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One Pick for Week 1: Lane Kiffin’s FAU (+21) at Oklahoma, Please

Alex Kilpatrick

by Alex Kilpatrick in College Football

Aug 19, 2018 · 5:55 AM PDT

Florida Atlantic Lane Kiffin
Since being exiled from top-level coaching, Lane Kiffin has made it his life's mission to mercilessly beat bluebloods. Photo by Neon Tommy (Flickr) [CC License].
  • Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic is travelling to Norman with one personal goal for 2018: ruin Oklahoma’s day.
  • Here’s why you shouldn’t bet against him.

I was going to write a full raft of picks for Week 1 of the 2018 college football season, and in doing so, hedge my bets, but one line stood out to me. Florida Atlantic is travelling to Norman to play Oklahoma in Week 1, and the line is just massive. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed, and if your betting strategy in Week 1 is “take the points and hope,” it’s just narcotic.

Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma Odds

This beautiful bet is from one sportsbook, and I recoiled physically when I first saw it. Twenty-one points. And some odds! It’s the tenth-biggest spread this sportsbook is offering on a game that doesn’t involve Alabama, and it’s just wild to look at.

Team Spread Over/Under
Oklahoma -21.0 (-115) O 68 (-115)
Florida Atlantic +21.0 (-105) U 68 (-105)

Also, and this will become clear later on, if you’re betting the under in this game, you belong in a padded cell.

Florida Atlantic is Good, Actually

  • Exciting, talented offense, with playmakers everywhere you look.
  • Defense? Who asked about defense? What are you, a cop?

The first thing you have to get out of your mind is brand loyalty. Florida Atlantic might sound like a made-up school, but they won eleven games and their conference last year. Their offense was statistically one of the best in the country. Watch this highlight clip of Devin Singletary, and then tell me how you think Mike Stoops is going to stop him:

But wait, there’s more. De’Andre Johnson (yes, from Last Chance U) is back with his blood totally unclotted! Chris Robison, who used to be a four-star (and also used to be an Oklahoma quarterback) is finally eligible. Lane Kiffin has taken to signing blue-chip JUCO’s without an ounce of shame, so Nero Nelson is here. So is WVU transfer Jovon Durante. This offense is loaded. Not C-USA loaded, just loaded. It would be totally at home in the Big 12, or anywhere in Power 5, because like half of the most important people came from the Power 5 anyway.

The defense would be totally at home in the C-USA. They were young, sure, and they’ll probably improve in 2018, but Lane Kiffin has never made a name building a defense.

Oklahoma Has Work To Do

  • New quarterback after the old quarterback went #1 in the NFL Draft.
  • Defense that is still somehow managed by Mike Stoops.

Florida Atlantic will be Oklahoma’s first game post-Baker Mayfield, and Kyler Murray has a little work to do before being a 21 point favorite in anything. He’s dynamite on the ground, and Oklahoma will build a lot of easy passes for him, but he’s not the passer Baker Mayfield was. He didn’t deeply impress at camp, and there is some pressure from Austin Kendall.

Rodney Anderson will be reliable running back for an offensive coordinator who historically prefers to throw. He helped take Oklahoma to a historic level of offensive production in 2017, but the Sooners likely won’t have the multidimensional threat they had with Anderson and Mayfield. Making that transition is going to be huge for Oklahoma, and if they can find a way to make use of Anderson and Murray’s productivity on the ground they’ll be a nightmare.

The defense is something we should talk about. Oklahoma’s defense was occasionally awful last year, and occasionally great, but mostly just volatile. Not something you wanted to rely on, as Oklahoma found out just after they built up a 17-point lead in the Rose Bowl. Certainly not something I want to bet on:

For the record: I’m not saying that Oklahoma’s defense will be terrible, or that the offense won’t work without Baker Mayfield, or that Oklahoma won’t be a great team in 2018. I’m just saying that they might take a little time to get clicking, and 21-point spread against Florida Atlantic doesn’t allow any room for that.

Never Bet Against Lane Kiffin’s Spite

  • This is his Super Bowl, the game he’s been waiting for.

Lane Kiffin went to Florida Atlantic to make noise, drink margaritas, and build the kind of football team he’s always wanted. He’s not in the Power 5, but he can do whatever he wants in Boca Raton and FAU will love him for it. They even built him a train:

Florida Atlantic’s schedule gives Kiffin exactly one chance to make a huge splash in 2018, and it’s this game. He’s not worried about Air Force in week 2 or Bethune-Cookman in week 3. He’s worried about ruining a playoff contender’s hopes and dreams, and thumbing his nose at the bluest of the bluebloods.

He has prepared for just this. He went out and got three and four stars by any means necessary just to make them do some wild nonsense Mike Stoops has never seen before. There will be pre-snap motion and bizarre formations. You can’t bet on this, but there will 100% be a flea-flicker. Someone is going to do a flip. One of the most effective offensive coaches in football has spent all summer preparing to play a team with an iffy defense and bigger things to worry about, and you can get 21 points as the spread.

Take the points.

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