All totals are courtesy of Bovada
Matt Rhule’s boys are going to struggle this year. There’s no doubt that QB Zach Smith and his experience gained from last year will help this team compete, but another year without Art Briles is another year away from the players that made them so successful. His system will still be in place, but in college football (as we as Iowa State fans know all too well) it’s a players game.
Iowa State returns over 15 starters from last year’s 3 win squad. That experience will help bring a team that is so often in the basement of this league to hopefully the next floor. Let’s take a look at the schedule:
The biggest thing that sticks out to me is is how important the front end of this schedule is. Iowa State has got to win 3 of the first 4 games if they want to sniff a bowl game this year. Another thing to keep an eye on is the 2nd to last game of the year at Baylor. That could be the difference between 5 and 6 games. Analytics and stats be damned, I’m drinking the Campbell Kool-Aid
Kansas starts the season against Southeast Missouri State, Central Michigan, and THE Ohio University (who the Jayhawks lost to last year 37-21). I have a really hard time thinking Kansas is gonna win a single game in the Big 12 this year so those 3 out of conference games are gonna be the best opportunity for wins they’ll have all season. That being said, look for a possible win against Texas Tech in week 5. Luckily for Jayhawk fans, basketball is right around the corner.
Last year Kansas State finished 9-4 and this year is setting up to be very successful for the Wildcats. Notably, their out of conference games include Central Arkansas, Charlotte, and at Vanderbilt, all of which should favor the Wildcats. Vanderbilt, in particular, should be a game to watch for. I expect them to drop a game somewhere but if K-State can knock off either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State I like them to finish with 9 wins.
Side Note: I really like K-State at +600 (as a value pick) to win the Big 12, especially with the addition of the championship game.
Now that Bob Stoops is out, Lincoln Riley is gonna have a chance to prove himself early. Baker Mayfield—who is +800 to the win the Heisman, by the way— returns as the best quarterback in the Big 12, but lost his favorite target Dede Westbrook. Keep an eye on Sophomore Mykel Jones to replace some of that production.
Here are some random thoughts about Oklahoma’s schedule:
- The week 2 match up vs. Ohio State could be one of the more exciting games of the season.
- Oklahoma finishes out their season with @Oklahoma St, TCU, @Kansas, and West Virginia. Chances are Bedlam could decide who wins the regular season title, assuming OU runs the table against their last 3 opponents.
All that being said, I like Oklahoma to win the Big 12 and finish with 10 wins.
Here’s a scorching mild take for the readers at home: Bedlam is going to possibly determine who plays for the Big 12 championship between Kansas State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. Normally the final game of the regular season for both teams, Bedlam was moved to November 4th to possibly prevent both teams from playing each other in back to back weeks. @Pittsburgh in week 3 could be a good test early on for the Cowboys, although week 4 vs. TCU will be their first REAL test. That being said, I expect Oklahoma State to drop an easy game somewhere along the line, so...
Young up and coming coach? Check
Highly touted 2017 recruiting class (2nd in Big 12)? Check
Texas is certainly prepping for long-term success, but this may be the bridge year before they return to the national spotlight. Texas opens up against Maryland and San Jose St, but then plays a loaded USC team at the Coliseum in week 3. That will be a great test for new head coach Tom Herman and his guys, but I highly doubt they walk out of there with a win. So, already down a win in non-conference, I have a tough time thinking they can beat Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, or Kansas State. Due to the nature of the program (young) I think 7 is the number this year. 7.5 is a very difficult bet, and honestly I wouldn’t touch it.
TCU returns QB gunslinger Kenny Hill, who last year threw for 17 TDs and 13 INTs (For comparison, Baker Mayfield through for 40 TDs and 8 INTs last year). Consistency under center could be the difference between TCU making a dark horse run to the Big 12 title game and face-planting into the lower half of the league. I just don’t see them succeeding this year, purely because the league is so deep.
- TCU last year allowed 238.9 passing yards per game, which was good for 77th in the country.
- They also allowed 424 total yards per game (in comparison, Iowa State allowed 452.9 yards per game).
- TCU averaged 21.9 ppg in losses and 41.7 ppg in wins last year.
vs. Iowa State
Texas Tech does itself no favors by playing against both Arizona State (who they lost to last year 68-55) and Houston in the non-conference. Losing a first round draft pick at QB always hurts, and I think Tech is going to really struggle this year. Last year they won 5 games, and I think this year they will win even fewer. Getting 2 wins in the non-conference is going to be very important if they even want to sniff a bowl game and my gut says that Ryan Gosling lookalike Kliff Kingsbury will be out as head coach after this year. If only he could coach as well as he looked...
vs. Virginia Tech
@ Kansas State
vs. Oklahoma State
West Virginia returns one of the Big 12’s best running backs in Justin Crawford as the always potent ‘Neers offense has the potential to cause some disruption in a Big 12 race that most have pegged as either Oklahoma State’s or Oklahoma’s to lose. A road game in Norman is the Mountaineers only near-automatic loss, as they get Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Virginia Tech at home. Their road games at TCU, Kansas State, and Baylor will all prove to be tough games, but winning two of those three is probably likely. A losses to both Oklahoma schools, one of the road games listed above, and one other game somewhere along the road still leaves them at 8-4. This is close to a no-brainer.