Catch up on the CFB Preview Series here:
Part One: Heisman Preview
Part Two: Overall CFB Landscape
Part Three: Sun Belt & C-USA Conference Previews
Part Four: MAC & Mountain West Conference Previews
Part Five: AAC & Independents Conference Previews
Part Six: ACC Preview
This year the Big 12 is very interesting… could Texas be back?? What will Oklahoma look like without Lincoln Riley, Spencer Rattler, or Caleb Williams?? What will TCU look like without Gary Patterson?? Could Kansas be not the worst team in the conference?? What will Iowa State be without Brock Purdy or Breece Hall?? I think the easiest thing to do is sort the Big 12 into three distinct tiers…
Teams that think they should be in the conference championship (TIER ONE)- Oklahoma, Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma State.
All four of these teams would consider their season a disappointment if they didn’t make the conference championship game. I think some deservedly in this tier and some not… which we’ll get to later.
Teams that are underrated and could sneak into the top two (TIER TWO)- TCU, Kansas State.
I like both of these teams… one more than the other (which again I’ll get to later) but both of these teams have been undervalued in my opinion. Don’t be surprised to see either or both of these teams beating a team or two in that top four and shaking up the conference.
Teams that won’t make the conference championship (TIER THREE)- WVU, Iowa State, TTU, Kansas.
I’m not putting Kansas on their own tier as a whole level worse than these teams. I think Kansas could beat any team on this tier and maybe even one above (looking at you Texas). Iowa State has a ton of turnover after losing so much long-time talent from last season and these other teams just don’t quite have the talent yet.
Win Total Over
Kansas o2.5 wins (-135)- I think the hire of Lance Leipold was a home run for Kansas. They beat Texas last year and I think that is a legit culture-changing win. This team returns a TON of production from last year and they have a few game-changing players that believe they can beat anyone in this conference. Now I’m not gonna pitch Kansas to you as a bowl team by any means but they have two games they will be decent-sized favorites in with TN Tech and Duke both at home. Then they will play WVU, Texas Tech, and Houston which are really winnable games, and even Iowa State or TCU at home could be a longshot upset. I like the Jayhawks to win the two games they will be favored in and to steal one again.
Win Total Under
Oklahoma State u8.5 wins (-125)- I hate this team. They defied a lot of advanced metrics last year offensively and I am not a Spencer Sanders fan at all. This defense is good but I don’t know if they will be the same without DC Jim Knowles who just took the same job at Ohio State which should tell you a lot about highly regarded he is. The Pokes hired former Vandy head coach Derek Mason to replace him and I just really don’t know about that hire. I think this defense will take a step back and the offense will struggle to score points. I think their coinflip games will be against TCU, Kansas State, and Baylor and they have to travel to all three this season.
Baylor (+650)- This is a pure value play for me. I don’t love this team but I think the odds gap from Baylor to Oklahoma and Texas is too wide. We don’t know what we’ll get from the Horns and Oklahoma has had so much change that maybe Baylor will be the team to slide in and steal the conference. I always have faith in Dave Aranda to have a disciplined team and a solid defense. This team is loaded in the trenches on both sides of the ball and very well-coached. I think they are the safest bet in the whole conference although do not have the highest ceiling.
TCU (15/1)- I think the Frogs are one of the more underrated programs in the country. People are making a lot out of what this program will be without Gary Patterson but to be honest the last couple of seasons Gary Patterson has not been Gary Patterson. I think some fresh blood will do this program a lot of good and all of their coaching hires were a home run.
I think Sonny Dykes was phenomenal at SMU and along with new OC Garrett Riley (Lincoln’s younger brother), this offense should blow some people away. Max Duggan is a really underrated QB and TCU returns their top-four receivers. Then on the defensive side, Dykes brought in Joe Gillespie from Tulsa who is regarded as a top DC in all of college football. He should be able to get his scheme in quickly and coach these guys up so Sonny Dykes can focus on the offense.
Like I said earlier, I really like TCU and Kansas State but K State has a brutal schedule. I plan to bet them more week-to-week and like taking a shot on TCU to maybe steal a spot in the conference championship game if everything clicks.
Dillon Gabriel 30/1- Gabriel is reunited with OC Jeff Lebby who was the OC at UCF for the best season of Gabriel’s career. This is the one Heisman candidate I didn’t bet that I feel like I may regret not backing. Oklahoma QBs obviously have a great history with the Heisman and everything clicks with the Gabriel/Lebby reunion he could put up massive numbers.
Quinn Ewers 35/1- I don’t like this number. We really don’t know what we’ll get out of Quinn. He obviously has a ton of talent but we’ve seen nothing from him or Texas to give us faith here.
Oklahoma 30/1- After Ohio State, this was my second of three bets to win the National Championship. I don’t like it as much now as I did at the time when I bet it but I still think there is value here. I wouldn’t bet OK to win the Big 12 because the number is so low and things could take time to click with their team full of new coaches and transfers.
However, if everything clicks perfectly and Venables takes this defense to the next level while Dillon Gabriel and Jeff Lebby put up insane numbers on offense, this team could roll through the Big 12 and secure a playoff spot. In terms of the top-four teams in the conference, the Big 12 might actually be the weakest (or at least most questionable) in all of the Power Five. That gives Oklahoma a chance to steamroll the conference if everything falls into place.
That’s it for the Big 12! Once again, thanks for the support and please throw all of these previews a like or RT on Twitter. Be back tomorrow with the Pac-12 preview.