Kansas State at Oklahoma Betting Odds & Pick: Can the Wildcats’ Offense Keep Pace in Norman? (Saturday, Sept. 26)
Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Bill Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, KS.
- Kansas State had a disappointing start to its season, but can bounce back against the Sooners in Norman.
- BJ Cunningham previews the matchup, including why he's betting a better offense showing for the Wildcats.
Kansas State at Oklahoma Odds
|Kansas State Odds||+28 [BET NOW]|
|Oklahoma Odds||-28 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+1500/-5000 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||60.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 12:00 p.m. ET|
The question that remains in Norman is can Lincoln Riley take the next step and play for a national title after losing in the semifinals three consecutive times. Oklahoma’s offense is likely going to be one of the best in the country again in 2020. However, the biggest concern is can their defense take the next step forward to being one of the elites in the Big 12
Chad Klieman showed last season that his championship coaching pedigree with North Dakota State can translate to the Big 12. The Wildcats won eight games last season, when many experts picked them to go below .500.
His system will be tested now that he must replace 28 seniors and 15 starters from last season. A season-opening loss to Arkansas State did not provide much optimism in Manhattan and now the Wildcats face their toughest test of season in Norman on Saturday.
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This will be the third time in three years that Oklahoma will have to replace its starting quarterback. However, the Sooners have a fantastic replacement for Jalen Hurts in Spencer Rattler. The redshirt freshman was a five star coming out of high school and was the consensus number one quarterback. He lit up Missouri St. in the Sooners opening game going 14-of-17 for 290 yards and four touchdowns.
The Sooners’ offense will have to find a new No. 1 receiver after Ceedee Lamb left for the NFL. Charleston Rambo will be the likely replacement, but the Sooners’ receiving core isn’t very deep coming into 2020.
One benefit Rattler will have in his first season is a stout, experienced offensive line. The Sooners bring back center Creed Humphrey, who was the Big 12’s co-offensive lineman of the year in 2019. Humphrey is joined by three other starters from last year’s offensive line, so Rattler should have plenty of protection this season.
For years Oklahoma’s defense always kept it from playing for a national title. The unit improved in 2019 under first year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, but there are still issues to address.
Oklahoma was much improved against the run last year ranking 45th in defensive rushing success and 27th defensive line yards. However, the Sooners are going to have to replace their leading tackler Kenneth Murray who left for the NFL.
So far, they don’t have anyone who can replace his leadership. They have potential star power on the defensive line in Ronnie Perkins, but it looks like he is going to miss the first four games of the season due to a suspension. Other than Perkins, the Sooner’s defensive line is not what I would consider “elite”.
The Sooners struggles defensively came on the secondary last season, as they ranked 79th in defensive passing success. They return all of their starters in the secondary, but there are depth concerns at the cornerback position.
Oklahoma has a ton of injury/COVID-19 issues to deal with right now. Eight offensive players are either out or questionable for Saturday’s game, including four wide receivers. The could potentially be missing five guys on defense as well.
Kansas State Wildcats
Even though the Wildcats lost a lot of starters on the offensive side of ball, they still have four year starter Skyler Thompson at quarterback. Thompson had a fantastic 2019 season, throwing for 7.8 yards per attempt and combining for 23 touchdowns, with 11 coming on the ground. He was not the issue in their season-opening loss to Arkansas State, as he threw for 8.9 yards per attempt and two touchdowns.
Klieman has praised Thompson for his performance both on and off the field. He compared his leadership rivals both Carson Wentz and Easton Stick from his days at North Dakota St. The key for Thompson and the Wildcats offense this season is taking more chances in the passing game.
Thompson will have young explosive playmakers in form of Joshua Youngblood and Malik Knowles to throw to at wide receiver, along with graduate transfer tight end Briley Moore, who had over 1,000 yards receiving in his career at Northern Iowa. If Kansas State is going to be successful on Saturday, it will most likely have to be in the passing game, since the Sooners weakness is their secondary.
Kansas State will likely struggle on the offensive line all season, however. All five starters are gone from last year and the Wildcats will need find some continuity up front. Their traditional run oriented attack struggled to run the ball against Arkansas State, gaining 2.3 yards per carry. However, with transition and injury/suspension issues on the Oklahoma defensive line, I think Kansas State should be able to establish their ground attack on Saturday.
Kansas State’s will get a big upgrade in the middle of its defense in 2020 with the return of Justin Hughes at middle linebacker. Hughes missed all of 2019 with a torn ACL and was the leader of the Wildcats defense towards the end of 2018, recording 55 tackles in eight games. Hughes is joined by a deep group of linebackers, so this unit should be the Wildcats’ strength in 2020.
The issues for Kansas State are going to come up front on the defensive line. They have star pass rusher Wyatt Hubert, who recorded seven sacks last season, but they will have to replace the rest of the positions on their defensive line.
The Wildcats will also have a new defensive coordinator, as Scottie Hazelton left for Michigan St. Kansas State promoted defensive backs coordinator Joe Klanderman to defensive coordinator, which should provide some continuity, especially since the secondary was the team’s strength last season, ranking 59th in defensive passing success.
Kansas State only had a 40 man roster against Arkansas State due to COVID issues, but Klieman indicated that 12 players will be back on Saturday. So, the Wildcats should have a better performance with more depth on Saturday.
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Betting Analysis & Pick
Oklahoma looks primed to win its sixth straight Big 12 title, but will be without a few key contributors on Saturday. The key for Kansas State to keep this game inside the number is their passing attack. Oklahoma is thin in the secondary.
So, I think having an experienced quarterback like Skyler Thompson will allow the Wildcats to move the ball effectively in the passing game and keep this game within four touchdowns.
I have Oklahoma projected as only -19.18 favorites on Saturday, so I think there is plenty of value on Kansas State at +28 (DraftKings). I also would play Kansas State down to +23.5.
Pick: Kansas State +28 (Play down to +23.5)