Who Wins The Big 12? Baylor

As I do each year, I spend a decent amount of time crunching numbers like returning starters, returning yards and points, returning defensive plays made, schedule and trends, intangibles, and more. I then end up predicting every single Big 12 game in the upcoming season, and the last three seasons I correctly picked the Big 12 champion.

In 2010, I picked OU and the Sooners defeated Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship Game, although I must admit I had OU beating Missouri but the Huskers and Tigers were both 6-2 in the North Division. In 2011, I correctly picked Oklahoma State and last season, with more than a few people poking fun at me, I picked Kansas State.

This year for the first time I'm going to share my game-by-game summer prognostication with everybody rather than just one post on how the league will finish.

We are well on our way for this season with Texas (7-5/5-4) and Texas Tech (8-4/5-4) picked in a tie for fifth and Kansas State (6-6/3-6) selected to finish seventh in our last three installments.

Earlier, we had Kansas picked to finish last at 2-10/0-9 and Iowa State is picked for ninth at 3-9/1-8. West Virginia has an unusual amount of turnover in coaching staff along with the player losses such as their best offensive linemen,Geno Smith at quarterback, and the dynamic receiving duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey adding up for me to 5-7/2-7.

Now time to start the top four contenders in the conference for 2013.

Baylor Bears
It's time we all face it, the Baylor Bears are not going away. Art Briles has done one of the best coaching and program-building jobs south of Manhattan, Kansas.

Briles has instilled the kind of confidence in his program that gets alumni to write huge checks, the kind that build new stadiums. It's a feeling only a few schools around the country have experienced recently, but several in the Big 12.

Briles and his staff are especially good at grooming quarterbacks and that showed at Houston, and now at Baylor as RGIII gives way to Nick Florence and now he to Bryce Petty, who we think will be right in line with production at that position in the Bears offense. This may be scary but Petty has as strong and arm and is more athletic than Florence.

Behind him or beside him, Petty has two really good backs in Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. The offensive line features just two returning starters, both are potential All-Big 12 or even All-American candidates. The receivers will be excellent again led by Tevin Reese and featuring talented freshman Robbie Rhodes. The Bears also return their kicker and punter.

On defense, I'm a big fan of Phil Bennett. His defense showed marked improvement down the stretch last season in the upset wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma State. The linebacker duo of ball-hawking Eddie Lackey and Bryce Hager could be huge for the Baylor defense this season and the switching of starters Sam Holl to nickel and Ahmad Dixon to safety looked to be the right move in the spring.

This is the last season at Floyd Casey Stadium and while the old bowl shaped concrete structure has seen more bad seasons than good over the years, it has had its moments including the recent Briles-led surge in Baylor football. The Bears will work hard and be inspired to give it the proper final season. I really don't like Texas chances in that last game at Floyd Casey.

Baylor Schedule and Predictions
Aug. 31, Wofford - Win - Baylor starts the month of creampuffs and off weeks.
Sept. 7, Buffalo - Win - More momentum and offensive records.
Sept. 21, Louisiana-Monroe - Win - Better have eyes wide open for this one.
Oct. 5, West Virginia - Win - After last year's shootout this one won't be as wild or as close.
Oct. 12, @Kansas State - Win - Revenge game for Kansas State but Baylor has more weapons and will still be really fresh.
Oct. 19, Iowa State - Win - Give the athletic department employee that designed this schedule a bonus, five of the first six games at home.
Oct. 26, @Kansas - Win - Look back on this series and games in Lawrence and you find a lot of close ones, all won by Baylor.
Nov. 7, (Thurs) Oklahoma - Win - The two teams are close and on Thursdays over the years when that's the case the home team wins a high percentage.
Nov. 16, Texas Tech @Arlington - Win - Big challenge coming off OU game but Baylor finds a way again with Tech.
Nov. 23, @Oklahoma State - Loss - Baylor is 9-0, but Oklahoma State is really good and looking for revenge from last season, end of the line for the Bears win streak and they've been on the other side.
Nov. 30, @TCU - Loss - Back-to-back road games with good teams and TCU is in the hunt too.
Dec. 7, Texas - Win - Bears say goodbye to Floyd Casey with a win over the team that has won more games than any team other than Baylor in the old fortress>

Baylor Bears Final Predictions: 10-2/7-2 Big 12 2nd (tie)

Here are the other team previews:
Who Wins the Big 12: Texas

Who Wins the Big 12: Texas Tech

Who Wins the Big 12: Kansas State

Who Wins the Big 12: West Virginia

Who Wins the Big 12: Iowa State

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