West Virginia at Oklahoma State Betting Odds & Pick: Back the Cowboys’ Star-Studded Offense (Saturday, Sept. 26)
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Chuba Hubbard.
- Oklahoma State appears to have a clear advantage against West Virginia, but the Cowboys disappointed in their Week 3 matchup against Tulsa.
- Should you throw your support behind Chuba Hubbard, Tylan Wallace and the 'Pokes skill position players, or is West Virginia the sharp side in this matchup?
- Check out Pete Ruden's betting guide with odds and his pick below, including why he’s laying the points with the ’Pokes in Saturday’s Big 12 matchup.
West Virginia at Oklahoma State Odds
|West Virginia Odds||+6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Oklahoma State Odds||-6.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+200/-250 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||51.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
Things almost could not have gone worse for Oklahoma State last week.
The Cowboys cycled through three quarterbacks after starter Spencer Sanders went down with an ankle injury, forcing the Pokes to fend off a Tulsa squad looking to pull off an upset of yet another Big 12 team.
Meanwhile, West Virginia is riding high off its 56-10 victory over Eastern Kentucky.
The Mountaineers looked much improved on the ground from last season, but then again, the Colonels lost to Marshall by 59.
Most of the questions surrounding this game will center around Sanders’ status, but there still may be some value on the Cowboys even if he doesn’t play.
Check out our free NCAAF odds page, which automatically surfaces the best line for every game.
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Sanders’ injury significantly hurt the Cowboys’ offense, and Ethan Bullock’s performance knocked it down another peg once he entered the game.
The backup completed 8-of-13 passes for 41 yards and an interception. That translates to a horrid 3.15 yards per attempt.
Things were not looking great for the Pokes until third-stringer Shane Illingworth entered the picture. The true freshman finished the game on 4-of-5 passing for 74 yards — an improved 14.8 yards per attempt.
It helps when a quarterback playing in his first game has a receiver like Tylan Wallace.
Shane Illingworth's first collegiate pass.
Pretty good start, with a great assist by the nation's top WR. pic.twitter.com/KaUfoovFYl
— Tyler Wiederhoeft (@TDWiederhoeft) September 19, 2020
Wallace was named a first-team All-American by ESPN and Sporting News in 2018, and he coupled that by finishing the season as a Biletnikoff Award finalist.
After missing half of the 2019 season with an injury, Wallace bounced back to haul in four passes for 94 yards in the Cowboys’ first game of the year.
Sure-handed wideout Dillon Stoner will also help whoever is under center, whether it’s Sanders returning or Illingworth sliding in to replace him again.
And that offensive firepower comes without mentioning running back Chuba Hubbard, who is one of the top Heisman candidates from the Big 12, along with Spencer Rattler, Sam Ehlinger and Trey Sermon.
Throw in a middle-of-the-pack defense with a defensive line that ranked 36th nationally in stuff rate last season, and it’s easy to see the Cowboys securing a solid victory, thanks to their proven veterans on the offensive side of the ball.
While that wasn’t the case last week, the offense has shown in the past it’s a force to be reckoned with — as long as Sanders or Illingworth are taking the snaps.
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West Virginia Mountaineers
Through one game, the Mountaineers have looked like the third-best team in the Big 12, behind only Oklahoma and Texas.
Too bad they likely won’t hold that pace.
When facing a team like Eastern Kentucky — again, a team that lost 59-0 to Marshall — it’s much easier to make an offensive line that ranked second-to-last nationally in stuff rate last season look good.
But still, West Virginia’s backfield boasted a pair of backs — Leddie Brown and Alec Sinkfield — who ran for 123 yards each and a quarterback in Jarret Doege — finally starting a full season — who completed 76 percent of his passes with three touchdowns and no picks.
The offensive line took a noticeable step forward. But that won’t be enough when the Mountaineers’ schedule ratchets up this week.
It still needs to prove against a quality opponent that it can replace a player like Colton McKivitz — who won co-Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year last season and was a third-team AP All-American — up front.
If the offensive line was that bad with a player of McKivitz’s caliber on it, I can’t imagine it being much better just one year later without him.
Just like Oklahoma State, West Virginia featured a mid-tier defense both in the conference and nationally last season. It ranked 74th in the country in total defense, giving up just under 400 yards per game, while ranking 73rd in stuff rate.
But those numbers will work for Big 12 football. The biggest problem for the Mountaineers instead lies within their offense.
West Virginia ranked 95th in Explosive Drive rate last season at 10.4%, well under the national average. In fact, the Mountaineers ranked last in the conference in both plays over 10 yards and plays over 20 yards.
Betting Analysis & Pick
I haven’t been burned by betting on the Pokes before. But some people have, including our very own Ryan Collinsworth, who suffered a few brutal blows at the hands of Oklahoma State and proceeded to tell me the excruciating details in a Slack message:
“Had OKST ATS on the road against Tulsa last year — and watched the Cowboys’ pretty solid defense (by Big 12 standards) suddenly forget how to tackle Shamari Brooks. Covered the -14 with a fourth-quarter TD from the only Cowboy player I actually really like: Chuba Hubbard. But for much of the third, it looked like Tulsa was going to win outright.
Tried it again with OKST against Texas Tech with Jett Duffey at QB after Bowman was ruled out for the season … had the under (I think it was like 64.5ish) — busted like crazy, Duffey goes for 424 and four TDs (had to look that one up just now), OKST loses outright.
Ran it back one last time with OKST ATS against West Virginia in Morgantown — and watched WVU’s backup (at the time) Jarret Doege pioneer WVU to a 13-10 lead entering the fourth quarter with Austin Kendall out of commission.
I knew going in that the Mountaineers defense was better than its numbers, but still couldn’t fully wrap my mind around the Cowboys’ inability to convert on third-and-manageable — even with backup Dru Brown running the show.
Oh, yeah, big shocker there: Spencer Sanders? Injured? No way; can’t be true. Well, eventually they pulled off a push with a late field goal, but it didn’t feel like a push; it felt like defeat.
They’re my kryptonite. I can’t explain it. But I do know one thing: I can no longer trust Spencer Sanders. I wouldn’t hold the door for him if I saw him walking up to me in a full-leg cast.”
For some reason, I’m still not scared. I, for one, would hold the door open for Sanders — or whoever plays quarterback, really — if I’m in a good mood after winning this bet.
Ultimately, I think Oklahoma State’s explosiveness and offensive weapons — both on the ground and through the air — are enough to overpower an average West Virginia defense with either Sanders or Illingworth under center.
On the flip side, I don’t think West Virginia’s offense is good enough to explode like it will need if it wants to hang with the Cowboys, especially with its rough offensive line situation against quality competition.
Obviously, Oklahoma State needs to improve from last week in a big way, while West Virginia needs to prove it’s legit.
I’m going to lay the points with Ryan’s rivals and take the Pokes to bounce back from a fluky first game against an unproven Mountaineer squad.
Pick: Oklahoma State -6.5 (up to -7)