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Odds Indicate Jalen Hurts Has Won Oklahoma Starting Job, Even If Lincoln Riley Says Otherwise

Jalen Hurts at a press conference while still with Alabama
Jalen Hurts is a -1500 favorite to start for Oklahoma in Week 1 of the 2019 season against Houston. Photo by Thomson200 [CC License].
  • Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts is a massive -1500 favorite to start Week 1 for the Sooners
  • Hurts has conducted himself as the starter from the second he arrived in Norman
  • Lincoln Riley has yet to declare OU’s starter for game one of the 2019 season, though 

Former Alabama QB Jalen Hurts was a proven winner who needed playing time. He also wasn’t keen on dropping from his set of championship expectations.

Oklahoma was the best bet to offer both, since Justin Fields chose Ohio State nearly two weeks prior. Now, Hurts is the odds-on betting favorite to start for Oklahoma in its first game of the 2019 season, and everyone but head coach Lincoln Riley (and maybe the families of Spencer Rattler and Tanner Mordecai) has penciled him to lead the Sooners.

Odds on Oklahoma’s Starting QB for Game 1 of 2019

Who Will Be Oklahoma’s Starting Quarterback in 2019? Odds at BetOnline
Jalen Hurts -1500
Spencer Rattler +500
Tanner Mordecai +800

*Odds as of 07/31/19.

Who’s Up Next?

Mordecai is a physically impressive runner. Oklahoma can really do damage with his style, as he is physical enough to handle interior runs and thus open those wrinkles in the system. He was one of the most sought-after recruits in Texas’ 2018 class, ultimately pushing aside his hometown Baylor Bears to go to Norman.

Rattler was arguably more sought after than Mordecai: he got that fifth star from 247Sports and had Alabama coming to Arizona to try to get him. In choosing the Sooners, he looked poised to continue the string of quarterbacks with eye-popping numbers in Riley’s offense.

Yet, neither of Rattler nor Mordecai is Hurts, a legitimate contender for college football’s biggest personal award according to the 2019 Heisman odds.

Neither of them has led a team to the brink of a national championship as both a freshman and sophomore, then engineered a second-half comeback in the SEC Championship Game as a junior. Neither of them has reached the heights that Oklahoma is trying to reach as Hurts has.

On top of it all, the small glimpses from 2018 suggested Hurts was not the 2017 version of himself that got benched in favor of freshman Tua Tagovailoa in the National Championship Game. Then-Alabama quarterbacks coach (now-Miami offensive coordinator) Dan Enos was credited with developing Hurts as a passer, and that development was noticeable when Hurts had to take over in the second half of the SEC Championship Game against Georgia.

Those skills — on top of his proven running ability — should ease the transition to a Riley offense that demands a lot from its arm.

The projected talent in both Mordecai and Rattler suggests the Sooners are in perfectly capable hands after Hurts makes his exit in January 2020. But, for a team with National Championship aspirations, why go get a National Championship quarterback if you’re not going to use him?

To Bet or Not to Bet?

The odds suggest what Riley is too gun-shy to say publicly (he did the same with Kyler Murray, for what it’s worth: Hurts will start at quarterback. Now it’s up to the individual to decide if the -1500 is worth it.

I’m quite the low-risk bettor, but even I won’t take this bet. The payout is too small for my taste, plus there is always the chance that Hurts turns an ankle and misses the first game (at home against Houston).

This line just doesn’t seem worth it to me, as someone who has trouble envisioning anyone other than Hurts taking the first snap of the 2019 Oklahoma season.

Pick: stay away. 


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