2016 Big 12 Football Predictions with Betting Odds and Expert NCAA Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 7/28/2016
Oddsmakers have a pretty clear opinion of the Big 12. There may be 10 teams in the conference, but in the eyes of those who set the prices, only one matters. Oklahoma is not just favored, but they are favored by a massive margin - far more than we have seen in any other conference. It's the Sooners and everyone else on the conference futures odds posted at Bovada. So, are they right? Or is there value to be had elsewhere? Here's a look:
The favorite: Not only is Oklahoma favored to win the conference, but they are, by a wide margin, the biggest favorite any conference has. They sit at -125 to win the title. Just think about that for a second. To win it all, Oklahoma has to have a better record through nine conference games than any other team in the conference, and they first have to stay healthy through a brutal nonconference schedule that requires them to play Houston in Houston and then host Ohio State. If you want to bet on all of that happening - finishing up more than four months from now - then you need to bet $125 for every $100 you hope to win. Wow.
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You rarely see a team as heavily favored as that. Assuming the get into conference play intact, though, it's hard to argue that they have anything other than a great chance of pulling it off.
The biggest threat: By the odds, it's Oklahoma State and TCU, who are both well behind at +500. Of the two I favor TCU. They suffered through a ridiculous amount of injuries and other off-field issues last year, so it only makes sense that they should have a smoother go of it this year. They have a lot of attrition on both sides of the ball, but they got a chance to get so many players some experience last year because of injuries, and they return four very valuable players who missed most or all of last year due to injury. They host both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and their nonconference schedule is easy enough to allow them to work out some kinks. The coaching is better here than in Stillwater in my eyes, and that certainly makes this pick easier to make.
Hard to judge: Baylor (+800). An offseason don't get any more ugly than that one. The long time and successful coach is deservedly fired after a hideous scandal and replaced with an interim that is stable but far from inspiring. Several big recruits bolted, and some players aren't around anymore, either. Ugly. On the other hand, after a horrible year of quarterback injuries last year, their top two guys are healthy again, and they have some decent talent still on board around them. They are going to suffer from this scandal and the after-effects, but it is at least possible that those struggles won't come for a year.
No hope: Kansas (+25000) is the worst team in a major conference, and I don't think it's even close. I know that's saying something because there are a lot of really bad teams, but this squad is so horrible that some fans are probably looking back at the Charlie Weis era as the glory days. They didn't win a game last year, and they will be hard pressed to improve upon that his year. So, so bad. Iowa State (+10000) is really lousy too, but they look like the Patriots next to the Jayhawks.
Best Value: I can't believe I'm saying this, but you can make an argument for Charlie Strong and Texas (+600). It's been a long, rough stretch in Austin, but they have some decent talent around now, and Strong is much better at coaching than he is at public relations. They get Baylor and TCU at home and Oklahoma on a neutral field. They play Notre Dame and Cal in nonconference play, so they will certainly be ready for action when the conference schedule begins. I don't give them a big chance to win, but I like them better than Oklahoma State, so at least in relative terms there is value here.
Sucker Bet: I talked about it before, but I will mention it again. If you think it is a good idea to bet on a team when you will have your money locked up for more than four months, and in the end you make much less than even money if you are right, then you need to work on your money management. Betting on Oklahoma is a terrible idea - especially in a league without a conference championship game because there is no second chance here.
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