This is my first piece of college football content for the 2022 season. Ah, it’s refreshing and feels good. Only 43 more days until college football kickoff, so that means it’s time to spin the wheels and get cranking on deciphering where the value lies before the season and which teams to look out for to contend for the national championship.
I’ve only just begun to dig into the new season, so I’m starting with the conference I know like the back of my hand: the Big 12. (Hook 'em, Horns!)
The Big 12 is a volatile, intriguing, wacky conference that we will likely only cherish in its current state for one more season before BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF join in while Texas and Oklahoma try to take off to the SEC (good luck).
The 2021 season was a wild one, with Baylor winning the conference championship against Oklahoma State, while the big-name schools in Texas and Oklahoma had ... blunders, to say the least.
These are two Big 12 teams that I’m looking to back this upcoming season.
Can we talk about Kansas State for a minute?
Regular season wins: OV 6.5 (-155), UN (+130)
The Wildcats went 7-5-1 ATS last season. They are 13-9-1 ATS in the last two seasons. Now they have a much more capable quarterback in Nebraska transfer Adrian Martinez, a dual threat who has thrown for over 8,400 passing yards and rushed for over 2,300 yards with 35 total rushing scores. Martinez was a bit of a one-man show. In four seasons as a Cornhusker, Martinez led the team in rushing yards in 12 games. To say that I’m looking forward to how Martinez can improve this offense is an understatement. I’m very much looking forward to seeing this Wildcats offense.
When I think about what Martinez can do in conjunction with RB Deuce Vaughn, I see this duo being a threat, especially against teams like TCU, Texas, and Kansas — three teams that ranked bottom 20 in the nation in rushing yards allowed. Skyler Thompson was a solid quarterback, but Martinez brings a different flare and a lot more upside. Last year, Martinez had his best production, throwing for the most yards and posting the highest rating of his career. New offensive coordinator Collin Klein (promoted from QB coach) says he wants to run a more up-tempo offense, so I can really see K-State doing things.
West Virginia looking to not be a fade on the road
Regular season wins: OV 5.5 (-125), UN (+105)
If you bet against the Mountaineers on the road in the last two seasons, then you made some bank. It was one of the most lucrative wagers you could make in all of college football. West Virginia went 3-7 ATS on the road in the last two seasons. Quarterback Jarret Doege had some lopsided splits, combining for 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions at home, but 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the road. He was sacked 33 times in away games compared to 22 times at home. It was easy money. Doege is off to Western Kentucky, and sadly, that cash cow may no longer be available.
In comes JT Daniels from Georgia, who has thrown for 4,840 yards and 32 touchdowns in his career. He does have competition to fend off, but it’s most likely Daniels we’ll see behind center.
As important as improved quarterback play matters, it’s also important to retain an offensive line, and West Virginia returns all five starters. Its top-50 defense also has a load of returning production and should improve in total yards allowed, but if the Mountaineers could also focus a bit more on their pass rush (68th in the nation for sacks) then this team could be a play instead of a fade when not at home.
These are early thoughts as we look to the over on both squads, and at the very least, we're intrigued with backing West Virginia in road games at Texas, Texas Tech and Iowa State that could offer some good underdog value.