Ah yes, it’s here. It is game week across the college football landscape. Most teams and fan bases are still highly optimistic, thinking they have a chance to reach whatever lofty goals they’ve set for their respective programs. Some will get there. Some won’t come close. As we get ready to kick the season off this weekend, here are my picks for the 2017 season win totals across Big 12 football.
Baylor Bears, 7.5 wins: UNDER
It’s going to be close, but I think Matt Rhule is going to be looking at a 6-6, or 7-5, season in his first run in Waco. That’s more than respectable given what he’s starting with. There is talent on this team, but there are still some holes, notably along the offensive line and parts of the defense. Four-straight conference games against Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia can deplete any team’s spirits.
Iowa State Cyclones, 5.5 wins: UNDER
I find four wins I would feel good about for the Cyclones: Northern Iowa, Akron, Kansas and Texas Tech. But even the Texas Tech game isn’t a layup, since it’s being played in Lubbock, and we know how powerful that offense can be (I just don’t think it can be good enough to make up for a brutal defense, but that’s another point). That would mean, even if the Cyclones guarantee those four wins, they need to find two more on the schedule. Is it Iowa or Texas at home? Baylor on the road? An upset of one of the top dogs? It’s possible, but since I have to go with which side I feel better about, I’ll roll with the under.
Kansas Jayhawks, 3 wins: PUSH
I can’t go with the over. I just can’t. One conference win in the past two years and now I’m supposed to make the jump to four wins overall? No. Not until I see it. Their non-conference doesn’t have a Power 5 team on it, but Ohio is picked to win the MAC East Division. Those are the kind of non-conference games KU has lost in recent seasons. If they lose a non-conference game to the Bobcats or Central Michigan, then you’re looking at having to get two wins in Big 12 play to get the over. I can’t do that just yet. A push feels safe.
Kansas State Wildcats, 8 wins: OVER
Bill Snyder with a veteran quarterback, an experienced running game and a solid defense? Yes, please. The Wildcats will be 3-0 heading into Big 12 play, meaning 6-3 gets them the over. Even if they lose to both Oklahoma schools and let’s say, at Texas, or to TCU or West Virginia, they still hit the over. That being said, this Wildcats team could easily split the Oklahoma games and then they find themselves in the driver’s seat heading for double-digit wins this season.
Oklahoma Sooners, 9.5 wins: OVER
The Sooners can slip up in Columbus and in Stillwater and still hit the over on this number. That’s why I feel pretty good about it. Of course, they have owned Oklahoma State in recent years, although that was under Bob Stoops, so it’s more than plausible to see how they could beat the Pokes again. But when I look at season win totals and feel like a team can reach the over by losing their toughest two games on the schedule, and will be favored in the rest, I feel like it’s the right call. Yes, a road game against Kansas State is very tough and the Red River Rivalry is going to be a blast, but this team is 17-1 over the past 18 Big 12 games, they deserve the benefit of the doubt, until proven otherwise.
Oklahoma State Cowboys, 9 wins: OVER
The Pokes should be 3-0 by the time we get to Big 12 conference play. That means if you bet the over, you’re thinking, at worst, 7-2 in the Big 12. Heck, 6-3 gets you your money back. This team is my pick to win the Big 12 conference, and I think they do it with one or two losses, so the call here for me is an easy one.
TCU Horned Frogs, 7.5 wins: OVER
It feels like a bounce back year for Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs. I’ll never trust Kenny Hill in the big game, until he proves he can win it, but that can still get this team to eight wins and hitting the over. Let’s say they lose to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and (fill in the blank), they still are good for the over. But I’ll take the best running game in the Big 12 behind a very quality offensive line and a Gary Patterson-led defense and feel good about the over here.
Texas Longhorns, 7.5 wins: UNDER
Unlike Chippy Brown, you won’t find any UT 12-1 predictions here. The Longhorns have a brutal non-conference game on the road against USC, then they would have to go 6-3 in Big 12 play to hit the over. 5-4 or 4-5 feels like a better bet in a competitive and deep Big 12 in Tom Herman’s Year 1 transition season. Plus, their games against Baylor, TCU and Texas Tech will be like those teams’ respective Super Bowls, especially if they are each having mediocre seasons as well. All those programs thrive on beating the “flagship” team in the state.
Texas Tech Red Raiders, 5.5 wins: UNDER
The non-conference is tricky, taking on Arizona State, who the Red Raiders lost to last year, along with going on the road against Houston. Sure, they lost Tom Herman, but the Cougars are still going to be a quality team. Neither Arizona State or Houston are anywhere close to guaranteed wins. Even if they go a perfect 3-0 in non-conference play, the Red Raiders would then have to find three Big 12 wins elsewhere on the schedule to reach the six win “over” mark. I can’t find those.
West Virginia Mountaineers, 7 wins: OVER
I absolutely love the over here. No team is getting more disrespect in the over/under department than the Mountaineers. Even with a loss to Virginia Tech, West Virginia will be 2-1 after non-conference play, and then would have to go 6-3 in Big 12 play to hit. Heck, 5-4 gets you a push. Will Grier is going to elevate this team and offense to a place it hasn’t been since the Geno Smith days. They just need Tony Gibson to keep working his magic on defense and the over is a lock.
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