In 2011, Nebraska will be in the Big 10 while Colorado will be switching over to the Pac-10. The two Big 12 North division schools will hope to fare better in their respective new conferences. The Big 12 South has won the last six conference title games. Here’s a look at the top three favorites and a live sleeper in the 2010 Big 12 football title chase:
1. Texas Longhorns (+200 odds to win BIG 12 in 2010)
In the last six years, Texas has relied on the arms of Vince Young and Colt McCoy to plenty of success. With McCoy’s departure, sophomore Garrett Gilbert will have some big shoes to fill at the quarterback position. Gilbert’s experience in last year’s BCS title game should help his development in 2010. While Texas lost some key personnel to the NFL, head coach Mack Brown has been able to consistently bring in more talented to recruits to keep the Longhorns rolling. Texas will face a challenging stretch of games in the first half of the season. The club must face Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska away from home.
2. Oklahoma Sooners (+250 odds to win BIG 12 in 2010)
After winning six Big 12 titles from 2000-08, the Sooners couldn’t overcome a couple of injuries to star quarterback Sam Bradford in 2009. While Bradford and two other of his Oklahoma teammates were among the first four overall picks in this year’s NFL Draft, the Sooners still have enough weapons to contend in the 2010 Big 12 race. Sophomore quarterback Landry Jones showed some promise in 2009 after getting some extended playing time with Bradford on the shelf. As usual, the “Red River Rivalry” matchup against Texas on October 2nd in Dallas will be vital to the championship hopes of Oklahoma.
3. Nebraska Cornhuskers (+250 odds to win BIG 12 in 2010)
Before heading to the Big 10, the Cornhuskers would like to win its first Big 12 crown since 1999. Head coach Bo Pelini has restored some pride back to the program after some struggles under Bill Callahan. While the loss of standout defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh will be felt, Pelini’s ability as a defensive guru should enable Nebraska’s stop unit to build on last year’s improvement. The offense will need to step up but senior running back Roy Helu Jr. is a bright spot after gaining over 1,100 yards in 2009. Road tilts at Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Texas A & M will be challenging for the Cornhuskers.
BEST ROI OPTION: Kansas State Wildcats (+800 odds to win BIG 12 in 2010)
Last year’s return of legendary Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder to the sidelines brought some energy back to the program. In his previous tenure, Snyder’s Wildcats were a constant factor in the Big 12 against other more noted programs. A talented runner and a favorable slate could enable Snyder to contend for a championship in 2010. Senior running back Daniel Thomas rushed for over 1,200 yards in 2009. On the scheduling front, Kansas State will get to play its two most difficult contests of the season at home. Texas and Nebraska will have to travel to Manhattan.
Vegas Betting Odds to win the Big 12 Conference in 2010:
(odds from SportsInteraction.com)
– Texas +200
– Oklahoma +250
– Nebraska +250
– Missouri +650
– Kansas State +800
– Texas A&M +800
– Baylor +2000
– Colorado +1200
– Texas Tech +1200
– Kansas +1500
– Oklahoma State +2000
– Iowa State +3000