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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 7, 2014 at 7:00 AM

We’re devoting our Friday edition of the NOTEBOOK to the most exciting early kickoff on Saturday. That’s the projected shootout between #12 Baylor and #15 Oklahoma that goes at noon ET (9 a.m. in Las Vegas) in Norman. We’ll come back with you tomorrow to run JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats in the much anticipated prime time battle in the Big 10 featuring #14 Ohio State and #8 Michigan State.

Though TCU and Kansas State will play after Baylor/OU ends with more at stake in terms of the conference championship and possibly the Final Four brackets, it’s this Bears/Sooners matchup that the region has been most looking forward too. Both teams have explosive offenses, and soft enough defenses to make things exciting. Both were in national championship discussions before the season started before stubbing their toes at inopportune moments.

*Oklahoma (-3.5) lost at TCU 37-33

*Oklahoma (-7) lost to Kansas State 31-30

*Baylor (-8.5) lost at West Virginia 41-27

Of course, there’s still a lot of talent and experience that’s returned on the Oklahoma team that stunned Alabama in last year’s Sugar Bowl. And, Baylor is a squad that nobody wants to face this postseason, whether it’s in a big bowl of the Final Four. The Bears could conceivably climb back into that picture if they beat Oklahoma and Kansas State, and get a little help elsewhere.

Let’s see what JIM HURLEY’S indicator stats have to say about this must-see matchup…


Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)

Baylor: 7-1 (#73 schedule in USA Today)

Oklahoma: 6-2 (#10 schedule in USA Today)

Baylor has the better record, but has played the much weaker schedule. Beating Oklahoma and Kansas State may not be enough to get them into the Final Four anyway because they’ll grade out worse than the other one-loss teams. Baylor needs there to be a lot of two-loss teams! Oklahoma just can’t figure out how to play well consistently in big games. Their losses to TCU and Kansas State were a reminder that “clutch” hasn’t been in the team’s vocabulary for a few years now. They have to catch powers like Alabama napping to beat them.



Baylor: 6.7 on offense, 4.5 on defense

Oklahoma: 6.7 on offense, 5.1 on defense

Both teams attack…and both teams love to run up the stats on lesser lights. That advantage of +2.2 to +1.6 for Baylor disappears when you adjust for schedule strength. In fact, the edge probably swings to Oklahoma against identical schedules. That’s why the market is giving OU such respect in the current price.


Turnover Differential

Baylor: +8

Oklahoma: +4

Fast break teams like Baylor and OU often force opponents out of their comfort zones…which means who don’t like to play in shootouts start making mistakes while trying to play catch up. Oklahoma loves shootouts…so the turnover edge you see above probably won’t be in play. It’s going to be a wild game…and either team could find itself making mistakes when pressured. We should point out, though, that +4 for Oklahoma is pretty low for this kind of team. The Sooner offense is too mistake-prone, particularly in big games. Will playing on their home field be enough to counteract that?


Market Performance

Baylor: 5-2-1

Oklahoma: 4-4

Baylor loves to run up the score, which allows them to cover tall spreads vs. cupcakes. It’s always smart to bet Baylor against cupcakes! Oklahoma is less likely to cover high garbage time spreads because the defense relaxes and the offense makes too many miscues. It’s possible, all things considered, that Oklahoma is the better team…but Baylor offers the better “value” if the market overprices the game. Let’s check on that.


Current Line: Oklahoma by 5.5, total of 73

That’s very clear respect for the Sooners…and apparently a very short memory regarding how many gigantic eggs this team has laid in big games in the Stoops era. The Sooners should have lost to Texas! A side/total combo like that is telling you that sharps expect Oklahoma’s offense to light up the scoreboard against Baylor’s defense…and that Baylor won’t be able to keep pace in a way that’s reminiscent of the Bears’ Fiesta Bowl loss to Central Florida last season.

JIM HURLEY may or may not be releasing this particular marquee matchup. The Saturday card is loaded, and there’s no reason to force a play just because an entertaining game is on TV. You’ll be able to purchase the final word for Saturday’s BEST right here at the website with your credit card in the hours leading up to first kick. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.

We’ll talk about another huge conference game in our Saturday report, running the numbers for Ohio State at Michigan in the prime time game on ABC. Here’s the schedule for the weekend…

Saturday: College Football Preview… Ohio State at Michigan State in the Big 10

Sunday: NFL Preview…Chicago at Green Bay Sunday Night on NBC

Monday: NFL Preview: Carolina at Philadelphia Monday Night on ESPN

Baylor/Oklahoma is going to be a shootout…that sets the tone for a full day and night of shootouts. Enjoy THE BIGGEST SATURDAY THIS SEASON with THE BIGGEST NAME IN HANDICAPPING! Hook up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!


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