College Football: Big 12 Betting Prevew
Texas begins the 2019 season with the momentum from their upset against Bulldogs in the Sugar Bowl and their split in games against rival Oklahoma. The Sooners got the win that mattered, though, in the conference title game. Oklahoma has won the last four Big 12 titles, but it appears they have serious competition from quarterback Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns this season.
Even so, Oklahoma has a steep price for bettors backing them to win their fifth straight title and deservedly so. After consecutive years where a Sooner quarterback was selected first in the NFL Draft, Oklahoma will have Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts under center. Hurts led Alabama to two consecutive title games, before he was pulled at halftime of the second one for Tua Tagovoiloa. Oklahoma’s conference title game depends on whether Hurts can transition seamlessly into the offense.
Here’s a look at the conference title odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook , for the Big 12, along with which teams have the most betting value. All advanced statistics, except where noted, are courtesy of the S&P+ individual team statistical profiles .
The college football landscape is filled with boring betting value this season. Oklahoma has the best price out of any teams in this conference, even with Texas snapping at their heels. College football fans haven’t seen Jalen Hurts in action for some time, but he was one of the best quarterbacks in the country at Alabama. Although his style of play is different from his predecessors, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, he’s still on the shortlist of best college quarterbacks.
Fortunately for Hurts, the Sooners have surrounded him with offensive talent. Oklahoma returns their top two rushers not named Kyler Murray and their top two pass catchers not named Marquise Brown. At running back, Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks seem poised to be the best rushing tandem in the conference. Sermon got more carries last season and appears to be the official starter, but Brooks had the better season last year. He averaged 8.9 yards per carry and 9.3 highlight yards per opportunity and has already been named to the preseason All-Big 12 team.
Receiver CeeDee Lamb and tight end Grant Calcaterra also return for the Sooners, giving Hurts some crucial weapons with which to move the ball downfield. While Lamb was overshadowed by Brown last season, he put up similar stats with 17 fewer targets. Both were named to the preseason all-Big 12 team alongside Brooks.
Oklahoma’s schedule is particularly manageable this season, with their most difficult conference road games being at Oklahoma State and Baylor, whereas other contenders have more difficult paths. For example, Texas has road games at TCU and Iowa State -- Oklahoma plays both squads in Norman.
The Sooners have compensated for the losses of Murray and Brown with the transfer of Hurts. It’s likely that they take a slight step back from a talent perspective this season, but the Longhorns aren’t ready to take their crown just yet and aren't worth a bet at their +300 price. Oklahoma still has the best offense in the conference with Hurts at quarterback and all the weapons surrounding him.
While this conference seems like a two-horse race, bettors looking to take a flyer on a team should consider TCU. The Frogs struggled to finish 7-6 last season, including a tough loss at Kansas. Their defense, ranked 16th in S&P+, carried them throughout much of the season.
That defensive unit will look to improve upon their success from last season as they return Ross Blacklock to the defensive line after he missed all of last season with an Achilles injury. Blacklock won the 2017 Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year award after an impressive 2017 season. The Frogs also return Corey Bethley, who will join Blacklock on what could be the best defensive line in the conference. Bethley finished last season with 12.5 run stuffs and 5 sacks and was named to the preseason All-Big 12 team this year.
TCU might not have the same level of talent on offense as the other main contenders, but they do return all five starting offensive linemen, which should allow the offense to work. Schedule-wise, they have to travel to Oklahoma and Iowa State, which could be difficult, but the Frogs have enough to get to the conference title game with an upset or two. TCU is worth a look at +1600 because they appear to be the most talented team in the conference outside Oklahoma and Texas, especially on defense.