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Power Five Conference preview: Big 12

After being left out of the College Football Playoff last season, TCU and Baylor are both looking to put their stamp on the 2015 season. Whether or not they will make it in the final four is one thing, but they will be attacking this season with a vengeance. The Big 12 conference has gone through some changes in the last couple of years, and this year will probably a battle between only three or four teams.

Favorite

TCU is the odds on favorite to win the Big 12 this season and rightfully so. The Horned Frogs were left out of the College Football Playoff last season when Ohio State leap frogged them in the rankings following the Buckeyes blowout win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game.

This season will be one of redemption for TCU, at least that is the plan. Coming in as the No. 2 ranked AP preseason team, TCU will look to dominate the rest of the Big 12 and hold nothing back. The first six games of the season only provide them with one test and that is the Oct. 10 game at Kansas State.

What could cost the Horned Frogs are the last five games of the regular season–four out of the last five at least. With games against West Virginia, at Oklahoma State, at Oklahoma and Baylor at home, TCU will have a lot of late season tests to prove their worth. They should be able to pass each of those tests to reign supreme in the Big 12.

Runner-Up

The Baylor Bears were also left out of the College Football Playoff last season and are sure to be starving for a spot in the CFP this season as well. Gone is quarterback Bryce Petty, but in steps junior Seth Russell. The Bears also welcome back senior wideout Jay Lee, sophomore receiver KD Cannon and junior running back Shock Linwood.

Baylor also has defensive end Shawn Oakman back to anchor the defensive line, and the 2014 All-American will be running around in opponent’s backfields all season. If the offense can keep up the pace and attack full-throttle, the only thing that they need to worry about is cutting down on penalties–by a lot.

The November schedule for the Bears will test them mightily, as they have games at Kansas St, Oklahoma, at Oklahoma State and at TCU before ending the season against Texas on Dec. 5. Baylor should be able to survive the last portion of their schedule, but it could also send them into the middle of the Big 12 standings, if not lower.

Dark Horse

They always seem to be in the Big 12 conversation, but the Oklahoma Sooners have lost quite a few pieces since last season. Quarterback Landry Jones is gone, but the Sooners have a QB battle on their hands between junior Trevor Knight and Texas Tech transfer Baker Mayfield.

Last season was a disappointment in Norman at 8-5, but the Sooners will rely heavily on sophomore running back Samaje Perine who unseated Melvin Gordon for the most rushing yards in a game with 427 yards against Kansas last season. If Perine is able to build off of that game and the run game is successful this season, Oklahoma could be much more than a dark horse.

The Big 12 conference should provide plenty of excitement this season, especially in the month of November. Rivalries will continue to be a big part of the Big 12, with the Red River rivalry and Bedlam series, but TCU and Baylor might have become the newest and most intense rivalry in the Big 12.

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