Below, our first Big 12 power rankings of the 2015 season:
1. TCU: The Horned Frogs enter fall camp with questions defensively, having to replace five all-conference performers from last season. But with a pair of proven returners in safety Derrick Kindred and defensive tackle Davion Pierson and Gary Patterson's long track record, TCU should be no worse than solid on that side of the ball. Given that the offense could be the best in the country, the defense won't have to be anything more than that.
2. Baylor: Baylor might have the reputation of being a finesse program. But there's nothing soft about these Bears. Spearheaded by Spencer Drango, Andrew Billings and Shawn Oakman, Baylor might have the best offensive-defensive line combination in the country. Led by wideouts Corey Coleman and KD Cannon, the Bears can still fly. But they should be able to slug it out with just about anyone up front, as well.
3. Oklahoma State: The Cowboys challenging TCU and Baylor for conference supremacy will hinge on whether sophomore quarterback Mason Rudolph builds off last year's scintillating three-game debut. Oklahoma State does have question marks, notably at running back and defensive tackle. But if Rudolph's small sample size last year was merely a sign of what's to come, the Pokes could be a factor in the Big 12 title race.
4. Oklahoma: Bob Stoops made wholesale staff changes during the offseason, including bringing in Air Raid prodigy Lincoln Riley. Those moves underscore how critical this season is for Oklahoma, which hasn't seriously contended for a national title past October since 2008. Riley will have plenty of firepower to work with in running back Samaje Perine and receiver Sterling Shepard, both potential All-Americans. But whether it's Baker Mayfield or Trevor Knight who wins the job, better QB play will be the ultimate determinant.
5. West Virginia: Dana Holgorsen is on record calling this West Virginia unit the best defense he's ever been associated with. The Mountaineers need to be more consistent and force more turnovers. But in shutting down Baylor and TCU last year, West Virginia also showed it could have a Big 12 championship-caliber defense behind safety Karl Joseph and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski.
6. Texas: Once again, the eyes of Texas will be on the QB position, where the Longhorns are still trying to adequately replace Colt McCoy six years later. Incumbent Tyrone Swoopes is still the favorite to win the job, but redshirt Jerrod Heard came on strong toward the end of spring ball. If he carries that momentum into the fall, Heard could force Charlie Strong to give him a hard look behind center.
7. Kansas State: K-State has the most Big 12 wins since 2011, but this will be Bill Snyder's most challenging rebuilding job in a long time. The Wildcats enter two-a-days with a four-way battle to replace QB Jake Waters; the receivers are almost completely untested, as well. Led by safety Dante Barnett, the Wildcats should have a dynamic secondary. That alone, however, won't be enough to keep K-State in the upper half of the conference for a fifth straight year.
8. Texas Tech: Since starting out 7-0 in Kliff Kingsbury's debut season two years ago, the Red Raiders have won just two Big 12 games (against Iowa State and Kansas). Sophomore Patrick Mahomes appears to have the promise to finally shut the revolving door at QB. But Tech will still continue to struggle if it doesn't quell its turnover and penalty epidemic.
9. Iowa State: The Cyclones quietly possess the second-most experienced QB in the league in Sam B. Richardson. With a quality receiving corps to surround him, Iowa State could feature a dangerous passing attack. Yet to have any chance of returning to bowl eligibility, the Cyclones must get off to a faster start than they have during back-to-back disappointing seasons. A third straight loss in the opener to an FCS foe, this time Northern Iowa, will doom Iowa State again.
10. Kansas: David Beaty has brought some much-needed energy and enthusiasm to Lawrence. But it's going to take a while for him to bring the talent to make Kansas relevant again. Thanks to the recruiting practices of the Charlie Weis regime, the Jayhawks are short on players, both in quality and quantity.