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Big 12 Conference Betting Preview And Season Win Total Picks For 2018

Oklahoma nearly squeaked its way into the national championship game last year but let’s face it: The Big 12 is the goat of the Power 5 conferences. 

And by that, I don’t mean GOAT. I mean the worst. And it’s the worst because the defenses are just way too soft. 

With that in mind, here’s a betting breakdown of every team in the Big 12 with my season win total picks for each one.  

(If the juice is -130 or greater, it is pointed out below. SU = straight up, ATS = against the spread and O/U = OVER/UNDER.) 

Oklahoma 10 (over -130)

I have my concerns the Sooners can get more than 10 wins but bettors don’t seem to agree, with early juice on the OVER. The Sooners lose not only Heisman winner Baker Mayfield but also the two best players from an incredible offensive line from 2017 – center Erik Wren and left tackle Orlando Brown. 

Throw in a secondary lacking upperclassmen that finished 87th against the pass last season and, idk, man. The non-con schedule gets tricky too with Florida Atlantic, UCLA and Army. Oklahoma can’t sleepwalk through any of those but at least they’re all at home. 

The Sooners have been a strong bet in recent seasons – 8-5 ATS last year (against the spread) and 35-26 ATS the last five years – but this is a year I’ll be using caution betting on Oklahoma. 

Pick: UNDER 

 Oklahoma State 8 

Just like the Sooners, the Cowboys lose their star QB from last season, Mason Rudolph. Star receiver James Washington is gone to the NFL, too. 

But I think State is OK here with what should be a fantastic O-line again, quality at receiver and the return of do-everything back Justice Hill (1,467 yds, 15 TDs in 2017). So look for the Cowboys to be an OVER team again this season after going 9-3 O/U last year and 35-24-1 O/U during the last five seasons. 

The defense needs to be way better after it finished 117th in the nation against the pass last year. Mike Gundy brought in Jim Knowles as the new DC and he’s moving to a 4-2-5 scheme with seven starters returning. We could see struggles early on but if you saw how bad the Boys were against the pass last season, then you know a move had to be made. 

The season finishes at Oklahoma, vs West Virginia and at TCU so expect to sweat it out if you like the OVER here. And I do. 

Pick: OVER 

Texas 8.5 (over -130) 

It’s a tad strange to me that Texas has the second-highest win total in the Big 12. The Horns still have a lot of questions on offense including whether Sam Ehlinger or Shane Buechele will start at QB. 

There’s also an offensive line that was a weakness last season, which led to injured quarterbacks, a lack of a running game and the team ranking ninth in the conference in sacks allowed (24). There are even questions at the punter position, which was an incredible weapon for Texas last year with Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson, who has moved on to the NFL. 

The defense will likely be the strength again with six starters returning to a unit that ranked eighth in the nation against the run (107 ypg), first in TDs scored by the defense (seven) and tops in the Big 12 on third down. 

Texas went 3-9 OVER/UNDER in 2017 and it’s shaping up like an UNDER year for this squad again. A sneaky-tough non-con sked begins with Maryland (in Landover), vs Tulsa and vs USC. 

Pick: UNDER

West Virginia 7.5 (under -130) 

The season win total just doesn’t seem to match the excitement level in Morgantown. This offense has all the ingredients to be among the best in the nation with QB Will Grier among the Heisman favorites at +1500. 

There are also WRs David Sills (18 TD receptions, tied for first in the nation in 2017) and Gary Jennings (1,096 yards) along with a couple of linemen who should be NFL-bound. That should be enough right there to go OVER this number. 

The defense is the concern, as you might have guessed, with an inexperienced unit. The good news is it can’t get much worse than last year after allowing 31.5 points and nearly 450 yards per game. 

WVU is only 25-35 ATS over the last five seasons and the Mountaineers open the year with a bit of an uncomfortable spread as 9.5-point faves against Tennessee in Charlotte. 

Pick: OVER 

TCU 7.5 

The offensive line is the big question mark for the Frogs, who are lacking starters at skill positions but not four-star recruits. If this O-line can come together early – after losing four starters from last year – TCU could be one of those teams you hammer early on while the public plays wait-and-see. 

We should know by the end of September, which ends with Ohio State in Arlington and the Longhorns in Austin. 

It looks like sophomore Shawn Robinson will start at QB as a dual-threat guy who will give TCU a dynamic look in the backfield. This defense should be stingy again with six starters returning to a unit that ranked tops in the Big 12 in scoring (19 ppg), rushing (104 ypg) and passing (227 ypg). It’s no wonder the OVER/UNDER was 3-9 for TCU last season.  

Watch for the Frogs as an underdog, where they are 10-6 against the spread over the last five seasons. They’re not so hot as a fave at 20-25 ATS. They also clean up at home where they covered the spread at 57 percent since 1995 (74-56 ATS). 

Pick: OVER 

Texas Tech 6.5 

For the first time under Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech doesn’t know who its starting QB will be. The race comes down to McLane Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman and we may not know until opening day. 

The Red Raiders also lose every other starter at skill positions but I think this transition will be smoother with the most experienced offensive line in the Big 12. All five starters return as a group that saw action on the field together at the same positions in all 11 games last season. 

Nine starters return on a defense that is no longer Swiss cheese and actually had three players named to the all-Big 12 preseason team – the most of any squad in the conference. The D helped the Raiders go 4-8 O/U last season, which is unheard of for an air-it-out team that is 107-90 O/U over the last 10 seasons. 

Pick: OVER  

Iowa State 6.5 

The Cyclones were the best bet in the Big 12 in 2017 at 8-2-2 against the spread but they were as good as 10-1-1 ATS, depending on what pointspread you look at. 

It was a defensive turnaround that caught oddsmakers off guard where Iowa State went from allowing 31.3 points per game in 2016 to 20.9 points per game last year. The defense returns six starters while the offense returns seven. That includes starting QB Kyle Kempt and RB David Montgomery so I think we’ll get a similar season to last year where the Cyclones play to manage games and win with lower scores. 

Pick: OVER

Kansas State 6.5 

Kansas State has been one of the best bets in college football in recent memory, covering the spread at 58.3 percent since 1995 (147-105-2 ATS). They're also an amazing OVER bet during that time at 115-81-3 O/U. 

K-State has been especially solid as a dog, where the Cats are 9-19 SU and 17-11 ATS over the past five seasons.  

The offense should be OK with all five starters returning on the line. There are questions on defense, though, with a young squad and only five returning starters. Add two new coordinators to the mix and I have my doubts about K-State in 2018.

Pick: UNDER

Baylor 5.5 

Baylor was loaded with freshmen and sophomores in a complete rebuilding year last season in the wake of the scandal that led to the departure of Art Briles. They went 1-11 SU as a result and 5-7 ATS. 

Head coach Matt Rhule says the team can focus on football this year and I can see Baylor being a bet-on team for some sharps in the early going. Baylor went 1-11 last year but they lost eight of those games by two TDs or less, a sign these guys might not be far away from respectability in this conference. 

For now, there are too many questions for me to take the OVER. 

Pick: UNDER 

Kansas 3.5 

KU is 800-1 to win the Big 12 and has the lowest season win total of the group so that tells you where this team is. 

The tricky part in taking that UNDER is that Kansas could win all three of its non-conference games against Nicholls State, at Central Michigan and vs Rutgers. So if you think they have two conference wins in them, this is an easy OVER play. 

I don’t think they do. The Jayhawks had a -9.2 field position margin last season which was the worst in FBS. So they are still in major rebuilding mode, though they could have some success at running back and at the linebacker position. This is from a defense that allowed 43.4 points per game last season (129th). 

Kansas is the worst bet in the Big 12 at 22-38 ATS over the last five years and the Jayhawks are on a sickening 46-game road losing streak. 

Pick: UNDER

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