The Pi-Rate Ratings

August 16, 2019

2019 Big 12 Conference Football Preview

In the 1970’s, the Big Ten was jokingly called the Big Two and Little Eight, as Ohio State and Michigan won or shared every Big Ten title between 1968 and 1982.  Oklahoma has won four consecutive Big 12 regular season championships and both of the Big 12 Championship Games since the game returned in 2017.  Lately, the Big 12 race has been more like the American League baseball race for years: who will finish in second behind the Yankees?

Oklahoma enters 2019 as a prohibitive favorite to win their fifth consecutive regular season and third consecutive Championship Game and must be considered a top contender to make the Field of Four NCAA Playoffs.  The Sooners will have to get there without the services of the 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, as Kyler Murray is now tossing the ball in the NFL.  The Oklahoma offense will most likely take a small backward step even though Coach Lincoln Riley went out in the free agent market and grabbed a great one in former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts.  Oklahoma’s offense figures to be a little weaker, because the offensive line and receiving corps must be rebuilt (or reloaded).

At the same time, Oklahoma’s defense figures to be somewhat better than last year, but then again, it would be hard for it to be any worse after giving up more than 33 points and 450 yards per game.

Texas returned to prominence last year under second year coach Tom Herman.  After a 7-6 season in 2017, the Longhorns beat Oklahoma in the regular season before blowing a lead in the conference championship game and losing to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl.  Texas has numerous holes to fill, especially on defense, where only two starters return.

Iowa State is a team that can be compared to the mountain lion hiding on a bluff ready to pounce and attack an unsuspecting deer.  It should be no surprise that the Cyclones should be quite good this year after posting consecutive eight-win seasons.  ISU returns more starting talent than Oklahoma and Texas, and Matt Campbell might be one of the five best coaches in football, be it college or professional.

Baylor must be considered the dark horse in the race this year.  After enduring a total rebuild after the previous regime left under a dark cloud, Matt Rhule has done a commendable job bringing the Bears back to competitive football.  The Baylor offense could challenge for best in the league, and the defense should be a little improved.  Keep an eye on BU.

There are new head coaches at Texas Tech, Kansas State, Kansas, and West Virginia.  Matt Wells comes to Texas Tech after doing great things at Utah State, but his wide-open offense is quite different from the Air Raid used by former coach Kliff Kingsbury, and the Red Raiders will need time to adjust.

Bill Snyder has retired for the second time, and Kansas State must start over with Chris Klieman, the Dabo Swinney of FCS football.  Klieman won four FCS National Championships at North Dakota State, and he inherits a decent roster.  Still, there will be an adjustment with new systems on both sides of the ball, so the Wildcats will need a year or two in transition to be competitive again.

Dana Holgorsen, in a semi-surprise move, bolted West Virginia for Houston, and the Mountaineers must start over with former Troy coach Neal Brown and without Will Grier at quarterback.  Both sides of the ball suffered heavy losses, so 2019 will be a major rebuilding season.  Still, WVU might sneak into a lower-tiered bowl because one of the bottom four is likely to end up at 6-6.

Then, there is Kansas.  What the Jayhawks are to college basketball, they are the opposite in college football.  Since Mark Mangino was forced out at Kansas over several allegations of abuse, the KU program has been the weakest of any Power 5 Conference school.  Three coaches failed to turn the program around, as the Jayhawks are an incredibly poor 5-75 in the Big 12 since Mangino left.  Enter Les Miles as the new coach.  The Kansas football program will definitely be a little more exciting just because one never knows what Miles might do as the coach.  It would not be shocking to see Kansas go for a first down on fourth down inside their own 20 yard line.  They might run plays from the single wing, double wing, wishbone, or air raid offense–in the same possession!  The only for sure thing is that Les will sample the grass in every stadium the Jayhawks play.  If they happen to actually win a conference game this year, it will be a bonus.  They have a chance to begin the season 2-0, but they will almost assuredly lost the final 10.

Two teams remain in this little preview.  Oklahoma State and TCU have been middle of the pack teams in the last couple seasons, and they appear to still be behind the top four, while they are considerably better than the bottom four.  Because the Big 12 has a nine-game conference schedule, both the Cowboys and Horned Frogs can go 4-0 against the transitioning teams.  This means, they need to win two of their three non-league games to become bowl eligible.

Here is how the Big 12 Media voted in the preseason poll.


Big 12 Conference Media Poll


Pos. Team 1st Place Votes Overall Votes
1 Oklahoma 68 761
2 Texas 9 696
3 Iowa St. 0 589
4 TCU 0 474
5 Oklahoma St. 0 460
6 Baylor 0 453
7 Texas Tech 0 281
8 West Virginia 0 241
9 Kansas St. 0 191
10 Kansas 0 89


Championship Game Winner
None Chosen


The Initial PiRate Ratings believe the conference race will be a little bit different, and there won’t be a wide moat between Oklahoma and the next three teams.


Preseason PiRate Ratings–Big 12


Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 120.8 119.4 120.4 120.2
Iowa St. 112.0 112.2 111.9 112.0
Texas 111.6 111.2 110.9 111.2
Baylor 110.1 110.2 109.6 110.0
Oklahoma St. 109.7 110.0 109.0 109.6
Texas Tech 108.1 107.6 107.2 107.6
Kansas St. 107.5 106.8 107.1 107.1
West Virginia 107.6 106.2 107.1 106.9
T C U 102.6 105.6 103.0 103.7
Kansas 95.6 96.5 95.3 95.8


Big 12 Averages 108.6 108.6 108.1 108.4


Note:  These preseason ratings are accurate as of August 1, 2019, and subject to change before the first week of the season due to personnel changes prior to the first week of the season.


Predicted Won-Loss Records

The PiRate Ratings were not created to forecast won-loss records like other ratings might attempt.  Our ratings are valid for just the next game on the teams’ schedules, and we have pre-set adjustments built into our ratings on many teams.  For instance, if a team has exceptional starting talent but little depth, their rating has a pre-set reduction per week of the season, so that even if they win or lose a game by the exact expected margin, they will lose some of their power rating due to their depth issues.

If a team has exceptional, but inexperienced talent, their rating will have a pre-set addition per week of the season, and even if their performance may be exactly what was expected, their power rating will rise.

What you see in these predicted won-loss records are our opinion and not calculated from the ratings.  These are the estimated records based on a vote, with the Captain having 50% of the vote and the crew having the other 50%.  The Captain then rounded up or down those teams picked to have an average wins that were not whole numbers.


PiRate Members Predicted Won-Loss


Pos Team Conf. Overall
1 Oklahoma 7-2 11-2*
2 Iowa St. 7-2 10-3
3 Baylor 6-3 9-3
4 Texas 6-3 8-4
5 Oklahoma St. 5-4 8-4
6 West Virginia 4-5 6-6
7 TCU 3-6 6-6
8 Kansas St. 2-7 4-8
9 Texas Tech 2-7 5-7
10 Kansas 0-9 2-10


* Oklahoma picked to win Big 12 Championship Game


Bowl Predictions

Bowl Team
Playoffs Not This Year
Sugar Oklahoma
Alamo Baylor
Camping World Iowa St.
Texas Okla st.
Liberty Texas
Cheez-it WVU
First Responders TCU


Coaches That Could Move Up To Big-Time Programs

Matt Rhule, Baylor

Matt Campbell, Iowa State


Coaches on the Hot Seat

None this year


Top Quarterbacks

Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma

Sam Ehlinger, Texas

Charlie Brewer, Baylor

Brock Purdy, Iowa St.


Top Offense



Oklahoma St.


Top Defense

Iowa St.




Coming Tomorrow: The Big Ten Conference.  With Urban Meyer into his next round of retirement, Can Jim Harbaugh take Michigan to the Playoffs?  Can Scott Frost work magic at Nebraska like he did at Central Florida?  Will there be a multiple team tie for first in the Western Division with 6-3 conference records?


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