Opening week has finally arrived. California and Hawaii gave us a nice appetizer Friday night, but the real action begins this weekend. This is the first edition of "Betting the Big 12." Vegas CyClown has taken a sabbatical this season, so it's up to me to help you make some cold hard cash.
On Thursday we will look at the side and total bets for all of the first week Big 12 games, but today we need to take a look at which teams will live up to or fall short of the season-long expectations Vegas has set for them.
Baylor: Over/Under 9.5 wins
When the original line came out in late May, Baylor’s total was listed at 9.5 wins. Since then, some places have dropped it to 9 wins. This is where line shopping can make a huge difference. Baylor still has 10 win talent at the skill positions, but the coaching situation obviously throws a wrench into predicting how well the Bears will do this season.
The obvious play here is betting the under, whether you are getting 9 or 9.5, but it is a little more complicated than that. Once again, their non-conference schedule is atrocious. All three opponents have a Sagarin ranking outside of the Top 100. Essentially, this comes down to whether you think they can get to 7-2 in the Big 12, because they aren’t dropping a nonconference game.
Baylor will still be a good team this year and win a lot of games. This is still a team that won six games by three touchdowns or more, including four of them by FIVE touchdowns or more. They can get to 8-4 or 9-3 if Sonny Briles doesn’t get too pass happy and the offensive line forms some cohesion in the nonconference portion of their schedule. If you can get the 9.5 total, the under is the smart play. Personally, I’d stay away from this one at 9 wins as they still have too much talent to completely tank.
The Bet: Baylor UNDER 9.5 wins
Iowa State: Over/Under 3.5 wins
Remember the days of Iowa State having win totals projecting them for bowl eligibility? No, I don’t either. Though I’m sure it has happened at some point, maybe. At the end of last season, I would have thought this was a no-brainer. After some key departures and injuries on the offensive line, it makes predicting a bowl game a little more difficult.
I’ve tried to remove myself for a brief moment from Cyclone fandom and take an objective look at the season. Right away, three wins jump off the schedule in Northern Iowa, San Jose State and Kansas. Can Iowa State find a fourth win (or more) in the other nine games? I think the percentages say they will find one somewhere (most likely Kansas State at home).
My concern is how front-loaded the schedule is. Some of the most winnable conference games are at the end of the season. What injuries will Iowa State and their opponents be battling? If Iowa State can remain somewhat healthy and optimistic after a tough start to the Big 12 slate, I think they can get to four wins or more.
The Bet: Iowa State OVER 3.5 wins
Kansas: Over/Under 1.5 wins
Kansas will start the season off with a victory over Rhode Island thanks to Tyler Catalina’s departure to
Iowa State Georgia. Can they get one more win over their next 11 games?
The three best opportunities for that second win are against Ohio and Iowa State at home, and in the last game of the season at Kansas State. The chances are slim that they will be favorites in any of those three games, but they are winnable.
David Beaty’s Kansas team last year was
bad awful. This year they should be slightly less awful. This wasn’t an easy one to pick, but there is a chance they have it covered after Week 2.
The Bet: Kansas OVER 1.5 wins
Kansas State: Over/Under 5.5 wins
Bill Snyder. Is he a wizard? A vampire? Who knows, but he is one hell of a football coach. The truth though, is his magic is running out.
Did you know Kansas State lost six straight football games at one point last year? Yes, they made a bowl game, but they also needed three overtimes to get by Louisiana Tech and a coaching blunder for the ages by Paul Rhoads just to get by a three win Iowa State team. A one point victory in the 12th game of the season gave them a bowl berth that quite frankly they probably didn’t deserve.
It is awfully tough to pick against Bill Snyder and his authentic Fiesta Bowl jacket, but after getting shit-stomped in their first game against Stanford, they won’t be able to get 6 wins in their next 11 games.
The Bet: Kansas State UNDER 5.5 wins
Oklahoma: Over/Under 10 wins
Did you know Oklahoma and TCU will each play Ohio State more times (twice) than Iowa will play them (once) over the next four years?
Bob Stoops isn’t dodging anyone in the non-conference as OU opens up with Houston and then plays Ohio State in Week 3. No one can say that OU won’t be battle tested as they enter Big 12 play.
It is ludicrous to hear Oklahoma fans complain about Bob Stoops. They’ve won at least 10 games three of the last four years and are poised for another shot at the College Football Playoff this season.
With Heisman Trophy hopefuls Samaje Perine and Baker Mayfield in the backfield, Oklahoma will be able to score with anyone.
The season opener against Houston will be a good test for a defense that got exposed at times against Clemson last season in the CFP, but Las Vegas doesn’t have any problem tabbing them as a 10 point favorite in that contest.
This Sooner team is too good to lose three football games this fall.
The Bet: Oklahoma OVER 10 wins
Oklahoma State: Over/Under 8.5 wins
It has been nine years since Mike Gundy announced to the world that he was 40 years old and was in fact a man. Honestly, things could have gone south in a hurry for Gundy after that press conference, but they didn’t. They went extremely well actually.
Mason Rudolph is another quality quarterback stacked in a league full of arms. The Cowboys are coming off a year in which they won 10 games, which is impressive. When you take a closer look though, you will notice they squeaked by Texas and Kansas State by a grand total of five points before beating West Virginia in overtime. After escaping with a win in Ames (in a game in which they were quite frankly outplayed) they proceeded to lose their last three games by a grand total of 73 points.
The Cowboys have to travel to Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma. If those are all losses, they would have to be perfect the rest of the way to cover the over.
Oklahoma State had the ball bounce their way quite a bit last year. They would need that again this year if they have a shot at getting to 9 wins.
The Bet: Oklahoma State UNDER 8.5 wins
TCU: Over/Under 8 wins
Since 2005, TCU has eight 10-win seasons under Gary Patterson. EIGHT. The guy can flat out coach. The guy has coached through injuries, poor fan support and a CFP screw job. He just keeps winning.
The offense will look to bottle up the magic that Kenny Hill had in his first start for Texas A&M where he set the school record for passing yards in a game. After that game, Hill rose to the top of many Heisman charts only to lose his spot on the depth chart and find himself suspended for the last two games.
TCU gets OU and OSU at home and will travel to Baylor late in the season, where it's anyone’s guess what type of team will take the field for the Bears.
The Horned Frogs have had the occasional poor season under Patterson. This won’t be one of those years. TCU has a chance at the CFB Playoff if they can beat the Sooners in Norman.
The Bet: TCU OVER 8 wins
Texas: Over/Under 6.5 wins
The season hasn’t even started and people are predicting when Charlie Strong will get fired this season.
Spoiler Alert: He’s not going to be fired this season.
The start to Texas’ schedule looks especially daunting on paper. The season opener against Notre Dame will be no walk in the park and going out to California, who just opened up their season with a win in Australia, won’t be easy either.
Hating on Texas has become the popular thing for Big 12 fans to do. They have been down and boy have we all enjoyed kicking them while they have been. Charlie Strong isn’t leading UT to the Playoff and he probably never will. However, I think this year will be a little more successful than originally thought.
Texas starts the season by beating #10 Notre Dame and continues on to a seven or eight win season.
The Bet: Texas OVER 6.5 wins
Texas Tech: Over/Under 7 wins
Patrick Mahomes just might be the best quarterback in the Big 12. Their defense just might be the worst in the Big 12. This makes them an interesting team to place on a particular win total. They have the ability to keep themselves in or take themselves out of any conference game.
We will soon find out just how good DeAndre Washington and Jakeem Grant were for the Red Raiders. Those two players were tremendously good in multiple spots on the field and had that "YAC" ability that not many can replicate.
If Mahomes stays healthy all season, they do have a shot at getting to 8 or 9 wins. If he doesn’t ,they have absolutely no shot with that defense. They will drop a game or two that they shouldn’t because they can’t stop a nosebleed.
The Bet: Texas Tech UNDER 7 wins
West Virginia: Over/Under 6.5 wins
Unlike Texas Tech, West Virginia fans can say their team plays defense with a straight face. They have some spots to shore up to get to where they were last year on defense, but if the unit can perform close to where they were at last year, it should be formidable enough.
Skyler Howard doesn’t get the headlines that some of the Big 12 quarterbacks get, but he is a returning starter going into his senior year. If Howard can cut down on his interceptions (14) from a year ago, this offense has a chance to put up big numbers.
This is a make or break year for Holgorsen in my opinion. Strong gets the headlines in the Big 12 for being on the hot seat, but how much longer will West Virginia fans be happy with mediocrity?
The Mountaineers will have a typical Mountaineer season and beat a team they shouldn’t and lose to a team they are favored against (ISU anyone?).
The Bet: West Virginia OVER 6.5 wins
Here is a look at the entire Big 12 and which side you should take on their season win totals.