College football win totals have been available at 5Dimes for a little while now as bettors have been pushing the juice around with low-limit max wagers. Heritage Sportsbook has a handful of win totals as well, but it was CG Technologies in Las Vegas that set the standard that most sportsbooks will now follow with their college football season win totals.
To date, the five power conferences have had win total numbers released and here at BangTheBook, we’re going to take a look at each team on a conference-by-conference basis with a little bit of schedule analysis, depth chart analysis, and some coaching thoughts.
The fifth conference to be covered in this 11-conference series that will include the Independent teams is the Big 12 Conference. The Big 12 salvaged a mediocre regular season with a decent bowl season as Oklahoma knocked off Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, Texas managed to hold Oregon to seven points in the Alamo Bowl, Kansas State dominated Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, and Texas Tech was victorious over Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
After a few down years, the Big 12 may be poised for a return to prominence on the national stage with some teams that are on the upswing. This conference will be broken down into the Texas teams plus West Virginia and then the other half of the conference with both Kansas teams, both Oklahoma teams, and Iowa State. (The Midwest teams can be found here.)
5Dimes: 9 -140/110
Heritage: 9.5 -115/-105
CG Technologies: 9.5 -125/-105
Art Briles’s Bears have taken advantage of some rough times in Austin to become a major factor in the Big 12. Briles and offensive coordinator Phillip Montgomery have had great success over the last four years with a dynamic playbook and a collection of outstanding offensive players. Bryce Petty returns for his senior season after passing stats of 62 percent completions, 4,200 yards, and a 32/3 TD/INT ratio. Lache Seastrunk and Tevin Reese are gone, leaving Baylor more doubles hitters than home run hitters to borrow a baseball reference, but that shouldn’t slow this group down. The defense improved by nearly two touchdowns per game last season, but has seven starters to replace.
Baylor will roll out to a 4-0 record with wins over SMU, Northwestern State, Buffalo, and Iowa State before their first true test at Texas on October 4 in Charlie Strong’s first crack at a signature home win. After a bye week and a Homecoming blowout win over Kansas, the Bears will go to Norman to take on the Sooners in a game that could easily decide the Big 12 champion. The final three games are technically at home, with a neutral site game against Texas Tech sandwiched between Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
Pick: Over 9 (-140) (5Dimes)
A Vegas oddsmaker friend of mine suggested that half a win is worth 60 cents, so the value play on the over is to lay the -140. The Bears are going to put up huge point totals and four straight bowl appearances and some turmoil in Austin have led to much better recruiting classes at Baylor than in previous years. Without a conference championship game that wouldn’t count for win totals, Baylor plays 12 regular season games and losing four of them seems pretty unlikely.
5Dimes: 8 155/-185
Heritage: 8.5 135/-155
CG Technologies: 8 -125/-105
Texas disposed of Mack Brown in a rather unceremonious manner, but it was probably time for a change in Austin and that change came in the form of Charlie Strong. Strong inherits a Longhorns group with 15 returning starters and a lot of juniors and seniors slated to start. Despite mediocre results of late, Texas is loaded with talent and continues to recruit extremely well in the nation’s top state for high school football. The offensive line lost three starters, but with new schemes under Strong, that may not be as big of a deal. Injuries played a huge role in Texas’s tough season last year and there’s plenty of optimism entering 2014.
The Longhorns have an interesting non-conference schedule with games against North Texas, BYU, and UCLA in Arlington at Jerry World. The Big 12 schedule opens on September 27 against Kansas. October begins with Baylor and then a quasi-neutral site game in Dallas against Oklahoma. Two of Texas’s final three weeks on the schedule are byes, so they will have a stretch of eight straight games from September 27 to November 15.
Pick: Over 8 (+155) (5Dimes)
Call me crazy, but I’m going to buy the Texas hype for another year after getting burned the last couple years. Charlie Strong knows how to get a lot out of a team and he has more talent at Texas than he ever had at Louisville. After what Teddy Bridgewater did for Strong at Louisville, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Tyrone Swoopes get an extended look at quarterback and that gives Texas an added dimension that will be hard to defend along with the power running attack.
5Dimes: 6 -155/125
CG Technologies: 7 -115/-115
Ryan Gosling’s doppelganger, Kliff Kingsbury, had people talking about Texas Tech after they came out guns blazing to a 7-0 start. The Red Raiders stepped up in class and lost a tough game in Oklahoma to ignite a five-game losing streak. Kingsbury put together a real quality offense despite very little experience at quarterback. Davis Webb is the lone returnee as Baker Mayfield and Michael Brewer both transferred out of the program. Unfortunately for Webb, 189 receptions and 2,400 receiving yards graduated and went to the NFL in Jace Amaro and Eric Ward, but the other nine starters on offense return. The defense returns just four starters, but a couple of JUCO transfers have been brought in to try and help the poor run defense.
Kingsbury’s bunch will have a crack at a SEC opponent when Arkansas comes to town on September 13. The first two non-conference games are against Central Arkansas and UTEP. A Thursday night affair under the lights at T. Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater kicks off conference play on September 25. November is a difficult month with Texas and Oklahoma at home, Iowa State on the road, and a neutral site game at Baylor.
Pick: Under 7 (-115) (CG Technologies)
The 5Dimes number would look more attractive at 6.5 and +125 on the under, but this may be a no play at the offshores. Texas Tech could improve based on a -14 turnover margin that is likely to regress, but this is still a mediocre defense and a lot of receiving yards have to be replaced in an offense where throwing equals winning. Looking at who Texas Tech beat and who they lost to in 2013 doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence.
5Dimes: 6 -160/130
Heritage: 6.5 -150/130
CG Technologies: 6.5 -140/110
The Horned Frogs posted a losing record for the first time since 2004 – the first year of the Gary Patterson era – in 2013 because of a rash of crippling injuries and fourth quarter collapses. The Horned Frogs were 4-8 and their eight losses were by 68 combined points and only one was by more than two touchdowns. The Horned Frogs were 2-7 in conference play, despite an average score of 21-26 and were only -6 yards per game on average. Texas A&M transfer Matt Joeckel could be the starter, though Trevone Boykin is also in the picture. Patterson could opt to move him back to wide receiver to help there. TCU returns 16 starters and only one loss, Jason Verrett, is substantial.
It could be a blessing or a curse, but TCU has two bye weeks in September with Samford, Minnesota, and a trip to SMU in non-conference play. October is tough with Oklahoma and Baylor in back-to-back weeks and Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home to end the month. If TCU can manage to be in the hunt, the November schedule isn’t too demanding and they end the season against Iowa State at home.
Pick: Over 6.5 (-150) (Heritage)
The Horned Frogs should stay healthier this season and Patterson should rebound nicely from a tough season. If you’re a believer in Phil Steele’s preseason predictions, TCU may the team he’s gone farthest out on a limb for, so that might mean something to you. The chalk on the over is telling as well. Quarterback play was the biggest issue for the Horned Frogs and Joeckel, assuming he wins the job, has the type of arm that will play in the Big 12.
5Dimes: 4 105/-135
Heritage: 5.5 160/-180
CG Technologies: 4.5 -105/-125
Dana Holgorsen had to replace nearly his entire offense last season and it showed as the Mountaineers went from 39.5 points per game to 26.3 and neither Clint Trickett nor Paul Millard took the quarterback job and ran with it. Top offensive player Charles Sims, a Houston transfer, is gone, but the Mountaineers should get similar production from Pitt transfer Rushel Shell. If Trickett picks up the playbook better in year two, the Mountaineers could take a step forward, but the defense still allowed 33 points per game and 38 points per game in conference.
The Mountaineers will start the season 0-1 after a neutral site game in Atlanta against Alabama. Towson and Maryland are next before conference play begins in Morgantown against the Sooners. WVU has a winnable road game at Iowa State, but three tough road tests at Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas. They get Kansas, Baylor, TCU, and Kansas State on a Thursday night at home.
Pick: Under 5.5 (-180) (Heritage)
Embrace the chalk. While the Big 12 isn’t a premier conference, the top seven teams are in much better hands at quarterback than the Mountaineers are. It wouldn’t be a major surprise to see JUCO transfer Skyler Howard or true freshman William Crest sometime during conference play. The Mountaineers may only be favored in two games, against Towson and Kansas, and this team doesn’t look capable of many upsets.
The win total analyses for the Big 12 Conference Midwest teams are posted here.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.