Oklahoma Sooners at Kansas Jayhawks Prediction ATS
Oklahoma Sooners (4-0) at Kansas Jayhawks (2-3)
When: Saturday, October 5, Noon EDT
Where: David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kan.
Point Spread: OKLA -35 (WagerWeb)
Total: O/U 67
Outlook For Week 6
Fast starts are as much a part of the Lincoln Riley era in Oklahoma as Heisman Trophy quarterbacks. For the third year in a row, the Sooners are 4-0 and have won their Big 12 opener, routing Texas Tech in Norman. The Sooners haven’t been challenged this season, as the only close game they’ve played was against Houston, and Oklahoma was never really in danger in that contest. Kansas has made some strides in the right direction under Les Miles, but the Jayhawks still have a long way to go, as evidenced by their Week 2 loss to Coastal Carolina and a 37-point shellacking at the hands of Texas Christian last week. Kansas’ 0-2 start in league play is par for the course, as the Jayhawks have never won more than one Big 12 game in a season since the league went to 10 teams and are 4-70 in the Big 12 over the past eight-plus seasons.
How the Public is Betting the Oklahoma/Kansas Game
The line has held steady at Oklahoma -35 for the first couple of days, but now we’re seeing it fall below the key number of 35, but the over-under has shifted four points higher to 67 after starting at 63.
Running back Kennedy Brooks left the Texas Tech game early with an injury to his left knee, and he is questionable against Kansas. Running back T.J. Pledger has been out since August 30 after surgery on his right hand, and he’s questionable against Kansas.
Linebacker Dru Prox is questionable with a shoulder injury while running back Khalil Herbert is day-to-day after a personal matter kept him out against TCU.
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When Oklahoma Has the Ball
Oklahoma has turned into Second Chance University for quarterbacks under Lincoln Riley, and Jalen Hurts is the latest signal-caller to blossom under Riley’s tutelage. His decision-making has been first-rate this season, completing 77.6 percent of his passes and leading Oklahoma in rushing yards with 443 on 47 carries. He’s far from a one-man show, however, as Trey Sermon has provided solid support in the ground game with three scores and Rhamondre Stevenson serves as the backfield’s home run threat.
When the Sooners take to the air, CeeDee Lamb and Charleston Rambo have been virtually unstoppable. Both are averaging more than 25 yards per catch, and the two of them have combined to haul in 10 of the Sooners’ 15 touchdown passes this season. In short, this is an explosive offense that can beat you through the air or on the ground, and that’s a big reason why the Sooners have averaged 55.5 points per game.
When Kansas Has the Ball
The TCU debacle answered one question for the Jayhawks: Khalil Herbert is absolutely vital to any success the Kansas offense is going to have. Without Herbert, KU went nowhere against the Horned Frogs and got knocked out of the game in the first quarter. With him and Pooka Williams, Kansas has been relatively competitive. Granted, that’s because the Jayhawks’ first four games were against a pretty soft schedule, but the two have compiled 692 rushing yards on 110 carries so far.
What they haven’t done much of is find the end zone. The two backs have a combined three touchdowns this season, which has put too much pressure on Carter Stanley and the passing attack. This would be one thing if Kansas was playing a ball-control offense and keeping the football out of its opponents’ hands — which would be an excellent strategy against Oklahoma — but KU has lost the time of possession battle in four of its five games this season. The only time the Jayhawks had the ball longer than their opponents was the Boston College game, their easiest win of the season. Otherwise, the offense hasn’t spent much time on the field, which proved a real problem against TCU when the Jayhawks only had the ball for 20:25 and watched the Frogs outgain them 625-159.
This series has been one-way traffic ever since Bob Stoops first arrived in Norman in 1999. When Stoops took over the Sooners, the Jayhawks were riding a three-game winning streak against Oklahoma, the only time Kansas has done that since World War II.
Since then, it has been 14 straight wins for the Sooners, and not one has been within two touchdowns. Mercifully, the Big 12’s schedule rotation kept the Sooners off the Jayhawks’ schedule for two of every four years when the league had divisional play, but since Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M left the league, Kansas has been forced to play Oklahoma every year, and the results haven’t been pretty. Not even home-field advantage — what little there is in Lawrence — has helped the Jayhawks, as Oklahoma has outscored Kansas by a combined 103-10 on its past two trips north up Interstate 35.
Those two contests mark the only times in the past eight meetings that the home team has failed to cover — but that still means that Oklahoma has covered in its previous five meetings with Kansas. Plus, the Jayhawks haven’t exactly been a great home team in the first place, as they’re 1-4 ATS in their past five at Memorial Stadium. The high point total might be difficult to reach, however, as the Kansas defense has tended to show up at home. In the Jayhawks’ past five home games, the under has hit four times, and Kansas hasn’t given up more than 30 points in its past six home contests.
None of those contests, however, were against an opponent of Oklahoma’s caliber. The Sooners have blistered the over, hitting it in 15 of their past 21 games with one push.
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Fall arrives in Lawrence this week, and some thunderstorms might join it. The high on Saturday is projected to be 67 degrees.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
After all of that, it would seem that this is an obvious pick of the Sooners to cover the spread. However, there’s one X-factor that’s working in the Jayhawks’ favor: Texas. The Longhorns and the Texas State Fair are waiting for the Sooners after they get out of Lawrence, and there’s a good chance that one of two things are going to happen: either the Sooners are going to get caught looking ahead to Texas and end up in a tighter game than they should, or they’re going to start pulling starters in the third quarter in order to save them for the Longhorns and allow Kansas to get a backdoor cover.
But honestly, that’s not enough for me to gamble on the Jayhawks after their wretched showing against TCU. Les Miles has things going in the right direction in Lawrence and will eventually see some results, but this is still a team that lost to Coastal Carolina and barely escaped against Indiana State. Other than a rout of Boston College, which seems to be a bit overrated, Kansas hasn’t shown a lot to suggest that things are any different than past seasons.
Beware of the backdoor cover because this is a lot of points to give, but if you’re going to bet this one, I’d go with the Sooners.
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