The Red River Shootout between No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners (5-0, 2-0 in Big XII) and No. 21 Texas Longhorns (4-1, 2-0) goes down in the Cotton Bowl Saturday. This will be the 117th meeting between these longtime rivals and Texas leads the all-time series 62-49-5. Oklahoma squeaked past Kansas State 37-31 as 12-point road favorites this past weekend. It was Oklahoma’s third consecutive win by seven or fewer points. Texas pulled out a 32-27 victory at TCU as 4-point favorites for a third straight win.
- Opening Line: Oklahoma -4.5
- Current Line: Oklahoma -3.5
- Over/Under: 63.5
- Location: Cotton Bowl in Dallas
- Start Time: Saturday, October 9, 2021, noon ET
- Last Meeting: Oklahoma won 53-35 in overtime as 3-point favorites on October 10, 2020.
Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley succeeded Bob Stoops in 2017. Since then, the Sooners have beaten the Longhorns four of their five Red River Shootouts but covered in only two of those meetings. Oklahoma is 11-6-1 ATS vs. ranked teams, 6-6 ATS in neutral-site games, and 18-22-1 ATS vs. Big XII teams in the Riley era.
Both sides of the betting market are on Texas in this spot. According to Pregame.com, nearly 60% of the cash and more than 70% of the bets placed are on the Longhorns. Oddsmakers have reacted by bringing Oklahoma down from a 4.5-point favorite to the current consensus price. As for the total, there’s even more one-sided betting on the Over. Roughly 85% of the tickets are on the Over but the total has come down from the 65.5-point opener.
This to me feels like Oklahoma is getting propped up by its preseason ranking and expectations. Oklahoma ranks 49th or worse in net drive efficiency, net points per drive, and net points per play (according to Football Outsiders). Texas ranks fifth in Football Outsiders’ FEI Ratings, 16th in net drive efficiency, and 14th in net points per drive.
Aside from their 40-21 loss at a good Arkansas Razorbacks team, Texas has impressed in every game. The Longhorns have covered in all four of their wins, scoring 30-plus points in each game and their offense has improved since turning to junior QB Casey Thompson. Sure, that three-score loss to Arkansas looks bad. However, the Razorbacks are an underrated team with an identity.
We cannot say the same about this Oklahoma team. The Sooners are 1-4 ATS with four one-score victories despite being double-digit favorites in every game. Oklahoma QB Spencer Rattler was expected to be the first quarterback taken in the upcoming NFL Draft. But, Rattler has the fourth-best passer efficiency rating (158.0) in the Big XII. Thompson ranks first with a 180.4 passer efficiency rating.
Furthermore, Texas has higher net third-down conversion and red zone scoring rates with a more difficult strength of schedule. It feels like the wrong team is favored here. I get Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley is a wunderkind that can take an NFL gig whenever he wants. But, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian was Riley before Riley.
Sarkisian had personal issues which led to a disappointing stint as USC’s head coach. Sark got his personal life in order and showed he’s still an offensive guru as the offensive coordinator of last year’s Alabama Crimson Tide national title team. This Texas and Sark marriage feels like the real thing and Oklahoma just isn’t clicking on all cylinders. Gimme the Longhorns plus the points and I’ll sprinkle a little change on their Moneyline.
Pick: Texas +3.5 (-115 on DraftKings)
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