Texas is coached during a time out against UTEP during the first quarter of their game at Royal Memorial Stadium on Saturday, September 10, 2016. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN STATESMAN

Football

Betting on the Horns: Texas faring well so far against a different kind of spread

Posted September 22nd, 2016

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Big 12 football teams have been money-burners through the first three weeks of the season.

Only three teams — yes, Texas, take a bow — have winning records against the point spread. The conference’s overall record is a hideous 10-18 vs. the line, compared to 12-16 a year ago. Straight up, the league is 16-12, which isn’t anything to brag about, either.

Oklahoma and TCU, the top two teams in the preseason poll, are both 0-3 against the spread.

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Baylor, picked fourth, also is 0-3 despite being 3-0 overall. We’ll cut the Bears some slack because they were a 49-point favorite over Northwestern State in their opener and won by 48.

With no team ranked in the AP top 15 for the first time ever, the Big 12 has a problem, but none of the Power Five conferences is blowing anyone away against the spread. The ACC (19-18) is the only Power Five league with a winning record. The Pac-12 is 16-17, the Big Ten 18-19 and the SEC 20-22.

The real powerhouse is the American Athletic, a Group of Five conference headlined by sixth-ranked Houston. The American is a combined 22-10 vs. the line, with four unbeaten teams, including SMU.

The American is far from the best overall league, but it is the most underrated. This is a developing theme as the American was a solid 77-69 vs. the line last year.

For those keeping score, the Mid-American Conference (21-14) is No. 2 this year. The only league with a worse point-spread mark than the Big 12 is Conference USA (13-24).

Nationally: Of 128 FBS teams, the list of point-spread unbeatens already has been whittled to 17. Straight up, there are 37 undefeated teams. Just goes to show there’s a big difference between winning a game and covering a point spread.

Big 12 view: Oklahoma State (+8½) is worth a shot at Baylor. The Cowboys, 8-2 ATS in their past 10 vs. the Bears, are the more experienced team and enjoy beating Texas programs, with a 26-7 straight-up mark in their past 33 tries. Baylor hasn’t played anyone with a pulse yet and hasn’t had to react to adversity on the field. Oklahoma State has seen plenty of that this season.

Extra point: Houston is a 34-point favorite at Texas State. The Cougars appear to be an easy choice against a Bobcats team coming off a 42-3 loss at Arkansas. Keep this in mind, though: QB Greg Ward, with a hobbled shoulder, might not play much more than half the game.

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