Betting News & Analysis

College Football: 2021 conference title odds and win totals for every Big 12 team

Oklahoma's Spencer Rattler (7) scores a touchdown during a Bedlam college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Oklahoma State Cowboys (OSU) at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. Oklahoma won 41-13. [Bryan Terry/The Oklahoman] Photo 7

After a tumultuous 2020 calendar year, one in which we soaked in as much college football as was available, here we are, less than 100 days until the start of what should be a full 2021 college football season.

We’ve already given our opinion on offseason power rankings, along with each team’s likelihood of winning the College Football Playoff, and now we’ll go through each of the conferences with our simulation numbers and analysis.

Percentages are derived from 10,000 simulations of each team’s regular-season schedule, along with a model for how the conference title game and College Football Playoff will play out.

It's difficult to think of the Big 12 as anything other than top-heavy. Iowa State is everyone’s darling, but QB Brock Purdy has hardly emerged as a player to be reckoned with. Texas has yet to emerge as “back,” while Oklahoma returns the country’s leading player in terms of Heisman odds, making them the overwhelming favorite to win the conference and a team we would bet on at the current odds. Enjoy!

Note: This is in order by conference championship win probability.

1. OKLAHOMA SOONERS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 81%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 60%
Projected Win Total: 10.2

From top to bottom, this Oklahoma roster is one of the best in college football. Quarterback Spencer Rattler was as good as expected in his first year as the starter, earning a top-five PFF grade at the position and the highest PFF grade ever earned by a first-time true or redshirt freshman starter.

Rattler will take the field with wide receiver Marvin Mims and tight end Austin Stogner, who led their respective position in PFF grade last season. And don’t forget about the return of running back Kennedy Brooks, the highest-graded player at the position in the Big 12 in 2019. Long story short: This offense is going to be pretty darn good.

The loaded defensive front serves as the centerpiece for this defense. The Sooners return Nik Bonitto and Isaiah Thomas, two of the three highest-graded edge defenders in the Big 12 a season ago. They also return interior defensive linemen Perion Winfrey fresh off a season in which he led Big 12 interior defenders in total pressures, along with 2020 opt-out Jalen Redmond, who earned the third-highest grade among Big 12 interior defenders in 2019.

Given the slate of offensive lines they are about to face in the Big 12, it’s going to be a Thanksgiving feast for this defensive line every week.

The secondary lost some talented pieces and isn’t nearly as strong as the group along the defensive front, but they do have promising players in place. Cornerback D.J. Graham is a name to watch here — he allowed a passer rating of 37.3 on 22 targets into his coverage as a true freshman last year.

As long as everyone stays healthy, this team will be competing for a national championship in 2021.

2. IOWA STATE CYCLONES

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 30%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 11%
Projected Win Total: 7.7

Iowa State may have made it to the Big 12 championship game, capped off the year with a Fiesta Bowl win and a top-10 ranking in the AP poll, but it’s no secret that Brock Purdy was underwhelming under center. He did lead an efficient passing attack over the year, but he took a step back instead of making the leap into the elite at the position. The Iowa State QB posted a 74.2 passing grade on the year, a career-low by eight points.

Meanwhile, the Cyclones defense was one of the top defenses in college football, finishing eighth in PFF grade and 13th in successful play rate allowed among Power Five units. The team returns its seven most valuable players on the defensive side of the ball since 2019, according to PFF WAA.

There are no two ways about it: Purdy will decide the fate of the Cyclones in 2021. He has proven to be a great passer when in rhythm and can make some of the best anticipatory throws you’ll ever see, but he has to stop trying to do too much when the play breaks down. If he changes his ways, then we may see some improvement out of this team. If not, a repeat performance of last year is probably the best-case scenario.

3. TEXAS LONGHORNS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 28%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 11%
Projected Win Total: 7.8

Texas brought in former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian to take the program back to elite status, and he will have a new first-year starter to work with after proving his worth as one of the top offensive playcallers in college football.

Either Casey Thompson or Hudson Card will take over Sam Ehlinger's old job. And while neither have major experience on the field at the collegiate level, Thompson has at least shown something by posting three big-time throws on 17 pass attempts in 2020.

There’s not much to get excited about at receiver, but the Longhorns do have a quality offensive line. Guard Junior Angilau and tackle Derek Kerstetter lead the way as two of the 10 most valuable offensive linemen among Big 12 returners since 2019. The Longhorns also have one of the biggest breakout candidates in college football at running back with 2020 five-star Bijan Robinson.

The defense was a top 20 unit in the Power Five in terms of EPA per play allowed last season. They do return cornerback D’Shawn Jamison, their most valuable player from that group according to PFF WAA, but they lost the three players who trailed him in that ranking. There’s certainly talent on the rise to help ease the losses, but regressing more toward the mean isn’t out of the question on that side of the ball for 2021.

Sark will now start his mission to bring Texas back, but patience is key. For now, their best-case is seemingly finishing right behind the Sooners, and they are likely to be similar from a results perspective as they have been over the last few years.

4. OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 26%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 9%
Projected Win Total: 7.9

There is very little to be concerned about on the defensive side of the ball for the Pokes ahead of the 2021 campaign. Losing longtime starting corner Rodarius Williams obviously isn’t great for the secondary, but they return arguably a top-three safety duo in Tre Sterling and Kolby Harvell-Peel alongside a quality outside corner in Jarrick Bernard-Converse.

According to PFF WAA, Sterling and Bernard-Converse were among the five most valuable defensive backs in the Big 12 last season. Harvell-Peel earned that same accolade back in 2019.

This defense was a top-10 Power Five team against the pass in 2020 and has a good chance of doing that again this fall.

The other side of the ball has more uncertainty. The offensive line will be great, but the receiving corps lost a lot of talent with no proven replacements and question marks still surround quarterback Spencer Sanders.

Sanders did close out the 2020 season with two of his three best performances of his career as a passer, but the inconsistent downfield passing and poor decision-making make us question whether he is the right man to start.

If anything is stopping Oklahoma State in 2021, it’s the murkiness of the passing attack.

5. TCU HORNED FROGS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 10%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 3%
Projected Win Total: 6.8

This TCU squad is one to keep an eye on for 2021. The secondary is still absolutely loaded, with cornerback Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, the second-highest-graded cornerback in the Power Five of 2020, leading the way. Opposite him is Noah Daniels, a big-time breakout candidate for 2021 given what we have seen him do in his short time on the field for the Horned Frogs —  he already has eight career pass breakups to just 12 catches allowed.

This defense really does have a chance of ranking inside the top 10 in the Power Five in EPA per play allowed in 2021, just as they did in 2020.

The Horned Frogs offense wasn’t nearly as strong last year, as they finished in the bottom half of the Big 12 in offensive efficiency. Still, they are just scratching the surface of what they can be.

Quarterback Max Duggan underwent a remarkable year-over-year improvement in 2020, going from one of the most inaccurate quarterbacks in the country to close to average in that regard, which is rare to see. Alongside him is running back Zach Evans, a 2020 five-star recruit, and wide receiver duo J.D. Spielman and Quentin Johnston. Injuries hindered Spielman in his first season with the program after transferring from Nebraska in 2020, but he has multiple 80.0-plus graded seasons under his belt in his career. Johnston, meanwhile, is a big-bodied downfield threat and flashed immense potential as a four-star true freshman in 2020.

If Duggan continues to get his act together, this team could reasonably challenge for a spot in the Big 12 title game.

6. BAYLOR BEARS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 7%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 2%
Projected Win Total: 5.9

There aren’t many concerns with Baylor on the defensive side of the ball. They have a quality outside cornerback duo with Raleigh Texada and track star Kalon Barnes and one of the best off-ball linebacker tandems in the Big 12 with Jalen Pitre and Terrel Bernard. It may not be a group that puts the clamps on every offense they face, but they are set up to produce at an above-average level, just as they did in 2020 when they ranked 24th in the Power Five in EPA per play allowed.

Still, there are many concerns on offense, largely because of the quarterback situation. Last year’s passing offense was anemic, finishing eighth-to-last in successful pass play rate. They’ll have a new starter leading the way this fall, given that Charlie Brewer transferred to Utah, so either Gerry Bohanon or Jacob Zeno will be taking the reins for the upcoming campaign. In total, the two passers have combined for 76 dropbacks at the college level.

The wide receiver room and offensive line both have a depth issue and are likely to be a problem again in 2021 after each group ranked second-to-last in the Big 12 in combined unit grade.

7. WEST VIRGINIA MOUNTAINEERS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 8%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 2%
Projected Win Total: 6

West Virginia was all set to have one of the best secondaries in the FBS this season, but they ultimately watched their top two members of that group,  safety Tykee Smith and cornerback Dreshun Miller, depart for SEC programs as transfers.

While it may not be one of the best in the country anymore, it’s still going to make a claim for being the best in the Big 12. Safeties Alonzo Addae and Sean Mahone and cornerback Nicktroy Fortune rank 13th or higher among all returning Big 12 defensive backs in PFF WAA generated last season. Throw in Dante Stills, arguably the best returning Big 12 interior defensive lineman, and Josh Chandler-Semedo, a top-five linebacker in the conference, and you have yourself a squad.

The same can’t be said for the offense, though. Quarterback Jarret Doege has made the most of a relatively bad situation and has put up a 78.9 passing grade since his arrival in 2019. The WVU QB even ranks second to Justin Fields in EPA generated over expectation (EPAOE) since 2014, a team- and opponent-adjusted metric. If the environment around him gets better, then the Mountaineers could exceed expectations. But that is a big if.

8. TEXAS TECH RED RAIDERS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 5%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 1%
Projected Win Total: 5.9

Texas Tech now has former Oregon Duck Tyler Shough leading the offense as its starting quarterback, which screams volatility for 2021. The 2018 four-star took over for Justin Herbert as Oregon’s starter in 2020 and flashed early on before things went downhill. Four of his seven starts ended with a sub-47.0 passing grade, and he ranked in the bottom 10 of the Power Five in turnover-worthy play rate. He wasn’t very accurate either, ranking in the bottom five of the Power Five in accurate-pass rate. Tech does have a big-play threat with Erik Ezukanma, but it won’t matter if Shough doesn’t take a major step forward as a passer.

The defensive side of the ball has some talent but badly lacks depth. Their top two players are safety Marquis Waters, a transfer from Duke, and cornerback Damarcus Fields. The kicker is that both are posterchilds for the typical boom-or-bust defensive back. Outside of those two, there’s not a single defensive back on the roster who has generated positive WAA over the last couple of years. The Red Raiders were in the bottom three of the conference in EPA per pass allowed, and they are likely staying there in 2021.

9. KANSAS STATE WILDCATS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 5%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 1%
Projected Win Total: 5.4

Kansas State’s passing offense should be much improved from last year with the return of quarterback Skylar Thompson. The signal-caller played in just two full games last year before suffering a season-ending injury and thrusting true freshman Will Howard into the starting job. The Wildcats offense finished the year with the fourth-worst successful pass play rate in the Power Five.

Still, Thompson has his deficiencies; he has yet to show he can properly execute a true dropback passing game, and he needs to be supported by the ecosystem. Over the last couple of years, his grade with play-action sits at an elite 91.5 mark, but his true dropback passing grade in that span doesn’t crack the 50th percentile among Power Five quarterbacks.

The Wildcats can prop him up, but there is still a scarcity at wide receiver. Running back Deuce Vaughn has some of the best receiving chops at his position, but he can only get you so far. Kansas State tied for last in the Power Five in team WR grade in 2020, and it isn’t going to be significantly higher than that in 2021. That’s one of the main reasons why it’s hard to picture this team climbing out of the bottom half of the Big 12 this fall.

10. KANSAS JAYHAWKS

Conference Championship Appearance Probability: 0%
Conference Championship Win Probability: 0%
Projected Win Total: 3.2

It's been over a decade since Kansas football has won more than three games in a single season. And according to our projections, that streak is going to continue for at least another year.

The Jayhawks lost their four best players this past offseason — three to transfers — and Karon Prunty is the only returning player who would qualify as “effective.”

The quarterback battle is down to Jalon Daniels, Miles Kendrick and North Texas transfer Jason Bean. Daniels and Kendrick saw ample action for the Jayhawks last season, and both produced at a poor level, leading Kansas to a team passing grade of 42.6 and an EPA per pass of -0.35 — both of which were the seventh-worst figures we have seen by a Power Five program in our seven years of grading college football.

Could Bean be the savior? Perhaps. He was a volatile passer but had multiple big-time throws and made some big plays on the ground in limited action for the Mean Green en route to an 83.3 PFF grade in 2020.

Kansas made a home-run head coach hire with Lance Leipold, but the positive effects of the new regime are highly unlikely to take place in 2021, given what they have to work with.

Betting Featured Tools

  • PFF predictions and real time spread, moneyline and over/under lines for each NFL game.

    Available with

    Elite
  • PFF's Player Props Tool reveals betting opportunities within player prop markets.

    Available with

    Elite
  • Power Rankings are PFF’s NFL power ratings based on weekly player grades in each facet of play. These power rankings are adjusted based on coach, quarterback and the market each season.

    Available with

    Edge
  • PFF predictions and real time spread, moneyline and over/under lines for each NCAA game.

    Available with

    Elite CFB Prem Stats+
Pro Subscriptions

Unlock NFL Player Grades, Fantasy & NFL Draft

$9.99 / mo
$39.99 / yr

Unlock Premium Stats, PFF Greenline & DFS

$34.99 / mo
$199.99 / yr
College Subscriptions

Unlock College Player Grades and Preview Magazine

$7.99 / mo
$27.99 / yr

Unlock NCAA Premium Stats & PFF Greenline NCAA

$29.99 / mo
$119.99 / yr