Well, Oklahoma State plays on the road and Oklahoma opens in a Sunday special. Past that, there’s not a lot of pizazz in the first week for the rest of the Big 12.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t collect a few winners. Here we go.
A bit about Oklahoma (-23) vs. Houston: So far this offseason there’s a number of storylines developing about the Sooners, none more in your face than whether Alex Grinch will figure out how to get the Oklahoma defense to rally from the depths of awful.
But here’s the deal: Oklahoma, once again, doesn’t have to be good on defense to win games or even make the college football playoff. However, the Sooners have to be great on offense, and with a new quarterback in place, count on coach Lincoln Riley wanting to prove a point. Count on new quarterback Jalen Hurts wanting to prove a point, too. Hurts has been accused of not being a great thrower. Riley has been anointed a quarterback whisperer. They both get to see if Oklahoma can continue a remarkably prolific offensive run.
It starts Sunday night against Houston, a huge favorite with the public, getting 73-percent of the bets and 77-percent of the money. Most everyone thinks OU won’t be able to keep Houston off the board. And that may be true, but forget about the defense. The last time we saw this Houston team they gave up a basketball score against Army in a bowl game. Oklahoma is going to give up some points, but they’ll score plenty, too. Hurts and Riley will make it so. Take the Sooners, give the 23. Sooners 55, Houston 27.
A bit about Oklahoma State (-14) at Oregon State: No one knows who the Oklahoma State quarterback is going to be heading into tonight’s game at Oregon State. Well, possibly coach Mike Gundy and his new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson know, but past that, by most accounts not even Spencer Sanders and Dru Brown have a great handle on who will start.
Not sure if that can be a good thing. Not sure it even matters. Not tonight against the Beavers, anyway. Oregon State might be one of the worst teams in the country, so despite the questions at quarterback probably won’t matter when the Cowboys could very well just hand the ball off and be successful.
Not picking a quarterback can’t be a good thing. A starter looking over his shoulder, worried about being replaced after every bad pass or bad decision, is never good for the psyche. Meanwhile, we talked about Oklahoma and Hurts having something to prove, but really Gundy has more to prove. A less-than-stellar year with average quarterback play and bad defense last year, made 2018 kind of sour.
Gundy has also said he’s more energized in 2019. No better way to establish that than picking on Oregon State.
There will be mistakes made by the Cowboys tonight, too. The line started at 16 and has moved down. Seems kind of fish. Should be an easy cover by Oregon State. It won’t be. Take the Cowboys, but cover your eyes. Oklahoma State 44-28.
Around the rest of the league …
Every team in the conference is a favorite this week, mainly because it’s a pretty underwhelming schedule.
Here’s a favorite who will come through: Kansas (-4.5) is at home against Indiana State and it will be one of two times this season the Jayhawks will be a favorite. Time to pounce. Les Miles debut. An undefeated Kansas team against an FCS team. Might as well, right? Kansas has a Vegas total of 2.5 wins. That means the Jayhawks should win this one and next week against Coastal Carolina. After that, forget about it. This week, Rock Chalk. Take KU and hold your breath.
Here’s an underdog worth taking a shot with: Huge game for Texas when LSU comes to town. Uh, wait. That’s next week. This Saturday, Louisiana Tech comes to Austin and the Longhorns (-20.5) start the season in the dreaded look-ahead spot. You think they aren’t game-planning for the Tigers already? They are. Tom Herman is great against the spread as an underdog, but he’s not so great as a favorite. Great spot here for Tech.
In addition, it’s not like Texas has gotten off to good starts of late. Sure, they finished strong against Georgia, but they were a dog against the Bulldogs. The Horns have opened the season the past two years with losses to Maryland. Now, they aren’t going to lose to La. Tech, but 85-percent of the money is on Tech to cover. Now, 54-percent of the bets are on Tech, but that 85-percent shows you that while the bets might be about equal, the money isn’t. Take Tech and the points. You can load up on Texas next week.
Here’s your other winners in the Big 12 this week:
Northern Iowa at Iowa State (-18.5)
James Madison at WVU (-7)
Montana St. at Texas Tech (-25)
Nicholls (+23.5) at Kansas State
S.F. Austin at Baylor (-38)
Arkansas Pine Bluff at TCU (-52.5)