We'll resist temptation to overthink Landry Jones' injuries and the state of the offensive line and pick Oklahoma to win the Big 12 with a stiff challenge from newcomer West Virginia. Texas has quarterback issues with David Ash, but the Longhorns ride Malcom Brown and hover near the top of the league.
Louisville's 18 returning starters should help it pace the Big East, especially with most of a staunch defense back for 2012.
Rutgers has its question marks but also brings back a quality defense for first-year coach Kyle Flood. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, will struggle more than expected in an unfavorable schedule under first-year coach Paul Chryst.
Watch WVU, Temple
Texas coach Mack Brown says the Longhorns are building toward another national title run, but Oklahoma this year has the advantage of quarterback Landry Jones and last year's 55-17 win.
Most teams would need time to adjust to a conference switch, but West Virginia should compete right away with one of Big 12's best offenses.
Louisville was only 7-6 last year but won five of its last six Big East games and returns sophomore quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Cardinals' manageable nonconference schedule leads into a water-down Big East that lost defending champion West Virginia.
Temple, which finished 9-4 last year in the MAC, just might catch some teams sleeping.
Legaux leads Cincinnati
Oklahoma wins the Big 12. West Virginia, with an experienced Geno Smith at QB, proves it can play in the conference after moving from the Big East, but TCU is more toward the middle of the pack in its first season in the league. RG3 is gone, so too is Baylor. Charlie Weis finds out Kansas is a tough place to win in football but his presence should boost the team.
In the Big East, Cincinnati will win the league title. A lot of the Bearcats' season rides on QB Munchie Legaux, but we figure he can take the bite out of his opponents. If not, Louisville will. Temple disappoints in its return to the league. This is not the MAC, where the Owls were 9-4 last season, and they have only 10 starters back.
Jones, Sooners tough
Quarterback Landry Jones and a solid defense are two keys to Oklahoma winning the Big 12 title this season.
Texas will surprise a lot of folks in the Big 12, thanks in part, to the return of 15 starters from a solid squad in 2011. On the flip side, it will be tough for Oklahoma State to duplicate the success of its 12-1 season — especially with a true freshman quarterback.
Like Oklahoma, Louisville will count on a solid defense and an athletic quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater to make a run at the Big East title.
Don't be fooled by South Florida's 5-7 record in 2011. The Bulls have the talent, led by senior quarterback B.J. Daniels, and the coaching to surprise many in the Big East.