Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 09:58 AM
Best Bets - Big 12 Futures
The official start of summer may have just happened a few weeks ago, but all that generally means in the sports betting world is that the countdown to fall and football season is officially on. The NFL is always going to be king in that regard, but college football is no slouch in the sports betting world either. Full slate Saturdays can often be more enjoyable from a betting perspective if you are able to take your fandom out of the equation – something NFL bettors have a much tougher time doing – simply because of the volume of action available and the boatloads of points being put up.
The college futures market shouldn't be avoided either if you believe you've got edges on certain offerings, and with some great CFB previews already popping up on the site here, the content is out there for you to digest information and different perspectives to begin your foray into the 2019 CFB season.
And with that, it's time to look at some futures offerings, starting in the Big 12 Conference.
Best Season Win Total Over Bet:
Oklahoma State Cowboys Over 6.5 wins (-165)
Mike Gundy's program didn't have the greatest 2018 season as they struggled in conference play (3-6 SU) and only managed to finish with a winning record (7-6 SU) thanks to a 38-33 win as a double-digit underdog in their Bowl game against Missouri. But despite all of that, there were plenty of great signs on the football field that suggest this program could take another step forward in 2019.
Last year's games against Oklahoma and Texas – the two teams that played in the Big 12 Conference Championship – finished with a 1-1 SU record for the Cowboys with a combined margin of four points. There was a 38-35 win over Texas that was by far their biggest win of the year, and the 48-47 loss they suffered to Oklahoma as a 20+-point underdog could have easily ended up being a SU win as well. Gundy's teams have always found a way to step up in the biggest games, and considering their contests against those two schools will likely be the biggest they'll deal with this year, bettors should expect nothing different.
It's all about cleaning up the bad losses for OK State in 2019, as their other five losses in Big 12 play came when they were at least -5.5 point chalk, with two of them coming as double-digit favorites. That simply can't happen when you are trying to compete for a conference crown, and while the Cowboys may not legitimately be in that conversation this year, another winning campaign should be in the cards.
OK State gives grad transfer Dru Brown the keys to Gundy's Air Raid offense this year, and he should be able to put up just as big numbers as the starters before him. It's the defense that's always been an issue for OK State, and while that may not change completely in 2019, it will be better as it's hard not to learn from the mistakes of 2018 in losing outright all those games where they were favored to win by at least a major score.
With a schedule that's rather favorable in the sense that they get the bulk of their 'revenge' spots from a season ago at home this year – home games vs Kansas State, Baylor, TCU, and Oklahoma as OK State lost to all four programs last year – with the bulk of those programs likely taking a step back in 2019, a double-digit win season has to be the goal for Mike Gundy's squad, with 8 or 9 wins the most likely outcome.
Best Season Win Total Under Bet:
Oklahoma Sooners Under 10.5 wins (+115)
The Big 12 has been owned by Oklahoma the past handful of years, and with the school producing back-to-back Heisman Trophy winners, there hasn't been much done wrong by head coach Lincoln Riley during his time in Norman. That success helped Oklahoma be the landing spot for former National Champion and Alabama transfer QB Jalen Hurts this year, and with that move, the Sooners are at least on paper the team to beat in the Big 12 again. But there is a point where expectations can vastly outweigh reality, and while the Sooners will still be a very good football team in 2019, expecting them to dominate again is a bit much.
For one, Riley always asks his QB to be a precision passer and that's just not what Hurts does. If he did, he wouldn't have gotten replaced by Tua Tagovailoa in the 2nd half of the National Title game two years ago, and wouldn't have lost his job to Tua a season ago. And while the Hurts – Murray comparisons will likely come out at times this year, we've got to remember that Murray was also a 1st round MLB draft pick so his throwing arm and accuracy were never in question. Hurts just isn't the same guy and when all is said and done, he's probably come into a no-win situation given past results for the school and the lofty expectations the program has now.
Oklahoma did make a key move this off season in bringing in Alex Grinch as the new DC to try and improve a very leaky Sooners defense. Grinch was the co-DC at Ohio State last year which was a highly successful unit, but like many teams in the high scoring Big 12, defense tends to be a sticking point that costs teams games they are supposed to win each and every year. It was Mayfield's and Murray's playmaking ability that saved Oklahoma from many of those pitfalls the past two years, and again, I'm not sure Hurts is a guy that's capable of erasing those mistakes when necessary.
Finally, with the schedule they've got, expecting 11 wins or more is a bit much. There could be an opening week loss vs a very solid Houston Cougars program, a Week 3 trip out to UCLA could be much tougher then expected, and then in Big 12 play there could easily be two or three losses hung on Oklahoma this year. It's just too steep a number for a team that has had their expectations grow too high for 2019, and at plus-money odds, I do think we see the Sooners take a step back.
Big 12 Conference Winner Best Bet:
Texas to win Big 12 (+250)
Futures odds in this realm have the Big 12 as a two-horse race between Oklahoma (-125) and Texas (+250) again, with no other school listed better then +1000. And while that's probably going to end up being the case, given the thoughts already outlined on Oklahoma above, it's got to be a play on Texas here at this price.
Yes, the Longhorns have lost plenty of senior starters from a year ago, but there is no rule that you need to have seniors on your team in order to win in this league, and a lot of the time this year it's juniors and now seniors stepping up to take the place of those starters who've moved on. The continuity within the program is a great thing to have for HC Tom Herman, and with QB Sam Ehlinger still at the helm, this team knows it's got some unfinished business to take care of after losing to Oklahoma in last year's Big 12 Title game.
If Oklahoma does end up taking that step back as expected, Texas will end up being the class of this conference as long as Ehlinger stays healthy for the whole year. The Longhorns haven't won even a share of a Big 12 title in nine years – there wasn't always a Conference Championship game in the Big 12 – and with Texas taking steps further in their improvement this year, that streak ends in 2019.