2022 College Football Win Total Projections, Odds & Picks: Big 12

Bijan Robinson

In the article below, college football expert Thor Nystrom projects the spread for every game using his ATL system (Adjusted Thor Spread). These spreads are from the perspective of the team in question — i.e., Army is a +2.5 underdog at Coastal Carolina and a -5 favorite hosting UTSA.

Here are his total win projections, odds, and picks for the Big 12.

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Texas Longhorns
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 9 out of 131




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Louisiana-Monroe
Texas
Sat, Sep 3
-38
1


Alabama
Texas
Sat, Sep 10
14
0.076


UTSA
Texas
Sat, Sep 17
-21.5
1


Texas
Texas Tech
Sat, Sep 24
-10
0.836


West Virginia
Texas
Sat, Oct 1
-18.5
1


Oklahoma
Texas
Sat, Oct 8
-3.5
0.643


Iowa St.
Texas
Sat, Oct 15
-13
0.893


Texas
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Oct 22
-3.5
0.643


Texas
Kansas St.
Sat, Nov 5
-7
0.752


TCU
Texas
Sat, Nov 12
-10
0.836


Texas
Kansas
Sat, Nov 19
-22
1


Baylor
Texas
Sat, Nov 26
-7
0.752

 

Texas was considerably better than its 5-7 record last year – five losses during the catastrophic six-game losing streak came by one possession. But 5-7 is 5-7, and it’s not acceptable in Austin, so HC Steve Sarkisian aggressively remade the roster. The Longhorns were the only program to sign a top-five recruiting class and top-five transfer portal crop, per 247Sports’ rankings. The Longhorns only signed seven transfers, but they made them count: Five are projected starters, and the other two will be heavily involved in the WR rotation.

QB Quinn Ewers is the headliner, a ballyhooed five-star who’s drawn ubiquitous comps to Matthew Stafford. Ewers should supercharge the passing game along with what has become one of the nation’s best receiving corps (transfers Isaiah Neyor, Agiye Hall and Tarique Milton join star WR Xavier Worthy). Texas’ import of Pitt WR coach Brennan Marion, who helped spur an enormous jump in Pitt’s passing game last year, was inspired – I’d bet Marion is an FBS OC this time next year. With Bijan Robinson, Texas boasts the best RB in the nation, and this time around, Robinson will be running behind a line that should be much improved.

The defense finished a mediocre No. 67 SP+ last year and simply must improve. The good news is that seven starters return on that side of the ball. In addition, Texas welcomed two projected starters from the portal. Year after year, it’s a fool’s errand to predict “Texas is back.” Call me a fool, but I think UT will win the Big 12 this year.


Thor’s projected win total: 9.4
Las Vegas win total: 8.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

The Longhorns will almost assuredly lose at home to Alabama, the nation’s best team. Outside of that, my numbers favor the Horns by more than seven points in every other game but two: the neutral-site game against Oklahoma (UT -3.5) and the road game at Oklahoma State (UT -3.5). The Longhorns could lose all three of those games and still go over this number. And it sure helps that two other tricky in-conference matchups – TCU and Baylor – will be played in Austin. Give me the over.

Oklahoma Sooners
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 11 out of 131




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UTEP
Oklahoma
Sat, Sep 3
-30.5
1


Kent St.
Oklahoma
Sat, Sep 10
-32.5
1


Oklahoma
Nebraska
Sat, Sep 17
-1.5
0.525


Kansas St.
Oklahoma
Sat, Sep 24
-13
0.893


Oklahoma
TCU
Sat, Oct 1
-4.5
0.673


Texas
Oklahoma
Sat, Oct 8
1
0.488


Kansas
Oklahoma
Sat, Oct 15
-26
1


Oklahoma
Iowa St.
Thur, Oct 27
-6.5
0.724


Baylor
Oklahoma
Sat, Nov 5
-7.5
0.781


Oklahoma
West Virginia
Sat, Nov 12
-12.5
0.887


Oklahoma St.
Oklahoma
Sat, Nov 19
-9
0.807


Oklahoma
Texas Tech
Sat, Nov 26
-9
0.807

 

The Sooners, off an 11-2 season, were far better than Texas last year. But whereas the Longhorns’ offseason ethos was add-add-add, Oklahoma’s, for a spell, was stop-the-bleeding. Numerous big names left the program. HC Lincoln Riley, DC Alex Grinch, QB Caleb Williams and WR Mario Williams defected to USC. QB Spencer Rattler and TE Austin Stogner went to South Carolina, WR Jadon Haselwood to Arkansas and S Patrick Fields to Stanford.

Former UCF QB Dillon Gabriel takes over for Williams. Gabriel should be considered a downgrade, but he’s still a top-25 national quarterback who threw for over 8,000 yards at UCF. As a bonus, he already knows the offense. WR Marvin Mims will be asked to assume a much-larger target share than last year with the other four of the top-five pass-catchers gone. RB Eric Gray, who couldn’t overtake Kennedy Brooks last season, is first-in-line for a bell-cow role.

The defense lost three key contributors to the NFL (Perrion Winfrey, Nik Bonitto and Isaiah Thomas). But that defense disappointed last year (No. 56), and it returns a lot of contributors outside the aforementioned three (No. 12 nationally in returning production on defense). The unit is now also overseen by one of the great modern defensive play-callers (HC Brent Venables). The Sooners should improve at least a little on that side of the ball.


Thor’s projected win total: 9.6
Las Vegas win total: 9.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

I have serious questions about this Oklahoma team following the turbulent offseason. Though I’d love to bet the under, I cannot for two reasons:

1) The Vegas number, accounting for all the above, is spot-on

2) Oklahoma gets very fortunate with the schedule.

The Sooner only play Phil Steele’s No. 41 strength of schedule, largely thanks to non-con dates with UTEP and Kent State and the Big 12 being down. The Sooners could qualitatively take a tangible step back this year and theoretically still finish 10-2. Margins are too close to bet it.

Baylor Bears
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 23 out of 131




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Albany
Baylor
Sat, Sep 3
-40.5
1


Baylor
Brigham Young
Sat, Sep 10
2.5
0.455


Texas St.
Baylor
Sat, Sep 17
-28.5
1


Baylor
Iowa St.
Sat, Sep 24
-3.5
0.643


Oklahoma St.
Baylor
Sat, Oct 1
-5.5
0.69


Baylor
West Virginia
Thu, Oct 13
-9.5
0.811


Kansas
Baylor
Sat, Oct 22
-22
1


Baylor
Texas Tech
Sat, Oct 29
-6
0.707


Baylor
Oklahoma
Sat, Nov 5
6.5
0.277


Kansas St.
Baylor
Sat, Nov 12
-9.5
0.811


TCU
Baylor
Sat, Nov 19
-6.5
1


Baylor
Texas
Sat, Nov 26
6.5
0.277

 

The Bears improved from 2-7 in HC Dave Aranda’s first season to 12-2 last year. Baylor’s remarkably balanced team finished No. 10 SP+ in offense and defense. Though a respectable 12 starters return, Baylor is only No. 122 in returning production after losing; starting QB (Gerry Bohanon), a 2,400-yard backfield duo (Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner), the top-three WRs (Tyquan Thornton, RJ Sneed, and Drew Estrada), and four of the team’s best defenders (LB Terrel Bernard, CB Raleigh Texada, S Jalen Pitre and S JT Woods).

Incumbents generally don’t lose their jobs before summer camp begins, but when they do, they don’t stick around. The losses of Smith, Thornton, Bernard and Pitre sting. Others are overstated. Bohanon left because the staff either implicitly or explicitly asked him to after naming QB Blake Shapen the starter out of the spring. Baylor feels strongly that it’s upgrading at the position (Shapen’s MVP performance in the B12 title game would suggest the same). Similarly, at WR, Sneed was easily dispatched as WR1 last year by Thornton, and the staff appeared to prefer to move forward with a younger group headlined by Armani Winfield, Monaray Baldwin and Hal Presley.

It’s going to be weird to watch this defense without ball-hawking extraordinaires Bernard and Pitre flying around. But Baylor returns a round-one prospect on that side with NT Siaki Ika, and a tackle machine in the gap-plugging LB Dillon Doyle. Baylor may not finish among the top-10 defenses again, but it’s not likely to drop out of the top 20, either.


Thor’s projected win total: 8.4
Las Vegas win total: 7.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

In OOC play, Baylor has two free wins and a coin flip game at BYU. In the conference slate, Baylor gets TCU and Oklahoma State at home but must travel to Texas and Oklahoma. With this number giving us the leeway to lose four games and still go over, I like Baylor’s odds of cashing those over tickets. Aranda is a rock-solid coach, and his roster didn’t fall off as much as many seem to believe. The Bears are still very much Big 12 title contenders.

Oklahoma State Cowboys
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 35 out of 131




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Central Michigan
Oklahoma St.
Thur, Sep 1
-18
1


Arizona St.
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Sep 10
-6.5
0.724


Arkansas PB
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Sep 17
-39
1


Oklahoma St.
Baylor
Sat, Oct 1
5.5
0.311


Texas Tech
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Oct 8
-10
0.836


Oklahoma St.
TCU
Sat, Oct 15
1
0.488


Texas
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Oct 22
3.5
0.357


Oklahoma St.
Kansas St.
Sat, Oct 29
-1
0.513


Oklahoma St.
Kansas
Sat, Nov 5
-15
0.956


Iowa St.
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Nov 12
-7.5
0.781


Oklahoma St.
Oklahoma
Sat, Nov 19
9
0.193


West Virginia
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Nov 26
-12.5
0.887

 

Last year’s 12-2 campaign tied for the most season wins in the HC Mike Gundy era. The Pokes were centimeters away from a Big 12 title, denied by a Baylor goal-line stand in a 21-16 loss. This year, the Pokes return seven starters on offense, including the quarterback and four of his offensive linemen. Improved line play will aid QB Spencer Sanders, a decent starting P5 dual-threat with one fatal flaw: Decision-making under pressure.

Sanders’ 91.0 PFF grade in clean pockets (69.7% completions) torpedoed to 62.4 under pressure (41.7%). Last year’s offensive line finished No. 69 in my OL rankings. This year’s group has a real shot to go from slightly below-average to above-average in the FBS with four starters back. The offense loses RB1 Jaylen Warren and WR1 Tay Martin (both UDFAs). RB Dominic Richardson approximated Warren’s value last year when called upon, and Gundy’s conveyor belt will assuredly drop a WR1 who posts enormous numbers (Jaden Bray?). There’s a decent chance that the offense, which finished No. 34 SP+ last year, will be a little better.

On the other side of the ball, OSU is certain to be worse. The Pokes were dominant defensively in 2021, finishing No. 4 SP+ while leading the nation with 57 sacks. That unit was decimated over the offseason, losing DC Jim Knowles to Ohio State and seven starters to graduation. The new-look defense, which ranks No. 128 nationally in returning production, is installing new DC Derek Mason’s 3-4 base/2-4-5 nickel scheme as we speak. Last year’s defense allowed only 18.1 PPG. In 2019, the last time OSU had four starters returning on defense, it allowed 26.8 PPG. OSU will fall somewhere between those numbers this fall – exactly where is anyone’s guess.


Thor’s projected win total: 8
Las Vegas win total: 8.5
Thor’s bet: UNDER

My numbers project Oklahoma State as single-digit underdogs in four games, and single-digit favorites in four others, leaving a large band of outcomes. Last year, OSU went 6-2 in games decided by single digits. The Pokes’ defensive trump card often tilted coinflip games in OSU’s favor, standing strong even when stranded in bad spots by a Sanders turnover. This year’s team won’t have that same trump card. The defensive dropoff will outpace whatever small offensive gains are made. I’m going under.

TCU Horned Frogs
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 38 out of 131




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TCU
Colorado
Fri, Sep 2
-12
0.885


Tartelton St.
TCU
Sat, Sep 10
-38
1


TCU
SMU
Sat, Sep 24
-1
0.513


Oklahoma
TCU
Sat, Oct 1
4.5
0.327


TCU
Kansas
Sat, Oct 8
-14
0.924


Oklahoma St.
TCU
Sat, Oct 15
-1
0.513


Kansas St.
TCU
Sat, Oct 22
-5
0.681


TCU
West Virginia
Sat, Oct 29
-6
0.707


Texas Tech
TCU
Sat, Nov 5
-7.5
0.781


TCU
Texas
Sat, Nov 12
10
0.164


TCU
Baylor
Sat, Nov 19
6.5
0.277


Iowa St.
TCU
Sat, Nov 26
-5
0.681

 

TCU is a fascinating choose-your-own-adventure thought exercise. You be the judge.

Optimist:  TCU returns 18 starters and ranks No. 9 in Phil Steele’s returning experience chart. The issues with last year’s team were the passing game and the defense, which are likely to improve significantly. QB Max Duggan, the starter for most of last season, finished No. 19 in the FBS in turnover-worthy throw rate and No. 73 in adjusted accuracy. Duggan’s a tough runner with a big arm, but his spotty accuracy and quizzical decisions hurt the offense.

QB Chandler Morris was sensational in the upset of Baylor in relief of an injured Duggan the week Gary Patterson was fired and appears to be a far better fit for new HC Sonny Dykes’ Air Raid offense. TCU has one of the best receivers in America in Quentin Johnston and four starters returning along an offensive line that finished a solid No. 38 in my rankings last year. Last year’s defense gave up 10.7 PPG more than it gave up the year before. It will likely be closer to its 2020 number (24.2) than 2021 (34.9), with eight starters returning.

Pessimist:  Last year’s team had 18 returning starters, too, Mr. Optimist! And that’s the team that got legendary HC Gary Patterson fired. New HC Dykes has a lot of returning experience, sure. But let’s not kid ourselves. TCU has been 16-18 since 2019, and it hasn’t won more than seven games in a season since 2017. Also, this offseason, it lost one of its best players when five-star starter RB Zach Evans defected to the Portal King of Mississippi.

Dykes has a proven track record, but he went 5-7 in his first year at SMU amid enormous schematic changes, as Dykes was forced to use square pegs recruited for another system in the round holes of the Air Raid. Similar schematic changes are happening at TCU right now, with the Air Raid on offense and defense, from Patterson’s patented 4-2-5 to a 3-3-5.


Thor’s projected win total: 7.5
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: OVER

With nine games featuring projected single-digit spreads, TCU is a high-variance proposition. We know the offensive line will be good, and we know the defense will be better (it can’t be worse). There’s also a strong possibility of significantly improving the passing offense. The Evans defection didn’t destroy the rushing attack because RB Kendre Miller is back (Miller stepped up after Evans’ injury last year, averaging more YPC and catching more balls). I’m not as concerned by the scheme changes as I might be in another case because this team’s personnel fits smoothly into the new schemes. I think the Horned Frogs surprise folks this fall.

Kansas State Wildcats
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 45 out of 131




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South Dakota
Kansas St.
Sat, Sep 3
-35
1


Missouri
Kansas St.
Sat, Sep 10
-10
0.836


Tulane
Kansas St.
Sat, Sep 17
-8
0.791


Kansas St.
Oklahoma
Sat, Sep 24
13
0.107


Texas Tech
Kansas St.
Sat, Oct 1
-6
0.707


Kansas St.
Iowa St.
Sat, Oct 8
2.5
0.455


Kansas St.
TCU
Sat, Oct 22
5
0.319


Oklahoma St.
Kansas St.
Sat, Oct 29
1
0.488


Texas
Kansas St.
Sat, Nov 5
7
0.248


Kansas St.
Baylor
Sat, Nov 12
9.5
0.189


Kansas St.
West Virginia
Sat, Nov 19
-3
0.594


Kansas
Kansas St.
Sat, Nov 26
-16
0.981

 

You don’t have to squint hard to see similarities between this Kansas State team and some of the best teams they’ve had over the last 30 years.

You’ve got superstar RB Deuce Vaughn, an undersized, do-it-all, heavy-usage dynamo who appears to be the second coming of Darren Sproles. You’ve got QB Adrian Martinez, who’s been a slightly better runner than Michael Bishop over his career while completing almost 13% more of his career attempts (Martinez doesn’t have Bishop’s arm strength, to be fair). And you have a defense that ranked No. 16 SP+ last year and returns seven starters.

The offensive line must replace three starters, but it has a fine building block in first-team All-Big 12 LT Cooper Beebe. KSU’s receiving corps is the most stocked that it’s been in years and appears to be a fit for Martinez’s quick-hitting preference. The defense, meanwhile, took to last year’s shift to the 3-3-5 like gangbusters. The Wildcats return difference-makers at all three levels and are particularly strong up front and in the secondary.


Thor’s projected win total: 6.7
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

KSU has a manageable OOC schedule. Flip a coin as to whether the Wildcats emerge from OOC play 2-1 or 3-0. And speaking of coin-flip propositions, Big 12 play is full of them for KSU. My numbers project spreads of 8.5-points-or-less either way in seven of nine Big 12 games. My numbers lean over, and I do too – I like this roster and this staff. Though I think there’s a shot for a nine-win breakout campaign, I have to pass with my numbers so close to Vegas’.

Iowa State Cyclones
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 46 out of 131




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SE Missouri St.
Iowa St.
Sat, Sep 3
-35
1


Iowa St.
Iowa
Sat, Sep 10
8
0.209


Ohio
Iowa St.
Sat, Sep 17
-24
1


Baylor
Iowa St.
Sat, Sep 24
3.5
0.357


Iowa St.
Kansas
Sat, Oct 1
-11
0.871


Kansas St.
Iowa St.
Sat, Oct 8
-2.5
0.545


Iowa St.
Texas
Sat, Oct 15
13
0.107


Oklahoma
Iowa St.
Thur, Oct 27
6.5
0.277


West Virginia
Iowa St.
Sat, Nov 5
-8.5
0.802


Iowa St.
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Nov 12
7.5
0.219


Texas Tech
Iowa St.
Sat, Nov 19
-5.5
0.69


Iowa St.
TCU
Sat, Nov 26
5
0.319

 

Iowa State has won seven-or-more games every year since Matt Cambell’s second season in 2017. Heading into year seven, Campbell is about to embark on his most difficult task in Ames since his early days. ISU ranks No. 128 in returning production, and this will be Campbell’s first season at ISU without either RB David Montgomery or Breece Hall. Unfortunately, Hall wasn’t the only significant loss Campbell’s crew suffered over the offseason.

Following Hall out the door was four-year starting QB Brock Purdy, WR Tarique Milton, TEs Charlie Kolar and Chase Allen, and the top-four tacklers on defense (and six of the top eight). Only eight starters return on the entire roster. The offense is being handed over to QB Hunter Dekkers, while Jirehl Brock and Cartevious Norton are fighting over the RB job. Two things the offense has going for it:  Leading WR Xavier Hutchinson is back, as are three starting offensive linemen.

The defense only returns three starters and ranks No. 127 in returning production. One saving grace: EDGE rusher Will McDonald, who recently ranked No. 5 on Bruce Feldman’s Freak List, is back. McDonald has tied for the most sacks in the Big 12 the past two seasons, and last year, he recorded 14 TFL and five forced fumbles. McDonald is the only returning starter on the line. Likewise, there’s only one returning starter in the linebacking corps and one in the secondary.


Thor’s projected win total: 6.4
Las Vegas win total: 6.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

The inexperienced roster catches a break with two early OOC cupcakes (the other OOC, at Iowa, is another story). In conference play, my numbers project ISU as favorites in four games and underdogs in five. With projected single-digit spreads in eight games, we have a lot of variance in play with a roster filled with mostly unknowns. My projected win total is right on the Vegas number. I have no interest in touching this one.

Texas Tech Red Raiders
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 55 out of 131




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Murray St.
Texas Tech
Sat, Sep 3
-32.5
1


Houston
Texas Tech
Sat, Sep 10
0
0.5


Texas Tech
North Carolina St.
Sat, Sep 17
14.5
0.051


Texas
Texas Tech
Sat, Sep 24
10
0.164


Texas Tech
Kansas St.
Sat, Oct 1
6
0.294


Texas Tech
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Oct 8
10
0.164


West Virginia
Texas Tech
Sat, Oct 22
-6
0.707


Baylor
Texas Tech
Sat, Oct 29
6
0.294


Texas Tech
TCU
Sat, Nov 5
7.5
0.219


Kansas
Texas Tech
Sat, Nov 12
-13
0.893


Texas Tech
Iowa St.
Sat, Nov 19
5.5
0.311


Oklahoma
Texas Tech
Sat, Nov 26
9
0.193

 

Texas Tech blew it up over the winter, work that began last October when the Red Raiders, then 5-3, stunningly fired HC Matt Wells off a blown-lead loss to Kansas State. Baylor assistant Joey McGuire was brought in to right the ship. McGuire was a fascinating hire: He’s known to be an ace recruiter and a leader, and the former Texas high school coach has deep recruiting ties across the state. But he’s never coached nor coordinated at the FBS level.

Because of that, McGuire needed to nail his coordinator hires. And boy did he, poaching wonderkind WKU OC Zach Kittley and grizzled DC Tim DeRuyter, a longtime FBS HC and DC. Kittley helped QB Bailey Zappe break the FBS passing record last year. He brings a true Air Raid offense back to Lubbock after Wells’ failed attempt to balance things. This time around, the Raiders have depth in case QB Tyler Shough struggles or gets hurt again.

Like the offense, the defense returns six starters. The Red Raiders did lose their top-three tacklers from a defense that ranked No. 89 SP+ last year. But none of them got drafted in the spring, and it’s probably fair to say that this group will be more talented. The issue with last year’s defense was consistency:  Texas Tech held Houston, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Baylor to 24 points or less but coughed up 52 points or more to Texas, Oklahoma and TCU. If DeRuyter can bring consistency, this group could take a big step forward.


Thor’s projected win total: 4.8
Las Vegas win total: 5.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

I loved the McGuire hire, and I really loved the coordinator hires. McGuire already has spurred an uptick in Tech’s recruiting. But we should cut him some slack in year one. This is a really tough schedule, with two tough OOC matchups before the nine-game Big 12 schedule. My numbers only favor Tech in three games, with one projected pick ‘em. The Red Raiders could finish anywhere from 3-9 to 9-3. My numbers advocate for an under play, but I’m going to pass.

West Virginia Mountaineers
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 64 out of 131




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West Virginia
Pittsburgh
Thur, Sep 1
16
0.019


Kansas
West Virginia
Sat, Sep 10
-9.5
0.811


Towson
West Virginia
Sat, Sep 17
-29
1


West Virginia
Virginia Tech
Thur, Sep 22
7.5
0.219


West Virginia
Texas
Sat, Oct 1
18.5
0


Baylor
West Virginia
Thur, Oct 13
9.5
0.189


West Virginia
Texas Tech
Sat, Oct 22
6
0.294


TCU
West Virginia
Sat, Oct 29
6.5
0.277


West Virginia
Iowa St.
Sat, Nov 5
8.5
0.198


Oklahoma
West Virginia
Sat, Nov 12
12.5
0.113


Kansas St.
West Virginia
Sat, Nov 19
3
0.406


West Virginia
Oklahoma St.
Sat, Nov 26
12.5
0.113

 

The Mountaineers appeared to be headed in the right direction under HC Neal Brown until last season’s 6-7 step-back. Now sitting at 16-17 over his three-year tenure and feeling the heat for the first time, Brown had a come-to-Jesus moment over the offseason.

To fix an offense that ranked near the bottom of the conference, Brown pushed out OC Gerad Parker (and may have done the same with former starting QB Jarret Doege). He hired Air Raid guru OC Graham Harrell to replace Parker and signed QB JT Daniels from Georgia to replace Doege. Daniels can stretch defenses vertically in a way Doege never could and should be considered an upgrade. Unfortunately, WR1 Winston Wright was lost to Florida State in the portal. But the WVU offense has one big thing going for it: A top-40 national offensive line.

Though I expect the offense to be slightly better than last year, I’m not as confident about the defense. The Mountaineers lose its top-five tacklers and return only four starters from a group that allowed 23.8 PPG last year. With DT Dante Sills and EDGE Taijh Alston back, West Virginia will be strong up front. The rest of the group is an open question. Counting nickel back, WVU will have five new starters in the secondary, a scary proposition in the pass-happy Big 12.


Thor’s projected win total: 3.6
Las Vegas win total: 5.5
Thor’s bet: UNDER

If you’re Brown and possibly needing a bowl berth to reach year five, this isn’t the kind of schedule you want to see. The Mountaineers have two difficult Thursday night OOC road games at ACC opponents in September. Sandwiched between those games is an FCS opponent and Kansas. Odds say WVU leaves September 2-2. My numbers project WVU as underdogs in all eight games in October and November and 12.5-point-underdogs-or-more in three of them. I love the under.

Kansas Jayhawks
Thor’s Preseason Power Ranking: 92 out of 131




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Tennessee Tech
Kansas
Fri, Sep 2
-19.5
1


Kansas
West Virginia
Sat, Sep 10
9.5
0.189


Kansas
Houston
Sat, Sep 17
16
0.019


Duke
Kansas
Sat, Sep 24
-7
0.752


Iowa St.
Kansas
Sat, Oct 1
11
0.129


TCU
Kansas
Sat, Oct 8
14.5
0.051


Kansas
Oklahoma
Sat, Oct 15
25.5
0


Kansas
Baylor
Sat, Oct 22
21.5
0


Oklahoma St.
Kansas
Sat, Nov 5
15
0.044


Kansas
Texas Tech
Sat, Nov 12
13
0.107


Texas
Kansas
Sat, Nov 19
21.5
0


Kansas
Kansas St.
Sat, Nov 26
16
0.019

 

The Jayhawks went 2-10 last year; the 12th-consecutive season KU has finished with three wins or less. Rock Chalk showed very little pulse during a sluggish 1-5 start. But HC Lance Leipold’s reputation for rebuilding lowly programs showed through with real progress after that. KU led Oklahoma going into the 4Q in a close loss, upset Texas and closed the regular season with two losses by a combined nine points against TCU and West Virginia. With better luck, KU could have been 5-7.

This year’s squad is clearly better than last year’s. Kansas returns 17 starters and ranks No. 21 in Phil Steele’s returning experience rankings. The young backfield is exciting with sophomore standouts, QB Jalon Daniels and RB Devin Neal. And with four starting offensive linemen returning, KU will be as strong in the offensive trenches as it’s been in years.

Last year’s defense slightly improved but still finished No. 126 in Football Outsiders’ dFEI. This group is going to be much better. Eight starters returned, and several impact transfers were added. If the Jayhawks can leap into the No. 100-110 range – where teams like Maryland, Northwestern, Missouri and Vanderbilt finished last year – the Jayhawks will have a shot to spring a few upsets.


Thor’s projected win total: 2.3
Las Vegas win total: 2.5
Thor’s bet: Pass

In theory, knowing this team should be tangibly improved over last year’s 2-10 incarnation, you’d think getting to three wins would be a slam-dunk. But the Jayhawks play a top-25 strength of schedule, including 10 teams from the P5 and an upper-tier G5 in Houston. Kansas has a solid chance to come out of September 2-2 – which would leave the Jayhawks one victory away from the over. But my numbers project KU as a double-digit underdog in the last eight games, greatly complicating things. My numbers slightly lean under, and my personal lean is over. But with the margins so close, I’m going to pass.

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College Football, Picks

Author: Jordan Lopez