Philadelphia, PA – The Big 12 has been one of the most successful conferences over the last few seasons with two of its teams reaching the BCS Championship Game. Unfortunately, not only did both Oklahoma and Texas fail to bring home the trophy, but they also did not even cover the spread.
The Big 12 conference has failed time and time again in postseason play with a dismal 13-26 against-the-spread record over the last five years. Take away its 4-4 ATS mark in '07 and the league is 9-22 since '06! Don't forget to remember those numbers come December and January.
Time now to take a team-by-team look at the league with predicted straight-up records (overall and in conference play) for those wagering on over/unders for total victories.
10) KANSAS - The Jayhawks were 5-6 ATS last season. They are 4-12 ATS in conference play the last two years.
Offense - The Jayhawks averaged a paltry 4.0 yards per play inside the Big 12 last season and just 17 ppg overall - the school's lowest total since '01. Head coach Turner Gill has recruited a ton of offensive talent the last two years to go along with what could be a much improved offensive line so look for a slight bump up in production.
Defense - Kansas allowed a whopping 42 ppg in league play last year, and to make matters worse, four of the top-five tacklers have departed. This will be the weakest defense in the conference for a second straight season.
Prediction - Keep an eye on true freshmen quarterback Brock Berglund. If he is the real deal, Kansas could have a solid ATS start, along with a lot of overs throughout the season. (3-8, 1-8).
9) IOWA STATE - The Cyclones went 4-7 ATS last season. They are 5-1 as home favorites the last two years.
Offense - It will be difficult for the Cyclones to compete in the Big 12 this season as they have to play all six teams from what was the North Division. To make matters worse, they'll be without last year's leading rusher, starting quarterback, and top-two receiving leaders.
Defense - Iowa State came into last season with an extremely inexperienced front seven, but that young bunch actually held opponents to 4.2 yards per carry in Big 12 play after allowing 4.5 ypc the year before. The entire defense will be even better this season. However, the numbers might not reflect it due to the harder schedule.
Prediction - Iowa State is 14-5 to the under in its last 19 games. Look for more of the same this year. (3-9, 2-7).
8) KANSAS STATE - The Wildcats went 6-6 ATS last year. They are 2-11 as road favorites over the last seven years.
Offense - The Wildcats averaged 5.7 ypp inside the conference a year ago, just slightly better than their 5.3 mark in '09. However, they scored 32 ppg last year - nine points higher than the previous season. The chief reason was an amazing 83% touchdown percentage inside the red zone (compared to 50% in '09). With the loss of their starting quarterback, leading receiver, three starters from the line, and running back Daniel Thomas, look for a major drop in production.
Defense - Kansas State was next-to-last nationally last year in rushing defense. Things should improve this season as the front seven is in much better shape. Furthermore, a deep secondary will continue to be strong which should give the Wildcats a much improved defense.
Prediction - Kansas State was 9-3 to the over last year. Expect that number to be turned around in '11. (5-7, 3-6).
7) BAYLOR - The Bears ended last season at 5-7 ATS. They are 4-15 as home underdogs over the last six years.
Offense - When looking at Baylor's '10 numbers, it is best to measure them against the'08 season because Robert Griffin III was injured for most of '09. When doing so, one will see a huge progression in the signal-caller's game. If he can stay healthy for the entire season, the Bears should be able to match last year's totals.
Defense - Baylor finished last inside Big 12 play against the pass allowing 308 ypg with a 69% completion percentage. Those numbers need to improve, especially with a bevy of talented sophomores taking over for three departed starters.
Prediction - The Bears ended last year with seven overs in their last nine games. Look for more of the same this season. (5-7, 3-6).
6) TEXAS TECH - The Red Raiders finished 4-7-1 ATS last season. They are 5-1 as home underdogs the last five years but 4-8 as road dogs the last six.
Offense - Last year's 33 ppg average is a bit misleading since the offense managed just 25 ppg inside the Big 12. Nevertheless, last season's offensive line returned players with just 29 career starts. This year's unit brings back 83. Look for much better numbers in Tommy Tuberville's second season as head coach.
Defense - This unit struggled all season long against the pass allowing 294 ypg - good for 118th place in the country. This year's defense is filled with tons of underclassmen so it might take another season to show improvement.
Prediction - Texas Tech has won at least seven regular season games every year since '00. Expect seven again this season as the team gets ready for what could be a nine or 10-win campaign in 2012. (7-5, 4-5).
5) MISSOURI - The Tigers finished 6-6 ATS last season. They are 9-2 as road favorites over the last four years.
Offense - Missouri has averaged between 29 and 31 ppg in four of the last six seasons. However, due to a change at quarterback and uncertainty at left tackle, the point totals could drop into the mid-20s.
Defense - The Tigers gave up only 16 ppg in league play last season compared to 29 the year before despite allowing more yards per game! With six of the top-nine tacklers gone, there's a good chance this year's defense will allow at least a touchdown more per game. Opposing teams will also light the Tigers up threw the air with the loss of three starters in the secondary.
Prediction -Look for more overs this season after an 8-4 under mark last year. In addition, the ATS record will drop below. 500. (7-5, 5-4).
4) TEXAS - The Longhorns were 3-9 ATS last season and 3-12 in their last 15 games. They are 3-8 as home favorites but 2-7 against non-conference foes the last two years.
Offense - Even though the Longhorns averaged just 19 ppg in league play last year (down from 40 in '09), they averaged only 22 fewer yards per game. The three reasons for the drop-off were zero defensive touchdowns (nine in '09), 11 more interceptions thrown and just 14 red zone touchdowns in 35 opportunities. With an inexperienced offensive line and the loss of four of last year's top-five receivers, the Longhorns' underclassmen must have big seasons for improved offensive totals.
Defense - The defense gave up just 19 more yards per game in league play last year (compared to '09) but the group allowed eight more points per game. The two main problems were fewer turnovers gained (11 instead of 23) and a 72% red zone touchdown percentage (last in the conference). If those two categories get turned around, Texas will have a much better defensive season.
Prediction - There are a lot of ifs riding on a return to prominence. However, continue to wager against the Longhorns, especially early in the season. (8-4, 5-4).
3) OKLAHOMA STATE - The Cowboys went 10-3 ATS last season. They are 20-6 ATS as favorites the last three years.
Offense - What can the Cowboys do for an encore after finishing third nationally in both scoring and total offense? The only major loss coming into this season is running back Kendall Hunter but the team has had a different 1,000-yard rusher each of the last four seasons (Hunter twice) so don't expect the running game to suffer. The Cowboys will still be one of the nation's top offensive units.
Defense - Last year's defense was on the field for 15 extra plays per game (compared to '09) and allowed 114 yards more per game. However, the defense came into the season with just one of its top-seven leading tacklers. Oklahoma State returns just five starters in'11 but eight of the top 12 tacklers return. This should be a solid defensive unit.
Prediction - Oklahoma State will drop from 10-3 ATS to around the .500 mark due to high expectations. (10-2, 7-2).
2) TEXAS A&M - The Aggies finished 7-5 ATS last season. They are 7-3 as home favorites the last two years.
Offense - The Aggies averaged a solid 31 ppg last year despite an inexperienced offensive line. The number of career starts from the group in the trenches doubles for this season, which means the offensive numbers will improve, especially with the abundance of talent at the skill positions.
Defense - Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter did an outstanding job with this unit as the Aggies allowed just 21.9 ppg after giving up 33.5 the year before. The "D" also chopped off more than a full yard per carry from 4.6 down to 3.5 - its lowest total in almost 10 years. The loss of Von Miller and Michael Hodges will hurt, but the defense loses less than 20% of its lettermen so expect another outstanding showing.
Prediction - This team is good enough to win the Big 12. Unfortunately, winning in Norman has been a difficult task, and the Aggies might need to defeat Oklahoma to finish first in the conference. (10-2, 7-2).
1) OKLAHOMA - The Sooners went 8-6 ATS last season. They are 2-6 as road favorites the last two years.
Offense - The offense relied heavily on the pass last season as Landry Jones had 617 attempts. The high number was due to a running game that mustered just 3.3 ypc. Even with a lackluster ground attack, DeMarco Murray still rushed for over 1,200 yards with 15 touchdowns. On the surface, it appears that one of the young backs must keep opposing defenses honest. However, the passing game is so explosive that it might not even matter.
Defense - After dominating Big 12 offenses two years ago, the Oklahoma defense regressed last season giving up over 20 ppg. Not only that, the unit ranked 10th inside the league allowing 4.4 ypc. And now with Travis Lewis sidelined for the first three or four games, the Sooners enter the season without last year's top four tacklers.
Prediction - The Sooners are the preseason favorites but they will not finish the season undefeated. (11-1, 8-1).