In January, the Oklahoma Sooners proved they could get along on a national level without a shut-down defense, going toe-to-toe in a shoot-out with UGA until the final breathtaking moments.
Now, the Sooners must show they can get along without Baker Mayfield.
Whenever a Heisman type of player moves on, his replacement will inevitably be compared to him. Yet it’s comparisons to MLB stars that have head coach Lincoln Riley more riled, as far as new OU quarterback Kyler Murray is concerned.
Murray may be bound for the baseball diamond soon. Oklahoma coaches think they can hang on to the cannon-armed athlete on the gridiron for at least a year.
If Riley’s unseasoned “rental” starter gets in trouble, he’ll have a pretty good tailback in Rodney Anderson to lean on.
There won’t be a lot of defenses that can stop Anderson in conference play. In fact, if OU can develop an excellent D, they’ll dominate the league more than usual. Big 12 football is about autumn in the Midwest, fried Coca-Cola at the Red River Showdown, and scoring points…lots and lots of points.
Sports gambling is about winning…lots of winning. But preseason “futures” or win-total bets are also about patience and perspective.
You feel like you know how the favorites are going to look in early September. But close your eyes and imagine Oklahoma halfway into October, between the Texas and TCU games. Will everyone look as you expect it to? Don’t get too focused on any one player or detail. That kind of team-picking is susceptible to bad luck.
The defending champs are (+100) favorites to win the conference title game at AT&T Stadium on December 1st and claim another crown for the Crimson & Cream. OU also has the highest consensus win-total line at (10) even.
Here are a few of my best win-totals tips for betting the Big 12.
Big 12 Win-Total Picks: Favorites, Contenders and Offenders
The second-year skipper at Oklahoma (Over/Under 10 wins) must be the modern-day coach who finally fields a great defense in Norman. Otherwise, his team isn’t likely to out-score 12 or 13 schools en route to a CFP bid.
At least some of the pieces are in place. Parnell Motley is an exciting cornerback, and Brendan Radley-Hiles will make an impact in the secondary as well. LB Kenneth Murray (no relation to Kyler) was co-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2017.
But it’s hard to tout a double-digit win season for a program with such a transient player replacing an iconic one. Given the talent on defense, OU football must also prove that it has the organizational focus to foster a top-20 unit. Lean: Under
I cannot fathom why Texas is a consensus O/U (8 ½) team in preseason win totals. Sam Ehlinger has not been an impressive passer, and Tre Johnson is just a stop-gap in the backfield. Run defense has been a bright spot, and Breckyn Hager is a strong pass-rusher. But the defense lacks in other areas what it gains in setting the edge. UT must also replace all-conference punter Michael Dickson. The Longhorns gallop headlong into a matchup with USC in the third game. Lean: Heavy under
West Virginia is 53-37 under spread-‘em-out skipper Dana Holgorsen, and the Mountaineers’ win-total line is (7 ½) at MyBookie. Senior gunslinger Will Grier will be passing to talented David Sills and fleet-footed Alabama transfer T.J. Simmons. But the defense is still as spotty as hair on the coach’s head. Holgorsen’s teams often struggle to defend the run and to pressure the quarterback, and the numbers are getting worse. Lean: Under
Under, under, under! Do I hate the teams of the Big 12 and gleefully predict they will all lose all the time? Not quite. I just haven’t gotten to the “over” pick yet.
Kansas State’s O/U win-total line began at (6) but has ticked up by ½ at some sportsbooks. It’s likely that gamblers are seeing what I see, because just because KSU probably won’t win a Big 12 championship doesn’t mean they can’t have a winning season. Alex Delton is an exciting QB and a chain-mover on 3rd down, and the Wildcats will have some easy ones against South Dakota, Kansas, and UTSA. Lean: Over
Kurt has authored close to 1000 stories covering football, soccer, basketball, baseball, ice hockey, prize-fighting and the Olympic Games. Kurt posted a 61% win rate on 200+ college and NFL gridiron picks last season. He muses about High School football on social media as The Gridiron Geek.