Spring practices have wrapped up across the country, and there's not much more data we can pull into our projection model for the fall. At Football Outsiders, factors such as five-year program ratings, returning starters, quarterback reliance and more have featured into the projections. We'll publish final projections based on play and drive efficiency in the Football Outsiders Almanac later this summer, but we can take a sneak peak at preliminary projections through the lens of our drive-based FEI ratings.
For this series, we first ran preliminary projections for team, offense and defensive efficiency. Then we calculated win likelihoods in each scheduled game, producing a projected record and win total range. Running the win likelihoods through 1,000 simulated seasons, we then calculated the frequency with which each team claimed a conference crown.
Today we're looking at the projections for the Big 12, which has seen two teams emerge as big favorites to win the league title.
1. Texas Longhorns
Projected finish: 10-2
Win total range: 8-4 to 12-0
Chance to win Big 12: 39 percent
A BCS championship game appearance against Alabama at the end of the 2009 season feels like a lifetime ago, but our projection model likes the Longhorns' chances at reclaiming the conference crown. With 19 returning starters, a strong program history, and top-five talent on the roster, Texas has everything it needs on paper. The schedule is friendly as well -- an Oct. 26 game at TCU is the only true road game against another projected Big 12 contender.