Eric Ward (right)
The Oklahoma State Cowboys topped the Big 12 preseason poll for the 2013 season, while the Oklahoma Sooners and TCU Horned Frogs came in at second and third respectively.
But preseason rankings are always taken with a grain of salt. Last year, the Kansas State Wildcats won the Big 12 despite being chosen sixth in the conference. Also in 2012, West Virginia ranked second in the preseason poll but finished the year seventh at just 6-6 overall.
In 2013, there are certainly teams to look out for that aren't ranked in the top of the polls.
RB Lache Seastrunk
Despite being ranked fifth in the Big 12 preseason poll and left off the Coaches Poll entirely, the Baylor Bears are one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
The Bears are led by running back Lache Seastrunk, a self-proclaimed Heisman candidate according to ESPN. Seastrunk finished 2012 with five 100-yard performances in the team's last six games, including a win over a top-ranked Kansas State Wildcats team and a Holiday Bowl win over UCLA.
In 2013, the Bears will hope to take the momentum from the end of last year into this season.
In addition to having Seastrunk and one of the most prolific offenses in recent memory, the Bears should be much improved on defense.
2012 was a rough year on that side of the ball for Baylor, as the Bears ranked 119th out of 120 FBS teams in total defense. But with preseason All-Big 12 linebacker Bryce Hager coming back along with six other returning starters on defense, this unit should be much more effective.
Overall, the Bears are a high-flying team that can score quickly and they proved last year they can hang with the best in the country. If Art Briles can improve his team's defense this season, he could take them all the way to a Big 12 title.
Last season's Big 12 champions were picked sixth in the preseason Big 12 poll, the second consecutive year the Wildcats have been given that ranking.
But with Bill Snyder at the helm, it's hard to imagine the team will take that much of a dip in the standings.
There are some serious question marks in Manhattan for sure. The defense returns just two starters in safety Ty Zimmerman and linebacker Tre Walker. And Walker missed nearly half the season last year with a leg injury.
And Heisman Trophy finalist Collin Klein is also gone. Currently, junior college transfer Jake Waters and redshirt sophomore Daniel Sams are vying for the QB job.
However, there are still signs that this team has the talent to make another quality run this season. The Wildcats have their entire starting offensive line returning this season as well as running back John Hubert.
Hubert, now a senior, is one of the best running backs in the league, having racked up 1,945 yards over his career thus far.
And Zimmerman is one of the best safeties in the country with NFLDraftScout.com ranking him as the third-best safety in his class.
Kansas State is one of just two teams over the past two years to start its season 6-0. The other team is Alabama, who is a back-to-back defending national champion. Snyder has proven time and time again that he can get the most out of his players. So expect the Wildcats to finish better than sixth in the Big 12.
WR Eric Ward
After finishing 8-5 last season and sixth in the Big 12, the Red Raiders came in at seventh in the 2013 preseason conference poll.
But with new head coach Kliff Kingsbury in town, the Red Raiders could really make some noise in the Big 12.
The biggest loss for Texas Tech is undoubtedly quarterback Seth Doege. But Kingsbury knows how to groom new quarterbacks.
Last year as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, he developed freshman Johnny Manziel into a Heisman Trophy winner.
Whoever wins the job in Lubbock will also have Eric Ward to throw to. One of the best receivers in the nation, he hauled in 1,053 yards receiving last year with 12 touchdowns.
On defense, Texas Tech has defensive lineman Kerry Hyder coming back. He's a big talent who will look to give the team some consistency on both sides of the ball.
Like the Baylor Bears, the Red Raiders can score points in bunches. That means the ceiling is always high for them. With Kingsbury in town and big-name talent on both sides of the ball, this team should do much better than seventh in the conference.
QB Jake Heaps
Owners of a 21-game losing streak in the Big 12 and coming off a year where they won just one game, the Kansas Jayhawks were ranked 10th out of 10 teams in the Big 12 preseason poll.
But the ceiling may be higher as Charlie Weis enters his second season of rebuilding in Lawrence, Kan.
The biggest signs of improvement lie in the quarterback position, where BYU transfer Jake Heaps is set to take the reins. Heaps is a big step up from Dayne Crist, the team's primary starter last season.
While Crist threw just four touchdowns compared to nine interceptions last season, Heaps has 3,768 yards passing, 24 touchdowns and just 17 picks to his credit during his two years at BYU.
Running backs James Sims and Tony Pierson are both among the best in the conference and should provide some balance for a team that's longing for a consistent offensive attack.
It's hard to imagine that the Jayhawks could surge to the top of the conference in just one season. But, bowl eligibility may not be out of the question for this team this year.