College Football Playoff preview from a Michigan State perspective

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Oct 11, 2014; Waco, TX, USA; The Baylor Bears celebrate the win over the TCU Horned Frogs at McLane Stadium. The Bears defeat Horned Frogs 61-58. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 Conference

The Big 12 only has 10 teams but retained its name from yesteryear. It’s the only Power 5 conference that doesn’t have a championship game to decide the league’s winner. The teams all play each other in a true round-robin and so the conference argues that the winner of the Big 12 is a true champion.

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Many believe not having a conference championship game hurt Baylor and TCU and kept them out of the playoffs. There is some talk that the Big 12 will eventually adopt a conference championship game, which could only help their chances to get a team in the CFP.

Dec 31, 2014; Atlanta , GA, USA; TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Trevone Boykin (2) throws the ball against the Mississippi Rebels in the 2014 Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Paul Abell/CFA Peach Bowl via USA TODAY Sports

Number of institutions: 10

Conference reputation: Good. The Big 12 has an interesting mix of traditional powers like Oklahoma and Texas and newcomers like Baylor and TCU. The name recognition with the traditional powers means that a good run from those teams means instant respect — similar to what happened with Ohio State last year.

Despite the good reputation and name recognition, the Big 12 is unlikely to get two teams into the CFP especially because they don’t have a conference championship.

Division format: Single division

Big 12 Championship format: Round-robin

Defending champ: Baylor — did not make the playoff last season

AP Top 25 teams: TCU (2), Baylor (4), Oklahoma (19)

Key non-conference matchups: TCU at Minnesota (Sept. 3), Oklahoma at Tennessee (Sept. 12)

Key conference matchups: Oklahoma at Texas (Oct. 10), Oklahoma at Baylor (Nov. 14), TCU at Oklahoma (Nov. 21), Baylor at TCU (Nov. 28), Texas at Baylor (Dec. 5)

Five players to watch: Seth Russell (Baylor), Trevone Boykin (TCU), Samaje Perine (Oklahoma), Tyrone Swoopes (Texas), KD Cannon (Baylor)

Projected winner: TCU with Baylor close behind

Next: Pac-12 preview