In the high-powered Big 12, there's often a high level of volatility as the teams wage their weekly shootouts.
Defense is usually an afterthought. Teams that can get key stops tend to be the ones at the top of the standings come season's end.
Here's an early look at the future odds for the Big 12, with odds from the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas:
|Odds To Win Big 12
(courtesy of Golden Nugget)
| Oklahoma State
| Kansas State
| West Virginia
| Texas Tech
| Iowa State
Oklahoma (11/10): Similar to former Kansas basketball forward Perry Ellis, Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has been around so long that many college football observers are under the perception he has been the Sooners' signal-caller for the past 10 years.
The former Texas Tech QB has a transfer rule named after him, and used it to earn the chance to take the field with the Sooners again this season.
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It feels like the two-time Heisman finalist?s presence is the primary reason the Sooners are favored to win the Big 12, because most of the help around him will be unproven.
The dynamite one-two backfield of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon were both taken in the NFL Draft. Fellow Heisman finalist, receiver Dede Westbrook, will also be playing on Sundays in the fall.
Oklahoma has a highly-rated recruiting class that will need to produce fast in a conference that has plenty of experienced, returning talent.
The Sooners have some potential stumbling blocks, with road games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State. With so many variables, there is nowhere near enough value to support Oklahoma behind such a meager price.
Texas (9/2): Expectations will be sky-high for the Longhorns in their first year under Tom Herman, the noted offensive maven hired away from Houston to perform a similar restoration projection at Texas.
He has a prodigal quarterback to work with in sophomore Shane Buechele, who had a mostly strong season as a true freshman before fading a little late in the year.
He is surrounded by plenty of playmakers such as running back Chris Warren and wide receiver Jerrod Heard, a converted QB who made huge plays for the Longhorns the past two seasons.
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Texas must improve a defense that has plenty of skill and athleticism, but was torched for 45 or more points four times.
The Longhorns have a manageable schedule, and I like Herman's chance of a fast turnaround. This is a pretty solid value position.
TCU (10/1): Last year, Texas A&M transfer Kenny Hill was a turnover-prone, poise-deficient disaster at quarterback, and failed to deliver the type of leadership and production Horned Frogs fasn had grown spoiled by under Trevone Boykin.
But at his best, Hill is a viable dual-threat quarterback. If he cuts down on turnovers, he gives TCU an experienced playmaker. Running back Kyle Hicks, who had 1,042 yards and 12 TDs, also returns.
The team allowed 41 or more points three times and yielded at least 30 in all but one of its Big 12 losses. But the youth-laden club should make major strides under defense-oriented coach Gary Patterson.
This is basically a pick out of principle because, so long as Patterson is at TCU, the Frogs will be a viable Big 12 contender.
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Oklahoma State (4/1): Coach Mike Gundy's mullet hairdo has been getting more media attention than his team. Which is a shame, because the Cowboys ended last season playing about as well as any team in the country.
His quarterback's career has been similarly overshadowed, as Mason Rudolph's record-setting tenure has long been bumped to the back pages by the attention given Mayfield at rival Oklahoma.
But the Cowboys are actively promoting Rudolph in the Heisman race and, at a minimum, he deserves to be in the conversation.
His senior season should see plenty more highlights because the Cowboys have a wealth of experienced playmakers.
Rudolph will be joined by explosive running back Justice Hill, who was Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year last season with 1,142 yards and six TDs. James Washington, Jalen McCleskey and Tyron Johnson lead one of the nation?s most talented receiving corps.
The Cowboys won eight of their final nine last season, and saw a once-leaky defense improve to the point where it allowed just 14 points total in wins over TCU and Colorado.
They have a ton of experienced talent and a mostly favorable schedule. This should be the best team in the Big 12, and these odds provide a handsome payback.