2014 Oklahoma Sooners Odds to Win the Big 12 with Picks & Predictions
by Aaron Smith - 8/14/2014
A wide view of the 2013 season for the Oklahoma Sooners shows an impressive 11-2 season. A closer look at the game-by-game numbers reveals an up-and-down team that did a lot of things well but also laid a couple of eggs. Oklahoma's 36-20 loss to Texas was a complete beatdown. The Longhorns had 24 first downs to the Sooners 13 and rolled up 445 yards compared to Oklahoma's 263. At that point, many were thinking that Oklahoma was in for a disappointing season.
Instead, the Sooners lost only one game the rest of the way. It was an ugly 41-12 loss at Baylor, but the Bears blew out a lot of teams on their home field. Oklahoma then ended the season with three straight very strong games. First, the Sooners beat Bill Snyder's Kansas State Wildcats 41-31 on the road. They then knocked off rival Oklahoma State on the road. Finally, the time when the nation found out what this Sooners team could do was in the Sugar Bowl in their stunning 45-31 win over Alabama.
Oklahoma is ranked No. 3 in the preseason AP Poll, so the writers are expecting huge things out of this team. They return five starters on offense and nine starters on defense. Is this team worthy of the lofty status put on them in the preseason? Let's take a look.
2014 Oklahoma Offense
The Oklahoma Sooners averaged just 199 passing yards per contest last year. Because of their poor passing offense, they turned to backup Trevor Knight at quarterback in the Sugar Bowl instead of previous starter Blake Bell. Knight's performance was outstanding against arguably the best defense in the country. Bell has now been turned into a tight end, and Knight is the clear-cut starter at quarterback entering 2014. Knight is only a sophomore, and Sooners fans hope that performance against Alabama was just a sign of things to come. He won't play that well every week, but I expect Knight to be rock solid at quarterback.
No doubt the Sooners have to replace a lot at the tailback spot. Brennan Clay, Damien Williams, and Roy Finch are all gone. That leaves the starting spot to Keith Ford, who carried the ball a grand total of 23 times last year. Alex Ross and Daniel Brooks will also get carries here. The top three guys are all inexperienced, and this is the worst an Oklahoma backfield has looked heading into the season in quite a while. Sterling Shephard is an elite wide receiver, but the rest of the pass catchers aren't particularly impressive. If Dorial Green-Beckham is immediately eligible, that makes this group much better. Keep a close eye on that situation.
The strength of this offense is their offensive line. Daryl Williams is a 6-foot-6, 332 pound beast who is the anchor of this line at the right tackle spot. The guard spots are loaded, and the Sooners can go three-deep there. This is a big, strong, and mean offensive front. They'll dominate most of the defensive lines they square off against.
2014 Oklahoma Defense
Oklahoma returns nine starters from a defense that was No. 18 in the nation in scoring defense a year ago. Oklahoma is known for strong defensive lines, and this year's line should be a good one. Charles Tapper and Chuka Ndulue form a terrific defensive end combination. Ndulue recorded 15 tackles in a single game earlier in his career, which is almost unheard of from the defensive end spot. Jordan Phillips is a 6-foot-6, 341 pound run-stuffer in the middle of the defensive line. This group should be even better than last year.
At linebacker, the Sooners are in good shape as long as Frank Shannon is able to play this year. Shannon has been in some legal trouble in the offseason, but it's unclear where that will go. He was the team's leading tackler a year ago. Sophomore Dominique Alexander is the next star linebacker for the Sooners. He recorded 80 tackles in his freshman season a year ago, and he'll do some special things this year. This group is experienced and very athletic.
The secondary is the question mark of the defense, though I don't expect them to be bad. Oklahoma lost a couple quality defensive backs in Gabe Lynn and Aaron Colvin. Zack Sanchez is a strong starter at the one corner spot, but the other corner is yet to be determined. Hatari Byrd doesn't have much experience at safety, but he's expected to be very good. Look for this unit to be solid by the end of the season.
2014 Oklahoma Sooners Odds to Win Big 12
As you might expect, the Oklahoma Sooners are big favorites in the Big 12 this year. Bovada lists the Sooners at 2/3 to win the Big 12 Championship. The Sooners have gotten a lot of respect in the national title hunt as well, where they are given odds of 9/1 to win it all. Oklahoma's season win total is set at 10.5 games .
2014 Oklahoma Sooners Picks & Predictions
Oklahoma has a friendly schedule ahead of them in 2014 . They host both Baylor and Oklahoma State. The Sooners toughest road game is likely their game at Texas Tech. I expect Oklahoma to win a bunch of games again this year, but I think the oddsmakers may overrate them a bit based on what they saw in the Sugar Bowl. Don't be surprised if there is some value in betting against Oklahoma based on line value alone. Still, it's going to be a great season for the Sooners.
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