College Football Betting: Big 12 Conference Preview For 2016

LT Profits Sports Group

Saturday, June 11, 2016 12:00 PM GMT

Although it is not yet summer, the 2016 college football season starts in less than three months, so we are continuing our Power 5 conference previews today with the Big 12.

 

Believe it or not, even though the start of summer has not yet officially begun, we are now less than three months away from the start of the 2016 college football season! Besides, it is never really too early to start preparing for your early season college football picks, so in an attempt to assist with that endeavor, we will continue previewing every one of the Power 5 conferences over the coming weeks, continuing today with the Big 12.

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This Conference made some news recently when it was announced that it would add a conference championship game next year for the 2017 season, making it the last Power 5 conference to have one, and it also hopes to expand to, well, 12 teams next year, allowing it to split into two divisions of six teams each.

But all of that is still one year away, so the conference champion will be decided during the regular season for the final time this year and the Big 12 will continue to actually have only 10 members. One of those schools is among the favorites to win the national championship in the Oklahoma Sooners, who are looking to wash away the bitter taste of a 37-17 loss to Clemson last season in the Orange Bowl, which served as one of the College Football Playoff semifinals.

Please take note that only seven of the 10 Big 12 teams are currently listed with college football odds to win the conference at this still fairly early stage, so we will be providing the conference odds for those schools only. So without any further ado, here are out projected Big 12 Standings for the 2016 season.


 

Oklahoma Sooners (+115): Yes, we realize that this is a chalky selection but not only is Oklahoma one of the best teams in the country again, but we feel that the usual top contenders to their Big 12 title are all in line for down years, making getting any positive odds on the Sooners attractive to us. Oklahoma should again score points in bunches with a Heisman Trophy candidate returning at quarterback in Baker Mayfield and talented running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon also both returning, while the defense again looks like the best in the conference. We do not see the Sooners losing more than one game during the regular season en route to a return trip to the College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma State Cowboys (+500): As mentioned, the usual candidates to be the closest pursuers of the Sooners as in line for down years, and the Cowboys could take advantage of that with a second place finish that could surprise some people. After all, Oklahoma State returns quarterback Mason Rudolph, top wide receiver James Washington and the entire starting offensive line, and the offense received needed help in the rushing game with running back Barry Sanders transferring in from Stanford. Also, the defense has a solid foundation with seven returning starters, and that unit could be improved over last season when it suffered some key injuries, even with the loss of All-American defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah.

TCU Horned Frogs (+800): The Horned Frogs lost a lot of talent from last year’s team, most notably quarterback Trevone Boykin and wide receiver Josh Doctson, and the offensive line is being revamped. That may be too much to overcome to challenge for the conference title this season, although you can never underestimate Coach Gary Patterson and the defense should improve with effectively 11 returning starters, seven officially and four others that had their seasons cut short by injuries a year ago. That may be enough for a third place finish with some upside, although that upside may not be realized unless the offensive line gels quickly.

Baylor Bears (+750): The Bears would have probably been the biggest challengers to Oklahoma with a Heisman candidate of their own in quarterback Seth Russell, who was putting up video game numbers last year before his season was cut short by a neck injury in the sixth game that required surgery, but Baylor’s 2016 Big 12 title hopes may have gone out the window a couple of weeks ago. That was when former coach Art Briles, who lead the Bears to national prominence since taking over the job, was abruptly fired amidst allegations that he helped cover up sexual assaults by some of his players, and this is now a program in flux with two top recruits already changing their mind and bailing on the Bears and more defections possibly on the way. There is still enough raw talent on hand for a fourth place finish as of now though.

Texas Longhorns (+800): The Longhorns have a chance to take a step forward this season under Coach Charlie Strong, and they may have to for him to keep his job. To that end, the Longhorns hired former Baylor offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert to spread the offense and play at a quicker pace than last year, when the struggles of the offense were painful to watch most of the time. Meanwhile, the Texas defense performed commendably despite the lack of a great pass rushing defensive end, and now the Longhorns signed five top recruits that fit that skill set! Furthermore, Texas has the good fortune to be facing Baylor and TCU at home. Still, is one year enough for the Strong and the Horns to put things together? We expect improvement this season but only a fifth place finish.

West Virginia Mountaineers (+800): West Virginia can certainly score enough points to keep pace with the top teams in the conference, which should come as no surprise with one of the better offensive minds in the country at head coach in Dana Holgorsen and eight returning starters on offense including quarterback Skyler Howard and four-fifths of the offensive line. Sadly, the Mountaineers also figure to give up points almost as quickly as they score them with only three returning starters on defense. The returnees are two offensive linemen and one linebacker, meaning that the secondary can expect to get torched early and often. We think the Mounties will simply outscore enough teams to nip Texas Tech for sixth place.

Texas Tech Red Raiders (+1700): You can almost cut and paste what we just said about West Virginia here in this space regarding Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders are usually a fun team to watch on offense but can set records for futility defensively. Unfortunately, even the offense may not be as good as the one that set a program record for points scored last year as the Raiders lost leading receiver Jakeem Grant, leading rusher DeAndre Washington and an excellent left tackle in Le’Raven Clark. That is not good news considering that there are really no nice things that can be said about a defense that also set a program record last year, which unfortunately was for most points allowed at 43.6 per game. There is no reason to expect much improvement this year, but hey, at least bettors can look forward to Tech being an ‘over’ machine.

Kansas State Wildcats: The Wildcats have become accustomed to overachieving under the guidance of legendary coach Bill Snyder, and they probably did so again last season going 6-6 during the regular season despite losing their top two quarterbacks and handing over the reins to Joe Hubener, a former walk-on that was even a backup in high school, meaning he never started a game at quarterback at any level until doing so at Kansas State last year! The Cats were then exposed a bit in their 45-23 loss to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl, but they still outperformed early season expectations like they usually do. That has us a bit nervous about picking them to finish in eighth place this year, but that is how it looks like they grade out on paper, especially with a still unsettled quarterback situation.

Iowa State Cyclones: The Cyclones come off of a 3-9 season, so they now have a brand new head coach in Matt Campbell, who almost immediately after he was hired announced that Iowa State is going to run the football. Well, he has a nice starting point in Mike Warren as he rushed for more yards than any other freshman in the country last year. However, any progress by the Cyclones will probably be stunted by have just one player returning on the offensive line. Sure there is hope for improvement on defense with eight starters returning there, but it may not matter if the offense struggles with Warren no longer able to find holes and quarterback Joel Lanning being under constant pressure, making it almost impossible to improve his mediocre 55 percent completion percentage of last year.

Kansas Jayhawks: The Jayhawks had one of the very worst teams in the entire country in 2015 as they were winless at 0-12 including a home loss South Dakota State of the FCS. Now the team returns only 12 starters and it is still unknown who the starting quarterback will be after the top three Kansas quarterbacks all got injured last season and the favorite to win the job this year, Ryan Willis, then suffered a right wrist injury in March. At this point, second-year coach David Beaty would be content to just record his first win at Lawrence somehow, so another last place finish is basically a given.

Predicted Big 12 Champion: Oklahoma +115
Darkhorse: Oklahoma State +500