This week's Varsity Numbers is up at Football Outsiders. After a week of talking about the Big 12 (okay, West Virginia), I wanted to take the time to figure out what the heck to expect from the conference title race over the next two months. And I still basically have no idea. Texas Tech is cluttering things up with their near perfection against bad teams (and solid play at Iowa State last week), but one thing is still probably pretty certain: the Texas-WVU winner on Saturday is probably the title favorite. Especially if it's WVU, stealing a big road win. And Kansas State's just going to hang around, continuing to prove that margin for error is overrated.
Texas Tech is not going to 9-0, but let's look at it this way: if the Red Raiders are only a touchdown worse than currently projected, they are still in position to go about 6-3, 9-3 overall. That would be an enormous turnaround for Tommy Tuberville and company. Meanwhile, if TCU is actually a touchdown better than projected, the Horned Frogs still might only go about 4-5.
Applying the same test, if we give Kansas State a "Bill Snyder is a wizard" bonus of seven points per game, the Wildcats go 8-1. Texas is about 4.7 points (against Texas Tech) from 9-0, West Virginia is 7.7 points from 8-1, and Oklahoma is 11.2 points from 7-2.
So what have we learned here? Honestly, the winner of Saturday's Texas-West Virginia game in Austin is probably a solid conference title favorite, but we probably already knew that. One lesson is that Kansas State really is close to a title run of its own, at least as long as the "no margin for error" thing works out in the Wildcats' favor. It bears repeating that KSU is now 14-3 since the start of 2011 with no margin for error and became the first ranked opponent to beat Oklahoma in Norman in the Bob Stoops era -- at some point, they get the benefit of the doubt no matter how difficult the approach may be.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State and Baylor should play a major spoiler role in this race. Both are young, error-prone and ridiculously explosive on offense.