Just by a glance at most NCAA preseason projections, one might draw the conclusion that this could be a down year for the Big 12. That would be throwing out the fact, however, that preseason projections are usually consistently wrong. Especially pertaining to college football.
Yes, sometimes the best team in the nation remains at the top for the majority of the season, but oftentimes teams overperform while others fall apart.
The Big 12 has five teams in the Top 25 Preseason Coaches’ Poll, but the highest ranked team, Oklahoma, is ranked just outside the coveted top four spots at No. 5 and TCU, the next team down, is all the way at 16th.
We believe, however, that there are plenty of reasons for college football bettors to anticipate some of these teams rising up the list and being in good position to make New Years Six and even CFP appearances.
While we think there could be a few others with an outside shot, Oklahoma is by far the Big 12 team with the best chance of reaching the College Football Playoff.
They lost Baker Mayfield, yes, but they return an undeniably explosive dynamic offense led by potential Heisman candidate Rodney Anderson. In a conference dominated by offense the Sooners have been consistently the class of the bunch with 18 titles to their name.
They’re a solid pick to continue their dominance and win the conference again, but it will be incredibly difficult with so much offensive talent spread around. Oklahoma is nevertheless the Big 12’s best hope of winning a national title.
Ladbrokes lists the Sooners at +450 odds of making the playoff and +2600 to win the national title. For a program that was there last year, those are decent odds to capitalize on in the early NCAA football market.
It’s one thing to be the only school in the conference to be returning a proven starting quarterback. It’s another when that quarterback is Will Grier.
Considered to be one of the best field generals in the country, Grier heads into his senior year after throwing for 3,490 yards and 34 touchdowns in just 11 games last season.
The stability and top-notch play he will provide consistently, in our mind, makes the Mountaineers a shoo-in to win over 7.5 games (20/21 on Ladbrokes.) Honestly, we love the Mountaineers at +650 odds on 888sport to win the Big 12 outright as our dark horse for the conference.
It would be thrilling to see Grier close out his career in a New Year’s Six bowl or maybe even on a playoff run, but he at least has the talent and upside to make this year in the Big 12 his own.
As Bill Connelly of SBNation reports, the Horned Frogs and Oklahoma State Cowboys have established themselves as the most consistent teams in the conference.
The Cowboys and Horned Frogs have become the Big 12’s two most reliable non-OU programs, each ranking in the top 25 in five-year S&P+ (the Sooners are sixth), with one or the other finishing as conference runner-up for four straight years. They rank within four spots of each other in both my two-year and five-year recruiting rankings.
We like TCU in particular at +250 to win over 8.5 games on Ladbrokes, but taking the Pokes at 4/6 on the same site to win over 7.5 is likely a solid choice as well. We just like the value presented by the Horned Frogs’ market better.
If you’ve needed to tab a team to underperform in the Big 12 any season since 2009, you could always count on Texas. The program hasn’t won more than 10 games in a single season during this dismal stretch, and hasn’t won over seven since Mack Brown left in 2013.
The fact the Longhorns are +210 to win under 8.5 games this season, furthermore, says a lot about how excited people are for Tom Herman’s second year at the helm of the program.
Expectations to do something that a Texas team hasn’t done in six years should be earned in our humble opinion. We expect the Big 12 to be a sneaky super-competitive conference this season and while Texas has one of the best defenses in the conference it just doesn’t have the offensive stability to hang.
But give Herman a year more or two and the nine and ten-win seasons could one day return.