions a year ago and nearly lost to Kansas. Those games give plenty of reason for suspicion, but if Texas' talented defense bounces back and David Ash matures, 12-0 is absolutely within reach.
4. Oklahoma: I was surprised to see Oklahoma at No. 2. More than most years in memory, that ranking is based on what happened in the past. I like what OU's offense brings to the table, but a young defense makes me see a down year ahead for the Sooners.
5. Baylor: Lots of upside for the Bears, and I wasn't surprised at all to see Baylor get two first-place votes. The defense still has to prove it can play like it did against UCLA and K-State for an entire season, but if it does ... look out. Those two voters may look very, very smart.
6. Kansas State: The Wildcats may well finish higher than sixth, but after losing Collin Klein and basically their entire defense, I cannot in good faith put them above a Baylor team that was playing better than anybody in the conference at the end of the year. Possible top 25 start anyway, so don't feel too sorry for the Cats.
7. Texas Tech: Lots of upside for Texas Tech here. Kliff Kingsbury inherited an experienced team and Tommy Tuberville recruited very well. There's not an elite team in the Big 12, but there are a huge group of very good teams, and climbing over them won't be easy for the Red Raiders.
8. West Virginia: Like I said yesterday, it feels odd to see WVU down here. But when you lose the best players from an underachieving team a year before and all your returning talent is from the worst defense in the Big 12, any complaints about this spot will fall on mostly deaf ears. WVU may climb out from this ranking, but it'll do it on the back of Dana Holgorsen's offense, not a suddenly resurgent defense.
9. Iowa State: ISU is rebuilding, and this recruiting cycle will be a big one for Paul Rhoads. Missouri built a program slowly by replacing good players with better players. That's what Iowa State has to do. More of the Pistol should emphasize Sam Richardson's strengths.
10. Kansas: That 21-game losing streak in Big 12 play makes this an obvious choice when the rest of the league have fielded bowl-quality teams in each of the past few seasons.