- Oklahoma is among the favorites to win the College Football Playoffs
- After a tough win over Army, the Sooners odds got considerably longer
- Is Oklahoma a value pick?
Through the first three weeks, Oklahoma’s season was off to a promising start. After a big win over Florida Atlantic, a walloping of UCLA, and successfully avoiding Iowa State, the Sooners were in good shape. Their Week 4 game, however, in which the Sooners were taken to overtime by massive underdog Army, raised some eyebrows.
Oklahoma Sooners 2019 National Title Odds
You can read more in the National Championship Odds Tracker. Here’s the odds as they stand right now as of 9/27/2018:
2019 National Title Odds Top 5 Contenders
As you can see, Oklahoma’s average odds dropped off considerably after their Week 4 home game against Army. In terms of implied probability, Oklahoma went from 6.25% to 4.17%. It was one of the biggest ATS losses of the week, and it deserves some consideration.
Oklahoma vs Army
Army travelled to Oklahoma as heavy underdogs, and the spread crept up all the way to 29 points. That’s almost always a bad bet, for a few reasons.
Nobody in their right mind wants to drop a 30-point win on the next generation of Army officers.
The first is pretty obvious. Nobody in their right mind wants to drop a 30-point win on the next generation of Army officers. Players, coaches, and fans have commented on it before: it’s pretty hard to get yourself hyped up to blow out service academies.
The second thing has to do with Army’s scheme. Army runs a flexbone offense, and almost never throws the ball, so the clock doesn’t stop often. Running the ball up the middle of the field over and over again is a great strategy for killing the clock, and it’s one that Army adopts at kickoff. It’s very difficult for any team, no matter how talented, to produce dozens and dozens of points with just a few scant minutes of clock.
We saw this in full effect on Saturday. Army ran the ball 78 times, completed three passes, and netted 26 first downs. Altogether they controlled the ball for just under 45 minutes of game time. Oklahoma thus had just over 15 minutes to score. The Sooners were never going to cover a 29-point spread in those conditions.
Is Oklahoma a Value Pick Now?
Yes and no. Oklahoma still has a lot of the same problems that made them a bad pick at the start of the season. The defense is decidedly mediocre, and betting on them to beat two of the best four teams in the country come January is a bit of a stretch.
Oklahoma’s defense is decidedly mediocre, and betting on them to beat two of the best four teams in the country come January is a bit of a stretch.
The defense, still coached by Bob Stoops’ least effective brother, is what nearly cost Oklahoma this game. A better team could have denied Army all those first downs. A better team can hold Army to less than 4.3 yards per rush. A better team can get off the field on fourth down more than 20% of the time. Those problems will emerge against Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, or whomever Oklahoma meets in the Playoff.
However, this is a still a favorable schedule, and Oklahoma should still be the favorite to win the Big 12. Their odds of getting to the Playoff are as good as anyone’s this side of Alabama, and that’s roughly half the battle.