When the Big 12 decided to bring back its conference title game, there was some concern it could backfire on the league. The thinking was a title game rematch would put the regular season champion at risk and might ultimately knock them from playoff contention.
So far, those fears have been unfounded. Two years in and the Big 12 conference title game has helped the league get its champion – Oklahoma both years – in the College Football Playoff.
In fact, Oklahoma joins Alabama and Clemson as the only teams that have made consecutive appearances in the College Football Playoff. However, the Big 12 remains the only Power 5 conference that has not advanced to the championship game in the College Football Playoff’s five-year history.
Will that championship game streak end next season? If so, it likely will be the Sooners to get that elusive first College Football Playoff championship.
All week, we are listing the national title odds for each of the Power 5 conferences and the top non-Power 5 teams along with the 2019 power ratings from Collin Wilson of the Action Network.
Coming Friday: the Pac-12 and the non-Power 5 schools.
Odds to win 2019 national title via Westgate Superbook @LVSuperbook for each Big 12 school:
Iowa State 200/1
Oklahoma State 200/1
Texas Tech 300/1
West Virginia 300/1
Kansas State 500/1
Power ratings entering 2019 via Collin Wilson, the Action Network @_Collin1 for each Big 12 school:
16. Oklahoma State
20. Iowa State
28. Texas Tech
39. Kansas State
44. West Virginia
The Favorite: Oklahoma
The Big 12’s best hope for a national championship must replace its Heisman Trophy winning quarterback – again. Last year, Kyler Murray did a masterful job replacing Baker Mayfield for the Sooners, but how will Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts fare as Murray’s replacement?
Hurts being at Oklahoma will be one of the biggest storylines of the fall. You know Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley is eager to show what he can accomplish with Hurts, who was ultimately replaced by Tua Tagovailoa, in part because he wasn’t as accomplished a passer. Besides replacing Murray, the Sooners lose other offensive weapons – including wide receiver Marquise Brown – but Oklahoma always has a ton of talent on the offensive side.
The good news is the defense returns nearly intact (which may actually be bad news, considering the Sooners had one of the nation’s worst defenses last season). However, expect a much-improved defense in 2019 under new Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch. Oklahoma should be favored in every game with the toughest tests against Texas in Dallas, a home date with Iowa State and the regular season finale at Oklahoma State.
Dark Horse: Iowa State
Each year that Coach Matt Campbell remains in Ames is a bonus for the Cyclones. He will be a big-time get for one of college football’s elite programs some day. But until then, he’ll continue his winning ways at Iowa State.
Quarterback Brock Purdy returns from last year’s 8-5 club, but Iowa State did lose star running back David Montgomery and wide receiver Hakeem Butler. Collin Wilson has Iowa State ranked 20th nationally in his power ratings, good for third-best in the Big 12. Still, Iowa State is a massive 200-to-1 longshot by the Westgate Superbook to win the College Football Playoff title.
The Cyclones have won eight games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1977 and ’78. Iowa State went 4-3 straight-up as underdogs against ranked Big 12 opponents over the last two seasons. With Purdy back – along with eight defensive starters – the Cyclones could pull off more surprises in 2019. They do have to play at Oklahoma, where they won in 2017, but in-state rival Iowa and Big 12 foes Oklahoma State and Texas all must visit Ames.
Best Value: Oklahoma State
Like Iowa State, Oklahoma State also is a 200-to-1 longshot to win the College Football Playoff. Yet, Wilson’s power ratings have the Cowboys as the Big 12’s second-best team behind Oklahoma and rated 16th in the nation. The Cowboys should sit at 3-0 after completing their non-conference schedule (at Oregon State, McNeese State and Tulsa) before opening Big 12 play at Texas, where OSU has won the last five meetings.
Quarterback Taylor Cornelius and Offensive Coordinator Mike Yurcich are gone, but with Head Coach Mike Gundy, the Cowboys usually just reload on offense. Hawaii transfer Dru Brown will battle for the quarterback spot with Spencer Sanders. Whoever wins the job will have the luxury of relying on Tylan Wallace, the nation’s second-leading receiver last year with 1,491 yards.
Chuba Hubbard takes over as the featured back after rushing for more than 100 yards in three of his last four games last season. Highly-touted Offensive Coordinator Sean Gleeson of Princeton was Gundy’s choice to replace Yurcich and folks in Stillwater are excited to see what wrinkles he adds to the Pokes’ offense.
Oklahoma State will score a ton of points, but can the Cowboys make enough stops defensively, especially in the regular season finale vs. Oklahoma, in a series the Sooners have dominated?