The Big 12 this year once again should be Oklahoma's playground with Texas nipping at their heels. The big question will be if any teams in the middle of the pack can also take the next step and be a threat. There are some intriguing options in Oklahoma State, Iowa State and potentially Baylor. West Virginia and Kansas State could take steps back considering what they lost this offseason.
I've mentioned in the other articles that FanDuel Sportsbook has put out their numbers for every team, but for this conference, we'll take a look at the more reputable Caesar's Sportsbook for what they think of the Big 12.
Over 7 wins -145...Under 7 wins +125
Non-Conference Games: Stephen F. Austin, UTSA, at Rice
Matt Rhule continues to have Baylor going in the right direction after a six-win improvement last year. In year three he's got eight starters back on offense led by Charlie Brewer under center and running back JaMycal Hasty and wide receiver Denzel Mims as his primary weapons. The loss of Jalen Hurd will hurt a bit as he was the leading receiver in 2018. The defense needs to force more turnovers considering they had just seven interceptions and three fumble recoveries. This unit returns six starters. The schedule features Oklahoma and Texas coming to Waco in November.
Verdict: I came up with eight wins so the line move is right. Once again, shop around and maybe you can find a better price.
Over 8 wins +105...Under 8 wins -125
Non-Conference Games: Northern Iowa, Iowa, ULM
The Cyclones begin the year with three straight and four of their first five at home. Losing RB David Montgomery and WR Hakeem Butler will be felt on offense, but QB Brock Purdy can only get better after a decent season last year. Attempting to replace the two skill position guys will be a group effort as no one really has their game-breaking ability. The offensive line will be back intact so that's a help. Defensively Iowa State could be pretty strong. The front line is back with a couple of linebackers and safeties as well. The special teams will need to be better with seven missed field goals and a mediocre punter.
Verdict: I came up with seven or eight wins so no play here.
Over 3 wins +120...Under 3 wins -140
Non-Conference Games: Indiana State, Coastal Carolina, at Boston College
It's going to be another long year for Kansas, but at least the Jayhawks will get some attention with Les Miles as head coach. I'm not quite sure why Miles took the job, but it's probably because it's a Power 5 gig. He has a couple of winnable non-conference games, but this team could go winless in the Big 12 once again. Both sides of the ball have five starters back. Running back Pooka Williams Jr. is only going to miss one game after being charged with domestic battery. Clearly, the team realizes how big he is and didn't really care to make a point to their best offensive player. The big question is if you think Kansas can win their two "layups" in weeks one and two.
Verdict: Two or three wins are what I come up with. Shop around and see if you can get a better price on the under.
Kansas State Wildcats
Over 5.5 wins EVEN...Under 5.5 wins -120
Non-Conference Games: Nicholls, Bowling Green, at Mississippi State
Life without Bill Snyder begins in Manhattan. Chris Klieman takes over after going 69-6 and winning four national titles in five seasons at FCS powerhouse North Dakota State. He's got some pieces in place to make the Wildcats competitive. They have seven starters back on offense led by Skylar Thompson under center. There are a lot of question marks in the backfield and the loss of wide receiver Isaiah Zuber, who transferred, doesn't help either. The defense will enjoy Klieman's aggressive philosophy. They've got eight starters back on that side of the ball including a lot of the defensive line. The schedule lines up for a potential fast start with five of their first seven at home.
Verdict: The over is worth a look here especially if Kansas State can steal a road game or two in conference.
Over 10.5 wins -130...Under 10.5 wins +110
Non-Conference Games: Houston, South Dakota, at UCLA
I'm really excited to see what Jalen Hurts can do in this offense with the likes of CeeDee Lamb and Grant Calcaterra back. If Lincoln Riley can fix what Hurts did wrong in Alabama, then the Sooners may not miss much of a beat on offense. The problem comes up front with only one starter back on the OL. Defensively, nine starters are back, but from a unit that allowed more than 30 points per game. Alex Grinch comes over from Ohio State to try to fix what ails OU on this side of the ball. The road trips are pretty manageable for the most part in conference outside of the Bedlam finale.
Verdict: Ten wins is pretty safe with a small lean to the over. There are not a ton of tough games on this slate.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Over 7 wins -145...Under 7 wins +125
Non-Conference Games: at Oregon State, McNeese State, at Tulsa
Oklahoma State didn't get the memo that Power 5 schools pretty much live at home especially early on in the year. The Cowboys have three of four and four of their first six contests away from Stillwater. They are also breaking in a new quarterback which could be either freshman Spencer Sanders or Hawaii transfer Dru Brown. Luckily whoever wins the gig gets Tylan Wallace out wide and he had nearly 1,500 receiving yards last year. The Cowboys defense will have to completely rebuild its defensive line and a lot of the linebacking corps. Luckily in a conference like this, it pays to have a veteran secondary. This could be a rough year potentially for Mike Gundy.
Verdict: I came up with seven wins. You could take a chance on the under though at that price.
TCU Horned Frogs
Over 7.5 wins -110...Under 7.5 wins -110
Non-Conference Games: Stephen F Austin, UTSA, at Rice
TCU gets Texas and West Virginia at home with both of the Oklahoma schools on the road. The Horned Frogs have 12 starters back, but one of those is not the quarterback. It'll be interesting to see who wins what appears to be a wide-open compeition between holdovers Michael Collins and Justin Rogers, true freshman Max Duggan, and Kansas State transfer Alex Delton. The new signal-caller does have some weapons to work with in running back Darius Anderson and wide receiver Jalen Reagor. The offensive line has to fill a couple of holes at guard. On defense, the Horned Frogs have to replace around 400 tackles lost from 2018. The unit is led by Garrett Wallow and Montrel Wilson at linebacker. Gary Patterson seemingly will know what to do though.
Verdict: I came up with six wins so the under may be worth a look.
Over 9.5 wins +125...Under 9.5 wins -145
Non-Conference Games: Louisiana Tech, LSU, at Rice
Many believe that the Longhorns will be the biggest challenger to Oklahoma in the conference. The two teams play their annual rivalry game in Dallas on Oct. 12. By then we should know quite a bit about Texas. Sam Ehlinger accounted for 41 total touchdowns last season and could be a Heisman Trophy contender. Wide receivers Collin Johnson and Devin Duvernay are tasked with replacing the production of Lil'Jordan Humphrey. The defense returns just two starters which is a concern but one of them is safety Brandon Jones. It's going to be a massive challenge though to rebuild the front seven. There is some talent there, but there's also a ton of inexperience.
Verdict: I came up with 8-9 wins so the number is pretty good.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Over 6.5 wins +135...Under 6.5 wins -160
Non-Conference Games: Montana State, UTEP, at Arizona
Matt Wells comes over from Utah State where he took the school to five bowl games. The Red Raiders lost three games by eight points or less last year so they felt like they were pretty close to a good season. Quarterback Alan Bowman showed out in his freshman season including 605 passing yards against Houston. He lost his two top weapons, but Seth Collins and T.J. Vasher are back. The backfield features Ta'Zhawn Henry and the offensive line should be pretty solid. Linebacker Dakota Allen is gone on defense. There's some returning talent on every level, but general improvement is needed overall.
Verdict: Five or six wins are what I come up with. No play here.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Over 5 wins -130...Under 5 wins +110
Non-Conference Games: James Madison, at Missouri, NC State
It's an interesting mix of non-conference games. They'll probably beat James Madison in week one, but the Mountaineers need to play good because the Dukes are not your ordinary FCS team. Head coach Neal Brown was very successful at Troy and he hopes to bring the offensive fireworks he had there with him. The offensive line needs to be rebuilt while a decision has to be made at quarterback between holdover Jack Allison and Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall. The defense will no longer be in the form of a 3-3-5 and we'll see if that makes a difference. Coordinator Tony Gibson was doing very good things with that side of the ball, but it's now Vic Koenning's unit.
Verdict: I think the over is worth a look here especially at this price.
— Written by Matt Josephs, who is a part of the Athlon Sports Contributor Network. Josephs prefers non-Power 5 college football and may be the only one wagering on the Sun Belt. Follow him on Twitter @MidMajorMatt.
(Top photo by Ty Russell, courtesy of www.soonersports.com)