Big 12 mailbag: Sleepers, QB derbies and local eateries

In Friday's Twitter mailbag, we discuss possible Big 12 sleepers, the Oklahoma and Texas Tech QB battles and my favorite place to eat at every Big 12 stop. On to the 'bag:

Trotter: Not this year. I think K-State will be a bowl team, but I also believe the Wildcats are a season away from being a factor in the Big 12 race again. I like the young talent, particularly LB Elijah Lee and QB Alex Delton. But with so much turnover offensively, it's difficult to see K-State contending. West Virginia and Texas Tech would be my sleeper picks. The Mountaineers are loaded on defense; Tech has the offensive firepower to be interesting.

Trotter: Honestly, I would be stunned. Right now, they're giving Cody Thomas, Trevor Knight and Baker Mayfield equal reps with the first team. Thomas has a strong arm and a knack for operating zone-read plays. A few days ago, Bob Stoops also lauded Thomas for his development over the summer. But he would have to make a considerable jump with this throwing accuracy from the spring to leapfrog Mayfield and Knight in an offense that hinges on the QB being accurate.

Trotter: Defensively, Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson looks like a good bet. He's going to be a monster in this league over the next few years. Offensively, I'd probably go with Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, but if you're looking for a true freshman, then West Virginia wide receiver Jovon Durant; he's gifted, and will have an opportunity to play right away.

Trotter: No, Skyler Howard is the starter. The Mountaineers are moving William Crest around so much because he's so versatile and talented. It's difficult to sideline a player with so much potential, but I think keeping him at QB is the right move. He needs to develop there, because he really has a chance to become a special QB when his time finally arrives.

Trotter: I could bring up a number of factors, but ultimately it's going to come down to Mason Rudolph and whether he becomes the top-tier QB the Cowboys believe he can be. Oklahoma State was a completely different team with Rudolph behind center last year. If he takes the next step as a sophomore, then the Cowboys are going to be a load, especially with that favorable schedule.

Trotter: I've been to every venue in the Big 12 multiple times, except for McLane Stadium (Both Baylor games I covered last year were in Arlington). The "sail-gating" seems cool, but I've yet to experience it in person, and obviously Floyd Casey tailgating was nothing worth noting. K-State and Iowa State have pretty good tailgating scenes. But the Big 12 tailgating title goes to West Virginia, where the moonshine flows like honey around Milan Puskar.

Trotter: My money is on Patrick Mahomes, who last time out tossed for almost 600 yards and six touchdowns in a near-upset of Baylor to finish out last season. I'm not ready to give up on Davis Webb, and neither is Tech. He's still a quality prospect who tried to force too much early on last season. Yet given how the rest of the offense clicked with Mahomes at the end of last season, I think it would be difficult for the Red Raiders to remove him from the lineup, at least staring out.

Trotter: By sleeper games, I'm going to assume you want me to remove all games pitting the top four teams (TCU, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State) against one another, and all games that include TCU or Baylor. In that case I'll go with Oklahoma State at Texas on Sept. 26, West Virginia at Oklahoma on Oct. 3 and Oklahoma State at West Virginia on Oct. 10. Those three games should ultimately whittle the Big 12 race down to determine the team or teams that will enter November with a chance of challenging TCU and Baylor for the conference crown.

Trotter: The over/under on Kansas right now is 1.5. If I were a betting man, I would lean toward the under. The Jayhawks should be able to win the opener against South Dakota State, but they could be decent-to-heavy underdogs in every remaining game. Given what the Jayhawks graduated off last year's team, the attrition they suffered in the offseason and the lack of scholarship players, I don't see at the moment where the second win comes from.

Trotter: Hickory Park in Ames; Greek House in Norman; Hideaway in Stillwater; Schmaltz's in Waco; Blue Sky in Lubbock; Primanti Bros. in Morgantown; Garozzo's in Lawrence (technically Kansas City, but whatever, it's amazing); Franklin's in Austin; Coco Bolos in Manhattan; and Pappasito's in Fort Worth. Honorable mention honors go to Torchy's Tacos, which has spots in Austin, Waco and Fort Worth.