After a full slate of games on Saturday, the only college football game on tap Sunday is a primetime matchup between Houston and No. 4 Oklahoma. By the way, those games yesterday were quite profitable. What up, Auburn -3.5?
Bo Nix's game-winning pass for Auburn's comeback with 9 seconds left was 😱
— SI College Football (@si_ncaafb) September 1, 2019
Hell of a play call, Gus Malzahn.
As for tonight, this game may not be particularly competitive as Oklahoma enters as an overwhelming favorite, but there are a couple of fun storylines worth tracking.
As for the game, former Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts will make his much anticipated debut with the Sooners. Oklahoma has had an embarrassment of riches at the quarterback position in recent seasons with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray at the helm, and there’s plenty of interest in how Hurts will follow their Heisman acts. His speed, strength, and moderately improved passing skills should play well in the Sooners offense, making Oklahoma once again a College Football Playoff contender.
Meanwhile, former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen makes his debut with Houston. He replaces Major Applewhite, who was fired after the Cougars wasted a 7-1 start last season. If he wants to start with a bang, he will need to do something he failed to do in seven tries with the Mountaineers – beat Oklahoma.
While the Sooners are familiar with Heisman hype, Holgorson inherits one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the country in D’Eriq King. He is the only returning quarterback in the nation to account for 50 touchdowns (36 passing, 14 rushing) a season ago, and it’s not impossible that he finds himself in Heisman contention as the season wears on.
Let’s run down everything you need to know before locking in your picks for this one.
How to Bet on Houston-Oklahoma
Our top picks include:
How to Watch Houston-Oklahoma
- Date: Sunday, September 1
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Location: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (Norman, OK)
- Network: ABC
Here are the current Houston-Oklahoma odds at the top online sportsbooks:
|Houston||+23 (-110)||+800||O 80 (-110)|
|Oklahoma||-23 (-110)||-1350||U 80 (-110)|
|Houston||+23 (+100)||+1000||O 80 (-110)|
|Oklahoma||-23 (-120)||-1667||U 80 (-110)|
|Houston||+23 (-110)||+1000||O 80 (-110)|
|Oklahoma||-23 (-110)||-1667||U 80 (-110)|
|Houston||+23 (-110)||+800||O 80 (-110)|
|Oklahoma||-23 (-110)||-1301||U 80 (-110)|
Oklahoma is currently -1350 on the moneyline at FanDuel when this story was written (late Sunday morning), which is an implied probability of 93.1%. Believe it or not, that means there is actually some value on the Oklahoma moneyline compared to the FPI probability.
Conversely, with FanDuel’s +800 moneyline odds (a win probability of 10.8%), there is no value on a Houston moneyline play when compared with FPI probability.
Either way, just know that this would be an upset of monumental proportions if Houston rolls into Normal and finds a way to win.
Why Backing Oklahoma is a Good Bet
Top 5 Trends
First, Top 5 teams at home in September favored between 21-23.5 points are 6-2 ATS. When they are favored between 21-24 points in non-conference September home games, they are 8-2 ATS since 2005.
Big 12 Power
When Big 12 home teams are favored between 21-24 points at home in September, they are 21-12 ATS since ’05. In the same time span, when they are favored between 22-24 points, they are 15-9 ATS, so this conference has historically performed well with similar early-season spreads.
Big 12 teams favored in non-conference September home games of any spread are 147-106-4 ATS, making the conference the country’s most profitable in this specific role over the last 15 seasons.
As for Oklahoma, specifically, the Sooners are 19-11-1 ATS as a home favorite against non-conference teams since ’05, but were 1-2 ATS in this role last season.
They are also 5-2 ATS when favored between 21-25 points as a home favorite in non-conference games and 13-5 ATS in all games within this spread range. More recently, Lincoln Riley teams are 3-1 ATS in this spot.
Riley coached Oklahoma teams teams are also 5-1 ATS as a home favorite between 18-24 points.
Dana, Dana, Dana…
Holgorsen coached teams are 0-7 straight up against Oklahoma, but they are also only 2-4-1 ATS in those games. His teams are also only 3-6 ATS as a double digit underdog and 1-3 ATS as an underdog of 20+ points.
Why Backing Houston is a Good Bet
Houston is a good dog
As a 23-point underdog, this is a somewhat historic spread for the Houston football program. It hasn’t been an underdog of more than 18 points over the last 15 seasons.
Houston is 18-8-1 ATS as a road underdog since 2005, including 9-3-1 ATS since the 2012 season. It’s worth noting, however, that the Cougars did lose twice as a road underdog last season.
AAC squads have some bark
AAC teams are 20-10-1 ATS as a road dog of 20-24 points since 2013 and 14-5-1 ATS when a dog of 21-24 points.
They are, however, only 1-4 ATS as road dogs against Top 5 teams. Houston hasn’t been directly involved in those outcomes.
A Lean on the Over
The over is 3-0 when the total closes between 70-80 points and Oklahoma is favored by 21-24 points.
Meanwhile, the over is 71-49-1 when Big 12 home teams play with a closing total over 70.
As of 11 a.m. Sunday morning, 57% of spread bets and 58% of the spread money is behind Houston at reporting markets.
I’m a little torn on this game. I like to go away from the money, so that leans me towards Oklahoma. At the same time, I love D’Eriq King to make his share of plays against an improved (but still not very good) Sooners defense. I also have some questions about the Sooners’ ability to seamlessly replace four starting offensive lineman from a year ago, though I don’t believe that will be an issue in this specific game – that’s more of a long-term concern.
While most of the historical conference trends point to a play on Oklahoma, I’ll go against my initial lean here and grab the 23 points with Houston in what should still be a comfortable win for the home team.
Oklahoma 51, Houston 36