Texas Longhorns vs. Oklahoma Sooners (-8)
Sat. 12/1, 12:00 p.m. ET in Arlington, TX
Three things to know before betting on Texas-Oklahoma:
1. Needing to impress the committee to earn a spot in the College Football Playoff, Oklahoma has the best matchup it could hope for in the Big 12 Championship Game. Texas is the one team that defeated Oklahoma this season, and the Sooners will be out for revenge after losing 48-45 in the Red River Shootout in October, thanks to a 40-yard field goal with nine seconds left.
That game was undoubtedly the Longhorns' biggest win of the season. But a closer look at the contest shows that Texas was hardly in control. Oklahoma gained 9.17 yards per play—i.e. it could not be stopped—to Texas's 6.68. The 2.49 yards per play disparity is far and away the largest margin by which Texas was outgained this season. The Longhorns were only able to keep it close because of two turnovers by Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray in OU territory that led to a field goal and a touchdown for Texas. With Oklahoma ranked 15th in the country in fewest giveaways per game (1.0) and Texas ranked 74th in takeaways per game (1.4), a similar swing in Texas's favor seems unlikely to repeat itself. And other than those costly errors, Oklahoma's offense was basically unstoppable in that first meeting. The Sooners mounted seven scoring drives and only punted three times.
2. Based on how Oklahoma has played following that defeat, the Sooners are likely to top the 45 points they scored in the Red River Shootout. They're averaging 50.3 points per game, best in the country, and have scored at least 48 points in all six games they've played since their loss to Texas. Kyler Murray is the lone legitimate Heisman challenger to Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa. Murray is averaging 12.0 yards per pass attempt (first in FBS) and has thrown 37 touchdowns (second). He is also arguably the best running quarterback in all of college football. OU has two elite receivers in Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb and seems to have an endless supply of top-tier talent at running back. With Trey Sermon, who started the season as the backup running back, banged up last week, freshman Kennedy Brooks ran for 182 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Having allowed 38-plus points to lesser offenses like Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in recent weeks, the Longhorns have little shot of slowing down Oklahoma.
3. While 45 points feels like the floor for Oklahoma in this game, it's a ceiling for the Longhorns. Even playing in the pass-happy Big 12, they are only 46th nationally in scoring offense (31.5 PPG). The 48 points that Texas scored against Oklahoma was the most it's had all season, and the Longhorns scored only 48 points combined over the last two weeks against a good defense (Iowa State) and a terrible one (Kansas).
Will Oklahoma be able to stop Texas completely? Absolutely not—the Sooners' D is awful. But it isn't so awful that it can't cover a 8-point spread. With a College Football Playoff spot on the line, Oklahoma won't repeat its mistakes from the first matchup and should win convincingly.
Pick: Oklahoma -8
Confidence Level: Very High (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)