November 30, 2022

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The Education Specialists

2021 Big 12 win totals, odds, picks: Predictions for each team with big lines for Oklahoma, Iowa State

As the college football offseason rolls through June with media days just on the horizon next month, storylines are beginning to form as the 2021 regular season approaches. Which teams are playoff favorites? Which team will come out of nowhere? Which team will be overrated? With updated win totals and betting odds making their way to the universe, we’re getting a better understanding of the landscape. 

This week, starting with the Big 12, we’ll be going game by game to give our takes on every team’s outlook. Unlike win total picks, these predictions require choosing a winner and holding the result across team breakdowns. We’ve not only predicted how many games each team will win, but also where those wins are going to come and what games on the schedule could end up changing the fortunes of the entire conference. Taken into consideration are historical trends, general conference power rankings and whether games are home or away.

Check out the breakdown of the likely wins, losses and final record below for each team in the Big 12 in the 2021 season with odds provided via William Hill Sportsbook.

Over/under 5.5 wins

  • Wins: Texas State, Texas Southern, Kansas, West Virginia, TCU
  • Losses: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, BYU, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas Tech 

Analysis: It’s time to hit reset because very little, if anything, about Dave Aranda’s first year at Baylor in 2020 was normal. Few Power Five teams were as heavily impacted by COVID-19 as the Bears. Still, Aranda’s team was typically a tough draw and the 2-7 record didn’t reflect how much better they were playing as the season went on. That same defensive toughness will get Baylor close to bowl eligibility in 2021, but the Bears need to find some offensive spark with new offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes (but without QB Chalie Brewer) to get to six wins. Not impossible, but a challenge. Pick: Under 5.5 (-125) 

Iowa State

Over/under 9.5 wins

  • Wins: Northern Iowa, Iowa, UNLV, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Texas, TCU
  • Losses: West Virginia, Oklahoma

Analysis: This is projected to be Matt Campbell’s best team in Ames yet. Practically everyone returns and their sights are set on a Big 12 title. This team is good enough to do it and will be favored in most of its games. The clearest path to hitting the over is to sweep the nonconference schedule, which means beating arch-rival Iowa — something Campbell has yet to check off his to-do list. Some borderline dangerous road games make me think there are a couple of inevitable conference losses coming, but I won’t waiver on the Cyclones being a top-10ish team.  Pick: Over 9.5 (+110)


Over/under 1.5 wins

  • Wins: South Dakota
  • Losses: Coastal Carolina, Baylor, Duke, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas, TCU, West Virginia

Analysis: First-year coach Lance Leipold is for real. He’s won everywhere he’s been, at every level. I’m confident he’ll be able to do something at Kansas, but it’s going to take a while and getting a late start post-spring because of the Les Miles situation doesn’t help. This program is in bad shape and without a Power Five-caliber roster. The ceiling over the past decade has been three wins, so you could spin that to hit the over; even in lean times, the Jayhawks have been able to find a few victories from time to time. Miles did it two years ago. There’s some good value in the over at +175, but I just don’t know where that second win is coming from. I’ll give them South Dakota in the opener — because, come on, you have to believe in something — but a second (Duke? Texas Tech maybe?) is going to be elusive. The stars will have to align. Pick: Under 1.5 (-210) 

Kansas State

Over/under 5.5 wins

  • Wins: Stanford, Kansas, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Southern Illinois, TCU, Texas Tech
  • Losses: Iowa State, Nevada, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas

Analysis: It’s not right to blame K-State’s five-game losing streak to end last season entirely on Skylar Thompson being hurt, but, you know, it was a factor. I predict this team bounces back at least a little. Thompson and running back Deuce Vaughn are a great duo, but the defense has to shore up, especially against the pass. Iowa transfer cornerback Julius Brents may help on that front, though. Pick: Over 5.5 wins (-130)


Over/under 11 wins

  • Wins: Tulane, Western Carolina, Nebraska, West Virginia, Kansas State, TCU, Texas, Kansas, Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State
  • Losses: Oklahoma State

Analysis: You’re at equal odds here (-110) for 11 wins with the possibility of a push. Even though the Sooners will be rightly favored in every game, I have a hard time talking myself into an undefeated regular season. It’s happened once in conference play for OU in the past 15 years. So let’s just say Bedlam gets weird. But in the bird’s eye view of college football betting, would you at least get your money back if you took the over? Recent history says yes, and this Oklahoma team has the look of a playoff contender, so 11 wins would be the bar to hit anyway. Pick: Over (-110)

Oklahoma State

Over/under 7.5 wins

  • Wins: Missouri State, Tulsa, Boise State, Baylor, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kansas, Texas Tech 
  • Losses: Texas, Iowa State, Kansas State, TCU

Analysis: As a program, the Cowboys are rarely subject to massive swings. While I’m not nearly as bullish on them anymore when offseason hype is high, this also provides an opportunity to buy low. I see the calls for a regress, but you’re going to get six to nine regular season wins a year from coach Mike Gundy, almost regardless.  They need a replacement for receiver Tylan Wallace, but quarterback Spencer Sanders is back as is most of a salty defense. I think this team improves upon last year’s record just by virtue of having more games.  Pick: Over 7.5 (-110)


Over/under 7.5 wins

  • Wins: Duquesne, Cal, SMU, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas
  • Losses: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State

Analysis: TCU is 23-22 in conference play over the last five seasons with one eight-win season (11-3 in 2017). I wouldn’t be surprised if the Frogs have a Signature Gary Patterson Game and play lights out against a favorite, but quarterback Max Duggan needs more consistency (and more time to throw). I feel like they’re going to be in a lot of close games and could be anywhere from 5-7 to 9-3. Pick: Under 7.5 (-105)


Over/under 8 wins

  • Wins: Louisiana, Rice, TCU, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State
  • Losses: Arkansas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State

Analysis: This seems like a natural over pick with plus money (+110), but with Texas, it’s usually a trap. The Longhorns have gone over seven regular season wins once since Mack Brown stepped down at the end of 2013. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a better team in the second half of 2021, but there’s not a lot of forgiveness to start leading up to the OU game. Breaking in a new coaching staff can lead to some early-season clunkers. I don’t love this bet in general, but … Pick: Under 8 (-130) 

Texas Tech 

Over/under 4.5 wins

  • Wins: Stephen F. Austin, FIU, Texas, Kansas, Baylor, TCU 
  • Losses: Houston, West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Iowa State, Oklahoma State

Analysis: I hate jumping the gun, but it feels like it’s getting to be now-or-never time for coach Matt Wells. His hire was met with mixed reactions and he’s 8-14 in his first two seasons. Wells did overhaul a badly regressed passing offense by bringing in offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie and Oregon transfer Tyler Shough at quarterback. The Red Raiders will need to go 2-1 (or even 3-0) in nonconference play, but bowl eligibility is in play for a team that’s come up just short in some close games the past couple of seasons. (Then again, Tech has been in some battles with Kansas lately.) I think we see a quiet improvement in 2021, though theoretically upsetting Texas, as I picked, would be pretty loud. It almost happened last year.  Pick: Over 4.5 (-145) 

West Virginia

Over/under 6.5 wins

  • Wins: Virginia Tech, Long Island, Texas Tech, Kanas State, Iowa State, Texas, Kansas
  • Losses: Maryland, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State

Analysis: If you listen closely, you’ll hear the Mountaineers getting a little “Year 3 jump under Neal Brown” love from the pundits. I’ll say this: West Virginia can win eight games if a few things go right. I just believe you can also say the same thing about any mid-tier Big 12 team. I don’t know if the defense will be as good, and the receivers have to stop dropping so many balls. They’ll win one or two they shouldn’t, but the real sign of growth will be if they don’t drop the one or two they shouldn’t. Pick: Over (-130)