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Oklahoma Has Best Odds To Win Wide-Open Big 12

Running back Rodney Anderson of the Oklahoma Sooners celebrates after scoring a touchdown

The landscape of the Big 12 will look much different in 2018 compared to 2017. Especially with Baker Mayfield, the leader of the potent Oklahoma team that has won the conference crown each of the past three seasons, playing on Sundays.  Despite losing the Heisman winner, Oklahoma remains the favorite to win the conference championship for a fourth consecutive season.

Big 12 Betting Favorite: Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma is a +150 favorite to win the Big 12 this season despite an abundance of holes to fill all over the roster. Aside from Mayfield, the Sooners lost their starting tight end, left tackle, both outside linebackers and both safeties. Luckily, Oklahoma nabbed a top-end recruiting class for 2018, highlighted by five defensive backs.

The big question is undoubtedly at quarterback. Kyler Murray will almost certainly be the starter if he sticks with the team but the signal-caller is also an elite baseball prospect and could find himself drafted high in the MLB draft before the football season ever starts. If Murray sticks to football, Oklahoma will be fine but if he decides to focus on baseball, it could be a rough season in Norman.

Lincoln Riley will have plenty of pieces to play with on offense no matter who is at QB with the running back duo of Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon, as well as a young receiving tandem in Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb.

Oklahoma has the consistency and the pieces to deserve the nod as the preseason favorite. However, there is also some projecting going on at several positions of importance with the expectations things will be OK in Norman. But concern is valid considering the amount of turnover.

Can Texas Finally Ascend The Ladder And Win The Big 12?

For fans in Austin, it feels like an eternity since the Texas Longhorns were truly good. But things are looking up after Tom Herman’s first year guiding the team. Texas is coming off its first winning season since 2013 thanks to solid play out of quarterback Sam Ehlinger and a better-than-expected defense.

The offense will remain largely intact with Ehlinger and leading receivers Collin Johnson and Lil’Jordan Humphrey all back. Ehlinger looked good as a freshman but had key collapses late in big games that resulted in losses. As long as No. 11 can grow and improve, then the Texas offense should take a step forward after a mediocre season. Getting any semblance of a running game going would be a big help too.

The defense offers far more questions left unanswered as the season draws near. Gone are Malik Jefferson, Poona Ford, DeShon Elliott and Holton Hill. Those four key players were all huge contributors to Todd Orlando’s defense in 2017. However, the defensive line should be steady with senior bookends Breckyn Hager and Charles Omenihu while the secondary has more natural ability than any other group in Austin.

If Texas wants to challenge for the Big 12 championship, the offense needs to get better and the defense needs to quickly fill holes left from last season. I tend to think they are a season away but if Herman can get the team to mesh and a few other Big 12 contenders falter, Texas might claim its first conference crown since 2009.

Big 12 Sleeper Pick: West Virginia

The Big 12 is known for its high-octane offenses and West Virginia should be able to outscore anyone next season. The Mountaineers will be returning Will Grier, his top two receivers and the bulk of a stellar offensive line. As long as Grier is fully healed from his finger injury that ended his 2017 season early, West Virginia will be in contention for the best offense in the entire conference.

On the other hand, the defense in Morgantown is in utter shambles. Between graduations, injuries and unexpected transfers, WVU may be replacing nine starters on defense. There are pieces all over – especially the defensive line – but almost completely changing your defense in one offseason is a massive hurdle.

To be frank, West Virginia’s defense wasn’t really good last season either. So, maybe an overhaul will be good for coach Dana Holgorsen’s squad. At the very least, WVU will be able to hang in every game this season thanks to what should be a ridiculously good offense. The Mountaineers’ season may ride solely on their final month of the season (@ Texas, vs TCU, @ Oklahoma State, vs Oklahoma) but there is reason to believe WVU is worth a punt for bettors.

2018 Big 12 College Football Conference Betting Odds
Oklahoma Sooners+150
Texas Longhorns+350
Oklahoma State Cowboys+500
West Virginia Mountaineers+600
TCU Horned Frogs+800
Baylor Bears+1600
Kansas State Wildcats+1600
Iowa State Cyclones+2000
Texas Tech Red Raiders+2500
Kansas Jayhawks+10000

Odds as of June 1 at BetOnline