All 10 Big 12 teams are in action in week one, but there are only four games with a betting line since most of the conference is facing off against FCS schools. Fair warning, take our picks at your own risk, especially in week one!
Tulsa at Oklahoma State
Thursday, AUG 31
Line: OSU -17.5
Oklahoma State is the superior team in this matchup, but this game is far from a gimme. One, the game is a Thursday night game, and history tells us that anything can happen under the lights on a week night. Two, Tulsa won 10 games last season and is no slouch.
Tulsa will be breaking in a new quarterback, but the Art Briles system that coach Philip Montgomery brought over from his Baylor offensive coordinator days is about as plug and play as it gets. If the Pokes who are we think they are, they should have no problem dispatching the Golden Hurricanes, but I like Tulsa to get the backdoor cover as long as the line stays above 17. Take Tulsa and as many points as you can get.
UTEP at Oklahoma
Saturday, SEP 2
Line: OU -43
Truth be told, this is a game I probably wouldn’t touch. Oklahoma is the media’s pick to win the Big 12 behind Heisman hopeful quarterback Baker Mayfield and an offensive line that should be one of the best in college football.
It’s no surprise that the Sooners are favored in a big way, especially as 2017 looks to be a rebuilding year for UTEP. However, 43 points is a lot to cover, and when was the last time we saw the Sooners start a season strong? There is also little motivation for the Sooners to run up the score, especially as they will be happy to pull the starters early as the Ohio State game looms on the schedule the next weekend.
If forced to make a pick, I’d take UTEP and the points, but there is better value out there.
Maryland at Texas
Saturday, SEP 2
Line: UT -18.5
We don’t yet know what the Longhorn offense will look like under coach Tom Herman in year one, but it’s a safe bet that it will be some sort of what I like to call a power spread. Herman likes to air the ball out similarly to what we are used to seeing in the Big 12, but through the use of a the Power O and tight end sets, there is more of a focus on the ground game than what we may see in the likes of Lubbock.
Hampering the Longhorns this season will be depth. More specifically, the lack thereof. The Longhorns don’t have the tight ends that Herman needs to make his offense hum, and Buechele, the likely starter, isn’t a QB that will tuck the ball and put his head down for extra yards. Something else the Herman offense needs in order to be at full capacity.
There are no questions about who Maryland will be on offense. They are a run-first team, but that plays into the strength of this Texas team. The Longhorns return a lot of experience on the defensive line and at linebacker.
Maryland was awful against the run in 2016, if Herman’s offense can’t find success against the Terps, the Longhorns are in trouble. I expect they will though, and I like Texas giving the points as Maryland will struggle to find any success against the Texas defensive front. Watch the line though, it opened at UT -15.5 and has moved 3 points in the days since.
West Virginia vs Virginia Tech
Sunday, SEP 3
Line: VT -4
No doubt, this is the game of the week for the Big 12, and will set the tone for both West Virginia and Virginia Tech’s season expectations. Not to mention, it’s a rivalry game with bragging rights on the line until 2021.
Virginia Tech’s offense came to life last season under new head coach Justin Fuente on their way to a 10-4 record with a big win over Arkansas in the Belk Bowl. However, this year they are looking at replacing some key playmakers on that offense, including breaking in a brand new quarterback. On the flip side on the ball, the Hokies return a bunch of talent on defense, which will be the strength of the team.
For the Mountaineers, expectations are high as many believe quarterback Will Grier can get them over the hump, where former quarterback Skyler Howard fell short. However, West Virginia is looking to rebuild their defense. They will have to show that they have the talent in the wings to maintain the aggressive, hard-hitting style that defensive coordinator Tony Gibson has become known for.
This game will be strength on strength. The West Virginia offense led by quarterback Will Grier versus the Hokies’ stout defense.
I see this game as a toss-up, so give me West Virginia and the points.