Oklahoma vs. Texas Prediction, Over/Under Pick, and Latest Odds
Spread: Oklahoma -3.5
Game time: Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
Where to watch: ABC
In one sense, the Oklahoma Sooners are right where most people figured they’d be heading into this weekend’s Red River Rivalry/Shootout/Confrontation/Whatever against Texas. The Sooners are unbeaten and ranked sixth in the AP Poll, with control of their own destiny not just in the Big 12 race but also in their hunt to get back to the College Football Playoff.
In the other sense, Oklahoma hasn’t looked normal through five games. The usually-vaunted offensive line has not been bulldozing defenses to the usual extent. Quarterback Spencer Rattler, the consensus preseason Heisman Trophy favorite, has been iffy. The defense has been better than most Oklahoma defenses but somewhat hit-or-miss in its own right.
So, in short, you can tell yourself any story you want about the 2021 Sooners, and there’s still a decent chance you’ll be proven right. The same is true of Texas, OU’s blood rival in the Big 12 and future fellow transplant to the SEC. The Longhorns have played some of the best offense in the country, punctuated by dropping 70 points on Texas Tech two weeks ago. But the defense has been lousy, and a Week 2 loss at Arkansas was one of the ugliest losses a team of Texas’ stature has taken in a while. It was a complete butt-whooping at the hands of the Hogs.
All together, there’s a good deal of uncertainty heading into this weekend’s meeting. When there is uncertainty, I prefer to bet on the most consistent horse –– and in this case, that means picking Oklahoma’s offense to do enough to cover a 3.5-point spread against the Longhorns.
It feels like the OU offense has been lousy. And by OU standards, it has been. But this remains one of the better scoring machines in college football, and it had its most efficient game of the season in a 37-31 win over Kansas State on Saturday. The Sooners scored on seven of nine drives, and one of the other two was the end-of-game drive in which they simply killed the clock. (The other ended in a Rattler interception, which has been a bit too common a theme.) After backing up four yards and kicking a field goal on their opening drive, the Sooners were close to unstoppable against K-State. They hadn’t moved the ball so consistently all season.
Rattler has had an underwhelming start, with interceptions in three of his five games and nothing quite resembling a signature game for a Heisman contender. But he’s been good by almost anyone else’s standards, posting a Total QBR of at least 82.5 in three of his five games. The only one in which he looked fully out of sorts was a narrow Week 4 escape against West Virginia. He rebounded with his smoothest game yet (not counting an FCS game) against K-State, and he was better than people realized at the time in a 23-16 win over Nebraska. (His 6.3 yards per throw looked pedestrian at the time, but less so now that Nebraska has played six games and not allowed a single passer to reach 7 yards per attempt against them.
The Texas defense should provide Rattler with a soft landing spot at the Cotton Bowl. Per Game on Paper, the Longhorns have posted negative figures in defensive points added in every game except a 58-0 shutout of Rice, which has one of the worst offenses in FBS. Everyone else, from Louisiana to Arkansas to Texas Tech to TCU, has moved the ball with decent consistency or better against the Horns. Arkansas in particular just bullied the UT defensive front, and Tech’s 35-point output a few weeks ago would have gotten more attention if the Longhorn offense weren’t running up a 70-spot on the other side of the ball. Oklahoma’s offensive line is in a reduced state, but it should still be good enough to move some bodies against Texas.
UT has the best running back in college football right now, Bijan Robinson. But Oklahoma’s offense might force Casey Thompson to throw a lot to stay in the game, and even if not, the OU run defense has been unusually excellent to start the year. Only K-State has exceeded 3.1 yards per rush against the Sooners, and even that figure was a fairly low 3.7. Teams have lost as many fumbles (four) running on Oklahoma as they have scored touchdowns. If the Texas defensive line can struggle badly against Arkansas, it can struggle badly with Oklahoma.
Oklahoma vs. Texas Betting Pick
Pick: Oklahoma -3.5 @ -110