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2014 Big 12 Predictions
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Bovada has Oklahoma installed as the -150 favorite to win the Big 12, the only power league that doesn't currently have a championship game. The Sooners have the sixth-shortest odds (12/1) to win the national title.

OU finished 2013 in impressive fashion, winning four in a row both straight up and against the spread, including a pair of victories as a double-digit underdog. Bob Stoops' team prevailed in the Bedlam matchup over Oklahoma State in Stillwater before trouncing Alabama by a 45-31 count as a 15-point 'dog.

Oklahoma returns five starters on offense and nine on defense. With his spectacular performance in New Orleans, third-year sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight is entrenched as the clear-cut starter. He was up-and-down last season, making five starts while splitting snaps with Blake Bell. Knight had a 9/5 touchdown-to-interception ratio and also rushed for 445 yards and two scores. He averaged 6.6 yards per carry.

OU's defense gave up 22.1 points per game last year and lost just two starters and six lettermen from this unit. However, there's the possibility that leading tackler Frank Shannon could be suspended for the season. After he was the subject of an alleged sexual assault incident, Shannon was suspended by the school for the entire 2014 campaign. But since charges haven't been filed, Shannon is still practicing with the team while the suspension is being appealed.

OU gets Baylor, Kansas State, Tennessee and Oklahoma State in Norman. The Sooners get an open date ahead of a road game at TCU, but they must play at Texas Tech in a potential letdown scenario the week after hosting Baylor in a revenge spot.

If Shannon gets reinstated, I believe OU has a great shot at getting to the College Football Playoff, especially if Knight looks like the signal caller that outplayed A.J. McCarron at the Sugar Bowl. Gamblers can take Oklahoma as "yes" to make the semifinal playoffs for a +130 payout at ("no" is -160).

The Shannon situation isn't the only one to monitor. Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham, a rising junior wide receiver who was the nation's No. 1 recruit in the 2012 prep class, is trying to get eligible for 2014. The school has filed an appeal to give him immediate eligibility based on an obscure rule. Apparently the appeal has hope since charges weren't filed against DGB for the incident, albeit his third at Mizzou, that didn't result in criminal charges.

Baylor has +275 odds to win the Big 12 title (risk $100 to win $275), 30/1 odds to win the national championship. Despite getting interest from Texas, Art Briles returns for the seventh year of his tenure. The offensive guru has built the Bears into a national power, leading the school to four straight bowl games and a pair of double-digit win campaigns.

Baylor finally moves into its new on-campus stadium after playing at 5-6 miles away from campus for decades. On Sunday, August 31, the Bears will host SMU at their new stadium. They should own their September opponents and cruise into Austin on October 4 with a 4-0 record.

Baylor returns six starters on offense and four on defense. Bryce Petty is a leading Heisman candidate after a banner junior campaign in which he garnered Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year honors. Petty posted an incredible 32/3 TD-INT ratio while also rushing for 14 TDs.

Petty has a slew of talented WRs and an All-American candidate in RB Shock Linwood, who rushed for 881 yards and eight TDs while averaging 6.9 YPC in 2013. WR Antwan Godley is looking to improve on a banner season in which he hauled in 71 receptions for 1,339 yards and 13 TDs.

The Bears' defense was salty last year, giving up only 23.5 PPG after allowing 37.2 PPG in 2012. Seven starters are gone from that unit, but playmakers like LB Bryce Hager (second-team All Big 12), DE Shawn Oakman (10.5 tackles for loss) and DE Jamal Palmer (five sacks, seven QB hurries) are back.

has turned to former Louisville coach Charlie Strong after four consecutive disappointing seasons to end the Mack Brown Era. Strong may need some work on the public-relation skills required with The Longhorn Network, but he's more than qualified to lead this storied program back into national-title contention on a regular basis. It probably won't be this year, however.

Strong should've been given a head-coaching gig much earlier in his career, but he's got one of the country's most coveted jobs now. He has spent most of the summer weeding out the bad apples on his roster, sending more than a half-dozen players packing from the program or into indefinite suspensions.

The key for this squad could be the health of QB David Ash, who has a history of concussions and made only three starts in 2013. Ash has 21 career starts under his belt, throwing seven TD passes compared to only two interceptions in his limited playing time last year.

After going 8-5, Texas brings back six starters on offense and eight on defense. DE Cedric Reed is one of the Big 12's best pass rushers, racking up 10 sacks and 16 QB hurries last year. Strong excels on this side of the ball and we can all expect this unit to be vastly improved.

Texas has +750 odds to win the league and is an 85/1 longshot to win the national title. The Longhorns' win total is seven but it is heavily shaded to the 'over' at a chalky -165 price ('under' +135).

Kansas State has 10/1 odds to win the Big 12 and is a 100/1 longshot to win the national title. The Wildcats have a win total of 7.5 ('over' -140, 'under' +110). They return six starters on offense and five on defense from a team that compile an 8-5 record both SU and ATS.

Senior QB Jake Waters had a solid season in his first as a starter after transferring in from junior college. Waters completed 61.2 percent of his throws for 2,469 passing yards, with an 18/9 TD-INT ratio. He also had six rushing scores.

Waters has his favorite WR back in Tyler Lockett, who had 81 catches for 1,262 yards and 11 TDs. The offense must replace leading rusher John Hubert and as of August 16, a starter at RB had yet to be named.

The K-State defense allowed only 22.9 PPG in 2013. This unit will be led by senior DE Ryan Mueller, who was a second-team All-American selection after registering 11.5 sacks and making seven tackles for a loss.

Oklahoma State appears to be approaching a transition year, especially when you consider the loss of eight of the defense's top nine tacklers. Mike Gundy's squad has 10/1 odds to win the conference and 200/1 odds to win the national title. The Cowboys have a win total of 7.5 ('under' -140, 'over' +110).

With Clint Chelf transferring, JW Walsh is now the man at QB. Walsh has made eight career starts, throwing 22 TD passes compared to only eight interceptions. He has a veteran RB in Desmond Roland and is hoping to get explosive plays from juco transfer Tyreek Hill and redshirt freshman Ra'Shaad Samples.

Oklahoma State has won at least nine games in five of the last six seasons and has enjoyed three double-digit win years in the last four. The Cowboys went 10-3 SU and 8-5 ATS in 2013. They bring back just eight total starters, four on each side of the ball. Gundy's squad is looking to replace 32 lost lettermen.

Oklahoma State will face the defending national champs in the season opener in Arlington. The Pokies should be favored in their next five games, but their last four games will be extremely difficult. They play at K-State, at home against Texas, at Baylor and then at Oklahoma.

TCU is coming off an abysmal 4-8 season (both SU and ATS) in which it missed the posteason for the first time since 2004. The Horned Frogs bring back eight starters on offense and defense, but they suffered a massive blow when 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields was dismissed from the program in the wake of an off-the-field incident.

Gary Patterson's team owns 14/1 odds (Bovada) to win the Big 12 and is 175/1 to win the national title at The Horned Frogs have a win total of eight ('over' +140, 'under' -170).

Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel and junior Trevone Boykin are battling it out for the starting QB job. Boykin has started 16 games at QB in two seasons when the departed Casey Pachall was out of the lineup. He has a 22/17 TD-INT ratio and ran for seven TDs last year. When Pachall was on the field, Boykin played wide receiver. In fact, he had 26 receptions for 204 years in only five games at the position.

TCU returns five of its six top pass catchers and leading rusher B.J. Catalon, who averaged 5.3 YPC and ran for six TDs in 2013.

Even without Fields, Patterson will probably have his best defense since 2010. Granted, this unit has faced much tougher competition in the Big 12, but TCU's defenses over the last three seasons have looked nothing like the units that surrendered only 12.0, 12.8 and 11.3 PPG from 2008-2010.

Sam Carter and Chris Hackett, both of whom garnered second-team All Big 12 honors last year, are two of the nation's premier safeties.

Texas Tech won its first seven games of the Kliff Kingsbury era, rising to No. 10 in the national rankings. But the Red Raiders lost five straight to close the regular season after getting into the meat of their schedule. They salvaged the year with a 37-23 win over Arizona State as 14-point underdogs.

Texas Tech returns nine starters on offense but only four on 'D.' If it can beat Arkansas at home in Week 3, Texas Tech will almost certainly go into Big 12 play with a 3-0 record and an open date leading into its league opener at Oklahoma State

The Red Raiders have 20/1 odds to win the conference, 500/1 odds to win the national title. They have a win total of 6.5 ('over' -175, 'under' +140).

Sophomore Davis Webb will be the starting QB. As a freshman, Webb threw for 2,718 yards in just six starts. He had a 20/9 TD-INT ratio. He loses his two favorite targets, but Texas Tech still has five players who had 28 or more catches back.

Like Will Muschamp at Florida, Mike London at Virginia, Kyle Flood at Rutgers and quite a few others, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen goes into the 2014 campaign on a serious hot seat in Morgantown. The Mountaineers have lost 14 of their 20 games with nine of those defeats coming by double-digit margins. Four of the six victories came over William & Mary, Georgia State, Iowa State and Kansas. They finished last year 4-8 SU and 3-9 ATS.

Just like Holgorsen said at Big 12 Media Days, "the days of dominating the Big East are long gone."

WVU brings back six starters on offense and seven on defense. Clint Trickett will start at QB and he has his top three WRs returning. Holgorsen is an offensive guru and will find a way for WVU to score enough points to win some games, but let's remember that the Mountaineers lost three games in 2013 when they scored 42, 40 and 44 points.

Tony Gibson is the new defensive coordinator and he faces a Herculean task in turning this unit around. In its first two seasons in the Big 12, WVU has given up 38.1 and 33.3 PPG in '12 and '13, respectively. Those numbers have got to get better for WVU to go bowling and for Holgorsen to keep his job.

The schedule doesn't help the coach's cause. WVU opens up against Alabama at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and also has to play at Maryland in non-conference play. The Mountaineers will be favored at home against Towson and Kansas, but they might be underdogs in every other contest. Possible victories are home games vs. TCU and Kansas State, in addition to at Iowa State It's a big "if" to imply WVU wins those five games but if it does, it can go bowling by stealing another. The most likely spots are at Maryland, at Texas Tech and at Oklahoma State, but I don't see the Mountaineers winning any of those games.

Iowa State lost five one-possession games in 2013. Paul Rhoads' team lost nine of its first 10 games, but it felt decent after beating Kansas 34-0 at home and besting WVU 52-44 in triple overtime to conclude the year.

ISU returns 10 starters on offense and five on defense. In non-conference action, the Cyclones host North Dakota State and Toledo and go on the road to face arch-rival Iowa.

Kansas has won only four of 24 games on Charlie Weis' watch. Two of those victories came over FCS schools (South Dakota State and South Dakota), with the others coming over Louisiana Tech and WVU. Weis needs to produce some victories, probably at least five, in order to see a fourth season in Lawrence.

After going 3-9 SU and 4-8 ATS, KU returns eight starters on offense and nine on defense. The biggest addition for the Jayhawks is WR Nick Harwell, a transfer from Miami (OH.) who had more than 3,000 receiving yards in three season in the MAC.

With Jake Heaps transferring to Miami, sophomore Montell Cozart takes over as the starting signal caller. He made three starts as true freshman, rushing for 214 yards and throwing for 227.

The defense is led by LB Ben Heeney, who led KU in tackles while earning first-team All Big 12 honors last year. Heeney had 9.5 tackles for loss and three interceptions. DEs Michael Reynolds and Ben Goodman are playmakers who combined for 9.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss in '13.

**Fearless Predictions**

2014 Win-Loss Projections
School Record Win Total (5Dimes) Bowl Projection
Oklahoma 12-0 10.5 College Football Playoff #2 vs. #3
Baylor 11-1 9.5 Cotton Bowl vs. Oregon
TCU 8-4 8 Alamo Bowl vs. Washington
Texas 7-5 7 Texas Bowl vs. Texas A&M
Oklahoma State 7-5 7.5 Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Arizona
Kansas State 7-5 7.5 Liberty Bowl vs. Missouri
Texas Tech 6-6 6.5 Russell Athletic vs. ACC
Iowa State 4-8 3.5 'over' -165 --
West Virginia 4-8 4.5 'under' -125 --
Kansas 2-10 3 'over' -140 --

**Games to Watch**

1. Baylor at Oklahoma - Baylor has an open date and then a home game against Kansas in the two weeks leading into this game that'll decide the Big 12 and likely lead to a spot in the College Football Playoff. OU also has an open date and then a road date with Iowa State coming into this revenge showdown. The Sooners led 5-3 at Baylor midway through the second quarter in Waco last year, but the Bears scored 28 unanswered points en route to a 41-12 triumph.

2. Baylor at Texas - This will be Baylor's first true test and Charlie Strong will have a great defensive plan for Bryce Petty and company. This is also a look-ahead scenario for the Longhorns, who will have their Red River Rivalry date with Oklahoma the following week.

3. Oklahoma vs. Texas - Another revenge situation for the Sooners, who got blasted 36-20 by Texas last year. This will be a fourth difficult game for the Longhorns in their first six. They might be looking at a 2-4 record with a loss, though 3-3 is more likely as I have them edging BYU in Week 2.

4. Oklahoma at TCU - OU will have two weeks to prep for the Horned Frogs following an off week. TCU has a good chance to be 3-0 with a healthy roster. I make the healthy remark because Patterson's squad has two open dates in September. This could be a real tester for the Sooners.

5. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma - One of those "you never know" games. The Bedlam matchup has seen its share of shockers. In his first season in Stillwater in 2001, Les Miles led a 3-7 Oklahoma State team into Norman. With a great shot at repeating as Big 12 and national champs, the Sooners lost a 16-13 decision. The Cowboys, who have a young team that should be better come November, have dropped back-to-back heartbreakers to OU.

**Players to Watch**

1. Bryce Petty (Baylor QB) -- He's going to put up incredible numbers and be in the Heisman conversation. Can Petty orchestrate a road win over OU in Norman on Nov. 8?

2. Trevor Knight (Oklahoma QB) - Like most freshman QBs, Knight was up and down in 2013. But he was confident, composed and on the money in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.

3. Cedric Reed (Texas DE) -- In Strong's scheme, Reed should have another monster season. And he had 10 sacks, nine tackles for loss and 16 QB hurries in 2013.

4. Tyler Lockett (Kansas State WR) - He earned first-team All Big 12 and second-team All-American honors last season by catching 81 balls for 1,262 yards and 11 TDs. The Wildcats need him to produce even more in 2014.

5. Tyreek Hill (Oklahoma St. WR/RB) - The track star has blazing speed and can play multiple positions. Don't be surprised if he makes big plays galore rushing, receiving and on special teams.

6. Shock Linwood (Baylor RB) - With Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin gone, Linwood will get more touches and, accordingly, produce more yards and TDs.

7. Dorial Green-Beckham (Oklahoma WR) - If he's declared eligible, watch out! OU is currently appealing for the Missouri transfer to be granted immediate eligibility.

**B.E.'s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Since 2006, Oklahoma owns a 30-17-1 spread record as a home favorite.

-- Baylor WR Clay Fuller suffered a broken clavicle making a diving catch at an Aug. 8 practice. He is expected to miss 6-8 weeks with a hopeful return at Texas on Oct. 4. Fuller had 32 receptions for 512 yards and three TDs in 2013.

-- WVU is 4-10 ATS as a home favorite during Holgorsen's tenure.

-- TCU's prize recruit in the 2014 class, RB Shaun Nixon, was lost for the season this past week due to a knee injury.

-- Since 2011, TCU has limped to 5-12-1 spread record at home.

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