OKLAHOMA OFFERS BETTING OPPORTUNITY
Last year was a comeback season for Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners. With critics starting to circle the wagons, the Sooners answered with an 11-1 season, a Big 12 title and a trip to the College Football Playoff. They're back and ready for more and there are spots on the Vegas board this summer that shape up as potentially good investments.
The Sooners are a top-heavy 2-3 betting favorite to repeat as Big 12 champs. This isn't one of the prices we like. If you believe in Oklahoma that strongly, then it's highly likely you believe they'll at least go 11-1 in the regular season, or at worst 10-2. The Over/Under for regular season wins is an even 10 with a price of (-110) either way.
If you consider the Sooners a lock to win their conference, just put your money on the Over/Under where the price is better. After all, Bob Stoops has won at least ten games in 13 of the last 16 years and you'd get a bowl game as a fallback chance if they somehow stumble twice in the regular season.
It's the national championship that's the real prize in Norman and it's where the real money lies for college football bettors. Oklahoma is 12-1 to win it all. That's the same as Michigan and LSU, neither of whom have the Sooners' recent track record.
What's more, Oklahoma brings a lot of talent back from last year's Playoff team. Quarterback Baker Mayfield finished with 36 touchdown passes against just seven interceptions in 2015. He finished fourth in the Heisman voting and is back for his senior year. Mayfield is also a confident leader, something every national contender needs out of its quarterback.
The receiving corps takes a hit with the loss of Sterling Shepard, but Mayfield should get good pass protection from an offensive line that returns three starters. OU also has a nice two-pronged attack in the backfield with Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Last year Oklahoma averaged over 43 points per game, fourth-best in the nation. There's no reason to think they won't be explosive again this year.
Defensively, the Sooners were 28th in the country in points allowed and in the points-happy Big 12 that's virtual Legion of Boom numbers. They lost four players to the NFL, including a team leader at linebacker in Eric Striker. But there's quantity back, with six returning starters including most of the secondary.
Moreover, Stoops and his brother Mike, the defensive coordinator, will have the regular season to get the defense in championship form. The Big 12 being the basketball-on-turf league that it has become, will put most games in the hands of Mayfield. The non-conference schedule in September isn't easy - Houston and Ohio State are on the docket - but the Sooners could absorb one loss there and still make the Playoff if they sweep through the Big 12.
The defense would need to be ready by New Year's Eve, when the best of the SEC and elsewhere would await in the Playoff. Is it a lock that this Oklahoma team will be ready to win a national title by then? No, but with the odds at 12-1, it's not a bad bet.
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