A topic during my cameo on the Franchise’s Dylan & Todd Show Monday morning: season-opening lines for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State football.
The Sooners are 26-point favorites over Houston Sept. 1 per sportsbetting.ag, while the Cowboys are 17-point favorites at Oregon State Aug. 30.
Tulsa’s Aug. 30 opener at Michigan State didn’t come up on the show, but let’s include that one as well – the Hurricane is a 21-point underdog in East Lansing.
Is it crazy to suggest Tulsa has the best shot of the three to cover? Let’s see...
OU might need to score 60 to cover the 26-point spread against Houston, since new Cougars coach Dana Holgorsen + returning quarterback D’Eriq King should = fireworks.
King accounted for 50 touchdowns before missing the last two games of the 2018 season with a knee injury. He passed for 419 yards and rushed for 132 in Houston’s win over USF last October.
The dude is dual-threat dynamite, with a corps of experienced receivers returning to make him even more lethal.
Houston’s problem is the same as OU’s – they can’t stop anybody. Or at least they couldn’t last year. Holgorsen hired Joe Cauthen off Arkansas State’s staff to be his U of H defensive coordinator last January, two weeks after Lincoln Riley hired Alex Grinch off Ohio State’s staff to coordinate OU’s D.
So who has a bigger impact Sept. 1 at Owen Field, Grinch or Cauthen? Who has a bigger impact on offense, Riley or Holgorsen? Who is the more productive quarterback, Jalen Hurts or King?
For now, let’s go with Grinch, Riley and... boy... King might have better numbers than Hurts out of necessity. The Cougars will need him to do so much work that Sunday night.
A 60-34 final score, right on the 26-point line, is totally conceivable.
All right. OSU-Oregon State....
OU’s defense ranked 114th in FBS last year. Dreadful, right? Well, Houston’s ranked 126th.
Oregon State’s ranked 128th.
That’s 128 out of 129, friends. Only UConn’s was worse in FBS.
Yes, it’s weird that Oklahoma State is opening its season in Corvallis at 9:30 on a Friday night.
Yes, it’s a little alarming that the Cowboys are rolling out a new quarterback (Spencer Sanders or Dru Brown) and a new offensive coordinator (Sean Gleeson).
Yes, it’s even more alarming that the Cowboys’ defense might backslide worse in 2019 than it did in 2018.
But that Oregon State defense... It was like a parody last year. Gleeson could have Sanders/Brown hand off to Chuba Hubbard 40 times Aug. 30 and probably score 40 points.
For the sake of the 17-point spread, we’re asking the Cowboys’ D to hold Oregon State to the mid-20s. That means getting a handle on running back Jermar Jefferson, a 2018 Freshman All-American, and All-Pac-12 receiver Isaiah Hodgins.
Here’s another game that could be right on the line... 44-27, 41-24, something like that.
Now for TU-Michigan State...
Philip Montgomery hasn’t named a starting quarterback yet. He’s turning his defense over to Joseph Gillespie in the wake of Bill Young’s retirement.
Michigan State has a returning quarterback in Brian Lewerke, but a new play-caller in Brad Salem. Salem’s job will be to get Lewerke to throw more touchdown passes than interceptions, something that failed to occur last season.
Tulsa played pretty good defense a year ago. The Hurricane should feel fairly confident facing Lewerke, even at Spartan Stadium (capacity: 75,005).
But can Montgomery feel confident his quarterback, whether Zach Smith or Seth Boomer, will be better than Boomer and Luke Skipper were in ’18? Can he feel confident Smith or Boomer can succeed against a rugged Michigan State defense that deserved better than the Spartans’ 7-6 record last year?
Let’s give Sparty, oh, 31 in this one. Can the Hurricane generate enough offense to score 10 and cover the 21-point line?
That seems like a reasonable expectation as of June 10.
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