Big 12 Dark Horse and its Potential NCAA Football Betting Value

Posted by Alex Murphy on July 1, 2015 in

The Baylor Bears and the TCU Horned Frogs are in a class of their own in the Big 12 title race, making them the obvious college football odds favorites to clinch the conference championship. But as you all probably know, betting on the chalk rarely comes with much value as going for underdogs and dark horses. In our quest to find good alternatives to the Bears and Frogs in the Big 12 title race, a good number of teams came up, including the Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas Longhorns and West Virginia Mountaineers. But of the above options, the Sooners look to offer the best dark horse winning chances in College Football odds, based on the following reasons.

Big 12 Dark Horse and its Potential NCAA Football Betting Value

Stellar Coaching

In the 16 years coach Bob Stoops has been in charge of the Sooners, the team has won 8 Big 12 titles, probably one of the key reasons Oklahoma was among the favorites to win the 2014-15 conference title. However, those hopes never came to fruition, as the Sooners finished their regular season on a dismal 8-5 record, before getting blown out by Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

After such a disappointing run, it is easy to logically write off the Sooners from having a good 2015 season. However, if there’s one thing betting has taught us countlessly, it is that failing in the past season does not mean you will fail in the new season, just in the same way success from the previous year does not guarantee good performance in the new year. In Oklahoma’s case, the chances of bouncing back is particularly very strong, considering Stoops’ program has finished just four times with less than 10 wins in the 16 years he has coached the team. Most recently, coach Stoops had a solid 2013-14 season, where he led the Sooners to 11 wins and a surprise win over football powerhouse Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, meaning another concrete run should be possible for the coach and his team.

Moreover, to overcome the offensive mistakes from last year, the Sooners got rid of co-offensive coordinators Jay Norvell and Josh Heupel, replacing them with East Carolina’s much-lauded offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who is strongly tipped to better the team’s attacking style.

Deeply Talented Squad

Coaching issues aside, the Oklahoma Sooners have one of the strongest roster in the Big 12 and the league, at large. At the quarterback department, things are yet to be decided on who gets the starting role, with Baker Mayfield, Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas competing for the job. As per our projections, Mayfield looks likely to beat Knight to the job, though the bottom line is that whoever gets the gig will be guaranteed to get a ton of support.In the backfield, the Sooners are dealing with a suspension to RB Keith Ford, but that shouldn’t be a big worry, as the team brags of having one of the best running backs in the country in. Samaje Perine, a +1650 favorite to win the Heisman trophy in 2015 after rushing for 1,713 yards and 21 scores as a freshman. Perine also set the NCAA single-game record of 427 yards rushing yards against Texas. Sprinters Joe Mixon and Alex Ross additionally figure to be formidable options in the running back department.

The receiving corps also has a talented group that is led by star WR Sterling Shepard, who will be assisted by redshirt freshman TE Mark Andrews and junior WR Dede Westbrook. Meanwhile, the defense has its fair share of aptitude in pass-rushers Charles Tapper and Eric Striker, who will be bringing back experience from last year’s unit alongside key linebackers Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans.

History Working in Oklahoma’s Favor

On top of the great coaching and vast talent in the team, history indicates that, in the years following 7-win or 8-win seasons by Oklahoma, the Sooners have rebounded strongly—going 13-0 in 2000, 11-3 in 2006 and 12-2 in 2010). And to crown it all, the Sooners have won the Big 12 conference title in each one of the above-mentioned bounce-back years.

Still on history, no team has gone undefeated in conference play in the Big 12 over the last 5 years. If that trend continues, a single conference loss by a vastly talented team like Oklahoma allow for a margin of error, which could see the Sooners have a chance to challenge for the conference title, as was the case for Baylor Bears and TCU last year.

Concluding Remarks

As mentioned earlier, TCU and Baylor are looking extremely strong and good, so a near-perfect season could be required by the Sooners if they are to contest for the conference title. All the same, the talent and motivation is there in Oklahoma, so if one or two of the crucial conference games go in the team’s favor, the Sooners should be a solid dark horse contender for the 2015 Big 12 title.