BYU Cougars vs. Oklahoma Sooners Preview and Pick

No. 20 Brigham Young Cougars (0-0) vs. No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (0-0),
7:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, September 5, 2009, Cowboys Stadium,
Arlington, Texas, TV: ESPN

by Badger of

Point Spread: BYU +22/Oklahoma -22
Over/Under: 67.5

The No. 3-ranked Oklahoma Sooners have Heisman Trophy winner Sam
back at quarterback in 2009 for what ultimately is a BCS
Title Game or bust season, and they kick it off Saturday on ESPN with a
resume-building contest against the No.20-ranked Brigham Young Cougars on
the neutral site of the brand new billion-dollar Cowboys Stadium in Texas.

The Sooners finished 2008 at 12-2 and lost in last years BCS
Championship, bowing to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators, 24-14, but
with Bradford back and a roster full of talent they expect nothing
less then to get back to the Rose Bowl for this years BCS matchup.

The Cougars also welcome back a bevy of skilled players including quarterback
Max Hall that helped them to a third straight 10-win season
in Provo in 08. But in order to get the new season off on the right foot
with a win, the Cougers will have to beat a ranked non- conference opponent,
something they are 0-12 at in their last 12 attempts.

Looking at the point spread you wouldnt guess this game features two
ranked opponents, as oddsmakers opened the game with the Sooners as
large 22-point favorites and the number has held steady during the
early week. The over/under total opened at 68 and has also held
steady, but there are a lot of online sportsbooks offering 67.5 as
the current total too, so shop for the hook if youd like.

Last season Oklahoma lit the field on fire on offense, racking up
over 547 yards a game and an unbelievable 51.1 points per contest,
while Bradford threw for 50 touchdowns and 4,720 yards passing.

The biggest question surrounding the Sooners offense this season will be
along the line of scrimmage, where they must replace four starters who all
went on to the NFL, because Bradford will have plenty of talented weapons.
Both 1,000-yard running backs Chris Brown and Demarco
return, as well as the best pass-catching tight end in the
country Jermaine Gresham.

BYUs Hall takes a back seat to Bradford in accolades and
recognition, but his numbers in 2008 were nearly as impressive,
throwing for nearly 4,000 yards (3,995) and 35 touchdowns with a 69.5
completion percentage. But Halls main target, receiver Austin Collie
graduated, so hell have a few new faces to throw to if the Cougars
hope to make last years success in the passing game (310 ypg 6th
in NCAA).

Senior tight end Dennis Pitta (1,083 yds., 6 TD) and junior
running back Harvey Unga (1,132 yds., 11 TD) are just a
few of the skilled players the Cougars welcome back on offense from last

Defensively the Sooners have a huge advantage over the Cougars, which
is why this game is expected to be so lopsided. Oklahoma has All-
American candidates returning along the defensive line (Austin
English, Gerald McCoy, Jeremy Beal), at linebacker (Travis Lewis) and
a pair of lock-down corners (Brian Jackson and Dominique Franks) that
will make the job of the opposing offense a full 60-minute chore.

Statistically the Cougars defense ranks higher in total defense (59th
to Oklahomas 68th in 08), and they do have a few returning building
blocks in tackle Jan Jorgensen and linebackers Matt Bauman and Coleby
Clawson, but overall the speed of the unit is weak and will be
exposed by the Sooners spread attack.

The betting trends in this game are so crystal clear its scary.

Why dont we start with the fact that Oklahoma is 9-1 in the season
openers under head coach Bob Stoops. The luster of that number is
dimmed by the fact they are just 5-4 versus ranked opponents, but
they are also 14-5 versus teams from the Mountain West.

Meanwhile, BYU just cant seem to win the big game in primetime
lately. They are 14-22 lifetime versus the Big 12 but just 2-15 in
their last 17 versus ranked opponents, and that includes a 1-6 record
versus ranked teams under head coach Bronco Mendenhall. BYU has had
issues covering the number lately too, going 1-7 ATS in their final
eight games last year.

Badgers Pick: Theres just no way for the BYU scout team to mimic what the Sooners will throw at them on Saturday night in primetime.
No way. Oklahoma scores at will and covers the number by halftime.
Take Oklahoma minus the 22 points.