Oklahoma Sooners (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Houston Cougars (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 3rd, 12:00pm
Where: NRG Stadium – Houston, Texas
by Bob, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: HOU +11 / OKL -11
Over/Under Total: 68
One of the very first games this college football Saturday that I am excited to see is the showdown between the Houston Cougars and the Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma enters this game as the nation’s 3rd ranked team in the AP Poll and the consensus favorite to win the Big 12 and return to the Final Four of college football. Houston is somewhat of a new face to the national scene but after a great 2015 campaign, losing just one game to UConn, which was a huge letdown, Houston is seen as a true threat to beat anyone in the nation…ask Florida State, who lost to the Cougars in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl by a 38-24 score. These two teams are not that far apart geographically, but have only met twice in their history. Oklahoma won both match-ups, one in 1981 and that other back in 2004. These two teams are not familiar with each other and I think that could make this a fun one.
The line opens with the Sooners as an eleven point favorite over Houston while the total points are set pretty high at 68 combined. As of now, 61% of the betting action is on the Sooners to cover the eleven and an astounding 69% thinks the game goes over the posted total.
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The Houston Cougars sprinted out of the gates last season winning their first ten games until slipping up against a UConn team that really had no business being on the same field as Houston. Houston went on to finish the regular season 11-1 then upset Florida State in the Chic-Fil-A Bowl 38-24. In 2015, the Cougars averaged 43 points per game under the coaching of Tom Herman and their offense should not miss a beat in 2016 and pick up right where they left off. Led by Greg Ward Jr, I like the Houston offense to be able to give Oklahoma’s defense trouble but I think the real key to this game is the Houston defense. Oklahoma is going to try and air it out with Baker Mayfield then counter with the running game of Samje Perine and Joe Mixon. Houston does have a talented group of linebackers that could potentially keep the Oklahoma running game in check but the defensive line and ends will need to pressure Mayfield and not let him sit comfortably in the pocket. Simple as that.
Oklahoma is favored to win the Big 12 and make a return to the college football Final Four. Last season everything looked great for Oklahoma til then were manhandled by a Clemson team that took Alabama down to the wire for the National Title. One thing though is that Oklahoma under Bob Stoops is known for losing games that they shouldn’t. Just last year they last to Texas but that loss was not enough to keep them out of the playoff. However, losses like that are not something you want to make a habit. This certainly looks like the type of game that could be the upset of the weekend. Oklahoma must play solid defense. Also, I believe the Sooners would prefer this game being more of a ground and pound, run the clock type game rather than a shootout. A shootout in my opinion favors Houston…in a big way. Baker Mayfield will take his shots, no doubt, but the Oklahoma game plan should be the heavy dose of Perine and Mixon. I am no coach, so lets see how Stoops approaches this game on Saturday afternoon.
This game should be a good one. Oklahoma is a top five team that many believe will not only get back to the Final Four again, but this time actually win the whole thing. I am not that high on the Sooners, but they are a very talented team. With that said, I think much of the public still undervalues Houston and what they are capable of doing. I do like the Oklahoma Sooners to actually get the win, but when the clock hits all zeros in the fourth quarter, the Oklahoma fans will be breathing a sigh of relief rather than celebrating a huge blowout. I think the Sooners win a game something like 34-30 keeping the play as Houston plus the points.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like…wait, no, I LOVE the Houston Cougars +11 and under the 68 total combined points.
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