Texas-El Paso Miners (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. Oklahoma Sooners (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Saturday, September 2nd, 2017 3:30 PM ET
Where: Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium - Norman, OK
by KEITH, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OU -43
Over/Under Total: 62
The UTEP Miners will hit the road to open their 2017 campaign as they travel to Norman, Oklahoma to square off with the two-time defending Big 12 Champions, the Oklahoma Sooners. UTEP comes in off a 4-8 effort in 2016 and is looking to replace their all-time leading rusher in school history, Aaron Jones. Jones ran for over 1,700 yards in 2016 and thus there is a huge void left in UTEPs offense upon the graduation of their most pivotal player. Similar attrition has occurred in the Oklahoma offensive ranks but given the line of this market, this contest is more or less regarded as a scheduled loss for Texas-El Paso.
As mentioned previously, the Sooners are looking to replace some exceptional talent which propelled them to a successful title retain in 2016. Among the losses for the Sooners, their two running backs Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon, and an essential playmaker in Didi Westbrook. The good news for Oklahoma is that they return a Heisman candidate in Baker Mayfield who lit up the scoreboards for the latter half of 2016. However, the start to the season was very tumultuous as Oklahoma suffered early losses against Houston and at home against Ohio State. According to many, both were games that the Sooners could have and most likely should have won. With this flux in personnel, the Sooners also have to weather the storm of going at 2017 without their long-time mastermind Bob Stoops who retired from the Captain Seat to pave the way for former offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley to take the helm. Riley is adept at managing the offensive end of operations but the question remains how he fares ascending into a head coaching role. This question remains to be answered over the span of the 2017-18 season, but UTEP should not be any means be a query that will stump the Crimson and Cream.
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The good news for UTEP is that they return 15 starters from the 2016 season. Nevertheless, those 15 starters won just four games in their initiatives. With a season-ending injury to their projected starting running back, the Miners will place their best recruit Josh Fields on the gridiron to complement Junior College transfer Ryan Metz who will be at the reins at quarterback. The production of the Miners offense was prolific in the rushing department in 2016. The graduated Jones managed to rush for a sensational 7.7 yards per carry but most of this was attained against Conference-USA opposition. With a newcomer like Fields stepping into a hostile environment such as Memorial Stadium, the ceiling is likely far lower in this contest.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that with a name brand team like Oklahoma you can expect to pay a premium if you wish to take action on them. With all the fanfare surrounding the Sooners and their historic pedigree, it is probable that the point spread in this opening game is inflated. Such phenomenon is always the case with blue chip programs such as Oklahoma, especially when they are at home in what is classed as a tune-up game by public regard. A similar situation took shape last year when Oklahoma opened as a double-digit favorite against Houston. The Sooners would go on to lose the game outright by considerable margins. We are not arguing that UTEP is going to orchestrate an upset but the fact remains that such ludicrous lumber can be covered by virtue of a backdoor alone, after the Sooners have this game well in the bag. Oklahoma has a huge contest on the horizon against Ohio State in the Horseshoe in Week 2, and it is very likely that if they get out to a commanding lead (which they will), they will likely call off the dogs in the fourth quarter to preserve their starters. With all this being taken into consideration, UTEP can rack up a few late scores and come in under this number. It is far better to have the points in this situation as opposed to having to sweat it out hoping that Oklahoma will score enough points to green-up. Take the points.
KEITHs Pick to Cover the Point Spread: UTEP +43
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