Oklahoma vs. Houston Betting Odds & Preview: Will Sooners Defense Take Big Step Forward?

Oklahoma vs. Houston Betting Odds & Preview: Will Sooners Defense Take Big Step Forward? article feature image
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USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: CeeDee Lamb

Oklahoma vs. Houston Betting Odds

  • Odds: Oklahoma -24.5
  • Over/Under: 80
  • Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

All odds above are as of 12 p.m. ET on Sunday and via PointsBet.

oregon vs. auburn-odds

Following an 8-5 season, Houston opened getting 26 points in this matchup. Most bettors found that to be a bit disrespectful to the Cougars, who have drawn 67% of bets and 68% of actual money.

Oddsmakers initially responded by dropping Oklahoma all the way to -21.5, a number that drew a bit of sharp Sooner money. Since that point, the spread has settled in the middle at Oklahoma -23.

As for the total, bettors have not been turned away by the 80-point opening total. Sixty-nine percent of bets have landed on the over, but with those making up just half the actual money being wagered, the number has fallen toward the (perhaps) more respected side, and now sits at 79.5.

Can Houston’s offense hang, or will the defense get run out of Norman?

The One Unit with Questions

There are a few things I think we can count on in this game:

  • Oklahoma’s offense will be great again
  • Houston’s offense will be great again
  • Houston’s defense will be absolutely porous

The one unit we’re not as sure of? Oklahoma’s defense.

The Sooners hired Alex Grinch this offseason. He was at Ohio State last year, but he wasn’t really calling the shots with Greg Schiano still on staff. He had previously improved Washington State from 77th in defensive S&P+ to 60th to 30th in his final year there in 2017.

He’s also familiar with defending pass-heavy offenses in the Pac-12 from his time with the Cougars.

So the biggest angle in this game, from a betting perspective, is whether or not Oklahoma’s defense can get a few more stops than we’ve seen in years past. That will dictate whether or not Oklahoma can cover this big number, or if this game will fly over the total.

It’s lost a little bit of value, but I’m counting on defensive improvements under Grinch and am interested in the under. The Sooners have recruited at too high of a level for the defense, under a quality up-and-coming couch, to be 84th in S&P+ again. — Steve Petrella

Pick: Under at 80 or better

Collin Wilson’s Best Bet

With last year’s statistics in place, this total is projected at 72.5. Of course that involved only a 10-game sample set of D’Eriq King, a Houston defensive line that imploded, a Kyler Murray-led Oklahoma offense and a Sooners defense that was 120th in finishing drives. There are factors for this game that suggest scoring may be down on both sides of the ball.

New Houston head coach Dana Holgorsen is used to working with pocket passers over the last several years. Those names include Will Grier, Clint Trickett and Geno Smith. None of those players possess the rush awareness that led D’Eriq King to 50 total touchdowns last season.

There could be an adjustment for King’s new playbook at Houston, which could benefit an Oklahoma defense based on speed and havoc. Last season’s rank of second in adjusted pace for the Cougars under Kendall Briles will take a step back, as West Virginia had the 48th-ranked pace in 2018.

While Alex Grinch is applying pressure to the Cougars offense, Jalen Hurts will be in a revamped offensive scheme from Lincoln Riley. The Oklahoma head coach has mentioned the play-calling will be tailored to Hurts’ skill set, which will be different than what was available for Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield.

The offensive line should not be overlooked. Lincoln Riley mentioned there are still players jockeying for a starting position for a unit that lost 160 career starts. Hurts should be under pressure with a new unit in front of him.

Taking last year’s projection into consideration along with the offensive adjustments on both sides of the ball has me playing the Under. If Alex Grinch has success with the ‘speed D’ and the Sooners offensive line stumbles, the result should be fewer points than where oddsmakers set the market.

Collin’s pick: Under 80

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