Kent State vs. Oklahoma Odds, Picks, Predictions: Flashes to Cover Big Number?
Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images. Pictured: Dillon Gabriel (Oklahoma)
- Oklahoma hosts Kent State one week after the Golden Flashes' defense played extremely poorly against Washington.
- Meanwhile, the Sooners exploded on offense against UTEP, scoring 45 points, including three touchdowns on their first three possessions.
- Cooper Van Tatenhove breaks down the matchup and offers up a best bet.
Kent State vs. Oklahoma Odds
We are 2-0 in our write ups from Week 0 and Week 1. A night game in Norman, Oklahoma gives us some value to keep this train rolling.
Oklahoma is coming off of an impressive offensive performance, having beaten UTEP, 45-12.
Kent State is looking to rebound after giving up 525 yards in a 45-20 loss to Washington.
Kent State and fifth-year head coach Sean Lewis must rebound after a game against Washington that left a lot to review on film.
This offseason, the Golden Flashes brought in new defensive coordinator Jeremiah Johnson, who spent the previous eight seasons as the DC at UNI, where he ran a true 3-3-5 scheme.
The defensive transition has taken longer than expected. Former Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was able to throw for 345 yards and four touchdowns in Week 1.
Although that performance from the secondary is worrisome with a game against Oklahoma on the horizon, Kent State’s one bright spot was its ability to keep Washington one-dimensional.
The Golden Flashes were able to put up a Stuff Rate of .107 that resulted in them outgaining Washington 147-132 on the ground. The Huskies only mustered 3.9 yards per carry on average.
Why is this important? In Week 1, Oklahoma gained over 52% of its total yards on the ground.
Oklahoma was able to open things up after scoring touchdowns on its first three possessions. Two of these touchdowns came on the ground — a 12-yard scramble from quarterback Dillon Gabriel and a 46-yard pitch and run from receiver Gavin Freeman.
Gabriel will truly have to be the star here for Oklahoma to expose one of the worst passing defenses in the nation. In Week 1, the Sooners relied heavily on their run game to cover the number. It has yet to be seen if they can flip the script and cover an even larger spread.
The offensive side of the ball is what gives Kent State value in this matchup. The Golden Flashes return their top two rushers in Marquez Cooper and Xavier Williams, who combined for 2,117 yards in 2021.
In addition, Dante Cephas returns at receiver after putting up 1,240 yards last season.
Kent State averaged 38.5 points per game in conference and put up a 57% Success Rate on Standard Downs in 2021.
Although Kent State loses its No. 2 career passing leader in Dustin Crum, Collin Schlee was the clear-cut starter all offseason after leading two touchdown drives in last year’s MAC championship against NIU.
Schlee’s outing against Washington was defined by his turnovers. Schlee threw an interception on the first play from scrimmage and an especially costly one late in the third quarter on 3rd and 9 in the red zone.
These two costly turnovers — along with a touchdown being called back because of a questionable pass interference call — resulted in Kent State only getting 2.6 points per scoring opportunity on five total opportunities.
For context, Washington had three more opportunities that it was able to convert for 5.63 points per opportunity.
Washington was also able to recover two of the three fumbles Kent State forced.
Overall, I believe Kent State had a lot of things go wrong for it to not cover the number last week at Washington. The mistakes were both self-inflicted and unlucky, but regardless the Flashes are a candidate to see those plays regress.
I saw enough out of this offense in Week 1 to believe the Golden Flashes can limit Oklahoma’s possessions enough — along with scoring some points of their own — to keep this within four scores.
Brent Venables, in his first year at Oklahoma, could not have asked for a better start. The Sooners exploded out of the gate and scored three touchdowns on their first three possessions.
That fast start was especially valuable when you look at the box score. The second quarter saw UTEP outscore Oklahoma 10-7. In that quarter, UTEP had a Success Rate advantage of 52% to 47%.
Oklahoma was able to counter in the third quarter by outscoring the Miners 14-0, but the importance of Oklahoma’s incredibly fast start cannot be overstated.
In addition, Gabriel had a mistake-free outing and posted a 71.0 QBR. This QBR was outside the top 50 for Week 1.
What truly made Oklahoma’s offense efficient was its run game, which was lead by Eric Gray’s 102 yards. Marcus Major was also able to cap off a pair of scoring drives with touchdowns.
Oklahoma will have a Success Rate similar to what it posted against UTEP in Week 1. The difference will come in time of possession. The Sooners were able to score 45 points in just over 21 minutes with the ball. This type of explosiveness and efficiency will be difficult to replicate.
Additionally, it is important to look at the total for this game when finding value in a side. The total, at the time of writing, sits at 72.5.
That is the largest total on the board for Week 2.
For this total to go over, it will require Kent State to contribute on offense, which bookmakers clearly feel it can.
Kent State vs. Oklahoma Betting Pick
In summary, this Oklahoma offense is going to be explosive. To cover the number, Kent State will need to limit Oklahoma repeating the 1.88 Offensive Explosiveness ranking it produced in the first quarter against UTEP.
I believe this can be done by forcing Gabriel to be one dimensional through the air and limiting the number of possessions.
Kent State’s offense will be able to have the success needed to cover this number, which has ballooned up to over 33 during the week.
Play this number down to 31, as I believe Kent State’s offense is competent enough to keep this within four possessions.