Win Total: 9.5 | Big 12 Championship: +190 | National Championship: +4000
No team in College Football has undergone as much drama and turnover as this Sooners team has throughout the last year. Head Coach Lincoln Riley left for USC and brought star quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Mario Williams with him. The Sooners brought in Brent Venables, the former defensive coordinator at Clemson, to take over the program and keep them at the top of the Big 12.
The offense will be run by two new faces at offensive coordinator and quarterback. Jeff Lebby comes in from Ole Miss to try and rebuild this offense with his classic high-powered spread attack, and he brought in Dillon Gabriel to lead the way. The two reunite after spending a season together at UCF in 2019 where Gabriel threw for 3,600 yards and 29 touchdowns. The Sooners still have a stocked cupboard of skill position players that has accumulated through recruiting and the transfer portal.
While Venables is a genius, it will be difficult for him to change this defense overnight. He is trying to implement an entirely different style that these Sooners are not used to yet. They have young talent and transfers, but this side of the ball will go through much more of a transition period than the offense.
Oklahoma will most likely be favored in all 12 games this season, but some games in conference play will be close margins, including their trip to Nebraska in week 3. I think the offense will play at a lightning-quick pace and score a lot of points, but the big issue is the defense. If Venables can make this team just marginally better than last year, the Sooners will be one of the best teams in the country. I lean to the over, but not enough to play it.
Pick: No futures. Looking for Oklahoma overs from week to week.
Win Total: 8.5 | Big 12 Championship: +290 | National Championship: +5000
While the Sooners definitely won the drama award this offseason, the Longhorns are not far behind after making the splash and bringing in Quinn Ewers from Ohio State. I don’t know what to make of this team. They have arguably the best running back in the country in Bijan Robinson, and the best receivers in the conference. Steve Sarkisian is one of the best offensive minds in the game, and if anyone can get this team to come together offensively, it’s him. Another big question mark is the offensive line which struggled mightily last season, but the Longhorns have tried to address this by bringing in six new linemen via recruits and the transfer portal.
The defense was really bad last year and finished the season outside the top-100 in four of the Five Factors. However, they brought in the 5th best transfer class this season that was full of many defensive players that will produce right away. Sark also hired ex-TCU coach Gary Patterson to help improve the defense.
The schedule is tough with a guaranteed loss to Alabama in week 2. So in order to go over their win total they would have to go 9-2 the rest of the season. But with tricky games on the road against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State that might be difficult to get to. This is the ultimate high variance team with all the new faces on both sides of the ball. I really like Oklahoma so that makes my decision here more difficult, but if you disagree with me on my assessment of the Sooners then you should definitely take Texas to win the Big 12 and root for their high upside.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Win Total: 8.5 | Big 12 Championship: +550 | National Championship: +9000
Oklahoma State was one inch away from winning the Big 12 and heading to the CFB playoff last season before falling to Baylor. Coach Mike Gundy and the Cowboys are looking to repeat last season’s success, but I’m not sure that is going to be possible. They lose both their leading rusher and receiver from last year’s offense that was not very good in the first place and finished outside the top-60 in almost all key metrics. Oklahoma State does have the luxury of being the only Big 12 school to have the same starting quarterback as last year, but Spencer Sanders is a turnover machine that is not exactly a positive to have coming back.
The strength of this team was arguably the 2nd best defensive in the country behind Georgia. The Cowboys finished 2nd in Havoc, 7th in Success Rate, and 14th in Finishing Drives. The problem is no one returned. Star defensive coordinator Jim Knowles left for Ohio State, and the defense only returns 19% of last year’s production which is the second fewest in the country. There is no chance that they repeat that level of defensive dominance in 2022.
The schedule also does them little favors. Oklahoma State will only be favored by more than a field goal in six games this season. Of the other six games on their schedule, four of them are on the road. I find it very difficult to see this team getting to 9-3 with the amount of turnover on both sides of the roster. I also love this win total because if they lose to Arizona State in week 2 then the Cowboys have no shot of going over, and I’ll know I have a winner early.
Pick: Oklahoma State under 8.5 wins (-125)
Win Total: 7.5 | Big 12 Championship: +650 | National Championship: +10000
Baylor won the Big 12 championship last season and had the biggest one-year win turnaround in Power 5 history after winning only 2 games in 2020 before winning 12 games last year. The Bears accomplished this through elite offensive line play and a dominant rushing attack. Four offensive linemen return from one of the top units in the country, but they will have to survive all the turnover around them. Baylor loses their starting quarterback, top two running backs, and top three receivers.
While the defense does not lose quite as much as the offense, they still only return 56% of last year’s production from an elite defense that finished top-15 in Success Rate, Finishing Drives, Havoc, and Field Position. While they lost most of their secondary, the Bears return their entire defensive line plus some transfers at linebacker. Just like the offensive line, this defensive line is one of the best and deepest in the country.
This schedule is brutal, and Baylor will only be favored by more than a field goal in 4 games this season. Road games against BYU, Oklahoma, and Texas will most likely be losses, and put their record at 4-3. This means they would have to go 4-1 in their five coin flip games to get over their win total. Between the tough schedule, the lack of offensive skill players, and a defense that will surely regress, I cannot be confident in Baylor winning 8 games.
Pick: Baylor under 7.5 wins (+130)
TCU Horned Frogs
Win Total: 6.5 | Big 12 Championship: +1200
This TCU team is the most intriguing team in the Big 12. The Horned frogs brought in Sonny Dykes from SMU and he will be bringing with him his Air Raid offense. This new offense is much needed after years of conservative play calling under Gary Patterson, and the Horned Frogs have the personnel to make it work. Max Duggan is a talented dual-threat quarterback who should thrive in this offense, especially since he gets to throw to one of the deepest receiving units in the country. The offensive line struggled at times last year in pass protection, but returning all five starters and transitioning to a quick passing offense should help them improve. I think this offense takes a big step forward.
Like the offense, the defense returns 91% of production from last year’s unit. Dykes made one of the most underrated coaching hires in the country when he brought in Tulsa’s Joe Gillespie to man the defense. Tulsa’s defense under Gillespie has been top-25 each of the last three seasons, and he is regarded as one of the best DC’s in the country.
While I normally shy away from teams with new coaches due to all the turnover and changing schemes, TCU is different because of all the returning production from last year. These are guys that are used to playing with each other and there is more similarity than a lot of the coaching changes at other schools.
The schedule also lines up easily for the Horned Frogs. They get two free wins to start the season against a bad Colorado team and Tarleton State. TCU will be favored in 8 games this season, and coin flips in two others. The last two games are against Oklahoma and Texas who are not exactly teams known for their consistency. I love TCU to go over 6.5, and if everything goes right for them with the new coaches, all of this returning production could make it to the Big 12 title game.
Picks: TCU over 6.5 wins (-140) & TCU to win Big 12 Championship (+1200)
Kansas State Wildcats
Win Total: 6.5 | Big 12 Championship: +1200
A lot of people are high on Kansas State going into the season for good reasons. They return All-American running back Deuce Vaughn after an incredible season, and the receivers were solid last year. The big change will be at quarterback as Adrian Martinez has transferred in from Nebraska. While the upside of Martinez’s dual-threat skills is appealing, this is the same quarterback who has thrown 30 interceptions and has fumbled 42 over the last four seasons. Upside is great, but Martinez has not shown anything to make me believe that he can magically just stop turning the ball over now that he is no longer in Lincoln.
The defense was pretty good last year and finished top-50 in four of the Five Factors. While they only return 45% of last year’s production, Coach Klieman has constantly retooled this defense and has them at the top of the Big 12 every season.
While there are some question marks surrounding Martinez, the Wildcats will be favored by more than a touchdown in 6 games this season. With only one pretty certain loss on the road against Oklahoma, the other five games are coin flips. With 11 very winnable games on the schedule, I think Kansas State easily clears 6.5 wins even with Martinez’s turnover troubles.
Pick: Kansas State over 6.5 wins (-170)
West Virginia Mountaineers
Win Total: 5.5 | Big 12 Championship: +2500
West Virginia has been in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 for the last five seasons. However, the Mountaineers believe that the additions of offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and Georgia transfer JT Daniels at quarterback will be enough to get this Air Raid offense off the ground. While they bring in Daniels, they lose everyone else. The Mountaineers’ leading rusher and 4 leading receivers have all left the program. I am not a believer in JT Daniels whatsoever. He has shown flashes of being good, but has never thrown more than 100 passes in his career.
The Mountaineers return only 42% of all defensive production from last year’s defense. Star defensive lineman Dante Stills has returned, but his presence may not be enough. West Virginia lost their top-6 defensive backs from last season, and should lead to their passing defense taking a massive step back in 2022.
A bad team gets no favors from their schedule as they start the season on the road against Pittsburgh in the famous “Backyard Brawl”. This game should get ugly and could set the tone for their entire season. West Virginia will only be favored in two games all season long.Of the 10 games they are underdogs in, the spread will be less than a touchdown only twice. The Mountaineers will have to pull off 4 significant upsets to get to six wins, and with so much turnover on both sides of the ball I just cannot see that happening.
Pick: West Virginia under 5.5 wins (+105)
Win Total: 2.5 (-135/115) | Big 12 Championship: +25000
Okay hear me out, Kansas’s offense wasn’t THAT bad last year. It was not good, but after they put Jalon Daniels in at quarterback the offense improved significantly and averaged 37.7 points per game. The offense returns 80% of last year’s production and four of five starters on the offensive line are back. I think this Kansas offense takes a large step forward in 2022 and goes from not awful to somewhat respectable.
The same cannot be said about the Jayhawks defense which was again one of the worst defenses in the entire country. However, they were really young last year and return a whopping 92% of last year’s production which is 5th highest in the nation. Kansas also brought in a few transfers that will play, and produce, immediately. This defense could not possibly get any worse, and if these young kids take a step forward this defense can go from 125th in the country to maybe 90th.
The beauty of this Kansas team is that they have two wins on their schedule. The first comes in week 1 against Tennessee Tech and the other comes at home against Duke who will be the worst team in the Power 5. While it will take an upset somewhere on their schedule to get over 2.5 wins, there are definitely a few spots it can come. West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Iowa State are all down this year and could be opportunities for the Jayhawks to get that third win. This might be dumb, but I liked watching this Kansas team last year and want to see them head in the right direction.
Pick: Kansas over 2.5 wins (-135)