The dog days of college football's offseason are here, but early lines for the 2019 season have arrived. FanDuel recently released its 2019 Big 12 championship odds, and not surprisingly, Oklahoma is at the top with the best odds to win yet another conference title. The Sooners just lost their second Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and No. 1 overall pick in as many years in Kyler Murray, but Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts could thrive in his new home.
Also near the top of the odds list is Texas, which is coming off a 10-win season and returns quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Are the Longhorns really ... well ... you know. We'll dive into the Horns chances, as well as the best bet for this year's Big 12 title champion.
First, let's take a look at the full list.
Now let's break down some of these odds.
Best Bet -- Iowa State: Since it's Oklahoma and then pretty much everyone else, there are two or three teams that fit the bill here. But it's the Cyclones who have the most reason for optimism. Quarterback Brock Purdy is the conference's returning leader in passing efficiency (169.91) and is a program-changing type of player. Iowa State also returns its entire starting offensive line, one with 114 career starts and four seniors. One the other side, the defensive line returns two all-conference selections and is probably the best position group on that side of the ball. The Cyclones do need to replace running back David Montgomery and receiver Hakeem Butler, two NFL-caliber playmakers, but all in all, there's a lot to be excited about with Matt Campbell's team. Campbell is now a proven Power Five coach at a place that's been difficult to win. This is a team that should be in the thick of the Big 12 Championship Game race in November.
Worst Wager -- Texas: I'm not as bullish on the Longhorns for a few reasons. Whereas the Cyclones have experience in the trenches, Texas is breaking in mostly new starters, though senior center Zach Shackelford and grad transfer Parker Braun at guard are good pieces to build around. There's also the matter of whether Ehlinger can stay upright as he was the most reliable scoring option on the ground last year. Texas plans to utilize its running backs more, so we'll see if that takes the pressure off of Ehlinger. If the Horns utilize strength in numbers on defense, they definitely have a chance to get back to the conference title, but they have an awful lot of questions for the team with the second-highest odds.
Personal Pick -- Oklahoma: I'm not saying picking the favorite is the smart wagering move here. But the pickings? They're slim. There just aren't a lot of great options on paper. As for the Sooners: Hurts isn't the same player as Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray, but he's a one-time SEC Offensive Player of the Year with two appearances in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game. I don't get the feeling we'll see Hurts morph into a pure passer with the Sooners -- though he did show off an improved game vs. Georgia in the SEC Championship -- but coach Lincoln Riley is a mastermind at getting the most out of his players' talents. Add in new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch and Oklahoma shouldn't have to score on every single possession to win a lot of games.