Oklahoma Sooners at Ohio State Buckeyes Predictions and Expert Picks
Oklahoma Sooners at Ohio State Buckeyes, Saturday Sept. 9, 7:30 p.m. ET
For the second straight week we have a showdown of Top 10 teams that will seriously define the seasons of both squads and could likely have major playoff implications. The loser won't necessarily be out of playoff contention, but their campaign will have taken a big hit. Hopefully this game is more exciting than the last one - Florida State played Alabama tight for a half, but that second half was so bad and one-sided that it was only barely watchable.
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Oklahoma at Ohio State Betting Storylines
Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield completed 19 of his last 20 passes last week before taking the second half off. He is a very efficient quarterback, and apparently the changes in the Oklahoma coaching staff haven't hurt him. Ohio State lost three members of their secondary to the first round this year - not the draft, but the first round. And that was after losing one in the first round and one in the second the year before. Teams like Ohio State reload instead of rebuild, but no team can go through losses like that to a key area without an impact. And there was indeed an impact on Saturday night. Indiana's Richard Lagow passed for 410 yards, and in the first half he looked as efficient as Mayfield at times. If Indiana could feast on the secondary then you know Oklahoma will get their shots in. Needless to say, this is the key matchup of the day.
The second-most-important matchup of the day is the guys in charge. This is a study in opposites. Urban Meyer took up coaching in 1985 - about the same time that Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley turned two. Meyer has three national titles, which is three times more than Riley has career games coached. Meyer is one of the sport's all-time great coaches. Riley is very young and was thrust into the head coaching job far later than is ideal because of Bob Stoops' late retirement. Riley has a chance to be a very good coach, but Meyer already is one, and that could be a problem for Oklahoma if this one is tight down the stretch and adjustments and big decisions are required. Advantage Ohio State.
When these teams met last year in Norman is was a bit of a massacre. Ohio State made winning look easy, and you can be sure that every player on both sides is very aware of that. The biggest question mark when it comes to the potential impact of that is with Oklahoma. Will they be motivated for revenge, and fueled by a desire to show what they are really capable of? Or will they let it get inside their heads, knowing that they were no match at home last year and now they have to play on the road and soon after some significant changes? As is so often the case, handicapping this game involves some pretty serious amateur psychologist work.
We really didn't learn much about either team in their opener. Ohio State had that scare in the first half from Indiana, but once they woke up and remembered who they were it wasn't much of a contest. Aside from the concerns about the secondary - which we already knew was a concern - we didn't learn much. And the Sooners only barely had to put on their uniforms to roll over UTEP in hopelessly lopsided fashion. Both teams are facing significant coaching staff changes, but we know little about what that actually means - and really can't until this game is well underway.
Oklahoma at Ohio State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Oklahoma favored by as low as 5.5 points, but that has climbed through the key number of seven and is now widely available at 7.5 . A small majority of bets have been placed on Oklahoma, so the line movement suggests that sharp betting action has been heavily tilted towards the Buckeyes. The total has opened at 64.5.
The Sooners are 5-0 ATS in their last five overall and 6-0 ATS in their last six against teams with winning records. They are, however, just 2-5 ATS in their last seven nonconference games and 1-4 ATS in their last five in September. The Buckeyes are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 overall and 2-6 ATS in their last eight against teams with winning records, but they are 4-1 ATS in their last five against nonconference foes and 6-1 ATS in their last seven against the Big 12.
Oklahoma at Ohio State Predictions and Picks
This is a very tough game to call. I like Ohio State mostly, but that secondary is a rough matchup here against Mayfield. But this coaching change concerns me for the Sooners. I can make a case for either side without too many issues. In the end, though, it's the hook that makes the difference. If I can find the price at 7.5 then I'll take the points and go with the Sooners. They have the offensive potential to keep this close and a fairly significant edge at QB. This is far from the most confident I have felt about a game, tough.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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