Growing pains are again expected for Texas on this year's college football futures odds scene, but the Longhorns might be good picks to surprise a few folks along the way.
It's just not something the folks in Austin are accustomed to. Sure, they understood the Texas football program was transitioning from one coaching staff to another, which rarely goes as smooth as hoped, and their beloved Longhorns were in something of a rebuilding process.
Still, finishing below .500 -- even if it took a loss in a bowl game to do that -- doesn't sit well with the Orange & White. That means it's going to be really tough to swallow the fact the bowl season just may not be in the picture for the Longhorns heading into the 2015 college football betting season.
Welcome to the second year of Charlie Strong's regime when the 'over/under' for wins is 6½ with many offshore sports books strongly favoring the low side on those NCAA football futures odds. An 'under' winner could still put Texas into the bowl picture like 2014 when Strong's squad stood 6-6 at the end of the slate, since the 'Horns don't have a weak sister from a lower level on their 2015 fixture. Getting to six will be difficult, however, with the schedule Texas has ahead.
UT Opens & Closes With Tough Road Clashes
The schedule was something we mentioned about three months ago when initially looking ahead to how the Big 12 shaped up for 2015. Everything for Texas begins the first Saturday of the NCAA betting fixture in South Bend where the Longhorns meet Notre Dame in a prime-time affair. Bet Online is listing the Fighting Irish as very, very early 9 point chalk in the first meeting between the two since 1996.
For comparison purposes, the Golden Domers are 20/1 picks according to the latest college football odds to win the CFP, the Lone Star State bunch getting a 50/1 return with a lot of that price coming from the Longhorns always being overvalued.
Texas remains around an 8/1 choice to win the Big 12 Conference race, and again, one has to do the conversion to calculate something more along the lines of a 10/1. The Longhorns are going to have to play three of the toughest teams in the country on the league slate -- Texas Christian, Oklahoma and Baylor. None of those are at home where Texas was 3-3 in 2014, covering just two of the six spreads.
The Longhorns have Oklahoma State at Memorial Stadium to start the conference slate on the final Saturday of September, then a very telling 2-Saturday stop in the D-FW metroplex with games against TCU and Oklahoma. That double-whammy is followed by a home game against Kansas State, though Strong and his staff will have two weeks to prepare for the Wildcats. Everything ends on the first Saturday of December with a road trip up I-35 to Waco. It should bear out to be a huge game for the Bears, and could be a big one for Texas trying to secure that bowl-eligible win.
Can Texas Improve On 6-6 ATS Mark?
It wasn't just that the Longhorns lost six games last season, it was how they lost many of them. Five losses, to narrow it down even further, were blowout setbacks to Brigham Young at home, Baylor at home, TCU at home, plus being blanked on the road at Kansas State along with the 24-point embarrassment to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.
The upside to losing so many games at home was a 3-1 record in true road tiles, both straight up and against the spread, plus 2-0 ATS mark in regular season neutral site games (losses to both UCLA and Oklahoma).
The 6-6 straight up record from last year, I'm not so sure the 'Horns can really improve on that. It wouldn't surprise me to see them win seven and upset the Sooners in Dallas or the Bears on the road at the end of the season to reach that mark. But six wins outright sounds about right.
Seven or eight wins against the college football spreads sound very reasonable to me, as Strong develops his defense and figures out what to do at quarterback. Keep your dial tuned into SBR in the coming weeks to catch more team-by-team previews with free picks.