No shortage of good teams and exciting Games in the Big 12 last year and with so much of that talent returning to the teams that were good, 2008-2009 figures to be every bit as exciting and competitive. We saw special seasons last year from teams like Missouri and Kansas while teams we’re used to seeing at the top such as Texas and Oklahoma were right where they belong. Taking a quick look ahead at the odds to win the Big 12 ConfereNCe, if you’re looking for a team with some value at decent odds, you might want to consider Texas Tech. They are loaded with returning starters and at 7-1 odds, may present the best value on the board. So let’s take a look at the Big 12 and see if we can make heads or tails of 2008.
Big 12 South
Oklahoma Odds 3/2 – The Sooners have more wins over the last decade than most college football teams. since 2000 there has only been one year that they didn’t win at least 11 Games and that was in 2004 when they went 8-4. So while it’s tough to pick against Oklahoma with a track record like that, it’s also worth noting that the talent in the Big 12 is up a notch and there’s really not many gimme Games. Even looking back to last year, we see Colorado and Texas Tech knocking off the Sooners, two teams that didn’t figure to beat them. They also had close Games against Texas, Mizu and Iowa St. But in the end, the Sooners figure to be there. Every “tough” Game is at home this year where they are 49-2 since 2000.
Texas Odds 2/1– To make a comparison to the Big 10, in the Big 10 you have Michigan and Ohio State. In the Big 12 you have Texas and Oklahoma. Texas is always going to be good. They get the talent. It’s as simple as that. But it could be interesting this year. A glaNCe at last years Texas AdvaNCe card shows us quite a few close Games that easily could have gone either way. Anyone remember Texas being down to Oklahoma State last year 35-14? I do, I had Oklahoma State!! (Texas won as a +3 dog, 38-35). They beat Central Florida by 3 and Nebraska by 3. Arkansas St by 8 and lost outright to Texas A&M and Kansas St. They return 7 on offense and 4 on defense. Looking at their Schedule, I give them 7 automatic wins. The first half of their Schedule is ridiculously easy. But they’ll have to work for every other win the 2nd half of the year, with the exception of Baylor.
Texas Tech Odds 7/1– Could be a huge year for the Red Raiders. This is a team that’s always good for 7 to 9 wins and they are coming off a huge offensive season (even better than usual) and return 10 starters to an offense that averaged 41 points per Game. Nobody in or out of the Big 12 could stop this offense last year with the exception of Missouri who beat the Red Raiders 41-10. The biggest problem for Texas Tech is that their defense is just about as bad as their offense is good. They do return 8 to the offense, but, big deal really. For Texas Tech, defense is just a tool to get the offense a little rest. Not to actually stop someone. So oNCe again we should see shootout after shootout with this team, but with the offense figuring to be every bit as good or better than a year ago, Tech may fin themselves on the right side of even more Games than they 9 they won last year.
Texas A&M Odds 20/1 – The Aggies have been a middle of the road Big 12 team for some time now. Generally, you’re looking at 5-7 wins year in and year out with the occasional good year and bad year mixed in. They did manage to play Kansas close, and upset Texas at the end of last year and have actually beaten Texas two years straight. But A&M is also a school where losing starters can hurt, and in their case, they only return 5 on offense and 5 on defense. It looks like another 5-7 win year, probably closer to 5.
Oklahoma State Odds 25/1 – I don’t think I’ll ever forget this teams epic loss to Texas last year, ahead at two different times in the Game by 21 points and not being able to hold on. Maybe that’s why I’m reluctant to give them any credit going into this year. Looking at their Schedule, I see 4 Games they should win. Otherwise, I see a loss to Oklahoma and 7 Games that could go either way. So, give the Cowboys 4 wins and then 7 chances to get 3 more wins and a chance at another Bowl Game.
Baylor Odds 50-1 – Can’t afford to waste much space with Baylor. The Bears are miles apart from the better teams in the Big 12 and will stay that way for years to come. They just can’t recruit the talent. Anything more than 2 wins would be a surprise.
Big 12 North
Missouri Odds 3/1 – The Tigers we’re the classic example of a team on the rise finally hitting pay dirt last year. In 2004 they won 5 Games. In 05 they won 7. In 06 they won 8, and then last year they went 12-2 with the only team to beat them being Oklahoma, who knocked them off twice. Unfortunately they will now have a bulls eye on their backs and won’t be sneaking up on anyone. They will get everyone’s best effort. Unless you are one of the few elite teams in the nation, repeating a 12 win season is just about impossible. Having said that, they will oNCe again be very good. They return 6 on offense and 8 on a defense that had a respectable 16+ yards per point number. Definitely bowl bound. The only question is, will it be in December, or January.
Kansas Odds 7/1 – Another pleasant surprise last year. The Jayhawks jumped from 6 wins in 2006 to a spectacular 12-1 and an Orange Bowl win over Virginia Tech. However, the very same criticism that they received last year, will oNCe again come their way this year. Schedule strength. At least the first half of the year. There are a couple of Glaring differeNCe this year though. Specifically, Oklahoma and Texas. They play at Oklahoma and get Texas at home. Last season they had virtually no tough Games. They Games they had against “good” teams, Texas A&M and Colorado were both close. Then they played Mizu and lost in the last Game of the year before beating Va Tech in the Orange Bowl. This year early on they should oNCe again pile up some wins but things get tricky stating in October with about 6 Games that could go either way. That’s not to take anything away from this team though. They return a whopping 9 starters from a good defense that had a very nice 19 yards per point number and their offensive yards per point number was 11, which is among the best in the nation. When it came time to beat “good” teams, even though there were only a few, they did, iNCluding Va Tech and their loss to Missouri was close, 36-28. At the very least this team is headed to another Bowl Game but just like Mizu, they will have to deal with the bulls eye.
Kansas State 40/1 – Really not sure what to expect here from the Wildcats. In the early part of this decade this team strung together a few 11 win seasons. But then fell on tough times starting in 2004. Between 2004 and last year Kansas State only won more than 5 Games oNCe, a 7-6 year in 2006. Offense is never a problem for Kansas St but the defense is a rough spot. They had a horrible 13 ypp on defense last year and don’t figure to get much better this year. If you want a bright spot from a year ago, you could point to them losing at Auburn by just 10, beating Texas and only losing by TD to Kansas. But the wheels really fell off down the stretch for this team as they lost their last 4 Games, iNCluding one to Iowa St, and were blown out in 3 of them. They do have some easy Games though, so beating two or more of their regularly Scheduled Big 12 Games might land them in a bowl. I have a hard time seeing much more than 7 wins though.
Nebraska Odds 10/1– So, the West coast offense is history as is Coach Callahan in Cornhusker land. That’s fine with me. If you’ve been watching College Ball as long as I have, you relate the name Nebraska to a pound the ball run on just about every down offense. But, new coach, new system, hard to expect much the first year. But they do have 5 Games on the daNCe card they should win, meaning if they can win a couple of those swing Games we’re looking at Nebraska returning to a Bowl Game after missing last year. We’ll have to sit back and observe the Cornhuskers early on to see how things go. If things aren’t up to par, they get a pass due to the coaching and system change.
Colorado Odds 10/1 – Over the last decade. Colorado has been all over the map as far as wins and losses. They have won anywhere from 2 to 10 Games in that time, generally alternating between good and bad years. But with coach Dan Hawkins entering his 3rd year now, we might start to see some consisteNCy and might start to see his system take hold. After a 2-10 inaugural season in 2006 and then winning 6 last year, iNCluding an upset of Oklahoma, anything short of a 7 win season would be a disappointment. They return a good core of starters from a year ago, and proved they can play with good teams but they have a Schedule that has only perhaps two cupcakes on it. Considering the Schedule, if they were to get 7 wins, it would be a great accomplishment.
Iowa State Odds 60/1 – There’s at least 3 automatic wins on the Cyclones Schedule which would duplicate last years win mark. An upset here or there on the Big 10 part of their Schedule and this team could be looking at 5 wins. They did finish strong last year beating Colorado and Kansas St and return 7 on both sides of the ball. So, should be an improvement this year. Just don’t think it will be enough to get them into a bowl.