Oklahoma vs. Iowa State Odds & Picks: Your Betting Guide for Saturday’s Big 12 Championship

Oklahoma vs. Iowa State Odds & Picks: Your Betting Guide for Saturday’s Big 12 Championship article feature image
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Brian Bahr/Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy (15).

Oklahoma vs. Iowa State Odds

Oklahoma Odds -6 [BET NOW]
Iowa State Odds +6 [BET NOW]
Moneyline -227 / +185 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 58.5 [BET NOW]
Time Saturday, 12 p.m. ET
TV ABC
Odds updated Saturday morning and via BetMGM. Get an INSTANT $500 deposit match at BetMGM today.

Social media was buzzing after  the College Football Playoff committee put Iowa State at No. 6 in the most recent playoff rankings. Could the Cyclones actually sneak in to the four-team playoff if things break right? They would likely need Notre Dame to pull off an upset over Clemson as well as possibly Tennessee over Texas A&M.

Oh, and Iowa State would also need to defeat Oklahoma for a second time this season on Saturday afternoon in Arlington, TX. At bare minimum, if the Cyclones take down the Sooners, it would give the program its first conference title in over 100 years.

Let’s take a quick look at each team before diving in to where I see value from a betting perspective. Interestingly, Oklahoma closed as a higher favorite earlier this season when these two teams met in Ames, IA.

Oklahoma Sooners

After a stunning loss at home to Kansas State in its conference opener, Oklahoma then lost a thriller in Ames to these same Cyclones to fall to 0-2 in the Big 12 for the first time since 1998. However, the Sooners bounced back with a thrilling four-overtime win over Texas and closed out the regular season with six straight victories.

So, what happened? Well, quarterback Spencer Rattler gained valuable experience — which head coach Lincoln Riley didn’t have to worry about with his previous quarterbacks who transferred in from other Power 5 schools.

That said, this is not your older brother’s Oklahoma squad. The offense is still extremely good — but not elite. Rattler is still growing under center, and he doesn’t have the most explosive group of wide receivers we’ve seen in Norman. There are also issues along the offensive line, which ranks 89th in Adjusted Line Yards, per Football Outsiders. That hasn’t helped an underwhelming rushing attack that had to deal with plenty of attrition at the running back position entering the season.

When you think of a Riley offense, the quarterback position may come to your mind first; but in reality, it all starts with the ground game. And this year, the Sooners are averaging only 4.1 yards per carry, which ranks 78th in the nation. Just take a look at the discrepancy between this season and the first three under Riley:

Running back Rhamondre Stevenson did recently return to action, which has provided a boost to the rushing attack — but it’s still lacking what Riley is used to.

While the offense has taken a step back in 2020, the defense has continued to improve under second-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, who has elevated this unit from one of the worst in the Power 5 to a respectable group that ranks in the top 10 in EPA per play. It all starts up front with the Sooners defensive line, which ranks:

  • 6th in Adjusted Line Yards,
  • 10th in Opportunity Rate,
  • 3rd in Stuff Rate; and
  • 18th in Sack Rate.

This is an aggressive defense that can really get after opposing quarterbacks and generate havoc. In fact, per Pro Football Focus, Oklahoma has three players in Nik Bonitto, Ronnie Perkins and Isaiah Thomas who each rank inside the top 10 in generating havoc among 197 edge rushers with at least 100 snaps this season.


Iowa State Cyclones

Similar to Oklahoma, Iowa State stumbled out of the gates with a home loss to Louisiana. Although, that loss looked less undermining as the season progressed.

The offense boasts an experienced quarterback with pro potential in junior Brock Purdy, a deep group of tight ends, and the nation’s leading rusher, Breece Hall.

The offensive line has also been a bright spot, led by anchor Collin Newell at center. Junior left guard Derek Schweiger has filled in admirably for Trevor Downing (who could return this week). Meanwhile, Left Tackle Sean Foster has improved tremendously late in the season — as have the two freshmen on the right side: Right Guard Darrell Simmons and Right Tackle Jake Remsburg.

And, unsurprisingly, Iowa State’s patented 3-3-5 defense is once again rock-solid at the point of attack — both from efficiency- and havoc-based perspectives. Opponents have not been able to run the ball on the Cyclones (3.1 yards per rush), but teams have been able to connect on explosive plays in the passing game, which is something to watch out for on Saturday.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

There is no doubt that the Oklahoma defense is an improved unit since the first time these two teams met back in early October. The Sooners not only have more experience under their belts, but moreover, neither freshman cornerback DJ Graham (who has played very well) nor star defensive end Ronnie Perkins played in that game.

Nonetheless, I do think the market is overrating this defense. After all, the Sooners gave up 38, 37 and 45 points in their first three conference games. The defensive metrics are rock-solid, but OU has certainly benefited from a schedule of five consecutive struggling offenses (especially for Big 12 standards) in Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Texas Tech.

Ultimately, I trust the Iowa State defensive backs more in a matchup between two defenses that have each allowed 5.2 yards per play (30th nationally). Brock Purdy can exploit OU’s secondary over the middle with the deepest tight end group in the country for my money. Oklahoma’s aggressive defense has also allowed way too many broken runs (118th defending rush explosiveness) — which Breece Hall can certainly exploit.

Additionally, I have more faith in Purdy than Rattler to avoid making a critical mistake late in a game I expect to be close. Iowa State also ranks 10th in sack rate (and 13th in sack rate on passing downs), which should come in handy against Oklahoma’s pressure. Rattler should be more poised this time around after already seeing the Iowa State defense in his first ever road start, but the experience edge goes to Purdy here.

I do think the Sooners should be favored. But, I saw value and bet the Cyclones at +6, since I project this spread right around a field goal. Plus, I get to back Matt Campbell as an underdog, which has been a very profitable venture in the past. Including the postseason, Campbell is 30-17 (63.8%) against the spread (ATS) as an underdog, covering by an average margin of over four points per game, per our Action Labs Database. He’s also a perfect 5-0 ATS against Oklahoma during his time in Ames.

If you agree on the Cyclones and are only seeing +5.5 out in the market when reading this, I’d wait to see if it ticks up to +6 before pulling the trigger. You might as well wait for a key number like 6 without much risk of it going down, since 5 isn’t really that key of a number. There’s also a chance some Oklahoma steam could take this to +6.5 or even +7 — although I doubt the latter would last very long if it ever got there.

Pick: Iowa State +6 | Play down to +4.5

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