2021 Big 12 College Football Betting Preview

By in College Football on
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The 2021 college football season is coming up quickly with the first games merely weeks away. As always, the Big 12 should have something to say about the big college football stories as one of the top five major conferences. We’re here to preview the Big 12 from a betting perspective so that you’ll be ready to roll with your wagers.

No fan or bettor will ever forget the 2020 college football season, for good and bad reasons. There were many cancellations and stadium restrictions that made college football seem much different than the Saturday tradition we came to know. And the Big 12 season was certainly different from what we’re used to seeing from this hallowed conference.

On the one hand, the teams in the conference had a better go of it in terms of playing schedules that were close to full, at least compared to conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12. But many of the Big 12’s powerhouses struggled to find their footing. As a result, there were no teams from the conference that made the College Football Playoffs.

Big 12 Resurgence in 2021

The end result in 2020 was a much more balanced Big 12 than we’re used to seeing. And that could continue into the 2021 season, especially when you consider Iowa State, who used to be a doormat, are now one of the power teams in the conference. With the possible exception of Kansas, every one of the Big 12’s teams have a legitimate shot at bowl contention this coming season.

Oklahoma Still Stands Tall as the One to Beat After Six Straight Conference Championships

But the balance in the league could make it difficult to predict just who will be fighting it out at the end. That could mean great value for savvy bettors, both in terms of picking over/under win totals at the start of the year and when it comes to wagering on individual conference games once the season begins.

In the following article, we’ll give you the lowdown on the Big 12 from a bettor’s point of view. We’ll preview each team’s strengths and weaknesses, tell you about their schedule, and project how they look from an over/under standpoint right now. By the end of this article, you should be on solid ground with your Big 12 college football bets at top college football gambline sites.

2020 Big 12 Standings Recap

  • Iowa State: 8-1 conference, 9-3 overall (lost to Oklahoma in Big 12 championship game, beat Oregon in Fiesta Bowl)
  • Oklahoma: 6-2 conference, 9-2 overall (beat Iowa State in Big 12 championship game, beat Florida in Cotton Bowl)
  • Oklahoma State: 6-3 conference, 8-3 overall
  • Texas: 5-3 conference, 7-3 overall (beat Colorado in Alamo Bowl)
  • Texas Christian: 5-4 conference, 6-4 overall
  • West Virginia: 4-4 conference, 6-4 overall (beat Army in Liberty Bowl)
  • Kansas State: 4-5 conference, 4-6 overall
  • Texas Tech: 3-6 conference, 4-6 overall
  • Baylor: 2-7 conference, 2-7 overall
  • Kansas: 0-8 conference, 0-9 overall

Big 12 2021 Team Previews

Oklahoma

  • Preseason ranking: 3
  • Over/under win totals: 11
  • First game: September 4 (at Tulane)

Strengths

Oklahoma-SoonerRecent history suggests no real problems for the Sooners in the Big 12, as they come into the year with six straight crowns in the conference. Quarterback Spencer Rattler stands as one of the preeminent Heisman Trophy candidates in the land. But the real reason for excitement in Norman is a defense that stacks up as the best in the Lincoln Riley era.

Weaknesses

The Sooners found out the hard way last year that reputation alone won’t allow them to coast anymore in the improved Big 12, as losses to Kansas State and Iowa State essentially ended their playoff hopes before September was over. A running back or two will have to step to provide balance to Rattler’s lethal passing attack. Oklahoma lost its two best defensive backs to the NFL.

Schedule

Three nonconference games shouldn’t offer too much resistance to the Sooners quest to win it all. The first two are cakewalks, and the third, a home tousle with traditional rival Nebraska, shouldn’t be too problematic with the Huskers in rebuilding mode. Oklahoma gets Iowa State at home in the penultimate game of the season, one that could decide the regular-season Big 12 champ.

Over/Under Outlook

Last season proved that there are many potential minefields in this conference, which means getting through the season unbeaten is no joke. But this Sooners team is as loaded as they’ve been in a while, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. A push seems the most likely outcome at the 11-win total.

Iowa State

  • Preseason ranking: 7
  • Over/under win totals: 9 ½
  • First game: September 4 (home vs. Northern Illinois)

Strengths

There are few teams in the nation with as much star power as the Cyclones. Quarterback Brock Purdy, running back Breece Hall, tight end Charlie Kosar, defensive end Will McDonald and linebacker Mike Rose are all among the best in the nation at their positions. It is amazing what Matt Campbell has done with this program over the past half-decade.

Weaknesses

The Cyclones’ season-opening loss to Louisiana is a bit worrisome in terms of their inability to focus on every game. If the roster has a weakness, it could be in the special teams area. Purdy could also use some receivers stepping up since they are a relatively inexperienced group compared to the rest of the team.

Schedule

Looking past opener Northern Illinois to concentrate on the week 2 showdown with Iowa would be a mistake. The Cyclones do ease into their Big 12 schedule with some of the weaker teams right off the bat. But then it gets tough, especially with November 20 circled on the calendar when they head to Oklahoma.

Over/Under Outlook

Have the Cyclones advanced to the point where we can assume wins for them against middle-of-the-pack teams in the Big 12? The conference, on the whole, seems to be improving at a rapid rate. To stay ahead of that curve, Iowa State needs to keep its stars healthy and can’t afford even the slightest letdown or else they could slip to nine-win territory.

Oklahoma State

  • Preseason ranking: 15
  • Over/under win totals: 8
  • First game: September 4 (home vs. Missouri State)

Strengths

Little by little, the Cowboys have undergone a transformation. They’ve become much more of a defensive power, even as the offense has dropped off from its heights of years past. Defense doesn’t slump, as they say, so it could mean that Oklahoma State is more consistent from week to week than they have been in years past.

Weaknesses

Replacing the production of massive yardage gainers Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace will be difficult to do. The cupboard is especially bare at wide receiver, which could hurt the progress of sophomore quarterback Spencer Sanders. There are also some big holes to fill on the Cowboy offensive line.

Schedule

Playing on the blue turf at Boise State is never easy, even if the Broncos aren’t quite at their traditional Top 20 level heading into the season. The other two nonconference games should be no sweat. Things get real in the conference with back to back weeks on the road against Texas and Iowa State in October, but at least the Cowboys get rival Oklahoma at home in the season-closer.

Over/Under Outlook

There is a ton of production to replace, and it will be interesting how Sanders fares without his top weapons around. The defense definitely has more moxie than in past seasons. But the Cowboys lack of firepower is worrying in a conference where most of the teams have weapons galore, making us a bit bearish about their over/under projections.

Texas

  • Preseason ranking: 24
  • Over/under win totals: 8
  • First game: September 4 (home vs. Louisiana)

Strengths

Texas-Longhorns-logoSteve Sarkisian brings a reputation as one of the game’s top offensive minds with him to Austin to take over as head coach. He’ll immediately get the services of one of the game’s most explosive weapons in sophomore running back Bijan Robinson. On defense, linebacker DeMarvion Overshown could be one of the nation’s most dynamic players on that side of the ball.

Weaknesses

Replacing Sam Ehlinger, who practically was a legend in Austin, will be tough for whatever quarterback gets the job. Although Casey Thompson played well in the Alamo Bowl win, prepping for a full regular season is a different task for sure. Sarkisian has just five defensive starters back, and that was a group that really scuffled to stop the pass a year ago.

Schedule

Ask Iowa State what happens when you overlook Louisiana, the Longhorns opening week opponent. The Week 2 battle on the road against their old SWC buddies Arkansas won’t be easy either. Nor will road tests at TCU and Iowa State, while the showdown with Oklahoma in Dallas looms large on October 9 after last year’s heartbreaking four-overtime loss.

Over/Under Outlook

Sarkisian’s second chance at a major conference should be successful if he can develop a quarterback from keeping defenses off Robinson. The schedule isn’t an easy one by any stretch, however. For that reason, we struggle to see Texas going over the eight win total laid on them by oddsmakers.

Texas Christian

  • Preseason ranking: 27
  • Over/under win totals: 7 ½
  • First game: September 4 (home vs. Duquesne)

Strengths

Look for this team to once again ride high on a combination of running and defense. Dual threat quarterback Max Duggan is coming into his own, and he has a deep contingent of young running backs brimming with talent to help. Led by sack-man extraordinaire Ochaun Mathis, the Horned Frogs should be all over opposing passers.

Weaknesses

Coach Gary Patterson has made an impressive career at TCU out of doing more with less, in terms of recruiting rankings. But that also makes the Frogs’ margin of error pretty thin compared to others in the league. As a result, any injury to a key performer would do more damage here than it would elsewhere in the league.

Schedule

The toughie on the nonconference schedule is a home date against California, but the Bears, albeit a Power Five team, aren’t necessarily a Pac-12 power. TCU will get indoctrinated pretty quick into the Big 12 schedule though, with a home date against rival Texas to start things off and then, two weeks later, a trip to Oklahoma. If they could split those games at least, it sets them up well for the rest of the schedule, at least until they close out the season at Iowa State.

Over/Under Outlook

The Horned Frogs, for the most part, beat who were they supposed to beat and lost to who they were supposed to lose to in 2020. If they do the same this year, they’re might just be able to sneak over the 7 ½ win marker. But it probably will end up being very tight to the number.

West Virginia

  • Preseason ranking: 41
  • Over/under win totals: 7
  • First game: September 4 (at Maryland)

Strengths

The Mountaineers will enjoy a lot of experienced parts on offense. Quarterback Jarrett Doege and running back Leddie Brown should both be among the statistical leaders at their positions. Meanwhile, the offensive line has what it takes to clear holes for Brown and keep Doege’s jersey clean.

Weaknesses

WVU boasted one of the best statistical defenses in the nation a year ago, but the turnover, much of it unexpected, is massive this year. The team is confident that some big-school transfers can help alleviate the losses. But the transition period could be problematic until all the disparate parts begin to gel.

Schedule

A road test against another Power 5 school to start the year isn’t ideal, but Maryland isn’t one of the powers of the Big 10. But then they host Virginia Tech in Week 3, meaning that the Mountaineers have one of the tougher nonconference schedules in the league. They then go on the road to Oklahoma in their first Big 12 contest, which means they might have a hard time surviving that early part of the year.

Over/Under Outlook

Even if West Virginia gets out of that opening-season gauntlet with a 2-2 record, they could easily improve upon that in the season’s final two-thirds. The key will be how the defense holds up with all the personnel changes. But this feels like a team that might outperform their expectations in 2021.

Kansas State

  • Preseason ranking: 44
  • Over/under win totals: 5 ½
  • First game: September 4 (vs. Stanford at Arlington, Texas)

Strengths

Kansas-State-logoThe Wildcats boast a veteran quarterback in Skylar Thompson and an explosive running back in Deuce Vaughn. Look for solid offensive play and stout defense from a veteran secondary. Kansas State will also win the field position battle more often than not thanks to excellent special teams.

Weaknesses

Will the real Kansas State please stand up? Is it the ream that stormed out of the gate with four straight Big 12 conference wins, including the upset of the year over Oklahoma? Or was it the team that lost their last five, not to mention a season-opening clunker against Arkansas State?

Schedule

Even though they only play one Power Five team in the nonconference (the neutral opener against Stanford), they really don’t have any gimmes, as Southern Illinois and Nevada can both cause trouble. In addition, they won’t have any kind of a breather after that. That’s because the three teams that most project as the best in the Big 12 are the first three that the Wildcats have to face in conference.

Over/Under Outlook

Defensive question marks and the rough early schedule don’t bode well for KSU’s chances of hitting the modest over total of 5 ½. They’d need a couple of upsets to get there, while also pretty much running the table down the stretch. The inconsistency of last year probably will prevent them for managing that in 2021.

Baylor

  • Preseason ranking: 55
  • Over/under win totals: 5 ½
  • First game: September 4 (at Texas State)

Strengths

Baylor is another one of the teams in the Big 12 that is taking on more of a defensive bent this season. They have ten starters returning on that side of the ball and some key transfers that can also make an immediate impact. Offensively, the receivers and running backs are deep and fast.

Weaknesses

The Bears preseason hopes took a hit when longtime quarterback decided to transfer to Utah. That leaves coach Dave Aranda, still trying to make a mark on the program in the wake of the successful Matt Rhule era, scrambling at the position. Baylor’s offensive line needs to be revamped, with as many as three new starters required.

Schedule

Baylor’s first two opponents, before the conference begins, are relatively beatable small schools in Texas. Their last nonconference tilt comes in October and figures to be much tougher, as they host Brigham Young. With the exception of Oklahoma State, many of the league’s top teams have to visit Waco.

Over/Under Outlook

The quarterback question won’t make things easy on the Bears unless somebody steps up. But even if there is uncertainty there, the offense could still do just enough if the defensive side of the ball is as good as advertised. With a relatively soft schedule, Baylor could be a good over candidate in 2021.

Texas Tech

  • Preseason ranking: 70
  • Over/under win totals: 5 ½
  • First game: September 4 (vs. Houston in Houston, Texas)

Strengths

Texas-Tech-logoCoach Matt Wells hasn’t made a lot of progress with the program in his first two years, but a big year for transfers could help him do so. There are several Power 5 newcomers that could immediately find their place on the defense. But the biggest news is the addition of Tyler Shough, a Pac-12 Conference winning quarterback at Oregon a year ago.

Weaknesses

The Red Raiders do return a lot of starters on defense, but that might not necessarily be a good thing. They gave up 30 or more points in seven of ten games a year ago, and three of those games featured teams lighting them up for at least 50. That can’t happen again if they hope to get out of the bottom of the division’s standings.

Schedule

The good news is that Wells should have time to incorporate these new faces in a nonconference schedule that is less than intimidating. They’ll need that confidence for a road test against Texas in their first Big 12 contest. A three week stretch at Oklahoma and then home against Iowa State and Oklahoma State won’t be for the faint of heart.

Over/Under Outlook

If Slough plays like he did at Oregon, he could be the kind of transformative player that helps this program to reach new heights. The ease of the nonconference should give the Red Raiders a head start to their over/under total. Just an upset or two will put them over.

Kansas

  • Preseason ranking: 110
  • Over/under win totals: 1
  • First game: September 4 (home against South Dakota)

Strengths

Chances are that there will be some point in time when some coach comes into Lawrence and reverses the course for this moribund program. Maybe Lance Leipold will be that guy, although his late hiring didn’t give him a lot of time to get things together. As usual with Kansas football, there isn’t anywhere to go but up.

Weaknesses

With the exception of a three-point loss in their season finale to Texas Tech, the Jayhawks not only lost every game a year ago, but they were also dominated. The offense looked lost in the spring game. And even though the defense looked better by comparison, they were one of the worst in the nation a year ago.

Schedule

All eyes will be on the opener against South Dakota, an FCS team that went 1-3 in 2020 in a truncated schedule. As for the other nonconference games, Duke isn’t great but they’re miles better than Kansas, especially in Durham, and Coastal Carolina is in many top 25 rankings to start the season. And nobody on the conference schedule looks beatable, especially with Texas Tech’s improvement.

Over/Under Outlook

The over/under win total of one might be tempting for those who think the Jayhawks will stumble into some wins. But they haven’t won over their last 13 contests. At best, they beat South Dakota and lose the next 11, which puts them at a push.

Conclusion

You now have all the information you need to begin wagering on the Big 12 at top sports gambling websites. This should be as competitive a season as the league has seen in years. Hopefully, you end up on the winning sites of your bets on this major college football conference in the 2021 season.

Jim Beviglia

Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog. For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...

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