Oddsmakers peg Oklahoma and Texas as the betting favorites in the Big 12 entering the 2022 college football season. While the two marquee programs will soon depart the league for the SEC, they figure to give the conference its best chance at national relevancy in 2022.
The Longhorns and Sooners each have question marks, though, creating what could be a competitive race through November. That makes for an entertaining fall, but perhaps a challenging league to evaluate from a sports betting perspective.
Bill Bender, a national writer for The Sporting News, told US Bets he believes six Big 12 teams could realistically win the league title.
“I don’t think any other Power 5 conference can say that right now,” Bender said.
Bender sees Oklahoma (+200 at DraftKings), Texas (+280), Oklahoma State (+550), Baylor (+650), Kansas State (+1200), and Iowa State (+1600) as legitimate conference title threats. Texas Christian (+1200), West Virginia (+3000), Texas Tech (+4500), and Kansas (+25000) might offer intrigue from a win total perspective, but Bender doesn’t see those four teams competing for a conference crown.
Speaking of interesting, Action Network’s Collin Wilson is among those planning to back Kansas to win more than 2.5 games. The Jayhawks are nowhere close to a conference title threat, but the team’s win total makes for what could be an entertaining bet to follow this fall.
“There will be at least one victory on the schedule, an opening game with Tennessee Tech that will close with a point spread greater than four scores,” Wilson wrote in his Big 12 preview. “A second game can be considered against Duke, as new head coach Mike Elko has been a lifelong defensive coordinator. The Jayhawks are projected to be favorites in those games only, as a third win must come against Houston or on the Big 12 schedule.”
Oklahoma the favorite
Despite losing head coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Caleb Williams to USC, Oklahoma still enters the season as the betting favorite in the Big 12. Adding longtime Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables as its new head coach helps the cause, as does the addition of former Central Florida quarterback Dillon Gabriel via the transfer portal. The lefty is +3000 to win the Heisman Trophy at FanDuel.
Brent Venables told me the year that @OU_Football OC Jeff Lebby and QB Dillon Gabriel spent together at UCF was huge. “Just by how effortless it’s all been and the way they think alike and anticipate. There’s a real comfort there that spreads throughout our whole offense.”
— Chris Low (@ClowESPN) August 16, 2022
“I actually think they’re being a bit undervalued because they’ve got a ton of talent coming back,” Bender said of the Sooners.
Bender also likes that Oklahoma hosts Kansas State, Baylor, and Oklahoma State. The Sooners are dominant at home, and playing some of the league’s best squads at home or a neutral site (Texas in Dallas on Oct. 8) gives bettors reasons to like Oklahoma’s chances of winning a league title.
If you’re bullish on Oklahoma, they’re +5000 to win the national title at PointsBet. Interestingly, PointsBet gives Texas the same title odds, while Oklahoma is +475 to make the College Football Playoff.
Texas is (almost) back
Some college football experts believe Texas is poised to return to national prominence this season. With Quinn Ewers (or Hudson Card) at quarterback and Bijan Robinson at running back, the Longhorns seemingly have an offense ready to score in bunches. That group – and a questionable defense – will be put to the test on Sept. 10 against No. 1 Alabama.
Steve Sarkisian didn’t name a starting quarterback following Texas’ first scrimmage, but the competition between Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card remains “healthy.”
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— Inside Texas (@InsideTexas) August 16, 2022
Regardless of how the season turns out, expect recreational bettors to toss money on or against the Longhorns throughout the season. Whether you’re a Texas fan or not, the program creates emotional responses from college football followers.
“People like a) betting on Texas, and b) mocking the whole ‘Texas is back’ thing when Texas loses,” Bender said. “You see those memes on Twitter within minutes, and everybody likes to pile on when they lose, especially after a 5-7 season.”
Texas’ win total is 8.5 (over is listed at -117 odds) at Barstool Sportsbook, while Bender’s concern with Texas is its defense.
“They’re going to score points, but another stat I like to throw out to people is they haven’t had a top-50 defense since 2009,” Bender said. “When they figure it out on that side of the ball is when the hiccup losses to a Kansas don’t happen or letting Oklahoma come back from a 21-point deficit — those type of things.”
Keep an eye on Kansas State
Baylor and Oklahoma State are quality programs with good head coaches. The Bears even checked in at No. 10 in the preseason AP poll, and a veteran offensive line could pave the way for a consistent rushing attack. With a win total of just 7.5 at DraftKings and FanDuel, bettors will likely be tempted to take the over for a team with lofty goals.
Even with Baylor and Oklahoma State boasting good teams, Kansas State is a popular preseason sleeper pick. The Wildcats are well-coached, with Chris Klieman leading the way for a fourth consecutive season.
Everyone who has KState as a sleeper pic.twitter.com/SUQyIGaRUq
— Josh Pate (@LateKickJosh) August 11, 2022
Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez is a fascinating addition, largely due to his inconsistency. When playing his best, Martinez is a dynamic dual-threat quarterback who recorded over 3,000 total yards and 25 total touchdowns as a freshman. At his worst, Martinez is a turnover-prone quarterback — he threw four interceptions in a loss to Purdue last year — who can take his team out of games.
Running back Deuce Vaughn is short in stature, but he has game-changing ability, recording 22 touchdowns last season and averaging 6.6 yards per touch. If Martinez limits his mistakes, Kansas State could be dangerous.
The Wildcats are +1200 to win the Big 12 at multiple sportsbooks and +30000 to win the national championship at Caesars Sportsbook.
Photo: Bryan Terry/USA TODAY