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It's beginning to look like the notion of parity in college football has been overstated. As we dive into our third conference title odds post, we're seeing another program as the chalk to take it - in this case, it's Oklahoma, which has won the Big 12 five consecutive years.
I've endorsed Iowa State plenty already this offseason, recommending the Cyclones as an early buy for the title at 100/1 and a team you should buy low on in general. Last season was a step in the wrong direction for head coach Matt Campbell. Off back-to-back eight-win seasons, the Cyclones ran into some bad luck. They were a five-win team playing like a projected 6.8-win side through October; they went 0-4 in contests decided by single digits, losing by a combined 11 points; they had a +105 point differential after the regular season and didn't even qualify for the conference title game.
Iowa State lost more than half its production on offense from last season but hung on to some serious talent. Quarterback Brock Purdy is entering his third year in the system, while running back Breece Hall was a human highlight reel as a freshman. Defensively, the Cyclones bring back seven starters from last season's squad.
Simply put, Iowa State should not be greater than 10-1 to win a 10-team field.
TCU was another unlucky Big 12 program last season, winning just five games despite playing like a 6.6-win team. The Horned Frogs missed out on a bowl berth for the first time since 2013 under head coach Gary Patterson. Instead of taking last year's variance and hoping it evens out, I'm actually going to sell TCU at this price, which admittedly does look intriguing on the surface. However, the Horned Frogs have a rough stretch ahead. They play Baylor, West Virginia, and Texas on the road, with home games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Oklahoma. Overall, TCU has the toughest slate among Big 12 programs.
Something is holding me back from going all-in on Texas Tech and his name is Matt Wells.
The head coach used Utah State as a launching pad last summer, taking the Texas Tech job after leading the Aggies to a No. 2 finish in scoring, nationally. Wells inherited a Red Raiders unit that traditionally ranks in the top five in scoring but watched it finish No. 56 in that department last season.
But, again, we're dealing with a Big 12 team that severely underachieved in 2019. Texas Tech was a whole 2.5 wins better than its actual 4-8 record, largely due to going 0-4 in one-score games and losing all four by a combined 11 points.
The Red Raiders' schedule also works in their favor. They'll have the friendliest one in the conference this upcoming season, including home games against Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Baylor.
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He's a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from "Rounders" and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.