College football predictions: Big 12 contenders, odds, and best bets - can this 20/1 longshot topple Oklahoma?

Oklahoma Sooners spring game
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Ricky Dimon


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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me. For Ricky Dimon media enquiries, please email
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The 2021 college football season is on the immediate horizon, and hopefully it proves to be a relatively normal one. Normalcy certainly wasn’t the case in 2020, when there were conference-only schedules, some teams deciding not to play at all, game cancellations left and right, and little to no fans in attendance. But, hey, at least we had a season!

Iowa State topped the standings and Oklahoma won the Big 12 Championship, but it was an otherwise forgettable year for the conference. No team made the College Football Playoff (Oklahoma was the first team out, forced to sit and watch Notre Dame get a spot…and get blown out—again). Still, by winning eight games in a row on the heels of two early losses the Sooners have set the table for what should be an outstanding 2021 campaign.

What will happen in the Big 12 this coming season? Let’s take a look.

Big 12 title odds

It seems like a lot of conferences—even more than usual, perhaps—have an overwhelming favorite to win it in 2021. The Big 12 is certainly no exception, as Oklahoma is favored over the entire rest of the field. A lot of that has to do with the Sooners, themselves, but it has to be said that there is also a relative lack of competition. Occasional proud programs such as Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State are not exactly juggernauts at the moment. Iowa State has been on the rise in rent years, but at the same time it has been unable to take the next step. The Cyclones’ records over the past four seasons are 8-5, 8-5, 7-5 and 9-3.

After Oklahoma at -143 and Iowa State at +275, you can’t find anyone else until Oklahoma State and Texas come in at +1200. TCU rounds out the top 5 at +2000 before the next choices (+5000) are Baylor, Kansas State, and West Virginia.

Make sure you also check out our Big Ten, SEC, and ACC previews and predictions

Big 12 best bet: Oklahoma Sooners -143

Although I’m not overly enthused about betting on a conference favorite at minus money, -143 is not a bad number for the Sooners. They are without question the cream of the crop in the Big 12 and have every reason to take care of business. The roster starts—but by no means ends—with quarterback Spencer Rattler. The favorite to win the Heisman Trophy (and also our best bet), Rattler is coming off a freshman campaign in which he passed for more than 3,000 yards with 34 total touchdowns (28 passing, 6 rushing) and only 7 interceptions. The 20-year-old is built to carve up porous Big 12 secondaries, and that is exactly what you can expect him to do.

The Sooners have won six Big 12 titles in a row and they have averaged more than 40 points per game in all six of those seasons. Their offense will once again be loaded with Rattler, running backs Kennedy Brooks and Eric Gray, and wide receiver Mike Woods. But the defense being much improved may be what helps head coach Lincoln Riley’s team roll to another conference championship and perhaps an elusive College Football Playoff win.

Big 12 longshot: TCU Horned Frogs +2000

TCU Horned Frogs quarterback Max Duggan throws a pass

Unlike many conferences, the Big 12 is not divided up into divisions. As such, you don’t have to put your emphasis on a team in a different half of the conference from Oklahoma—like you would want to do in the ACC (Clemson is an overwhelming favorite) or SEC (Alabama is a massive favorite). In the Big 12, it’s just one big conference with the top 2 finishers in the standings advancing to the conference title game.

TCU has the disadvantage of playing at both Oklahoma and Iowa State, but if that’s the reason why you can get the Horned Frogs at +2000 then I’m not complaining. There certainly isn’t a lack of talent on this roster. The offense is led by Max Duggan, an emerging star at quarterback. On defense, the Frogs return eight starters and the front four could be the best in the conference (most notably DEs Khari Coleman and Ochuan Mathis). TCU’s unit is not your traditional Big 12 defense.

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