In recent years, there have been just two teams expected to win the Big 12 title in any given year: The Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns. Not only was the winner of the Red River Rivalry the probable eventual conference champion, at least in the South division, but the victor was usually expected to run the table and compete for the National Championship.
Last season marked the first year since its inception that the Big 12 did not play a true conference title game. It was also the the 1st time in 7 years that neither the Longhorns, nor the Sooners, finished at the top of the Big 12 standings. That honor went to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
With both the Sooners and the Longhorns having a couple of “down seasons,” the doors to the top of the Big 12 have opened a little wider. Add to that the fact that the Big 12 has now added the N0. 7 West Virginia Mountaineers and the No. 14 TCU Horned Frogs to replace the recently departed and unranked Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies, and the Big 12 title race is wide open again this year.
Additionally, this could mark one of the few times that the Big 12 winner does not have a perfect record in conference play. It’s safe to assume that the conference champion could very well have one or two losses this season.
So what teams stand the best chance to win the conference?
For now, West Virginia, Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma (despite their loss to the Wildcats last weekend) would likely be the top choices.
Of course, Oklahoma State and TCU may have something to say about that.
With the majority of the conference beginning Big 12 play this weekend, the Big 12 title race will start shaping up very soon.
But for now, it’s wide open.