Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, September 4, 2017 at 7:00 PM
The early line for this Saturday night’s BLOCKBUSTER college football showdown matching Oklahoma and Ohio State shows the Buckeyes as a favorite of -7.5 points. Even though Oklahoma looked sharp in a season-opening win over UTEP, it’s likely that line will stay around -7.5 because:
*Ohio State exploded for a huge second half against Indiana in a TV game
*Everyone who laid -7, -7.5 or -8 with Alabama over FSU in last Saturday’s big TV game cashed their tickets!
Squares love to bet national superpowers as TV favorites…and they got to celebrate with that approach a few times last week (Michigan also won as chalk over Florida, as did LSU over BYU, as did Oklahoma over UTEP too for that matter).
These teams met last season in Norman, Oklahoma…and Ohio State squashed the Sooners like a bug. Oklahoma had once again been very overrated by the betting marketplace in terms of “big game” potential. Ohio State looked like world beaters that night, though they would eventually disappoint in market terms against Big 10 rivals and in a Final Four appearance vs. Clemson.
Will it be different this time, at an even friendlier site for Ohio State?
Maybe! The sarcastically named “Big Game” Bob Stoops is no longer the head coach of Oklahoma. Lincoln Riley is now the head man, and he’d love to make a statement with a road upset on national TV.
Why could the inexperienced Riley be a better “big game” coach than Stoops? Several reasons.
*He learned from the mistakes Stoops kept making!
*He won’t coach from a position of fear, young coaches are fearless
*He’ll be much more likely to gamble, which can pay off in “nothing to lose” spots
*He’ll have the confidence of his players, where Stoops’ athletes knew what was coming
Now, this isn’t a sure thing. Inexperienced head coaches sometimes make some boneheaded blunders. But, those won’t be any worse than the horrible choices Stoops always made in big games! Riley has a chance to be smarter. Stoops refused to learn from his own mistakes, and kept stubbornly doing the wrong thing over and over.
It can be dicey trying to preview or handicap a game based on one week of stats, particularly when the opponents were Indiana and UTEP. Let’s take a quick look back to last year’s stat rankings.
Offense: Oklahoma #2, Ohio State #31
Defense: Oklahoma #82, Ohio State #6
Inverse teams. Oklahoma won with offense, constantly playing shootouts in the Big 12 in an era where nobody down there can seem to play defense. Ohio State won with defense. The offense had clear splits…looking like a top 10 team against weak defenses, but struggling in surprising fashion against quality.
Let’s dig deeper into that theme. Ohio State did make it to the Final Four last season. But, outside of the Oklahoma game, they didn’t exactly sparkle against opponents who went to prominent bowls.
Ohio State (-2) beat Oklahoma 45-24
Ohio State (-10) tied Wisconsin in regulation (won 30-23 in overtime)
Ohio State (-17.5) lost at Penn State 24-21
Ohio State (-25.5) only beat Northwestern 24-20
Ohio State (-4.5) tied Michigan in regulation (won 30-27 in overtime)
Ohio State (-1) lost to Clemson 31-0 in a National Semifinal
Oklahoma was one of those “bad defensive teams” that OU could move the ball easily against. The Buckeyes were VERY overrated otherwise, with double digit pointspread misses in regulation against Wisconsin, Penn State, Northwestern, and Clemson (you could throw in Michigan State too…a non-bowl team that at least knew how to play defense).
Ohio State almost had an “Urban Myth” storyline that could match “Big Game Bob!”
A quick reminder of Oklahoma last year against quality opponents…
Oklahoma (-13) lost at Houston 33-23
Oklahoma (+2) lost to Ohio State 45-24
Oklahoma (-12) beat Oklahoma State 38-20
Oklahoma (-2) beat Auburn 35-19 in the Sugar Bowl
The Sooners did rally from a 3-6 ATS start to cover their last four games. Stoops got to go out on a winning note. Though, he didn’t tell anybody he was going out until several months later.
JIM HURLEY still has a few days to make his final determination in this game. He says the key will be whether or not Oklahoma can move the ball and score consistently on the Ohio State defense. Indiana did that for a half last week. Oklahoma has to do it for at least 55 minutes to cover the spread…and all 60 minutes to score the outright upset. The full team of NETWORK experts will put their heads together to determine if this is an upset call that should be made for young Lincoln Riley.
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