After six years, Oklahoma's reign atop the Big 12 came to a close in 2021 as Baylor and Oklahoma State shut the Sooners out of the conference championship game. With the Sooners undergoing a transformation under first-year coach Brent Venables, Vegas agrees that the Big 12 will once again be up for grabs in 2022.
With the chaos ahead comes value for smart bettors. The first round of Big 12 championship odds were released at Caesars Sportsbook, and they paint an interesting picture. Transitionary squads in Austin, Texas, and Norman, Oklahoma. lead the list, but the Big 12 title game contenders from one season ago remain in the top group. Four teams landed between +2500 and +4000 odds, but they are not to be ignored. In a league as mercurial as the Big 12, don't count anyone out.
Without further ado, here is how bookmakers from Caesars Sportsbook see the Big 12 title odds stacking up in 2022, along with some early betting advice.
Best Bet -- Baylor (+600): The Bears won the league last year with a goal-line stand and return many of the key contributors that took them to the top. While Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State all belong in the top tier of Big 12 contention, Baylor's betting value is hard to ignore. While the Bears have attrition on defense -- along with a voluntary quarterback change to sophomore Blake Shapen that should capture the Big 12's attention -- Baylor boasts perhaps the best trenches in the league on both sides of the ball. Left tackle Connor Galvin ranks among the best in the sport and leads a unit with four returners. Nose tackle Siaki Ika will be an All-American contender next to a defensive line that returns every starter. Oh, and by the way, Dave Aranda the No. 11 coach in college football after just two seasons. There's reasons to question whether the Bears can match their magical 12-2 season. But 6-1 odds to win the conference? That'll do.
Worst Wager -- Texas (+175): Not many programs could post its worst season from a first-year coach since 1937 and improve its title odds from last season. The Longhorns are no ordinary program. Granted, Texas brought in a star-studded recruiting class featuring former No. 1 quarterback Quinn Ewers and a handful of skill position talents to make for a talented room, but gaping holes at offensive line and on defense remain unanswered. After blowing multiple second-half leads in Steve Sarkisian's debut, luck should start to take their side, but being the betting favorite to win the league is a bridge too far. Texas' Big 12 odds are better than Cincinnati and USC's odds to win their respective conferences, and nearly match Georgia's chances to win the SEC.
Value Pick -- Kansas State (+2500): The Wildcats are on the shortlist of Big 12 squads with an argument to feature both the best offensive and defensive player in the conference. Running back Deuce Vaughn is the best player no one talks about -- seriously, watch him -- and defensive end Felx Anudike-Uzomah led all Power Five underclassmen not named Will Anderson in sacks. Kansas State ranks top-50 in both offensive and defensive returning production. The wild card comes in the form of quarterback Adrian Martinez, who transferred to Manhattan after ranking among the program leaders in every quarterback category at Nebraska. Martinez's inconsistency has been his undoing throughout his career, but Kansas State coach Chris Klieman has done magical work with quarterbacks in his career. The upside presents intriguing value.
Long shot -- Texas Tech (+6000): The Red Raiders finally made it back to a bowl game in 2021 and brought in an exciting new coaching staff that just might be poised to help Texas Tech take the next step. Offensive coordinator Zach Kittley coached Bailey Zappe to the most productive passing season of all time before returning to Lubbock, and has intriguing quarterback and receiver rooms to work with. Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter nearly had Oregon in the College Football Playoff and takes over a promising unit. Head coach Joey McGuire brings a pedigree of winning from his time in high school ball and at Baylor, along with recruiting chops that helped the Red Raiders land the No. 26 transfer class. Does Texas Tech really have a shot to win its first Big 12 title since the league formed? Who knows, but for 600-1 odds, it's worth throwing down a Hamilton.