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2013 Outlook - Big 12
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Skinny: 5Dimes has Oklahoma State as the +270 favorite to win the Big 12. The Cowboys had to stave off several SEC schools bidding to hire their ninth-year head coach Mike Gundy back in January. Gundy’s relationship with his AD obviously needs some work, but their issues weren’t enough to prompt Gundy to leave Stillwater.

Oklahoma St. finished 2012 with an 8-5 record both straight up and against the spread. Gundy’s squad had a disappointing regular season but finished strong by spanking Purdue 58-14 as a 17-point ‘chalk’ at the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

OSU returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense. The offense averaged 45.7 points per game last year. Senior quarterback Clint Chelf completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 1,588 yards with a 15/6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Chelf better stay sharp and healthy because his back-up, sophomore JW Walsh, connected on 66.9 percent of his throws with a 13/3 TD-INT ratio as a freshman.

The offense loses its lead RB Joseph Randle, who rushed for 1,417 yards and 14 TDs in 2012. However, senior RB Jeremy Smith and junior Desmond Roland have plenty of experience. Smith and Roland combined to rush for 12 TDs last year and posted 5.3 and 6.5 yards-per-carry averages, respectively.

All three of OSU’s starting wide receivers return, including junior Josh Stewart, who had 101 receptions for 1,210 yards and seven TDs last season.

OSU’s ‘D’ gave up 28.2 PPG in 2012. This unit was abysmal in all five of the Cowboys’ defeats, surrendering 59 points at Arizona, 41 vs. Texas, 44 at Kansas St., 51 at Oklahoma and 41 at Baylor.

Oklahoma St. has a season win total of 9.5 (‘under’ 125, ‘over’ -105). The Cowboys have 45/1 odds to win the BCS Championship.

Texas has the second-shortest odds to win the Big 12 (+285, risk $100 to win $285). The Longhorns’ season win total is 9.5 (‘over’ 160, ‘under’ +130) and their future number to win it all is 34/1 at 5Dimes.

Mack Brown’s program is just 22-16 over the last three seasons. The ‘Horns finished the 2012 campaign with a 9-4 SU record and a 6-7 ATS mark. Since 2009, Texas has limped to a 21-30-1 spread record.

Texas returns 10 starters on offense and nine on defense. The Longhorns finished last season by capturing a 31-27 win over Oregon St. at the Alamo Bowl.

As a sophomore, David Ash established himself as the QB of the present and future. Ash connected on 67.3 percent of his passes for 2,699 yards with a 19/8 TD-INT ratio. He has all of his to skill position players coming back and will operate behind what is probably the Big 12’s top offensive line.

Manny Diaz’s defense gave up 29.2 PPG last season and this unit lost its two best players in Kenny Vaccaro (team-high 107 tackles) and Alex Okafor (12.5 sacks, 20 QB hurries). This group will benefit from the return of LB Jordan Hicks, who missed most of last season with an injury.

TCU (+345) has the Big 12’s third-shortest odds to win the league. The Horned Frogs have a season win total of 8.5 (‘under’ -155, ‘over’ +115). They return seven starters on offense and nine on defense.

Gary Patterson’s team made its Big 12 debut last season and finished 7-6 SU and 4-8-1 ATS. TCU won its first four games, going 2-2 versus the number, before QB Casey Pachall was suspended and sent to rehab. Without their star QB, the Horned Frogs lost six of their next nine games, including a 17-16 loss to Michigan St. at the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.

In four games, Pachall had completed 66.0 percent of his passes for 948 yards with a 10/1 TD-INT ratio. Trevone Boykin started the last nine games at QB as a true freshman. He threw for 2,054 yards with a 15/10 TD-INT ratio. Boykin also rushed for 417 yards and three TDs.

TCU should have a stout defense with 10 of its top 11 tacklers returning. This unit gave up only 22.6 PPG in 2012.

Oklahoma has the next-shortest odds to win the conference (+375). The Sooners, who have a season win total of nine (‘under’ -120, ‘over’ -110), went 10-3 SU and 6-7 ATS last year. They bring back seven starters on offense but only four on defense.

Bob Stoops’s squad must replace four-year starting QB Landry Jones, who is the school’s all-time leading passer with 16,646 yards. Fourth-year junior Blake Bell is the new signal caller. He specialized in short-yardage and goal-line situations last year, rushing for 11 TDs.

Bell will have one of the Big 12’s best RBs to lean on in Damien Williams, who rushed for 946 yards and 11 TDs as a junior. Williams averaged 5.4 YPC. RB Brennan Clay (555 yds., 6 TDs & 6.0 YPC average LY) will also get plenty of touches.

Although WRs Kenny Stills and Justin Brown are gone, plenty of talent remains at the position. Jalen Saunders is poised for a breakout campaign after hauling in 62 receptions for 829 yards and three TDs last year.

OU’s defense gave up 25.5 PPG in 2012. Those numbers are very un-Stoops like and four of the top five tacklers are gone. This unit will have to improve if the Sooners hope to bag another Big 12 title.

If Baylor can win at Kansas St. in Week 7, it has an excellent chance to start 7-0 going into a Thursday night home game vs. Oklahoma with an open date beforehand. Going into his sixth season at the school, Art Briles has this program thriving at an elite level for the first time in decades.

Baylor has won 18 games over the last two seasons, hooking up its backers at a 17-8 ATS clip. The Bears have won back-to-back games, including a 49-26 shellacking of UCLA at last year’s Holiday Bowl.

Briles proved his offense can put up points galore without Robert Griffin III in 2012. In fact, the offense under RG3 in 2011 produced 45.3 points per game compared to 44.5 PPG under Nick Florence last season.

This year with Bryce Petty under center, there isn’t expected to be much drop-off. The fourth-year junior doesn’t have much experience, but he looked dynamite in the spring game and has an arsenal of weapons around him.

Lache Seastrunk might be the Big 12’s best RB after rushing for 1,012 yards and seven TDs with a 7.7 YPC average last season. Glasco Martin is another playmaker in the backfield, rushing for 889 yards and 15 TDs in 2012. WR Tevin Reese is looking to build on last season’s 53 receptions for 957 yards and nine TDs, and Baylor is hoping to get instant results from true freshman WR Robbie Rhodes.

The defense gave up 37.2 PPG last year, but this unit returns seven starters and its top four tacklers. The Bears need more defensive efforts like they got in holding UCLA to only 26 points in San Diego.

Baylor has a season win total of eight (‘under’ -150, ‘over’ +120). The Bears have 250/1 odds to win the BCS Championship at 5Dimes, and their odds to win the Big 12 are 15/1.

Kansas St. won 21 games compared to only five losses in the two-year Collin Klein Era. The Wildcats, who went 11-1 in 2012 before losing to Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl by a 35-17 count, bring back eight starters on offense but just two on defense.

Junior QB Jake Walters, who garnered National Junior College Offensive Player of the Year honors last season, will be the man to replace Klein, who became the first QB from a BCS conference to rush for at least 20 TDs and throw for 10 more in two different seasons.

K-St. has a season win total of eight (‘over’ -130, ‘under’ +100). The Wildcats have 16/1 odds to win the Big 12 and 300/1 odds to win the BCS Championship.

Texas Tech ushers in a new era with the hiring of former QB Kliff Kingsbury, who is the school’s second all-time leading passer. Kingsbury did a remarkable job as offensive coordinator at Texas A&M under Kevin Sumlin, resulting in him becoming the youngest head coach of a BCS school.

Many in the Texas Tech fan base never got over the loss of Mike Leach. Tommy Tuberville was an SEC guy and was never the long-term answer. Now Kingsbury unites the fan base and provides a link to the pass-happy, wins-galore tenure Leach brought to Lubbock.

Michael Brewer, a true sophomore, is the new QB who is expected to be a three-year starter. In limited action last year, Brewer completed 34-of-48 throws for 375 yards and four TDs without an interception. Brewer has one of the Big 12’s top WRs in Eric Ward, who had 82 catches for 1,053 yards and 12 TDs in 2012.

Texas Tech has eight starters returning on defense and five on offense. The Red Raiders have 25/1 odds and 750/1 odds to win the Big 12 and BCS Championship, respectively. They have a season win total of 7.5 (‘under’ -230, ‘over’ +170).

The Red Raiders finished 8-5 SU and 6-7 ATS last season. They beat Minnesota by a 34-31 count at the Car Care Bowl.

West Virginia raced out to a 5-0 record and No. 5 national ranking last year. But then the Mountaineers lost six of their last eight games, including an embarrassing 38-14 loss to Syracuse at the Pinstripe Bowl.

Geno Smith, the school’s all-time leading passer, along with WRs Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, the school’s top two all-time leading receivers, are gone. WVU returns just three starters on offense and five on defense. With that said, the offseason dealt Dana Holgorsen a pair of presents when immediately-eligible transfers landed in Morgantown.

From FSU, junior QB Clint Trickett arrives. Also, RB Charles Sims (11 TDs, 6.0 YPC) joins the program from Houston to split the carries with Andrew Buie.

WVU has a season win total of six (‘over’ -130, ‘under’ +100). The Mountaineers have longshot odds to win the Big 12 (25/1) and BCS (750/1).

Iowa St. went 6-7 SU and 5-7-1 ATS in 2012, dropping a 31-17 decision to Tulsa at the Liberty Bowl. The Cyclones return five starters on offense and four on defense.

Kansas won just one game in Charlie Weis’s first season in Lawrence. The Jayhawks, who have only nine starters returning (5 offense, 4 defense), are optimistic about the arrival of BYU transfer QB Jake Heaps, who was one of the nation’s best coming out of high school in 2011.

Fearless Predictions
(No Championship Game)

2013 Win-Loss Projections
School Record Win Total (5Dimes) Bowl Projection
Oklahoma State 10-2 10 ½ Fiesta vs. At-Large
Baylor 9-3 7 ½ Cotton vs. Texas A&M
Texas 9-3 9 ½ Alamo vs. USC
Oklahoma 8-4 9 ½ Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Michigan
Texas Tech 8-4 7 ½ Holiday vs. UCLA
Kansas State 7-5 8 ½ Texas vs. Michigan State
TCU 7-5 9 ½ Pinstripe vs. Central Florida
West Virginia 5-7 5 ½ -
Iowa State 3-9 5 ½ -
Kansas 3-9 3 ½ -

Games to Watch:

1-Oklahoma State at Texas: (Nov. 16) - 5Dimes has Texas installed as a 6.5-point home favorite. I have the Cowboys going into this game unbeaten and losing, yet still winning the Big 12 because the Longhorns will have three Big 12 losses to Oklahoma, at TCU and at Baylor. Therefore, the head-to-head advantage Texas will have over OSU won’t come into play.

2-Oklahoma at Notre Dame: (Sep. 28) – When the Irish went into Norman and pulled away for a 30-13 win over OU last season, it was quite the hit for the Sooners and the Big 12. Bob Stoops and Co. would love nothing more than to return the favor in South Bend. 5Dimes has Notre Dame favored by 2.5 points.

3-Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas): (Oct. 12) – This game would normally occupy the No. 1 slot, but these schools don’t enjoy a talent separation compared to their Big 12 competition like in many previous years. Nevertheless, the winner will be in excellent shape heading into the meat of the Big 12 slate.

4-Texas at BYU (Sep. 7) – This is a very dangerous spot for Texas. The Cougars went 8-5 last season, but four of their defeats came by 13 combined points, including an overtime loss at Notre Dame and a one-point loss at Boise St. due to a missed extra point. Altitude could be a factor. 5Dimes has the Longhorns favored by 6.5.

5-Baylor at Oklahoma St. (Nov. 23) – If Bryce Petty is the player I think he’s going to be, then the Bears are going to be in contention for the league title going into Stillwater. If Baylor can steal this game, it might win the conference. The Cowboys will be coming off a 60-minute battle at Texas the previous week. They will also be seeking revenge for a 41-34 loss in Waco in last year’s regular-season finale. 5Dimes has OSU installed as an 11-point ‘chalk.’

Best Week 1 Bet: Play ULM +24 at Oklahoma
ULM returns 17 starters, including QB Colton Browning (29/10 TD-INT, 7 rush TDs), from a team that went 8-5 last season. The Warhawks won at Arkansas, lost in overtime at Auburn and lost a 47-42 decision vs. Baylor. OU quarterback Blake Bell will be making his first career start. I think ULM can score on a Sooners’ defense that brings back only four starters and gave up 25.5 PPG. I like the double-digit underdog.

Players to Watch:

1-David Ash (Texas QB) – I don’t rank Ash at the top because I believe he’s the conference’s best player. I have Ash No. 1 because I think he’s the most important player. If he can duplicate his play of last season (67.3 completion %, 19-8 TD-INT) or improve it, then Texas will almost certainly win the league. However, I still have my doubts about Ash. All the pieces (experienced RBs, quality o-line & improved defense) are in place for the Longhorns to get back to their first BCS game since 2009, but I don’t think it will happen.

2-Josh Stewart (Oklahoma St. WR) – Mike Gundy does an outstanding job of getting the ball into the hands of his best playmakers. Stewart finished 2012 with 1,330 yards and eight TDs on 109 ‘touches.’

3-Bryce Petty (Baylor QB) – We’ve seen the production in this offense from RG3 and Nick Florence over the last several seasons. Can Petty duplicate it? There are plenty of reasons to think he can. He looked incredible in the spring and isn’t lacking for weapons.

4-Casey Pachall (TCU QB) – The Horned Frogs were undefeated before his suspension last season. Pachall has proven what he can do on the field (36/8 career TD-INT ratio). If he’s right off the field, he will have an outstanding senior campaign.

5-Damien Williams (Oklahoma RB) – With the passing attack due for a significant drop in production, OU’s ground attack will be expected to carry the offense. The Sooners need Williams to have a monster season.

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