The Big 12 is Hans Gruber at the very end of Die Hard. Yeah, he’s hanging on for a moment, but you know the fall is inevitable. That’s what happened when Oklahoma and Texas announced they are ditching the conference for the greener pastures of the SEC.
While the future of the Big 12 is murky at best, there is still a season to be played this year. Shockingly, the Sooners, led by another potential Heisman Trophy winner at quarterback, are once again the favorites to win their seventh consecutive conference title
Here’s our 2021 Big 12 college football betting preview.
Big 12 futures odds
|Team||Odds to win Big 12||Win total O/U|
Big 12 betting preview
It may be hard to believe that after four consecutive Big 12 titles, two Heisman winners (who went on to become No. 1-overall NFL Draft picks), and three CFP appearances... this might be Lincoln Riley’s best Sooners team yet.
QB Spencer Rattler returns as a Heisman frontrunner and will play behind maybe the best offensive line in the country. And the scary part is, Riley might finally have a defense that can match the offense.
The Sooners biggest challenge should come from Iowa State. Matt Campbell has his best team in Ames to date and it’s hard to find flaws: The Cyclones have arguably the best running back in the country in Breece Hall and veteran QB Brock Purdy returns as well.
You can’t forget about Texas, either, as the Steve Sarkisian era begins while Gary Patterson returns an experienced team to TCU that will give opponents a lot of problems.
Big 12 best ATS bet for 2021: TCU
Finding a good ATS team can be a tough task. Oklahoma is a great team but is too publicly bet. Texas thinks it is good and is one of the most public teams in the country. Iowa State isn’t surprising anyone this year, so there will be a big target on its back as well.
So, my favorite under-the-radar good team in the Big 12 this season is TCU. This might be one of Gary Patterson’s most experienced teams in 21 years in Forth Worth, as his 18 returning starters are the most in the Big 12 this year.
Patterson’s teams are always known for their defense and this year should be no different as they are stacked at all levels. They are anchored by defensive ends Khari Coleman and Ochaun Mathis, with the secondary led by cornerbacks Tre'Vius Hodges-Tomlinson (nephew of TCU legend LaDainian) and Noah Daniels.
On offense, QB Max Duggan is back. A true dual-threat, Duggan threw 1,795 yards last season while hampered with some medical issues... and led the team in rushing with 526 yards. He completed over 60 percent of his passes a year ago and that should improve with four starters returning to the OL. Some of the pressure should be taken off him as well as dynamic RB Zach Evans is in for a big season.
The Horned Frogs are one of the best-coached teams in the Big 12 and went 7-3 ATS in a weird season. While they are a dark horse for the Big 12 title game with trips to Norman and Ames, they should surprise a lot of people by being a tough out no matter what, cashing for bettors consistently this season.
Big 12 best O/U for 2021: Baylor (Unders)
It was a rough first season in Waco for head coach Dave Aranda and the Bears. Following a season in which Baylor went 11-1 and made an appearance in the Big 12 Championship game, Baylor plummeted to 2-7 in 2020. Aranda was dealt a tough hand last season, and while he’s had a full offseason to implement his system, there still could be some growing pains.
For starters, Aranda has to replace veteran QB Charlie Brewer, who transferred to Utah. That leaves it to be a battle between Jacob Zeno, Gerry Bohanon, and freshman Kyron Drones. Whoever wins the job will have some talented wideouts to throw to in R.J. Sneed and Tyquan Thornton but that will be easier said than done.
Baylor is losing three starters on the offensive line and had one of the worst running games in the country last year. So, consistently scoring could be a problem for a team that averaged just 23.4 points and 310 yards per game a season ago.
But what will make Baylor an excellent Under bet is — of course — its defense. This should be one of the better defenses in the Big 12 this season, returning 10 starters to a stop unit that held Oklahoma to 269 yards in last year’s meeting. If the Bears can pressure the QB a little more in 2021, they will be hard to move the ball on.
Big 12 best win total bet for 2021: Texas Tech Over 5
Texas Tech may surprise some people this season. The Red Raiders are just 8-14 under Matt Wells but this will be his most experienced team to date, returning 16 starters from last season — eight on each side of the ball.
On offense, Wells adds Oregon transfer Tyler Shough to take over under center and the big-armed QB will have plenty of explosive weapons to get the ball to, including running back SaRodorick Thompson and wideouts Erik Ezukanma and Kaylon Geiger.
Led by tackling machine Colin Schooler, the Red Raiders defense should also see improvement. In addition to the eight returning starters, TTU has several impact transfers coming in which should help the secondary in particular. This defense will be underrated — and overlooked — early on.
While Texas Tech won just four games last season, they lost in overtime to Texas and played tight games at Kansas State and Oklahoma State. This season, the Red Raiders have a very manageable non-conference schedule and should be 3-0 heading into conference play.
Mark down a win against Kansas and you only need two more wins for this to go Over, with West Virginia, Kansas State, and Baylor are all winnable matchups for the Red Raiders this season.
Three must-bet Big 12 games for 2021
- Oklahoma vs Texas, Oct. 9: The Red River Showdown is always required viewing. Oklahoma has won this rivalry over Texas three straight seasons after last year’s 53-45 quadruple-overtime classic at the Cotton Bowl. It will be interesting to see what Sarkisian has up his sleeve for his debut in this epic rivalry, where the Longhorns are 11.5-point underdogs.
- Texas at Iowa State, Nov. 6: Iowa State has won the last two meetings against Texas — but both were nail-biters. The Cyclones defeated the Longhorns 23-21 at home in 2019 and 23-20 last season. This matchup could go a long way in determining who faces Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.
- Oklahoma at Iowa State, Nov. 20: The early line has Oklahoma as 7.5-point chalk in this rematch of last year's Big 12 Championship game, which the Sooners won 27-21. It could also be a precursor to this year's title game as well. While Oklahoma has come out on top more often than not in this matchup recently, ISU is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
Best value to win the Big 12: Iowa State (+250)
It really looks like the Big 12 is a two-horse race between Oklahoma and Iowa State (sorry Texas). What Matt Campbell has done in Ames is incredible, building what is legitimately a Top-10 national program while consistently seeing the big boys in the conference scoop up all the premier recruits. But that doesn’t matter — this is potentially the best team in Iowa State history and they are a legitimate threat to Oklahoma’s crown.
QB Brock Purdy returns for his senior season and has the chance to be one of the top QBs in the country after throwing for 2,750 yards with 19 touchdowns, while adding another 382 yards and five scores on the ground, last season. RB Breece Hall could be the best running back in college football: He was the unanimous Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, after accumulating 1,752 total yards and 23 total TDs, last season. The defense is rock-solid, headed up by one of the best linebacking corps in the country.
It is hard to find flaws in this roster. They would be well served to deliver (and prevent) a couple more big plays, but the Cyclones are as efficient as they come. They do have to travel to Norman this season, but the path to the Big 12 title game is clear: The only thing standing in their way is Oklahoma.
Pick to win the Big 12: Oklahoma (-170)
The Cyclones are the best value, but for who actually will win the Big 12... is there really any other choice? Oklahoma has won the Big 12 Championship in six consecutive seasons, and this is arguably Lincoln Riley’s best team yet.
So much so that the Sooners are not only just the class of Big 12 — but might be the best team in the nation.
Oklahoma has always — and will always — put up points in bunches and have another QB who might get drafted first overall in the upcoming NFL Draft. But the biggest reason they can go from the Big 12’s best to national champions is Alex Grinch’s defense.
The Sooners, who get eight starters back on that side of the ball, allowed just 21.3 points and 5.1 yards per game last season and should be even better in 2021.
This team is stacked at every level and with Iowa State looking like they are the only real challenge to them for the conference crown, Oklahoma is the pick.
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