Free NCAA Football Picks: Oklahoma Sooners at West Virginia Mountaineers
Oklahoma Sooners at West Virginia Mountaineers, Friday Nov. 23, 8 p.m. ET
We are going to assume that Texas is going to beat Kansas and their lame-duck coaching staff this week. If they blow that, then things get interesting, but that just shouldn't happen. So, a Texas win will secure them one of the two spots in the Big 12 Championship Game. And that matters here because this game will determine who it is that Texas faces. Things would be very different if Oklahoma hadn't lost to the Longhorns or if West Virginia hadn't blown it last week against Oklahoma State or earlier against Iowa State. But as it stands now the winner here moves on, and the loser waits for their bowl assignment. Simple. And it creates some pleasing drama - a couple of years ago the Big 12 didn't even have a conference championship game, and now here they are with a de facto semifinal.
Oklahoma at West Virginia Betting Storylines
Kyler Murray is an incredible story in a year of incredible quarterback stories. If the season ended right now, he would likely be one of three quarterbacks invited to New York for the Heisman ceremony along with Gardner Minshew and favorite Tua Tagovailoa, and all three have incredible stories of the year. Murray transferred to Oklahoma from Texas A&M but only has a year to start because he has another life as a highly-touted, highly-paid baseball prospect to get started. Not a bad way to finish up a football career - being a Heisman finalist and perhaps winning a conference title. Maybe even make a push for the Playoff if a lot of things fall just right. What is most impressive about Murray is how consistent he is. Sometimes his stats are gaudier than others, and sometimes he relies more on his arm than other games in which his legs drive the show, but he has not had a game in which he hasn't had a big impact. He hasn't had a bad day. And that trend should continue here, because West Virginia has a defense that fits in well in the Big 12 - it's just not very good. The Mountaineers have been particularly vulnerable through the air, so if this is going to turn into a shootout, we can expect Murray to show up and do his part.
If I ever ran into Will Grier in a bar, I would have to buy him a drink. I was highly skeptical of him as a starter at West Virginia last year, but he was good. And I was really skeptical of him entering this year, and he has been better than last year. I'm still not crazy about his team or his coach, but I was wrong in directing my issues with his team towards him. And he is up against a defense that is bad at defending, and particularly bad at defending against the pass, so he is every bit as likely as Murray is to be able to score plenty of points in this one.
An interesting side story here is Dana Holgorsen. The West Virginia coach has had a somewhat uneasy relationship with his school despite some reasonable success, and he is in an inevitable recruiting hole against the top teams in his conference because he can't really access Texas effectively. The job at Colorado has opened, and his name keeps popping up as a candidate. It's not the worst idea I have heard from his perspective. It's tough to know if there is really anything to it, but if there is that is just the kind of thing that can have a big negative impact on a team in a tough spot - especially a team that could already feel vulnerable after a tough loss last week. It's something to consider at the very least.
Oklahoma at West Virginia Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Oklahoma favored by 2.5 on the road, and that has since fallen slightly to 1.5 . Almost two-thirds of bets have been on Oklahoma, so the movement suggests that some sharp money has come in on the home team here. The total opened really high and has gone higher - from 81.5 to 83.5 in early action.
The Sooners are just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 games overall and 1-5 ATS in their last six against teams with winning records. They are 2-6 ATS in their last eight games on the road. The Mountaineers are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games and 3-0-1 ATS in their last four against teams with winning records, but they are just 1-3-1 ATS in their last five games in November. The Sooners are 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams - all as favorites.
Oklahoma at West Virginia Predictions and Picks
I prefer Oklahoma, and probably think they are the better team, but their defense is so bad right now that I really struggle to jump aboard their bandwagon here. Instead, I'm going to look towards the safest play available - the "over". We have two highly-accomplished and dialed-in quarterbacks at the head of two diverse offenses, and they are against two defenses that struggle to get a bus to stop when they are standing at a bus stop. Remember the Monday night game between Kansas City and the Rams earlier this week? This should be the collegiate version of that. In other words, it should be a Big 12 game. The over is the comfortable play.
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