Big 12 Football: After 3 Weeks, Is Texas, Oklahoma, WVU or K-State the Favorite?

T.J. McaloonContributorSeptember 16, 2012

Big 12 Football: After 3 Weeks, Is Texas, Oklahoma, WVU or K-State the Favorite?

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    After three weeks of college football, the Big 12 looks to have four teams that will fight it out for the conference championship. But the burning question is:

    Which one of those teams is the favorite to represent the Big 12 in the Fiesta Bowl? 

    Between Texas, Kansas State, West Virginia and Oklahoma, each team has strengths that have shown during this opening month of football. However, as good as they have been, each team does have a distinct weakness that will come out when it ends up playing each other. 

    Here is each team’s reason as to why it is the favorite to win the Big 12. 

Kansas State Wildcats

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    Kansas State may be the team that's the most under the radar among these four teams. The Wildcats do not have the same pedigree that Oklahoma and Texas do in the conference, and they do not have the same hype because of being in a new conference as West Virginia does. 

    But what they do have is a dynamic game-breaking player at quarterback named Collin Klein. 

    Last year, Klein went 1-1 against Oklahoma and Texas with a sub-par game in each matchup. However, against Texas the previous year, Klein went off with 127 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a Kansas State win. 

    This season, Klein and the Wildcats are off to another great start with a win-loss margin of 138-43. Klein has used his arm more than his legs this year, which could be a sign that he has evolved as a quarterback. 

    If that's true, then it can only mean good things for Kansas State this year. 

Oklahoma Sooners

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    Through three weeks of the college football season, statistically the Sooners have the best defense in the conference among these four teams. 

    They have the lowest points allowed—20—with only two touchdowns allowed in their first two games. 

    However, in their home opener, Oklahoma struggled to put up points against UTEP, winning 24-7. That could have been just opening-game rust, as the following week against Florida A&M, the Sooners scored 69 in a route. 

    But, with the lack of receiver depth—since Landry Jones' favorite receiver Ryan Broyles is now in the NFL—the Sooners' passing offense could struggle against the strong secondaries of Kansas State and Texas. 

    If the Sooners are going to be the favorites to win another Big 12 championship, they will do it with low-scoring games that are won by their defense. 

Texas Longhorns

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    If the Oklahoma Sooners have the best defense statistically, then among these teams, the Texas Longhorns have the best defensive skill players. 

    Alex Okafor leads the conference in sacks, three, while teammate Jackson Jeffcoat is right behind him with two. 

    In the secondary, Quandre Diggs leads the Big 12 in interceptions with three, while Kenny Vaccaro is second in the conference with one. 

    However, the most shocking thing about this Texas team is that they've gotten consistent play from quarterback David Ash. Coming into the season, there was an uncertainty over who would be the starting quarterback when the season opened. Ash was named the starter and has put up three solid games with a touchdown to interception ratio of 7:0. 

    If the Longhorns are going to be the favorite to win the Big 12, they will have to continue to get great defensive play while limiting the turnovers from Ash. 

West Virginia Mountaineers

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    West Virginia may be the new kids on the block, as they came over from the Big East Conference this year. Yet through two games, they have looked like they will not struggle in their new conference. 

    The main reason why the Mountaineers will have success in their transition into the Big 12 is simple: They have the best player in the conference, quarterback Geno Smith. 

    Smith should be the early favorite to win this year's Heisman Trophy as he's put up an insane 209.8 quarterback rating, with the same amount touchdowns and incompletions—nine.

    Yes, Smith has played Marshall and James Madison in those two games, but he's masked a Mountaineers defense that has allowed 46 points in those two games. 

    If West Virginia is going to be the favorites in the Big 12, it will be because Smith is playing at a Heisman Trophy level, carrying the Mountaineers to high-scoring wins. 

The Favorite to Win the Big 12 Is?

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    The Longhorns will come out as the winners of the Big 12 conference. Like I said previously, the shocking thing from the Longhorns' season is that Ash has played exceptionally well. The defense was going to be great, but the big unknown was how well either Ash or backup Case McCoy was going to play.

    Through Texas' first-three games, it looks like the right choice was made making Ash the starting QB. 

    With their depth at running back, plus their great defense, they should be the favorites to win the Big 12.