Oklahoma Sooners Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
There is a whole lot we could have talked about when it came to the Oklahoma Sooners. But one story shockingly trumped them all. On June 7 Bob Stoops retired, making 33-year-old offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley the new head coach. Everyone knew that Stoops would leave or retire at some point, but it was all but impossible to see it happening now. And now we are left to figure out whether that is going to have a massive impact on the team. It would be easier to deal with this situation if the team wasn't strong, but two-time Heisman finalist Baker Mayfield is back for another go at quarterback, and that makes this team dangerous. But Stoops has been in charge of this team since 1998, so any transition could be rough - even with a guy as talented as Riley taking over.
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2016 in a Nutshell
There has been a frustrating ongoing pattern with the Sooners during the Stoops era. They come into seasons with promise and then find ways to burn that promise to the ground. They got off to an early start to that strategy last year, losing their opener to Houston and then losing to Ohio State two weeks later. Instead of descending into a total tailspin, though, they got back on track and didn't lose again. They won their last 10 games, including the final four against ranked opponents. Instead of throwing the season away, they finished strong. How un-Oklahoma of them.
Key Additions and Departures
Mayfield is back, but he faces some real changes, including the loss of both of his very strong running backs. Both Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine were gone in the first four rounds of the draft. Mayfield also loses a favorite target in receiver Dede Westbrook, who was a steal in the fourth round. Those are massive holes in this offense, and it means that new players are going to have to step up in a big way. It's a combination of young talent and established guys who will now get their chance to start. They have horses, but whether those horses will be ready to run or not is an open question. There's also the question of the move of Riley to the big chair. Mayfield and Riley had an excellent relationship, but Riley can't be as hands on now and build new relationships of trust - although he has offensive coordinators who have been with the program in other roles for longer than Mayfield has.
The incoming freshman class is large - 28 players - and was ranked in the Top 10. There are no five stars but plenty of talent. At receiver in particular there will be a chance for a youngster to play a key role right away. There is also a very good chance for youngster to find opportunities in the secondary and at linebacker.
Oklahoma Sooners Schedule Analysis
The good news is that they don't open with a team as tough as Houston this time around. The bad news, though, is that they play Ohio State a week earlier - in Week 2 this time - and they have to travel to Columbus this time around. That could go poorly - though if the Sooners do find a way to win they will be in an outstanding position. Beyond that the schedule is very manageable. The only tough road game is at Oklahoma State, and the more challenging games are well spread out for the most part. Losing to Ohio State early is something that can be overcome, and this is a schedule that can allow the team to win the conference if they get some luck, manage the leadership transition, and are as good as they could be.
2017-18 Oklahoma Sooners Betting Odds and Trends
At +1100 at BetOnline , Oklahoma is the fifth choice to win the national title, though they are far behind strong favorites Alabama at +250. Given the changes and the lack of breathing room that the likely early loss to Ohio State gives them, that seems like an aggressive price. They are the very strong -135 favorites to win the Big 12, with Oklahoma State second at +350. Oddsmakers certainly aren't worried about the opening game. The Sooners are massive 44.5-point favorites at home against UTEP. Not surprisingly, Mayfield is among the Heisman favorites. At +750 he is tied with defending champion Lamar Jackson behind only Sam Darnold of USC. As a senior that price seems fair, though there isn't a ton of value because he has lost so many pieces on offense.
The team was an underwhelming 7-6 ATS on the season - barely better than a break-even scenario. They failed to cover their first three games, though, so they were a much better 7-3 ATS down the stretch. They went "under" the total five times in the last six games to finish out the season.
2017-18 Oklahoma Sooners Predictions and College Football Picks
I really like both Mayfield and Riley. And as much as I have respected Stoops over the years, I am happy he got out before he was forced out at some point. I also love the addition of Ruffin McNeill to this coaching staff as a steadying force at assistant head coach. And while the Big 12 is likely improving quite a bit in general, I still don't love the group behind Oklahoma. So, there is a lot to like here. But there are also a lot of reasons to be concerned, and I can't justify betting them to win either overall or in the conference at the prices available. Their upside is a playoff berth certainly, but it is their downside that concerns me. This team could lose four or five games without too much of a shock being involved. Tough team to call this year.
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