The Big 12 conference tends to offer some of the most entertaining football due to the aerial gameplans. It’s a polarizing conference to say the least. Some games have you believing that the Big 12 is making big strides on defense, while other games leave you wondering if the entire front seven stayed home that day.
For this reason, trying to predict the exact Big 12 championship matchup is like solving a Rubik's cube. Perhaps I’m also just biased as a Longhorn by thinking they’ll win it all every year. Instead of looking at pre-season futures, focus on some betting angles that could come in handy for the 2021 season.
Oklahoma Sooners: The best bet at home
Under head coach Lincoln Riley, the Sooners are 22-2 at home in the last four years. The two losses were against Iowa State in 2017 as 31-point favorites and Kansas State last season as 27-point favorites.
If you like to bet big-favorite moneyline parlays, add Oklahoma to your list of options.
However, every season, the Sooners do lay an egg for a big upset. At home this year, Oklahoma faces Nebraska, West Virginia, TCU, Texas Tech, and Iowa State. As a favorite in all these matchups, if Oklahoma were to fall short at least once, it could be to either TCU (my Big 12 dark horse) or Iowa State, after having lost to the Cyclones at home in both 2017 and 2020.
Iowa State Cyclones: A good underdog bet
Matt Campbell has done some really good things for this Cyclones team, turning them around from 3-9 losers in 2016 to having four straight winning seasons, while coming off their best year last season with a 9-3 record.
Good for bettors, they have been cashing tickets as underdogs during the same period. The Cyclones are 20-11 ATS as underdogs. The key is knowing the split, however.
Iowa State is 11-2 ATS as a home dog but just 9-6 ATS as an away dog. Depending on how the season goes, the Cyclones could catch themselves at home as an underdog to Oklahoma State in October, Texas in November and TCU in their season finale. Early lines have Iowa State as 9.5-point underdogs at Oklahoma, which is interesting considering the Cyclones are 5-0 ATS against the Sooners under Campbell.
What also makes that Oklahoma line interesting is that the Cyclones are a good bet against good teams. Since 2016, Iowa State is 15-8 ATS against ranked opponents, though just 5-4 ATS in the last two years.
Oklahoma State Cowboys: A good away UNDER bet
Under head coach Mike Gundy and quarterback Spencer Sanders, the Cowboys are 9-15 to the OVER/UNDER in all games and 3-8 on the road. In 2019, Oklahoma State had a beast in Chuba Hubbard, who rushed for nearly 2,100 yards. In 2020, Cowboys were a top-35 team in opponent points per game.
Big 12 games tend to have higher game totals with the perception that there’s no defense. Sometimes that is true but if you follow Big 12 football enough, you’ve seen that defenses can show out when they face conference opponents. This could be why Oklahoma State is also 6-12 to the OVER/UNDER in the last two seasons against conference opponents.
West Virginia Mountaineers: Fade on the road
Raise your hand if you made bank last year betting against West Virginia on the road. The Mountaineers went 1-3 ATS on the road last season and 0-4 in wins/losses including an outright loss at Texas Tech as three-point favorites. It wasn’t just last year either. West Virginia is 3-7 in the last two seasons, 5-9 in the last three.
Road games this year include trips to Maryland in the season opener, Oklahoma, Baylor, TCU, Kansas State and Kansas. Kansas may be West Virginia's only away win.
Kansas State Wildcats: A good bet in conference play
Under head coach Chris Klieman, K-State is 12-6 ATS against conference opponents, the best in the Big 12. Going back a little further, in 2017, the Wildcats beat Oklahoma State as 20-point underdogs. They defeated Oklahoma State again in 2018 as eight-point underdogs.
Earlier I mentioned that Oklahoma has just two home losses in the last four years. One came at the hands of Kansas State. In back-to-back years in 2019 and 2020, K-State beat Oklahoma as 23 and 27-point underdogs.
This is not a team to take lightly. The Wildcats can come out and bite you in the butt if you’re not looking. You can’t use analytics to describe why this is the case. In the last two years, this team has ranked 105 and 108 in total offense and 44 and 86 in total defense. It's a team that doesn’t quite make sense but who am I to question a good trend?
With nine conference opponents this year, keep an eye out to see if this trend continues.
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