Odds & Pick To Win The Big-12Noah Williams
The Oklahoma Sooners may no longer be led by longtime head coach Bob Stoops following his unexpected retirement earlier this offseason, but the perennial Big-12 powerhouse is favored to win the conference title once again in 2017.
The Sooners, however, aren’t locks to bag the Big-12 title and could be beaten out for conference supremacy by a couple of their conference rivals.
Thanks to the expert collegiate gridiron insight that you’re about to get, you’re going to have a great idea of just what’s going to go down in the Big-12 this coming campaign.
2017 Odds & Pick To Win The Big-12 Title
The Odds-On Favorite To Win The Big-12: Oklahoma Sooners -135
The Sooners will have a new head coach this season in 33-year-old Lincoln Riley, but he’s not new to the program having served as offensive coordinator the past two seasons.
More importantly, the Sooners have a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Baker Mayfield and return all five starters on their offensive line. That’s the really good news. Unfortunately, Oklahoma has to replace star running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine and big play wide receiver Dede Westbrook and the whopping 2,435 rushing yards and 2,168 receiving yards they’re taking with them. Still, there’s talent at the skill positions and Baker Mayfield isn’t expecting to miss a beat.
“This is my team and that’s the mindset I’m going to carry,” he said recently. “One final run at the school that I love.”
Defensively, the Sooners have an elite secondary headed up by cornerbacks Jordan Thomas and Jordan Parker but need the majority of their front seven to prove themselves early on, but they look like they’ll be tough to beat, mostly because of their high-scoring ways.
The Smart Pick To Win The Big-12: Oklahoma State Cowboys +350
Apparently, you’d never know the Oklahoma State Cowboys had a fine 10-win season a year ago, but they did and now I believe they, more so than any other Big 12 resident, could beat out their in-state rivals for the conference crown in 2017.
The Cowboys return seven starters on offense, including elite, but underrated, Mason Rudolph. If you didn’t know it, the accurate signal-caller enters 2017 as the nation’s No. 2 active leader in career passing yards per game after throwing for a stellar4,091 yards, with 28 touchdowns and just four interceptions a year ago.
Wide receiver James Washington is also a star that will be playing on Sunday’s at this time next year after averaging a national best 19.4 yards per catch and running back Justice Hill is also back after rushing for 1,142 yards to lead all freshmen last season and earn both, Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year and consensus Freshman All-American honors. Defensively, head coach Mike Gundy needs to fill a few holes but also has some competent and experienced players on all three levels. Make no mistake about it, Oklahoma State is a legitimate threat to win the Big 12 despite not being the favorite.
The Long Shot Pick To Win: TCU Horned Frogs +1000
TCU may have gone 6-7 in their first year without former quarterback Trevone Boykin, but all is not lost for the Horned Frogs heading into 2017. While quarterback Kenny Hill will need to be better than he was last season in tossing a conference high 13 interceptions, 10 starters return and there’s plenty of talent at the skill positions and a new offensive play-caller in Sonny Cumbie. TCU has a quartet of talented running backs starting with dual-threat star Kyle Hicks and has a pair of four-star wide receiver recruits coming in this season.
Defensively, head coach Gary Patterson has added some size to a unit that got overpowered several times a year ago. While the horned Frogs will be young and mostly inexperienced up front, they do have plenty of quality experience at both, linebacker and in the defensive secondary.
While Hill failed at Texas A&M before underachieving in a big way in his first season at TCU in 2016, he was once one of the most talented recruits in the state and could life the Horned Frogs to a surprising season if he can find the skill set that made him one of the nation’s most sought after quarterbacks coming out of high school. There are definitely a bunch of question marks for the Horned Frogs to answer heading into 2017, but that’s why they’re a longshot.