2023 Big 12 College Football Betting Preview: Futures Odds, Win Totals
The Big 12 is in a period of transition. In come four new members – BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF – bringing the conference membership to 14 for the 2023 football season. This is also the last season for Texas and Oklahoma in the league. The two football giants are bound for the SEC, the first major shakeup that kicked off the largest conference realignment since 2012. The new-look conference also changes up Big 12 odds for the coming season.
With so much movement across the nation, college football betting is going to look very different this season and beyond. This article will dive deep into the Big 12 conference for this coming season. You’ll find projected wins, power ratings, longshot and fade candidates, and a preview of each team.
Big 12 Odds: To Win The Conference
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Two familiar faces headline Big 12 football odds for the coming season: Texas () and Oklahoma (). Since 2017, when the Big 12 re-introduced its conference championship game, Oklahoma has four conference championship berths while Texas only has one; the Sooners are 4-0 in those games. However, neither team made it to Arlington in either of the last two seasons.
The team that may jump off the page immediately is Texas Tech (). The Red Raiders have shorter odds than Baylor and TCU. The defending Big 12 Champions, Kansas State, have the third-shortest odds () and national runner-up TCU sits longer at .
Big 12 Odds: Projected Wins, Win Totals
Projected wins below are derived from aggregate power ratings, including SP+, FPI, and more. Win totals are pulled from FanDuel Sportsbook as of June 15. Click on the odds to bet now.
|Team||Proj. Wins||Win Total||Price|
|Oklahoma State Cowboys||8.5||6.5||+116/-142|
|TCU Horned Frogs||8.3||7.5||-144/+118|
|Kansas State Wildcats||7.5||7.5||-188/+152|
|Texas Tech Red Raiders||7.3||7.5||+118/-144|
|Iowa State Cyclones||5.7||5.5||-144/+118|
|West Virginia Mountaineers||4.1||5.5||+142/-176|
Big 12 Power Ratings
Table Key (all ranks except power rankings are national):
– Rank (Power ranking, national)
– Proj. Wins (Projected total wins)
– Return (Returning production, total)
– Return O (returning offensive production)
– Return D (returning defensive production)
– PPD (Points per drive scored)
– PPDA (Points per drive allowed)
– L5 (Last five years recruiting average, national)
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Big 12 KFord Ratings
Big 12 Odds: The Favorites
Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Texas looks really good on paper. Thus, their position in Big 12 odds. The Longhorns roster among the best receiving corps in the country headlined by Xavier Worthy and Georgia transfer AD Mitchell. Their offensive success falls squarely on the shoulders of Quinn Ewers, who looked like a star against Alabama last year, but tapered off to 53.6% completion and a 5-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio from Week 8 on. Part of the fall-off was attributed to injury, but Ewers’ decision making also took a big hit.
All five starters along the offensive line also return, a unit ranked best in the Big 12 and fourth nationally by Phil Steele. The Longhorns finished 22nd in points per drive last season and should at the very least maintain that in 2023. Replacing a generational talent like Bijan Robinson (and capable backup Rocshon Johnson) isn’t an easy task, but Jonathan Brooks, Jaydon Blue, and freshman CJ Baxter make up a very good group.
Texas’ defense last year was very good, with some exceptions (vs. Texas Tech, Oklahoma State), finishing 20th in points per drive allowed. 62% of its production returns, including All Conference linebacker Jaylan Ford, and three of five starters in the secondary. Texas added Wake Forest corner Gavin Holmes, 247Sports’ 12th-best corner transfer.
Texas is the ultimate “off the bus” team. They look imposing on a roster and walking off the bus, but Steve Sarkisian is just 13-12 in his first two years in Austin. They enter the season with more expectations than usual, perhaps their lone reason for underperforming. The ‘Horns play the top five teams behind them in Big 12 odds plus at Alabama out of league play. It’s a schedule sure to test them, which is why we project them for 9.8 wins.
No team disappointed more on the field and in Big 12 odds last season than Oklahoma. High turnover in the wake of Lincoln Riley’s departure caused Brent Venables’ Sooners to finish a paltry 6-7 – their worst record since 1998. Despite a player-friendly system that has a long track record of success under Venables, Oklahoma’s defense finished 74th in points per drive.
The issue wasn’t the system, it was a lack of talent. They return 59% of production from a season ago, but just three starters in the front seven. Indiana transfer Dasan McCullough should bolster a unit that finished 91st in EPA per rush allowed. However, the unit overall is still light on depth and may be in for another season of struggles.
Offensively, Oklahoma didn’t get the job done, either. Transfer Dillon Gabriel finished with over 3,000 passing yards, but the offensive line failed to protect him, resulting in a 7.1% sack rate (76th). Just two starters from that line return and stud tackle Anton Harrison departed for the NFL. Venables addressed the unit via the transfer portal and the line should improve. They rank seventh nationally in Phil Steele’s unit rankings.
The biggest void in the offense is back Eric Gray. From Week 7 on, Gray eclipsed 100 yards in every game, save one (where he hit 90 yards). Sophomore Javontae Barnes and freshman Gavin Sawchuk will attempt to fill in. With an uninspiring receiving corps returning this year, those two backs may have to shoulder the load offensively.
At Oklahoma, there’s not many places to go but up from 2022. Thanks to the 52nd-ranked strength of schedule, our numbers project the Sooners to return to 10 wins this season (10.6).
Big 12 Odds: The Contenders
Kansas State Wildcats
The defending Big 12 Champions have some big shoes to fill. Gone are Deuce Vaughn, Julius Brents, and Felix Anudike-Uzomah and just 49% of production from a defense that ranked 44th in points per drive return. QB Will Howard looks to continue his success from last year after taking over for Adrian Martinez. He plays behind an offensive line returning all five starters and should be one of the league’s best. Cooper Beebe and Christian Duffie headline a group that should have at least three players drafted into the NFL next offseason.
K-State avoids Oklahoma in conference play (perhaps a detriment since the Wildcats upended the Sooners in three of the last four years). However, they draw another tough Group of Five opponent in Troy, a losable game in the wake of losing to Tulane a year ago. The Wildcats have the third-toughest schedule in the conference (14th nationally), per preseason projections.
An opposing Big 12 coach’s assessment of the team in Athlon Sports‘ preseason magazine hits the nail on the head: “They won’t be as good without [Deuce] Vaughn… They’re still very good defensively and their offensive line is really good.”
K-State may be worth a look for unders early in the season. However, they’ll be in the mix for the Big 12 again for at least another season.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
At one point, I considered Texas Tech to be the longshot pick of the Big 12 for this season. I guess the cat’s out of the bag, and the Red Raiders don’t really qualify as a “longshot” with 10-1 or shorter odds. Aggregate power ratings rank Tech 24th nationally, ahead of teams like North Carolina, Iowa, and Arkansas. They return 80% of their offensive production, including starting QB Tyler Shough, and at least four offensive linemen that saw significant time last season. Rusty Staats comes to Lubbock in the portal and should boost the OL.
Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley continued to work his magic. Tech ran the most plays per game of any team in the nation last year (89.2). That’s large in part to an extremely fast-paced offense, but also thanks to a serious improvement on the defensive side of the ball. The Red Raider defense finished inside the top 40 in takeaways. Though a lot of that production exits with Tyree Wilson, six starters return and 10 defenders in the two-deep are seniors.
Joey McGuire gave Tech a major boost last season, finishing 4-1 in one-score games – including 3-0 in overtime contests – which could be cause for regression in 2023.
Tech handles Kansas State, TCU, and UCF at home, with the TCU game coming on a Thursday night. Lubbock is a difficult place to play that Big 12 coaches lament traveling to. Early-season games at Wyoming (not to be overlooked) and against Oregon set the stage for a difficult schedule that ranks 17th nationally.
TCU Horned Frogs
After defying 2022 Big 12 odds, there’s almost nowhere to go but down. The fact of the matter is, TCU is going to regress in 2023, perhaps by a lot. Just 41% of offensive production returns, although rising starter Chandler Morris has a handful of starts under his belt. The roster is bolstered by a transfer class that ranks second-best in the Big 12. Alabama running back Trey Sanders and receiver JoJo Earle are expected to make Day 1 impacts.
The offense will be completely rebuilt from the studs. Two starting offensive linemen return and just two players with 10 or more targets return from last year’s roster. Of course, the biggest loss is Heisman finalist Max Duggan. Morris possesses enough talent to be a quality starter, but does he have the same rare combination of athleticism and willpower to carry the TCU offense? That remains to be seen.
Defensively, TCU rises Josh Newton – the Big 12’s top-rated corner, per PFF, who picked off three passes and defended seven more with just one penalty thrown on him all year. Defensive leader Johnny Hodges also returns at linebacker.
Preseason win projections pin TCU for 8.3 wins. That’s a fine season in Fort Worth and a terrific start for coach Sonny Dykes, but another playoff run is about as unlikely as last season’s.
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A Big 12 Longshot To Consider: UCF Knights
Of the four inbound Big 12 teams, UCF brings the most consistent success over the past six seasons. Last year, the Knights were two dumb losses away from finishing the regular season 11-1. In Week 2 vs. Louisville, we saw UCF with an 85% win expectancy and in Week 12 vs. Navy, a 75% win expectancy in the second half, per College Football Data, and both resulted in losses. (Note: QB John Rhys Plumlee was injured in the first half of the Navy game.) Of course, that was with an American Athletic Conference schedule.
In 2023, UCF avoids Texas and TCU and the Knights project to be underdogs in just three games. Of those games, all three come on the road and just one (Oklahoma) projects to be by more than a score. Just two home contests project to be a one-score spread (Oklahoma State, Baylor).
Plumlee headlines returning offensive players and the defense brings back 75% of its production, 19th-most nationally. New offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw is a veteran play caller and defensive coordinator Addison Williams was an internal hire. With Gus Malzahn heavily influencing the offense, that side of the ball likely changes very little even with a new coordinator.
Preseason aggregate power ratings project UCF for 7.8 wins on average, the fourth-most of any team in the Big 12. Their Big 12 odds don’t correlate with that number, with Caesars Sportsbook opening them at +5000, in line with Iowa State and behind Kansas. This looks like a great buy-low opportunity for UCF in their first year with the new league.
A Big 12 Team To Fade: Kansas Jayhawks
Their season finale loss to Arkansas in the Liberty Bowl perfectly summarized Kansas’ 2022 season. They scored 53 points, QB Jalon Daniels threw for almost 550 yards, and they rallied with 18 fourth-quarter points. The biggest issue for the Jayhawks in that game: they also allowed 55 points and lost.
For the second consecutive season, Kansas returns among the most production in the nation (91% offensively!). Lance Leipold proves to be a great head coach who really squeezes all the juice he can from the Jayhawks. Last year was an exciting roller coaster that saw Kansas finish 17th in points per drive, but also give up the sixth-most. After starting 5-0, Kansas tumbled to a 1-7 finish, including that Liberty Bowl game.
Almost immediately after opening Kansas with 6.5 wins, sportsbooks dropped their total to 5.5. They play a more difficult schedule in 2023, one that ranks 27th-most difficult nationally and sees a bizarre stretch against Illinois on a Friday and then at Nevada. The issue for Kansas is that, if the offense doesn’t score 30 points every game, they likely finish 4-8.
The Jayhawks project to be an underdog in all but three games this year and our preseason win projection pins them for 4.8 wins – the reason why I bet under their season-long win total (and still would, down to 5.0 wins).
After losing so much talent following the 2021 season, Baylor took an expected step back in 2022. What was surprising, though, was that the Bears finished 98th in points per drive after finishing inside the top-20 twice since 2019. Matt Prowledge returns to Waco after a year in Oregon to coach the Bears’ defense. Their secondary is of concern, returning just one starter and lacking depth. Offensively, they should continue to lean on Richard Reese, who nearly cracked 1,000 yards last season. QB Blake Shapen returns – a talented QB that struggles with inconsistency and turnovers.
Many projections forecast a difficult Year 1 for BYU in the Big 12. Former USC and Pitt QB Kedon Slovis transfers in to replace Jarren Hall, but the offense isn’t the concern. BYU’s defense finished 114th in points per drive, a unit that returns 60% of production (for better or for worse). An entirely new staff comes in on that side of the ball, headlined by Weber State head coach Jay Hall. Hall brought corner Eddie Heckard with him, an FCS All American, and new DL coach Kelly Poppinga brought a pair of Boise State defensive tackles in. It’s a reclamation project that should see BYU take noticeable steps forward defensively, even if it doesn’t immediately translate to more wins.
Everything besides the name changes for Cincinnati this season – an entirely new coaching staff, headed by Scott Satterfield, a new conference (the Big 12), a new quarterback (former Florida and Arizona State QB Emory Jones), and a new set of expectations. The Bearcats return just 34% of their offensive production (127th) and 49% of defensive production (108th), too. Hiring Satterfield was met with a resounding “meh” as he was on his last legs in Louisville despite eight wins in 2022. Transition is inbound for Cincy, who avoids TCU, Texas, and Texas Tech, and hosts Oklahoma in their first year.
Few teams disappointed quite as badly as Houston did in 2022. For 2023, they lose their starting QB and prolific receiver; they also lose their talented back Alton McCaskill to Colorado. The Cougars bring in Texas Tech QB Donovan Smith to start and return three offensive linemen, but there’s a lot of production needing replaced this year. Just three defensive starters return – a unit that ranked 107th in points per drive – but the defensive line should be a good one for Houston. However, transitioning into a markedly harder league with so much turnover, expectations are seriously tempered this year.
Iowa State Cyclones
Iowa State may be on the verge of collapse, in danger of losing starting QB Hunter Dekkers and RB Jahriel Brock to an NCAA gambling probe. Dekkers and Brock aren’t the only Cyclones on the list – many who transferred out are also under investigation. Should all of the guilty parties be dismissed from the team, Iowa State may be staring down another season like the last or potentially worse. It’s for this reason I grabbed under their 5.5 wins, offered in mid-August.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Despite little turnover in the coaching ranks, Oklahoma State saw a mass exodus of transfers. Mike Gundy did what he could to replace those exits, including bringing in talent like receivers De’Zhaun Stribling (Washington State) and Arland Bruce (Iowa), 1,000-yard rusher Sean Tyler (Western Michigan), and linebacker Justin Wright (Tulsa). The Pokes looked to Division-II for their new DC after Derek Mason stepped down, hiring Gannon University’s Bryan Nardo. Since 2008, Gundy has just three seasons of fewer than eight wins and seven where he won 10+ games.
But, as it stands today, veteran journeyman Alan Bowman (Texas Tech, Michigan) is set to start at QB. Perhaps a fine bridge QB, the Pokes can’t help but feel like they missed out on much higher-end QB transfers.
West Virginia Mountaineers
It’s a make-or-break year for Neal Brown, whom fans were calling to be canned last season. Unfortunately for Brown, he plays the nation’s sixth-toughest schedule, including Penn State and Pitt non-conference, and lacks the talent necessary to piece together enough wins to save his job. According to a Big 12 coach in Athlon Sports’ preview magazine, West Virginia, “might [have] the worst roster in the league.” WVU rises a new quarterback – who that may be is anyone’s guess – but does return bruising back CJ Donaldson. Donaldson likely runs this offense, which, in the Big 12, doesn’t translate to wins.
With Penn State, Pitt, Texas Tech, and TCU all before October, Brown could make an early exit as the first coach fired this season.
Top Difference Makers To Know
AD Mitchell, WR, Texas: Where to begin with Texas’ nasty receiving corps? In their Orange & White spring game, Mitchell was a target hog, demanding more looks than Worthy. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Mitchell lead the ‘Horns in targets this season, particularly in the red zone.
Will Howard, QB, Kansas State: Max Duggan may have stolen the headlines last season, but Howard stepped in and not just kept the ship afloat, but led K-State to a Big 12 Championship. Without Deuce Vaughn in the backfield next to him, Howard may be asked to carry a little more of the weight.
Cooper Beebe, OL, Kansas State: The Wildcats roster Phil Steele’s 11th-best OL unit nationally, led by NFL first-round prospect Cooper Beebe. He headlines a group with at least three all-conference candidates.
Josh Newton, CB, TCU: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson is off to the NFL, but the buzz surrounding Newton is too loud to ignore. He graded out as the top corner on TCU, per PFF, and top in the Big 12. Newton picked off three passes and defended seven more while being tagged for just one penalty all season.
Big 12 All-Transfer Team
QB: Kedon Slovis (Pitt to BYU), Emory Jones (Arizona State to Cincinnati)
RB: Aidan Robbins (UNLV to BYU), Treshaun Ward (Florida State to Kansas State)
WR: A.D. Mitchell (Georgia to Texas), Keagan Johnson (Iowa to Kansas State), Devin Carter (NC State to West Virginia)
TE: Austin Stogner (South Carolina to Oklahoma)
OT: Logan Brown (Wisconsin to Kansas), Dalton Cooper (Texas State to Oklahoma State)
IOL: Clark Barrington (BYU to Baylor), Rusty Staats (Western Kentucky to Texas Tech), Troy Everett (Appalachian State to Oklahoma)
DL: Jacob Lacey (Notre Dame to Oklahoma), Steve Linton (Syracuse to Texas Tech), Daniel Grzesiak (Utah State to Cincinnati), Dasan McCullough (Indiana to Oklahoma)
LB: Justin Wright (Tulsa to Oklahoma State), Rian Davis (Georgia to UCF)
CB: Gavin Holmes (Wake Forest to Texas), Eddie Heckard (Weber State to BYU)
SAF: Anthony Wilson (Georgia Southern to West Virginia), Jalen Catalon (Arkansas to Texas)
Coaching & Coordinator Changes In The Big 12
Most Impactful Hires
Scott Satterfield, HC, Cincinnati: It wasn’t the most exciting hire, considering his predecessor Luke Fickell took Cincinnati to the College Football Playoff. Patience for Satterfield was wearing thin and it was speculated that, barring a complete turnaround, he would be leaving Louisville. Instead, he leaves on his own terms to take over Cincy. He brings with him Virginia Tech QBs coach Brad Glenn and his DC at Louisville, Bryan Brown, as the new staff for the Bearcats.
Jay Hill, DC, BYU: To pull someone away from their spot as a head coach to instead be a coordinator is an impressive job by Kalani Sitake. BYU was in desperate need of a defensive overall and Hill brings a new mentality to Provo. The BYU beat seems to be excited for Hill’s arrival, who also brought a touted cast of assistants and some talent via the transfer portal.
Kendall Briles, OC, TCU: Briles sure made an impact coming to TCU. Son of the estranged Art, who was the center of dozens of sexual assault allegations at TCU’s arch-rival Baylor not 10 years ago, Kendall comes to town with seriously mixed reviews. Although he orchestrated a fine offense at Arkansas, the distraction of Briles with the Horned Frogs is undeniable. Perhaps keeping the train rolling in Fort Worth might change the tempo of his legacy, but Kendall decided to bring his father Art with him.
The bottom line is, this was sellout move devoid of any moral ground – a rarity for a program like TCU.
- Matt Prowledge, DC, Baylor (Oregon co-DC)
- Bryan Nardo, DC, Oklahoma State (Gannon D-II DC)
- Nate Steelechasse, OC, Iowa State (QBs, WRs coach)
- Chad Scott, OC, West Virginia (RBs coach)
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