Sooners Favored To Win Big 12 But Longhorns Right Behind
The next college football season will have some highly fascinating conference races, and one of them belongs to the Big 12, where the long-term leader of the pack might finally be uniquely vulnerable. This is the year in which a struggling head coach needs to raise his game and make a statement which will be heard around the league.
Projected Winner: Texas
The smart money might still belong with Oklahoma – you could make that argument – but it is very clear that in the upcoming college football season, Texas will have the more proven quarterback than Oklahoma. Notice the word “proven.” Not necessarily better, but clearly more established and more of a trusted name. Texas’ Sam Ehlinger has led the Longhorns to the Big 12 Championship Game in 2018 and to a win over Oklahoma in that same 2018 season. He has won a Sugar Bowl game against Kirby Smart and the Georgia Bulldogs. He is coming back for one more season at Texas, and he has plenty of experience. The Longhorns have floundered under coach Tom Herman, who knows that this next season is the time to make a statement. If Texas can’t beat Oklahoma in a year when the Sooners will put a completely untested quarterback, Spencer Rattler, under center, the Longhorns will rightly wonder when they will ever be able to seize back power in the Big 12. Texas hasn’t won a Big 12 championship since 2009. Anything less than a title will be seen as a failure by the fan base.
Top Contender To The Favorite: Oklahoma
The oddsmakers have Oklahoma as the Big 12 favorite, and that is entirely reasonable. Either Oklahoma or Texas makes sense as a betting favorite in the conference this season. However, the difference at quarterback is stark. Whereas Texas has the veteran Ehlinger, Spencer Rattler would be coming in without the pedigree or experience of Oklahoma’s previous three elite quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray both won Heisman Trophies for the Sooners. Jalen Hurts was a Heisman candidate for much of the 2019 season. Oklahoma’s offense needed Heisman-level quality from its quarterbacks in order to stay in front of the rest of the Big 12. If Rattler struggles to come close to that standard, the Sooners will struggle, given that they depend so fully on their offense to win games. If Rattler is the real deal, Oklahoma becomes the favorite, but do we really know that right now, and can we really trust that claim? Ehlinger being better than Rattler puts Texas in the spot of the favorite, though plenty of reasonable people will disagree.
Long Shot: Baylor
The Bears almost beat Oklahoma to win the 2019 Big 12 championship. People will discount the Bears this season because Matt Rhule, clearly an elite coach, chose to go to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. Losing Rhule will likely hurt Baylor this upcoming season. However, what if his replacement turns out to be an excellent coach? It could happen. Dave Aranda coached LSU’s national championship defense this past season. He has done a lot of good work at LSU and, before that, at Wisconsin. If he turns out to be an excellent head coach, Baylor could be in the thick of the Big 12 race this season. The Bears will suffer only if Aranda isn’t ready for prime time.
2020 Big 12 Championship Betting Odds
Oklahoma Sooners -110
Texas Longhorns +300
Oklahoma State Cowboys +400
Iowa State Cyclones +1200
Baylor Bears +1400
TCU Horned Frogs +2000
Kansas State Wildcats +2500
Texas Tech Red Raiders +3300
West Virginia Mountaineers +5000
Kansas Jayhawks +25000