Big 12 Odds, Predictions, Betting Preview 2022 College Football

The Big 12 is set for a fascinating future with plenty of realignment coming the way of the Power Five conference. Oklahoma and Texas are set to leave for the SEC as soon as 2024, but a handful of teams will join the conference in Cincinnati, Houston, Central Florida, and BYU. The current teams in the conference are also undergoing significant transformations, and the championship race feels as wide open as it’s been in a while.

Big 12 Betting Preview & Odds

Oklahoma and Texas are the favorites in the conference, but Baylor and Oklahoma State shouldn’t be counted out after breakthrough 2021 campaigns. Kansas State is a significant sleeper, TCU and Texas Tech could bounce back with new head coaches, and Kansas might finally be ready to win more than a couple of games. All told, this should be a fascinating conference to watch.

This article will feature an analysis of all Big 12 teams, including over/under selections for their win totals and a discussion on the best teams to argue in the championship odds market.

Oklahoma State Cowboys Odds

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 12-2
  • Head Coach: Mike Gundy
  • Key Players: QB Spencer Sanders, OG Hunter Woodard, DE Brock Martin, DE Collin Oliver
  • Key Losses: RB Jaylen Warren, WR Tay Martin, LB Malcolm Rodriguez, OG Josh Sills
  • Key Transfer: LB Xavier Benson
  • Game to Circle: at Baylor, October 1

Oklahoma State had a season for the ages in 2021 as it rebranded itself on the back of a dominant defense. However, that shouldn’t take any credit from Spencer Sanders, who had a phenomenal season. Sanders was the First Team All-Big 12 quarterback last year, earned Fiesta Bowl MVP honors, and became one of three quarterbacks in program history with over 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. His year-over-year improvement has been impressive, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see him unlock another level this season.

Unfortunately for Sanders, the offensive skill position talent has taken a significant hit. Jaylen Warren, the team’s leading rusher, is headed to the NFL after 1,441 yards from scrimmage and 11 touchdowns. Dominic Richardson and Jaden Nixon will take over in the backfield while Sanders continues to be a significant rushing threat – he had 668 yards and six touchdowns last year.

The Cowboys return three offensive line starters and have solid depth across the board. Josh Sills, a First Team All-Big 12 selection last year, has left for the NFL. However, the transfer portal brought three experienced linemen to Oklahoma State, including former USC tackle Casey Collier. Preston Wilson, Cole Birmingham, and Hunter Woodard are the returning starters. Woodard led all Power Five guards in PFF’s pass-blocking grade in 2021.

Derek Mason replaces Jim Knowles as the defensive coordinator and keeps most things the same, including a stellar pass rush. Collin Oliver returns after leading the team with 10.5 sacks as a freshman. Tyler Lacy and Brock Martin are back after combining for 12.5 sacks, and Trace Ford returns from a knee injury that kept him out of the 2021 season. This will likely be the best pass-rush in the Big 12.

However, the linebacker position is in flux as the Cowboys lost significant talent, including six of their top eight tacklers. Most notably, linebackers Malcolm Rodriguez and Devin Harper left for the NFL after combining for 224 tackles and nine sacks. Texas Tech/JUCO transfer Xavier Benson will take one starting spot, and Mason Cobb will step into a much more significant role.

The secondary will also need to step up this season, and there are candidates for elevated play in the group, Korie Black is a promising cornerback who was a backup last season but excelled in single coverage when on the field. Jason Taylor II is coming off a breakout last year in a full-time role as a box safety in which he ranked sixth among Power Five safeties in box grade per PFF.

Much of the national media’s attention will be on Oklahoma and Texas as the big programs set to leave for the SEC. Still, Oklahoma State should not be written off as a serious contender with elite play in the trenches. While key pieces have left, Mike Gundy has players ready to take over. There’s no reason the run game and front seven shouldn’t be elite again, and Spencer Sanders is still on an upward trajectory. Nine wins should be seen as the floor for this team, and I’m happy to scoop up the juice on the over here. Give me +700 odds on the Cowboys to win the Big 12 all day.

Best Bet: over 8.5 wins, bet to win the Big 12 at +700 or better

Oklahoma Sooners

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 11-2
  • Head Coach: Brent Venables
  • Key Players: QB Dillon Gabriel, OT Anton Harrison, WR Marvin Mims, DT Jalen Redmond
  • Key Losses: QB Caleb Williams, RB Kennedy Brooks, LB Brian Asamoah II, DE Nik Bonitto
  • Key Transfer: QB Dillon Gabriel
  • Game to Circle: Texas, October 8

Transition has hit Oklahoma in a massive way this offseason as Brent Venables has a few years to get this program into fighting shape for a move to the SEC. For the time being, former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel has replaced Caleb Williams and Spencer Rattler as the starter. Gabriel threw for 8,037 yards and 70 touchdowns in two seasons at UCF and worked with new Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby in 2019. He’s a high-level talent who is a phenomenal fit for the up-tempo offense Lebby will install.

Gabriel will be joined by Marvin Mims, a lights-out wide receiver poised for a massive season after averaging 22 yards per catch last year. Former five-star recruit Theo Wease, who had 37 catches for 530 yards and four touchdowns in 2020, also returns after missing the 2021 campaign with a foot injury. The transfer departures of Jadon Hasselwood (Arkansas) and Mario Williams (USC) loom over this corps. Still, Arizona State transfer LV Bunkley Shelton will help mitigate that loss of depth, as will 2021 four-star recruit Jalil Farooq who shined in the spring.

The Sooners also lost Kennedy Brooks, their leading rusher from last season, to the NFL. Former Tennessee transfer Eric Gray will step into a more significant role, but watch out for four-star freshman Jovantae Barnes who could factor into the offense. The offensive line returns three starters, but the pass protection must improve from last year. Cal transfer McKade Mettauer helps shore up one guard spot, and Anton Harrison is an elite left tackle.

It will be fascinating to see how Venables progresses in this defense in his first year. There’s plenty of talent on the roster despite the losses of three critical front seven players – Nik Bonitto, Brian Asamoah, and Perrion Winfrey – to the NFL. Jalen Redmond also returns and is expected to be one of the team’s leading pass-rushers after he led all Power Five interior defensive linemen in pass-rush win rate last year. The trio of DaShaun White, Danny Stutsman, and Marcus Stripling make the linebacker position a strength.

Look out for transfers C.J. Coldon (Wyoming) and Trey Morrison (North Carolina) to help shore up the secondary. The safety position also returns solid talent, including Justin Broiles, the highest-graded returning slot defender in the Big 12 per PFF – he had 13 passing stops in 2021, the most in the conference. Key Lawrence is also a high-level safety capable of playing all over the field in Venables’ defense.

Throughout the Bob Stoops and Lincoln Riley eras which date back to the turn of the century, Oklahoma has gone under ten wins just four times (not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 season). However, this team is starting over in many ways, and the preseason All-Big 12 team put together by the media included no Oklahoma players on offense or defense. The Sooners are listed at +170 to win the Big 12 Championship, but the gap between them and the rest of the conference isn’t as big as it’s been in recent years. I’ll take the under on their win total and look for value plays in the Big 12 Championship market.

Best Bet: under 9.5 wins

Baylor Bears

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 12-2
  • Head Coach: Dave Aranda
  • Key Players: QB Blake Shapen, WR Gavin Holmes, DT Siaki Ika, LB Dillon Doyle
  • Key Losses: RB Abram Smith, WR Tyquan Thornton, S JT Woods, CB Jalen Pitre
  • Key Transfer: DT Jaxon Player
  • Game to Circle: at Iowa State, September 24

One of the biggest surprises of the 2021 season, Baylor will have a different look in 2022. Blake Shapen beat out Gerry Bohanon in the spring for the starting job after throwing for five touchdowns to zero interceptions in limited time last season in his redshirt freshman year. Shapen has a high ceiling, and he showed that as he won MVP honors in the Big 12 Championship last year with a 180-yard, three-touchdown performance.

However, the offense has question marks around him. The team’s top three leaders from last year are all gone after Tyquan Thornton, RJ Sneed, and Drew Estrada departed – the trio combined for 1,888 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. Tight end Ben Sims is the leading returner in receiving production from last season – he came down with 361 yards and six touchdowns. Look for super senior Gavin Holmes, the team’s third-leading receiver in 2020, to make more of an impact as he returns from a 2021 season lost to injury.

The backfield also has some question marks as Trestan Ebner and Abram Smith are off to the NFL. Ebner has been a mainstay in the Bears’ offense in recent years, and Smith had over 1,600 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns last season. Craig “Sqwirl” Williams has battled injuries for his entire career. Still, the former three-star recruit is expected to lead a committee backfield featuring Taye McWilliams, a former four-star recruit who had nine runs of 10+ yards on just 17 carries in 2021 per PFF.

Baylor’s offensive line is a significant strength as it returns several key players from a unit that ranked top-five in the Power Five in both pass- and run-blocking per PFF. Connor Galvin has been an all-star fixture at left tackle, Khalil Keith is a sixth-year senior at right tackle, and former transfers Jacob Gall and Grant Miller are former transfers who are steady presences. Galvin and Gall were nominated to the media’s preseason All-Big 12 team, and this is the best offensive line in the Big 12 by a significant margin.

On defense, the Bears should be fine despite losing several key contributors. Starting safeties Jalen Pitre and JT Woods were early draft picks in the NFL, and the secondary is in flux with only two returning starters. Terrel Bernard was also drafted after leading the team with 103 tackles and 7.5 sacks. However, the front seven should be elite. Siaki Ika is a physical freak who excels in run defense and the pass-rush. He’s joined by Jaxon Player, a Tulsa transfer who can play all over the defensive line, and the returning Dillon Doyle, who ranked second on the team with 89 tackles last year.

Baylor has relied on a steady run game and a defense that thrives on creating takeaways. Despite the significant losses on both sides, that won’t change this season. However, Dave Aranda’s squad isn’t undergoing nearly as much transition as some of the other top contenders, and the style of play they produced last season is very sustainable. Baylor will be in the Big 12 championship picture, and I’m projecting nine or more wins for the Bears this season.

Best Bet: Over 8.5 wins

Texas Longhorns

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 5-7
  • Head Coach: Steve Sarkisian
  • Key Players: RB Bijan Robinson, QB Quinn Ewers, WR Xavier Worthy, LB Demarvion Overshown
  • Key Losses: QB Casey Thompson, WR Joshua Moore, S Brenden Schooler, CB Josh Thompson
  • Key Transfer: QB Quinn Ewers
  • Game to Circle: Oklahoma, October 8

Texas is back! Right guys? Right? It felt that way for a minute last season as Steve Sarkisian’s first year yielded a 4-1 start that quickly fell apart in a 5-7 finish that included a loss to two-win Kansas and the program’s longest losing streak (six games) since 1956. Yikes. However, a top-five recruiting class, a high-upside quarterback transfer in Quinn Ewers, and an overwhelming amount of offensive talent have this team’s hype train leaving the station once more.

Quinn Ewers transfers from Ohio State as the top overall recruit in the 2021 class. It’s not an overstatement to say that he has the highest ceiling of any quarterback in the country outside of Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud, but he hasn’t started a football game since the tail end of the 2019-20 high school season. We don’t have much film on Ewers – he played two snaps at OSU – but he showed in the spring game that he can throw it all over the field.

The receiving corps is loaded. Xavier Worthy caught a Texas freshman record 12 touchdowns last season and is a top-five receiver in college football. Jordan Whittington is coming off a season-ending injury, but he also has enormous upside. Isaiah Neyor averaged 22 yards per catch over the last two seasons at Wyoming and had 12 touchdowns of his own in 2021. Alabama senior transfer Jahleel Billingsley brings experience to a tight end room that features 2021 five-star recruit, Ja’Tavon Sanders.

The offensive line has to be a lot better this season, but three returning starters should help provide decent stability. Ewers and the passing game will be assisted by the presence of Bijan Robinson, the best running back in college football who has game-breaking elusiveness and physicality that show up reliably. Robinson is also an elite receiver with true route-running prowess. He’ll be at the top of the Doak Walker watch list and is a potential first-round pick in an NFL shying away from spending that type of capital on the running back position.

While all of that offensive excitement is great in theory, it won’t matter if the defense is as bad as it was last year – they allowed 31 points per game and ranked 103rd in run defense by EPA. DeMarvion Overshown led the team with 74 tackles and had 15 pressures, but he was woefully inconsistent overall. Cornerback Ryan Watts is a breakout candidate who flashed in the spring after transferring from Ohio State and joining solid veteran D’Shawn Jamison. Still, the defense is unlikely to be close to a strength for the Longhorns.

I have no idea how you can look at this team and bet on anything other than the under. Ewers possesses undeniable upside, but the lack of experience is problematic, especially behind a mediocre offensive line. The skill position talent is immense, but the defense won’t suddenly be above-average after an atrocious 2021.

The schedule features losable conference road games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State, and the second game of the season is a likely loss against Alabama. Home games against Oklahoma and Baylor also represent potential losses. If you can find a 9-win total in the market, jump all over it while it’s still available, and look for value plays in the Big 12 championship market.

Best Bet: Under 9 wins

Kansas State Wildcats

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 8-5
  • Head Coach: Chris Klieman
  • Key Players: RB Deuce Vaughn, OT Cooper Beebe, DE Felix Anduike-Uzomah, DT Eli Huggins
  • Key Losses: QB Skylar Thompson, S Russ Yeast, OG Josh Rivas
  • Key Transfer: QB Adrian Martinez

Welcome to the Deuce Vaughn show. Everything the Wildcats do this season will revolve around their superstar running back, and it should be another exciting season for the 5’6” explosive runner. Vaughn had 1,872 from scrimmage and 22 total touchdowns last year, and he can lead this team in rushing or receiving on any given Saturday.

However, Vaughn won’t be alone in producing in the backfield for K-State. Enter Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez who, while often frustrating in the turnover department, brings undeniable rushing upside with four seasons of 500+ yards and 7+ touchdowns under his belt. If Collin Klein, the new/returning offensive coordinator, can help keep Martinez’s turnovers in check, the offense has fascinating upside.

The offensive line will be crucial for K-State’s rushing offense after losing three starting interior players. However, the return of future NFL starter and First Team All-Big 12 lineman Cooper Beebe is massive for the unit’s strength. The Wildcats also have enticing receiving talent – Philip Brooks and Malik Knowles combined for just under 1,000 yards and six touchdowns last season.

Kansas State’s defense was excellent last season, ranking 23rd in the country in points allowed. Felix Anduike-Uzomah had 11 sacks last year, more than any returning Power Five player not named Will Anderson, in his first year as a starter. The unheralded former three-star recruit exploded onto the national stage and is now regarded as a top draft prospect. Veteran Nate Matlack is a reliable running mate on the edge.

The Wildcats also return leading tackler Daniel Green (89 tackles, 16 for a loss) and Eli Huggins, a stout presence in the middle of the defensive line who made the switch to a true head-up nose tackle look easy in 2021. Khalid Duke returns from injury to round out a quietly excellent front seven that also features potential breakout linebacker Will Honas, a transfer from Nebraska.

The secondary talent is less apparent, with a handful of starters leaving, including Russ Yeast, who led the team with four interceptions and ten pass breakups. Still, Julius Brents and Ekow Boye-Doe are returning as starting corners, and JUCO transfer Kobe Savage has a high upside at safety. Former quarterback and Missouri transfer Shawn Robinson is also a fascinating story. Julius Brents was named a First Team All-Big 12 defensive back in the media’s preseason list.

The Kansas State rushing offense was great last year, but it’s ready to go up a notch with Adrian Martinez and Deuce Vaughn providing a dominant one-two punch. The Wildcats have tons of returning talent on both sides of the ball from a team that won eight games last year, and I’m incredibly bullish on their odds to win the Big 12 at +1500 – they shouldn’t be that far down the list. I’m also taking the over on 6.5 wins without hesitation. Road games against Baylor and Oklahoma present problems, but this team can compete with anyone in the Big 12 this season.

Best Bet: over 6.5 wins, sprinkle to win the Big 12 at +1500 or better

TCU Horned Frogs

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 5-7
  • Head Coach: Sonny Dykes
  • Key Players: RB Kendre Miller, WR Quentin Johnston, CB Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, DT Soni Misi
  • Key Losses: RB Zach Evans, OT Obinna Eze, S La’Kendrick Van Zandt, CB T.J. Carter
  • Key Transfer: S Mark Perry
  • Game to Circle: at SMU, September 24

The Gary Patterson era got stale in Fort Worth, and Sonny Dykes hopes to help this proud program rebound after a 16-20 record over the last three years. The last time they had back-to-back losing seasons was in 1996-97, and Dykes will need to lead an offensive rejuvenation to avoid that happening this year. Max Duggan’s broken foot hampered his season, but he has a high ceiling as a runner and should be the leader in the clubhouse to win the starting role over former Oklahoma backup Chandler Morris.

Following the departure of Zach Evans, Kendre Miller is in line to be the lead back for TCU, with Emari Demarcado rounding out the backfield. Miller has a career of 7.4 yards per carry average, and he and Demarcado combined for over 1,000 yards in 2021. The offensive line should be solid in front of them, especially with First-Team All-Big 12 selection Steve Avila returning at the center. Alan Ali also transfers from SMU to help shore up the interior.

At the receiver, the Horned Frogs have plenty of talent. Quentin Johnson is an elite talent who has averaged 20.4 yards per reception over the last two years and came up huge with seven catches, 185 yards, and three touchdowns against Oklahoma. As the season goes on, he’ll be on every NFL fan’s draft wish list. Derius Davis and Taye Barber have a combined 192 career receptions and tight end Jared Wiley (Texas) transfers to fill out the pass-catching group.

The system changes with new defensive coordinator Joseph Gillespie on defense, and the pieces are in place for a significant turnaround. Cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is coming off a First-Team All-Big 12 campaign in which he allowed separation on just 21.3% of his targets, the best rate among Big 12 corners per PFF. He’s joined by breakout candidate Noah Daniels who has elite athletic tools and just needs to stay healthy.

Dee Winters returns at linebacker after leading the team with 74 tackles in 2021. TCU added linebacker Johnny Hodges (Navy), cornerback Josh Newton (ULM), and safety Mark Perry (Colorado) to the mix through the transfer portal, and Nook Bradford returns after making 42 tackles from one safety spot. The transfer additions come in alongside plenty of returning players with experience whose production Gillespie will help increase.

Some of the tougher matchups on the schedule are at home for TCU, including games against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, and Iowa State. Late-season matchups against Texas and Baylor will give this program plenty of time to gel with its new players and coaches before pushing for an upset bid against those big-time programs.

TCU needed to make a switch at head coach, and Sonny Dykes injects new life into this program. After a horrendous defensive season in 2021, Joseph Gillespie will implement his 3-3-5 defense to much more success. We’re looking at a rejuvenation of the Horned Frogs in 2021, and I’m following the sharp money on the over – this team will make some noise this season.

Best Bet: over 6.5 wins, sprinkle on Big 12 championship futures at +1600 or better

Iowa State Cyclones

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 7-6
  • Head Coach: Matt Campbell
  • Key Players: QB Hunter Dekkers, OG Trevor Downing, WR Xavier Hutchinson, DE Will McDonald
  • Key Losses: RB Breece Hall, QB Brock Purdy, TE Charlie Kolar, LB Mike Rose
  • Key Transfer: LB Colby Reeder
  • Game to Circle: at Iowa, September 10

After a 9-3 campaign in 2020, Iowa State fell back to 7-6 last year, but there are reasons for optimism this season. Rather than look to the transfer portal to replace four-year starting quarterback Brock Purdy, the Cyclones have handed the keys to former four-star recruit Hunter Dekkers. After limited playing time through two seasons, Dekkers is ready to take off. He provides more upside with a stronger arm and more rushing capability.

The more significant loss for Iowa State is Breece Hall, the running back with over 4,600 yards from scrimmage and 56 total touchdowns through three seasons. Junior Jirehl Brock ran for 174 yards last year in limited playing time, but he came from the same recruiting class as Hall. He has big shoes to fill in the offense that was heavily reliant on Hall last year.

Brock’s ability to replace Hall would be helped by offensive line improvement for the Cyclones after a disappointing season in which they allowed the most tackles for loss in the Big 12. First Team All-Big 12 guard Trevor Downing returns after allowing just eight pressures in eight games last year per PFF. Right tackle Jake Remsburg is also back after missing all of 2021 with an upper-body injury.

The receiving corps also brings back First Team All-Big 12 wideout Xavier Hutchinson who had 83 catches for 987 yards and five touchdowns last year. Hutchinson is a highlight reel waiting to happen with acrobatic catches on the regular. However, the dynamic tight end duo of Charlie Kolar (62-756-6) and Chase Allen (26-284-2) is gone. Sophomore Jaylin Noel will need to step into a more prominent role this season after 38 catches last year.

On defense, Will McDonald returns as one of the best pass-rushers in the country – his 22 sacks are the second-most in the country since 2020. PFF tallied him with multiple pressures in every game he played in 2021. The linebacker corps loses its two leading tacklers, Mike Rose and Jake Hummel. However, Colby Reeder transfers from FCS-level Delaware as a highly productive off-ball linebacker.

On the back end, a few pieces have transferred away, and Anthony Johnson moves to safety after four years of steady production at cornerback. With safety such a crucial position in the Cyclone defense, there will also be pressure on Beau Fyler to step up after flashing high-level play in limited time last year despite being a three-star freshman.

The Cyclones finished just 2-5 in their one-score games last season, and while last season could have finished quite differently with a few bounces in their direction, they might not be in as many close battles this year. With the fewest returning starters in the Big 12, Matt Campbell has a lot of work to do to push Iowa State back to title competition. I like the Cyclones to reach bowl eligibility for the sixth-straight season, the longest stretch in program history, but I lean slightly towards the under for this team in transition.

Best Bet: under 6.5 wins

West Virginia Mountaineers

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 6-7
  • Head Coach: Neal Brown
  • Key Players: QB JT Daniels, WR Bryce Ford-Wheaton, CB Charles Woods, DE Dante Stills
  • Key Losses: QB Jarret Doege, RB Leddie Brown, LB Josh Chandler, S Sean Mahoe
  • Key Transfer: LB Jasir Cox
  • Game to Circle: at Pittsburgh, September 1

Pressure is starting to mount for Neal Brown as he enters his fourth season at the helm with a 17-18 record over the past three seasons. Brown hired new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell to help kickstart an underwhelming offense, and Harrell brings with him JT Daniels, now on his third collegiate campus. Daniels never lived up to the hype, but with improved timing and pocket presence, he should win the starting job and showcase his solid arm talent.

Aiding Daniels will be an offensive line that returns all five starters from last season’s group that was one of the best in the conference. Doug Nester and Zach Frazier had tremendous seasons, especially down the stretch. Nester was PFF’s highest-graded guard in the Big 12 from Week 8 on, and Frazier was the ninth-highest-graded center in the Big 12 from Week 4 on. Wyatt Milum anchors the unit as he transitions to left tackle following an impressive freshman season that earned high praise.

The line will be opening space for a running back room that lacks a clear replacement for Leddie Brown’s 1,282 yards from scrimmage. West Virginia also lost leading receiver Winston Wright, but Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Sam James return after combining for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in 2021. The receiving corps may not feature any household names, but it’s about to benefit greatly from the new-look offense.

The defense also returns plenty of production, including a stout defensive line featuring Dante Stills, Taijh Alston, and Akheem Mesidor, who combined for 16.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. Stills led the team in both categories and made the First Team All-Big 12. The defensive line will buoy a defense undergoing significant transition across the board and bringing back just 39% of its snaps.

The linebacker corps is transitioning, but last year’s transfer from Penn State, Lance Dixon, should pick up where he left off after a solid close to the season. He’s joined by transfers Lee Kpogba (Syracuse) and Jasir Cox (North Dakota State). The secondary will also have some new faces, but Charles Woods returns after a dominant finish to 2021 in which he was PFF’s top-graded cornerback in the Power Five from Week 8 on.

As I researched this Mountaineers squad, I wanted to pick the over, but my goodness, this schedule is brutal. The opening non-conference slate includes road games against Pittsburgh and Virginia Tech before the team travels to Austin to face the revamped Longhorns. Would it shock anyone if Neal Brown gets canned during the team’s Week 6 bye if his squad has a losing record following that brutal stretch? I might be tempted to bet the over on five wins if it gets there, given the offensive upside with Daniels and Harrell, along with an elite offensive line. However, the under is the right bet given the defensive transition, middling skill position talent, and brutal schedule.

Best Bet: under 5.5 wins

Texas Tech Red Raiders

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 7-6
  • Head Coach: Joey McGuire
  • Key Players: RB SaRodorick Thompson, RB Tahj Brooks, DE Tyree Wilson, S Dadrion Taylor-Demerson
  • Key Losses: WR Erik Ezukanma, C Dawson Deaton, LB Colin Schooler, CB Damarcus Fields
  • Key Transfer: OG Cole Spencer
  • Game to Circle: Texas, September 24

Texas Tech is coming off its first bowl win since 2013, but it still parted ways with head coach Matt Wells amid a 5-3 start. Joey McGuire gets his first college head coaching job after a very successful 13-year span as the Cedar Hill HS head coach. He brings Zach Kittley as offensive coordinator, one of the best young offensive minds in the game, who will be tasked with turning around the Red Raiders offense after he coached WKU to a prolific, record-breaking season.

The quarterback position lacks an established starter, although former Oregon starter Tyler Shough has the edge to start Week 1. Shough was benched after four starts last year following a pick-six against Texas, and he’s struggled to get out of his way as poor decision-making and accuracy have kept him from maximizing his arm talent. Donovan Smith and Behren Morton will compete for the starting spot.

The offensive line returns just two starters from last year, but Cole Spencer transfers from Kittley’s WKU team as a tremendous pass-blocker – he has ranked third in the FBS in PFF’s pass-blocking grade since 2019. Cade Briggs, Ty Buchanan, and Monroe Mills are joining him as transfers. Wideout Erik Ezukanma is gone after leading the team with 705 yards last year, but Myles Price is a versatile playmaker, and J.J. Sparkman is a potential breakout candidate. The backfield will once again feature a rotation of SaRodorick Thompson, Tahj Brooks, and Cam’Ron Valdez after that trio combined for nearly 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2021.

Tim DeRuyter enters as a storied defensive coordinator with plenty of work to do after this team ranked 95th in the country with 30.2 points per game allowed and ranked 116th in EPA per pass. Still, the return of Dadrion Taylor-Demerson is notable after he played the best stretch of football of his collegiate career late in 2021. From Week 7 on, he was the sixth-highest graded safety in the Power Five per PFF.

Joining Taylor-Demerson at safety is Marquis Waters, a former Duke player who missed almost all of his first season with Texas Tech in 2021. Waters’ health will be necessary with Eric Monroe and DaMarcus Fields out the door from the secondary. So too will be an improved pass-rush, spearheaded by Tyree Wilson, who is coming off a breakout season. Wilson led the team with seven sacks last year. The loss of Colin Schooler, who led the team with 106 tackles last year, will be notable for the middle of the defense.

Regardless of who is under center for the Red Raiders, it’s likely a safe bet that this offense will put up points in bunches and be a lot of fun to watch. However, the lack of certainty at quarterback makes it difficult to bet the over for a team that will possibly have the worst defense in the Big 12. Non-conference games against Houston and NC State will likely have them as underdogs, and more than a few wins in conference seems unlikely. This team will likely have a poor overall season with plenty of exciting offensive output and perhaps an upset or two along the way.

Best Bet: under 5.5 wins

Kansas Jayhawks

Odds to Win National Championship:
Odds to Win Big 12:
Regular Season Win Total:

What to Know:

  • 2021 Record: 2-10
  • Head Coach: Lance Leipold
  • Key Players: QB Jalon Daniels, RB Devin Neal, S Kenny Logan Jr., DE Lonnie Phelps
  • Key Losses: WR Kwamie Lassiter, DE Kyron Johnson
  • Key Transfer: DE Lonnie Phelps
  • Game to Circle: Duke, September 24

It’s been a while since Kansas has fielded a competitive football team – their last winning season was in 2008 – but Lance Leipold could have this team ready to make a leap in his second season as head coach. Jalon Daniels will be the full-time starter this year after flashing impressive upside in his final four starts. Daniels stood out last year for sharp decision-making and consistent accuracy despite his lack of experience. He threw for seven touchdowns and three picks, added three rushing scores, and led Kansas to its upset win over Texas.

Joining Daniels in the offense will be a deep running back group that features Devin Neal, who had over 700 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. Kansas also added Ky Thomas (Minnesota) and Sevion Morisson (Nebraska) via the transfer portal. The offensive line remains intact, with anchors Earl Bostick Jr. (left tackle) and Mike Novitsky (center) among the four returning starters up front. Bostick Jr. is a former tight end who struggled in his first year at left tackle, but he has undeniable upside.

Kansas loses leading receiver Kwami Lassiter II (59-653-3), but improvements are expected from Luke Grimm, Trevor Wilson, and Lawrence Arnold, who all had 300+ receiving yards last season. The tight end position is also deep, with Mason Fairchild, Trevor Kardell, and Jared Casey – who had the game-winning two-point conversion catch against Texas – all representing solid pass-catching options. What the receiving corps lacks in star talent, it makes up for in depth.

The Kansas defense ranked 129th out of 130 FBS schools as opponents scored 42.2 points per game. The defensive product the Jayhawks put together last year belonged in the FCS. However, seven starters return, and the transfer portal brings in significant talent. The linebacker corps looks quite good as Rich Miller and Gavin Potter return after finishing second and third in tackles last year. Craig Young also represents a high-upside athlete at the position who transferred over from Ohio State.

The pass defense should also be much improved. Miami University’s Lonnie Phelps enters as the team’s top pass-rusher after registering 8.5 sacks last year. Phelps’s 30.5% pass-rush win rate was almost 3% higher than any other FBS edge defender last season. Kenny Logan also returns at safety after a standout season with a team-leading 110 tackles and six pass breakups. Logan was named to the preseason media All-Big 12 team and was PFF’s fifth-ranked safety in the conference last year.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the over on the win total for Kansas might be my favorite bet in this conference. There’s legitimate hope brewing in Lawrence, and while I’m certainly not calling for bowl eligibility this year, Jalon Daniels should lead this group to three or more wins. Home games against Tennessee Tech and Duke should represent wins, while this team is very capable of playing spoiler to most teams in the Big 12. Kansas isn’t coming close to bowl contention, but this team should be much better, and I have faith in Leipold.

Best Bet: Over 2.5 wins

Big 12 Predictions 2022

The Big 12 will likely be my favorite conference to bet on this season. The Oklahoma and Texas odds are wildly overinflated, possibly in the wake of them announcing their moves to the SEC, and the market is ripe for underdogs and upsets. Oklahoma State and Baylor may have lost some pieces, but they should be right back in the championship race. That’s especially true for the Cowboys, who return Spencer Sanders and one of the best pass-rush units in college football.

This conference has two of my favorite sleeper teams in all of college football in Kansas State and TCU. The Wildcats will ride one of the best rushing offenses in the country, featuring Deuce Vaughn and Adrian Martinez, along with an underrated defense. The Horned Frogs will benefit from an injection of life brought by Sonny Dykes and Joseph Gillespie and tons of new talent from the transfer portal to blend with its returning players.

After losing critical parts on offense and defense, I’m fading Iowa State the most, but I am also on the under for Texas Tech, who underwent massive changes. Kansas, meanwhile, is finally ready to push the three-win mark with a breakout season from Jalon Daniels on the way. This conference is full of dark horse contenders, rising star talents, new head coaches, and bad blood rivalries, and it’s going to be a ton of fun to watch.

Championship Prediction: Oklahoma State over Oklahoma

Favorite Over: TCU over 6.5 wins

Favorite Under: Iowa State under 6.5 wins

Biggest Sleeper Team: Kansas State Wildcats

Due for Regression: Iowa State Cyclones

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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