Expert NCAA Football Picks: Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma Odds and Predictions
Florida Atlantic Owls at Oklahoma Sooners, Saturday Sept. 1, Noon ET
College football is finally here. I'm almost giddy. This is the first game of the season as far as our previews, and it's far from the most important one of the week. But here's the thing - it's just so much more interesting than Miami/LSU, Virginia Tech/Florida State, or any other game on the schedule aside from the obvious big two, which we will definitely be previewing - Auburn/Washington and Michigan/Notre Dame. There is drama and intrigue here, and plenty of questions, and that sets up for a pretty good start to the college football season. So, without further ado, let's dig in.
Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma Betting Storylines
We clearly and obviously have to start at Kyler Murray. There are few things tougher in all of sports than replacing a star starter, and the stars don't get much bigger than Baker Mayfield, the Heisman winner and top overall NFL Draft pick. He did it all after landing at Oklahoma, and now another transfer, Murray, has to fill his shoes. And his is an odd story itself, given that this is his last year in college football before heading off on a baseball career. Murray looked very good in limited time last year, but he was obviously mopping up in garbage time so that means little. And, long ago at Texas A&M he had flashes of brilliance but also wasn't immune to making boneheaded mistakes. He has a system to work for him here, and the coaching and talent are both solid, but I can't help but question his strength in the face of adversity. It might not be fair, but the guy has already transferred once, and he has a very fat bank account thanks to the Oakland A's, so he might not be the hungriest guy out there. But he is a freakish athlete, and he has excellent receivers to throw to and will be well protected. He's a bit of a puzzle.
On the other side it isn't yet clear what we will see under center. It's a QB race that only a guy like Lane Kiffin could engineer. De'Andre Johnson will be known to many college football fans for his time on "Last Chance U". He flamed out due to off-field issues at Florida State and then missed last year with blood clot issues in his arm. Chris Robison was a top QB recruit at none other than Oklahoma just last season, but he didn't even make it to the start of the year until he was kicked out of the school. And Rafe Peavey is a grad transfer from SMU who only changed schools in August. There is talent there, but nothing even close to certainty. Last year's starter, Jeff Driskel, put up big numbers with the offense but then left football with eligibility remaining. On top of that uncertainty, the team has a new offensive coordinator, and the name will make many shudder - Charlie Weis Jr.
The Kiffin circus is always tough to look away from - especially on a stage like this - but what makes this game most interesting is Oklahoma. Last year they had that bizarre late coaching change, but they weathered it well - largely because Matfield was loaded and ready to go. Now Lincoln Riley has had a whole offseason in charge, so it is completely his team. Expectations are high for the team after the success of last year and the fact that most assume that they are a lock to take the Big 12 title. In other words, there will be a whole lot of pressure on this squad. This is not the toughest game they will play by any means, but if they aren't mentally ready and focused then Kiffin is fearless and creative enough to make them regret it. It could get really interesting.
Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Oklahoma favored by 21 points, and it has remained stable at that price . A small majority of bets have come in on the Sooners, but it costs slightly more at several books to bet on the Owls, so it is likely that sharp money is tilted slightly towards the underdogs. The total sits at 69.
FAU is 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games overall, 26-12 ATS in their last 38 road games, and 6-1 ATS in their last seven on grass. But they are a dismal 0-8 ATS in their last eight against Big 12 competition. The Sooners are 5-2 ATS in their last seven overall and their last seven against CUSA competition. They are 11-2 ATS in their last 13 games at home and 4-1 ATS in their last five nonconference games.
Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma Predictions and Picks
Oklahoma makes me uneasy. There are too many questions. But FAU has a lot of questions, and their QB uncertainty is a long way from ideal. I have been tempted for a long while to take the points in this one. But when it comes down to it, I have faith in Lincoln Riley, Kyler Murray isn't raw and is better than any option FAU has, and the talent for the Sooners is much deeper. I wouldn't bet my house on it, but the Sooners are the play here.
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