There is a palpable buzz around the Big 12 this season, as some of the best college football programs in the game are gearing up to make a run at the conference title. From new-school favorites like TCU to blue-blood programs like Oklahoma and Texas, there is someone for almost everyone to cheer for in this year’s Big 12. With odds from BetOnline, let's take a look at the odds to win the Big 12 conference.
Oklahoma is the clear-cut favorite to win the Big 12, and that’s a little surprising when considering the change at quarterback that must take place with Baker Mayfield heading to the pros. Fortunately for the Sooners, they have a lot of talent to make up for the loss of Mayfield, and plenty of components that his replacement will love to work with.
It looks like Kyler Murray will be the frontrunner to take the quarterback job in Norman. Murray made headlines last season when he was drafted to play Major League Baseball, but decided to continue playing college football at Oklahoma as well. Critics of Murray cited the risk for injury in football as a reason that he should stop playing college football and take up baseball full-time, but that clearly has not happened.
In typical Oklahoma fashion, the team has another incredible offensive line and group of running backs to look forward to. Junior tailback Rodney Anderson was electric toward the end of 2017, and he could be darkhorse Heisman candidate this season. Running the ball is something Oklahoma usually done well, and they’ll have to be great on the ground this year to continue racking up points while a new quarterback gets their feet wet.
Texas has been so disappointing for so long that a generation of college football fans might not remember that they were once one of the truly great programs in the history of college football. This season, Tom Herman’s version of the Longhorns hope to restore the glory days for the burnt orange, and they will be able to lean on one of the top defenses in the Big 12 to make up for some glaring deficiencies on offense.
Texas did lose some key players on defense, as most programs do from year to year. The losses of safety DeShon Elliott and corner Holton Hill in the same season will make things tough on a secondary that was strong last year. However, Texas has the advantage of playing in one of the recruiting capitals of the college football world, and their defense has been able to replenish talent without breaking a sweat.
Where Texas will sweat is on offense, where the team’s quarterback situation is a rough one. The Longhorns awkwardly rotated Sam Ehlinger and Shane Buechele in and out last year, routinely trying both in games when one proved to be ineffective. One would hope that the quarterbacks wouldn’t be so consistently ineffective, but that is the reality that Texas is living with at the moment.
Texas will get a shot in the arm from running back Tre Watson, who joins the team after spending time with the California Golden Bears in the Pac-12. Anything the Longhorns can do to mix up their offense and hide their deficiencies at quarterback will be a good thing. But eventually, Texas will have to make some plays through the air, and it is hard to feel confident about their ability to do so.
The Horned Frogs' defense was a strength last season and could be better in 2018
TCU has lost a good chunk of last year’s team that made it to the Big 12 title game, but most of the league is also restocking its talent pool after losing key players from last season. The Horned Frogs lose starting quarterback Kenny Hill, but the other quarterback losses in the conference seem to be much more significant, especially given TCU’s “next man up” mentality coming into each season.
Unlike the losses of Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph in the conference, TCU’s identity isn’t necessarily tied to its quarterback at all times. In fact, the Horned Frogs tend to be one of the most balanced teams in the Big 12, because of their desire to rely on their defense and running game to set up big plays in the passing game.
The Frogs’ defense should be their strength this season, as they return a lot of experienced players in each unit. They’ll also be boosted by Northern Illinois transfer Jawuan Johnson, who was an all-conference linebacker in 2017 for the Huskies. Johnson has the speed to play strongside linebacker in TCU’s 4-2-5 defense, which is an ideal scheme for shutting down the passing offenses the Big 12 is known for.
Don't sleep on the Horned Frogs this year in the Big 12
The Big 12 is full of unknown quantities this season, so it is tough to say which teams are going to live up to their full potential. A team with a top-tier defense should have a lot of success against all of the inexperienced quarterbacks that the league will have to offer. TCU has a great chance to be that team, as long as their own inexperience at quarterback doesn’t hurt them too badly.
For those looking to back a team with the quarterback position figured out, getting West Virginia at 8-to-1 odds may be just the pick you are looking for. QB Will Grier is back with an offense that was very hard to stop last year.
However, we trust the Horned Frogs and their stout defense in an unusually shaky year for offenses in a typically high-scoring conference.
That will do it for the Big 12 - be sure to check out our SEC and Big Ten previews, which include our best bets to win those conferences. Also be on the lookout for the rest of our conference previews, which will be hitting our homepage very soon.
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Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you back here soon for some more free NCAA Football analysis and wagering advice. Until then, best of luck LazyBets readers!
Horned Frogs +600
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