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?


August 21, 2017

2017 Big 12 Conference Preview

The Big 12 Conference was supposed to be the first super league way back in the 1990’s when the best teams from the former very strong Southwest Conference merged with the Big 8 Conference. It was supposed to be superior to the Southeastern Conference, which had already expanded to 12 teams, and the Big Ten Conference, which had expanded to 11 teams. With Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado perenially among the top 10 in the nation, and with Texas A&M, Missouri, and Oklahoma State competing for a spot among the nation’s elite, the Big 12 looked poised to become the league that all others looked up to.

It didn’t last long. Colorado, Missouri, Nebraska, and Texas A&M departed for the Pac-12, SEC, Big Ten, and SEC. The league added TCU and West Virginia to get back to 10 teams, but this conference is struggling to remain important. Rumors persist that schools still might bolt the league for one of the other four super conferences.

2017 promises to bring some interesting changes to the league without any teams bolting. There are three new coaches in the league. Matt Rhule takes over a Baylor team in transition, after Jim Grobe served as an emergency fill-in coach for a year. The Bears will play a combination of spread offense and the power offense Rhule used at Temple.

Tom Herman is the new head coach at Texas. Herman made Houston a semi-national power, even getting the Cougars into the Playoff hunt. Texas suffered three consecutive losing seasons under Charlie Strong, and the Longhorns have not been a national contender for eight seasons.

The biggest change of all comes in Norman, Oklahoma, where Bob Stoops made a decision this summer to retire. Lincoln Riley, the wonderboy of the offense is the new coach, and he inherits a Sooner squad that could easily average more than 45 points per game. Whether the defense can stop the top offenses that the Sooners will face will determine if OU can challenge for a playoff spot. A trip to the Giant Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio, looms in week two,

The Big 12 Media and our PiRate, Mean, and Bias ratings basically agree that this year’s Big 12 race will come down to the Bedlam game. Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma in that game this year, but unlike most years, it is not the last weekend on the schedule.

Here’s how the Media voted.

2016 Big 12 Conference Media Poll
# Team 1st Pl. Total
1 Oklahoma 19 303
2 Oklahoma St. 12 294
3 Kansas St. 1 231
4 Texas 0 213
5 TCU 0 202
6 West Virginia 0 183
7 Baylor 0 129
8 Texas Tech 0 85
9 Iowa St. 0 83
10 Kansas 0 37

Here are the PiRate, Mean, and Bias preseason ratings.

Big 12 Conference
Team PiRate Mean Bias Average
Oklahoma 123.8 121.8 124.8 123.5
Oklahoma St. 118.2 117.0 119.8 118.3
Kansas St. 113.9 113.4 114.3 113.9
Texas 112.2 113.0 112.4 112.6
T C U 111.4 108.6 111.1 110.3
West Virginia 107.7 108.8 107.5 108.0
Baylor 103.9 106.4 103.8 104.7
Iowa State 101.0 102.4 101.7 101.7
Texas Tech 101.3 101.0 100.1 100.8
Kansas 91.0 94.4 90.3 91.9
Big 12 Averages 108.4 108.7 108.6 108.6

And, here are out not-so-scientific preseason won-loss predictions and bowl projections.


Big 12 Conference Projected Standings
Team Conference Overall Bowl
Oklahoma 8-1 11-2 Cotton
Oklahoma St. 8-1 11-2 Fiesta
Kansas St. 6-3 8-4 Camping World
Texas 6-3 8-4 Alamo
TCU 6-3 8-4 Texas
West Virginia 4-5 6-6 Cactus
Baylor 4-5 6-6 Liberty
Texas Tech 2-7 4-8  
Iowa St. 1-8 3-9  
Kansas 0-9 2-10  
No Big 12 team available for Heart of Dallas Bowl

Oklahoma to win the Big 12 Conference Championship Game in a rematch with Oklahoma State.  The Big 12’s top two teams in the standings will face off in Arlington, Texas, on December 2.

Trivia Answer: Not many people guessed at our trivia question, and none were correct. Here’s the question once again.
In 1918, Georgia Tech beat North Carolina State 118-0. For half a century no Division 1 team scored 100 points on another Division 1 team. In 1949 San Jose State beat New Mexico 103-0, but the Spartans would not become a major college participant until the following season, so this one doesn’t count. The last time a Division 1 team scored 100 points on another Division 1 team was in 1968, when current AAC West member Houston beat current AAC West member Tulsa 100-6.
A Houston wide receiver caught a 25-yard pass for a touchdown in that 100-6 game that made the score 93-6. He later went on to fame in the music business. A Tulsa lineman also became a famous celebrity on television and through his books.
Here are your three trivia questions:
1. Name the Houston Wide Receiver that would become a famous music celebrity.
2. Explain how this wide receiver once performed the National Anthem for a sporting event that was postponed soon after he performed, yet there was no rain, snow, or lightning.
3. Name the Tulsa lineman that became a famous TV celebrity and has used this game as a means to help advance his career.
The answers
1. Larry Gatlin
2. Gatlin and his brothers sang the National Anthem prior to the scheduled Game 3 of the 1989 World Series. Moments later, the great Earthquake hit the Bay, postponing the game for 10 days.
3. Dr. Phil

Coming Tomorrow. The Pac-12. Two teams have the talent to make it to Playoffville this year, but this league is rather balanced with some quality talent, and it could be difficult for any team to win enough games to get there.

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