I will say right off the top I can see why the Sooners are the favorites, but I also think sportsbooks are somewhat overreacting to Oklahoma's 45-31 upset of No. 3 Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. Let's remember that the Tide probably weren't hugely invested in that game after the crushing defeat to Auburn cost Bama a spot in the BCS Championship Game. Let's also remember the Sooners were easily beaten by both Texas and Baylor last season.
What is getting people excited is that it appears Bob Stoops has found his quarterback in Trevor Knight. Blake Bell, a 6-foot-6 beast, was largely used more last season, but it was Knight who gashed Alabama for 348 yards passing and four scores. This is the same guy who was benched earlier in the season after not completing 50 percent of his passes. It's apparently Knight's job alone because Bell moved to tight end this spring. OU also has to replace its top two rushers in Brennan Clay and Damian Williams. The defense should be the Big 12's best with nine starters due back.
Oklahoma's non-conference schedule -- Louisiana Tech, at Tulsa, Tennessee -- should be a walk in the park. I don't see the Sooners as underdogs once all season because they get Baylor and Oklahoma State at home, Texas is in Dallas as usual and the conference road games are West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State and Texas Tech. That's an easy schedule. OU has a regular-season wins total of 10, with both at -115 on college football odds.
The field is -110 to win the Big 12 title and most everyone agrees the No. 1 contender to Oklahoma is Baylor with quarterback Bryce Petty back. He is the +1100 fourth-favorite at sportsbooks to win the Heisman Trophy. Baylor won its first Big 12 title last year thanks in large part to Oklahoma when the Sooners upset Oklahoma State in the regular-season finale. The Bears, who led the nation in scoring, then handled Texas to win the Big 12 and complete the greatest regular season in school history. The year did end on a sour note as Baylor appeared to take Central Florida lightly in the Fiesta Bowl and was beaten 52-42 as one of the biggest favorites in any bowl game.
Baylor lost excellent running back Lache Seastrunk and very good receiver Tevin Reese but is set to have six offensive starters back -- including leading receiver Antwan Goodley and No. 2 rusher Shock Linwood -- and that's going to be a dynamic unit as long as head coach Art Briles remains in Waco. The Bears have by far the worst non-conference schedule in the nation: SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo. That's a joke. The two key Big 12 games figures to be at Texas on Oct. 4 and at Oklahoma on Nov. 8.
Oklahoma State looks to be in a minor rebuilding season as the Pokes return just nine starters, among the fewest in the nation. They are also going to lose their season opener probably in a big way, Aug. 30 against Florida State in Arlington, Texas. FSU is a 19-point favorite on college football odds. Then as a double whammy in Big 12 play as the Cowboys close at Baylor and at Oklahoma.
New Texas coach Charlie Strong already has told the Longhorns faithful that Texas won't be winning a national championship this year and he's very correct. Strong still doesn't know who is quarterback will be. David Ash was the leader before a fracture in his foot was found this spring. His 2013 season ended early because of concussion problems. For now it looks as if it's Tyrone Swoopes' job to lose. He has attempted 13 passes in his career. Texas could enter conference play at 1-2 as after beating North Texas in the opener as then the Horns have to play BYU and a very good UCLA team. UT was routed at BYU last year.College football free picks: This is a two-horse race between OU and Baylor, and with their game in Norman the edge goes to Oklahoma. We recommend the 'over' 10 wins as an interesting NCAAF pick as OU shouldn't lose more than once if at all in the regular season. It is +180 to make the College Football Playoff and winning the Big 12, even as weak as it looks, should be enough to get there as long as OU has no more than one defeat.