2023 Big 12 college football preview: Odds to win conference, win totals and predictions

Is Texas back? Oddsmakers think so but with the defending champions Kansas State still loaded with talent and several new comers to the conference, there's plenty of betting intrigue in the conference.

Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) throws a pass during
Nov 25, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) throws a pass during / Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 is beginning its change amidst realignment in college football with four new teams in from the AAC and Independent ranks and Texas and Oklahoma set to play in the conference for the final year before bolting for the SEC.

However, despite being on the way out, Texas is the clear favorite to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2009. Maybe this is the year Texas is finally "back" with former five star quarterabck Quinn Ewers and a host of talent on the offensive side of the ball.

The Big 12 as a whole should be full of interesting teams that will try to knock off Texas, including the defending champions Kansas State, who returns often used backup last season Will Howard and transfer running back Treshaun Ward.

Further, TCU still has plenty of talent from last years National Championship runner up group and Oklahoma will hope that head coach Brent Venables has the team in order for his second full season in Norman.

Can one of the teams that are new to the conference make a splash? What about UCF, who returns starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee to headline a veteran-laden group?

For now, here are the odds and a few teams to keep an eye on this year in the Big 12:

Big 12 Win Totals

  • Baylor: 7 (Over -120/Under +100)
  • BYU: 5.5 (Over +105/Under -125)
  • Cincinnati: 5.5 (Over +120/Under -140)
  • Houston: 4.5 (Over -140/Under +120)
  • Iowa State: 5.5 (Over +110/Under -130)
  • Kansas: 6 (Over -125/Under +105)
  • Kansas State: 7.5 (Over -180/Under +145)
  • Oklahoma: 9.5 (Over -110/Under -110)
  • Oklahoma State: 6.5 (Over +105/Under -125)
  • TCU: 7.5 (Over -130/Under +110)
  • Texas: 9.5 (Over -140/Under +120)
  • Texas Tech: 7.5 (Over +110/Under -130)
  • UCF: 6.5 (Over -175/Under +150)
  • West Virginia: 4.5 (Over -140/Under +115)

Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook

Big 12 Conference Winner

Big 12 Dark Horse: UCF (+3500)

Of the four new teams to the Big 12 this year, UCF presents the highest ceiling by a wide margin.

The team returns 69% of its offensive production and 75% of its defensive production, per ESPN, headlined by dual threat quarterback John Rhys Plumlee. Plumlee helped lead the Knights to a strong 2022 campaign that ended in an AAC Championship loss after an injury towards the end of the regular season, but will hope that under new offensive coordinator Darin Hinshaw that preaches more of a vertical passing game.

Plumlee is most dangerous with his legs, and this offensive line should be able to compete in the Big 12 right away, bringing back two starts on the line and several Power Five transfers like Amark Knight from Alabama and Drake Metcalf from Stanford.

On defense, the unit tailed off as the season went on amidst injuries, but bring back top two defensive linemen in Ricky Barber and Tre'mon Morris-Brash, each of who made first team All-AAC last season.

The defense has P5 transfers on hand and the size to hold up physically with the Big 12 rosters, a nod to the team's ceiling as a Big 12 contender.

Head coach Gus Malzahn has been building this roster through the transfer portal and the Florida pipeline of recruiting in order to be ready for a shift up the ranks to the P5 level. The team's up-tempo offense and physical defense may surprise some conference foes in year one.

The schedule avoids Texas, but the team does have to go to Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. While it's a long shot, the Big 12 has become more of a parity-driven league over the past several years with long shots TCU and Kansas State making it last year and Baylor and Oklahoma State doing so before.

Many may write off UCF due to being new to the conference, but that shouldn't be the case with the weapons on hand around JRP.

Big 12 Championship Pick: Texas (+115)

With questions for the likes of Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU, it's hard not to justify Texas entering the season as the clear cut favorite in the conference.

The team has over 70% of an offense back that finished top 20 in points per drive and success rate with quarterback Quinn Ewers back under center. While the team loses top 10 pick in running back Bijan Robinson, the group is flush with talent, including last year's backup Jonathon Brooks, Alabama transfer Keilan Robinson and No. 1 running back recruit CJ Baxter.

At wide receiver, Ewers will be throwing to two of his top receivers last year in Xavier Worthy and Jordan Whittington, who combined for over 1,300 yards -- and Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell.

On defense, Texas was able to get in the backfield a ton, ranking top 30 in success rate and line yards while placing inside the top 15 in terms of points per drive, but like the offense lacked consistency and not aggressive enough, ranking outside the top 100 in turnovers gained.

With another year of continuity on both sides of the ball, Texas brings back 62% of production on defense, the hope is that the Longhorns exit as Big 12 champions.

The schedule isn't a breeze, but drawing Kansas State at home is big in addition to the yearly trip to Dallas to face Oklahoma on a neutral. The team must avoid slip ups at Baylor and TCU (the week after Kansas State) before closing the year at home against Texas Tech.

With the talent on hand and the questions looming for the rest of the Big 12, I agree with the Longhorns entering the season as the clear favorites in the conference.

Odds refresh periodically and are subject to change.