Gone are the days when a single team runs the table year after year. The expectations of playing for not only a conference title but also a national championship are now widespread as a new Big 12 has been installed. The once shaky grounds of conference realignment have seemed to settle for the time being, leading to solidarity conference wide.
For the first time in recent history, there will not be an undisputed preseason favorite. ESPN has picked Texas as the best team in the Big 12 while others think Oklahoma St. is the team to beat. Throw in TCU as well as Oklahoma, both of whom are expected to compete, and it quickly becomes noticable that this race is wide open. But, a look at the past several years reveals the true nature and course of the Big 12 Conference starting with the 2011 season.
The 2011 Oklahoma St. Cowboys had the potential to unexpectedly run the table. Instead, they suffered a loss against the giant slayer, Iowa St. Cyclones. The loss effectively ended their hopes of being able to play in the BCS Championship game along with the nationwide hopes of seeing the best offense go against the top defense.
Again in 2012, the Kansas St. Wildcats pulled out an upset victory over the Oklahoma Sooners on Owen Field. From there many expected them to go into cruise control with their controlling style of game play. With the season winding down and the shot to play for a National Title once again on the line, KSU would face the Baylor Bears. As Lache Seastrunk ran wild, the carpet was ripped out from under the Wildcats as hopes and dreams came crashing down.
Only once since the onset of the 2006 season has a Big 12 team ran through conference play undefeated. However, a more prominent tell-tale sign of the depth and quality the Big 12 possesses may come from the fact that 9-out-of-10 teams earned bowl berths last season, a feat unlikely to be repeated by any other conference.