UTEP vs. Oklahoma Odds & Picks: A Team Total to Bet in Week 1 (Sept. 3)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images. Pictured: Oklahoma safety Key Lawrence.
- The UTEP Miners head to Norman on Saturday to play the new-look Oklahoma Sooners with Brent Venables at the helm.
- The Sooners expect to score plenty of points with Dillon Gabriel at quarterback, and Collin Wilson agrees.
- Check out Wilson's full betting guide and pick for UTEP vs. Oklahoma below.
UTEP vs. Oklahoma Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
A new age of Oklahoma football is set to begin under head coach Brent Venables. Known for fielding the best defenses in college football, the first-time head coach spent seven seasons as the Sooners’ defensive coordinator before taking the same position at Clemson over the past decade.
Most coordinators need a few series to make adjustments, but Venables may be the best coach in college history at reading an offense and changing the scheme before the snap.
Armed with a new quarterback and a proven offensive coordinator, the Sooners expect nothing less than a national title as Oklahoma moves to the SEC in the coming years.
UTEP is a team on the rise despite a loss to North Texas in Week Zero.
Head coach Dana Dimel embarks on his fifth season after serving as Kansas State’s offensive coordinator for nearly a decade. Bill Snyder’s coaching tree preaches excellent play in the trench with a bruising run game.
The Miners were winless in 2017 before Dimel’s arrival, winning just two games in the subsequent seasons. UTEP came together last season by winning seven games and covering in a loss to Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl.
After a crushing conference loss last week, UTEP will look to rebound in an afternoon trip to Norman.
The Miners lost a key piece to the success of last season when wide receiver Jacob Cowing hit the transfer portal.
Quarterback Gavin Hardison become one of the most explosive passers in passing downs last season, but a high percentage of those targets went to Cowing.
The results against North Texas were not successful on the scoreboard but not because of a lack of explosive plays.
— Follow @FTBeard7 (@FTBeard7) August 28, 2022
Tyrin Smith and Reynaldo Flores filled the gap in the passing game, each posting explosive catches for a total of 249 yards. Hardison hit four other targets, but four different drives ended with a turnover on downs after successfully getting into Mean Green territory.
Per Action Analytics, UTEP recorded seven scoring opportunities and averaged 1.28 points per attempt.
The defense also struggled to maintain the levels from last year’s bowl squad. UTEP ended the game without a sack, quarterback hurry or tackle for loss.
The North Texas offensive line was one of the stronger units returning to Conference USA play, but the lack of Havoc does not bode well against Oklahoma. North Texas also had four different players log an explosive rush.
The one bright side came from the Mean Green’s tempo. At 24 seconds per play, the new-look Oklahoma offense is expected to execute around the same tempo.
The Sooners’ players, coaches and fans are ready to get the Lincoln Riley era behind them with a new brand of defense and a different flavor of offense.
Offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby leaves Ole Miss to take the same position in Norman after calling one of the fastest and most successful units in college football last season.
Lebby will look to replicate the success of Matt Corral in Oxford with a family quarterback in Dillion Gabriel. The two were paired together in the quarterback’s initial season at Central Florida.
This throw by Dillon Gabriel was absolutely filthy 😵 pic.twitter.com/n0FEe3xlAF
— Seth Oliveras (@SethOliveras) May 18, 2022
From a decision-making standpoint, Gabriel had his best season as a freshman, posting 30 big-time throws to just seven turnover-worthy plays.
After Lebby’s departure from UCF, Gabriel had an increase in turnover-worthy plays with a steep climb in drops in 451 dropbacks during the 2020 season.
Despite Oklahoma losing half of its offensive line snaps, receiving yards and rushing yards, there’s an expectation that this offense will have no hiccups with Lebby calling the plays.
The defense undergoes a similar change with Venables and coordinator Ted Roof. Former coordinator Alex Grinch proved to be successful in upgrading the defense against the rush and in Havoc, but he never found a solution against the Big 12 passing offenses.
The Sooners finished last season 87th in Passing Downs Success Rate and 62nd in coverage grading. A number of highly-graded cornerbacks and safeties return for Venables’ zone coverage scheme.
UTEP vs. Oklahoma Betting Pick
The Oklahoma depth chart revealed the new-look defense under Venables. Both starting safeties, Key Lawrence and Billy Bowman, are light on experience, but both project to be impact players in causing disruption.
Cornerbacks Jaden Davis and Woodi Washington combined for just five forced incompletions on 55 targets last season.
Hardison found plenty of success hitting multiple receivers for chunk yards in Week Zero. Specifically, two passing attempts down the left seam resulted in 81 yards and a touchdown for Smith against North Texas.
Hardison loves to attack the left seam but also had 16 passing attempts between the hash marks not exceeding 20 yards. Oklahoma’s linebacker unit of DaShaun White and David Ugwoegbu have been excellent against the run but a liability against opposing passing attacks.
The Action Network projection for this game is Oklahoma -33, a number that has seen UTEP money throughout the week.
Hardison is capable of lighting up the Sooners’ linebackers in passing attempts, but it’s the Miners’ inability to score in multiple opportunities against North Texas that has our wager looking elsewhere for value.
One area North Texas exposed was UTEP’s pass defense. Mean Green quarterback Austin Aune lit up the Miners’ secondary, as five different players caught an explosive pass.
Considering the strength of the North Texas offense is the rush, the final Passing Downs Success Rate of 44% against UTEP indicates Gabriel could have a monster outing from an explosive pass perspective.
Unlike North Texas, Lebby will have no issues turning drives into points.