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  • While Friday night's Big 12 showdown features two top-tier offenses, it's wrong to pretend that one isn't significantly better than the other.
By Sam Chase
November 21, 2018

Oklahoma Sooners at West Virginia Mountaineers (+2.5)

Fri. 11/23, 8:00 p.m. ET

Three things to know before betting on Oklahoma-West Virginia:

1. If the Monday Night Football shootout between the Rams and Chiefs didn't feature enough scoring to sate your Thanksgiving week football appetite, have no fear—Friday night's Big 12 showdown between Oklahoma and West Virginia should leave you stuffed. With a total set at an astronomical 84 (with the potential to still climb), there's little doubt that this game will feature heaps and heaps of offense. And Oklahoma will be looking for a decisive victory to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive.

This game is getting tons of action at sportsbooks. Oklahoma opened as a 2.5-point favorite, was bet down all the way to a one-point underdog by Monday afternoon, and then stabilized back as a current 2.5-point favorite a day later.

It's understandable why some bettors have little faith in the Sooners. Their defense is absolutely porous. But when playing tougher road competition, Riley's Sooners have impressed. Oklahoma beat Ohio State 31-16 as a seven-point underdog last September, and took down Oklahoma State 62-52 as a one-point underdog later in the year. In recent seasons, Oklahoma has also had West Virginia's number, winning four straight against the Mountaineers both straight up and against the spread.

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2. West Virginia features one of the best offenses in the country, ranking ninth in scoring offense (40.9 points per game) and seventh in yards per play (7.11). Quarterback Will Grier is third in FBS in yards per attempt (9.6) and has thrown the fifth-most touchdown passes in the country (33). With two touchdown targets in receivers David Sills V (13 TDs) and Gary Jennings Jr. (11), Grier and the Mountaineers should be able to put up points against the Sooners defense, which is allowing 5.8 yards per play (78th in FBS). The Sooners have also been torched for 40 points in three straight weeks.

West Virginia's offense just needs to make sure it doesn't shoot itself in the foot as it's done in the past. Grier has two multi-interception games this season and completed a season-low 56.3% of his passes against a bad Oklahoma State defense in last week's loss. In the Mountaineers' other loss this season, to Iowa State, they managed only 14 points on 152 yards of total offense.

3. As good as West Virginia's offense is, Oklahoma's is even better. The Sooners average 8.8 yards per play, tops in the nation by a significant margin. They also lead the country in scoring offense (49.5 PPG) and have been held to less than 37 points just once this season. Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray is the lone legitimate Heisman challenger to Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. Murray has thrown 34 touchdowns (third in FBS) and is running for 67.2 yards per game. Star running back Rodney Anderson's early-season injury was once a concern, but backs Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks have combined for over 1,600 yards on the ground.

While it's better than Oklahoma's, West Virginia's defense doesn't have much to boast about, either, especially in recent weeks. The Mountaineers have allowed 40-plus points in two of their last three games. If that's what West Virginia is surrendering to Texas and Oklahoma State, it has little hope of slowing down an Oklahoma team that is one of the best college football offenses in recent memory.

This game figures to be a high-scoring, back-and-forth affair. But keep this in mind when making your bet: Riley's Sooners are 17-1 in games where the total was set at 62 or higher entering the contest. Against a spread as tight as this one, a win for Oklahoma would almost certainly mean covering.

Pick: Oklahoma -2.5

Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)

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