Bold picks for the Big 12 in 2012

Colleague Mark Schlabach's "On The Mark" column can be found on ESPN.com every Monday afternoon this season, and to kick things off, he made a litany of predictions for each conference.

He didn't hold back when it came to the Big 12. Plenty of boldness here.

Conference champion: West Virginia

Dark horse: TCU

Offensive player of the year: Geno Smith, QB, West Virginia

Defensive player of the year: Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas

Freshman of the year: Wes Lunt, QB, Oklahoma State

Coach of the year: Bill Snyder, Kansas State

Coach on the hot seat: Tommy Tuberville, Texas Tech

Go to the full column to see his three bold predictions for the Big 12.

The biggest thing I noticed? No mention of the Sooners anywhere. The Big 12 favorite got shut out of Schlabach's awards and predictions in favor of West Virginia.

He says Dana Holgorsen's Mountaineers will win the league in their inaugural season, and says they'll knock off Texas in Austin and Oklahoma in Morgantown to go 2-0 against the Big 12's traditional powers, but drop the season finale against Iowa State.

I like his pick for freshman of the year and would agree. The same with Offensive Player of the Year.

Defensive Player of the Year will be a crapshoot in this league, but Jeffcoat's on the short list of guys who could win. I voted for Kansas State's Arthur Brown, but look out for Texas defensive end Alex Okafor and safety Kenny Vaccaro, as well as Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson.

Iowa State's linebacker duo of A.J. Klein and Jake Knott could both win. It would be a second award for Klein, who shared honors with Oklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander last year.