College Football Picks: Texas Will Show Heart & Cover Spread vs. (10) Oklahoma

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, October 8, 2015 6:19 PM GMT

The Red River Rivalry between Oklahoma & Texas used to be a game every NCAA fan circled. But now it looks like another Sooners win in the series as No. 10 OU is -17 NCAA odds for Saturday afternoon.

No Bowl Likely For Texas
I'm really not sure how things can get much worse at Texas (1-4, 0-2 Big 12). Yes, the Horns played very well earlier in losses to good teams in California and Oklahoma State, with a kicking error killing UT at the end. But the Horns were embarrassed in Week 1 at Notre Dame and even more so last week in a 50-7 destruction at TCU. It was 30-0 after one quarter! Texas scored a late touchdown to avoid matching the second-worst shutout loss in school history, which was 50-0 to Oklahoma 107 years ago. Texas is off to its worst start since going 1-9 in 1956. That year, Texas suffered a 45-0 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma.

Starting QB Jerrod Heard struggled vs. TCU, with the redshirt freshman going 8-for-20 for 48 yards. He rushed 12 times for 23 yards. Heard was pulled in the fourth quarter but only because there was no reason to risk injury at that point.

Coach Charlie Strong called two team meetings in the wake of the loss. At Monday’s press conference, junior safety Dylan Haines attributed some of Texas’ problems to the freshmen wanting to play on Saturdays but not work hard on the other days. That started off a Twitter war with players bickering through social media and pointing fingers at one another. It almost seems as if the young guys Strong has recruited in his two seasons there are at war with the older veterans who were brought in by Mack Brown. Apparently Strong is in no danger of being fired after this season yet as reports are he still has support from school officials and key boosters. The recent firing of Athletic Director Steve Patterson might actually help Strong some because UT doesn't want the athletic department in further chaos.

Texas is a terrible defensive team, ranking No. 125 in total defense and No. 114 in scoring D (38.2 points per game). The Longhorns have given up the third most rushing yards per game (210.6) and second most passing yards per game (296.6) in the Big 12. No team in the Football Bowl Subdivision has allowed more first downs.

The Longhorns are 1-4 against the spread on college football odds this season and 2-3 'over/under.'

 

Sooners' Offense Rolling
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was not exactly on the hot seat entering this year but there had been some rumors that boosters and fans were growing discontent with him and that Stoops was tired of Norman and ready to go to the NFL.  Well, scratch that right now with OU at 4-0 an up to No. 10 in the polls.

The Sooners were very impressive last week in a 44-24 home win over No. 23 West Virginia, the second No. 23 team that OU has beaten in 2015 (Tennessee in Week 2). Baker Mayfield threw for 320 yards and three touchdowns and the OU Air Raid offense has been rolling, averaging 521.8 yards per game. Mayfield is fringe Heisman Trophy candidate with 1,520 total yards and 17 total touchdowns. He beat out Trevor Knight for the starting job in camp.

The defense has been a bit of a question mark but had seven sacks and forced five WVU turnovers. Senior linebacker Eric Striker was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week and earned some national honors, tying career highs with 12 tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss, and registering two sacks and a forced fumble against the Mountaineers.

Oklahoma is 40-5 since the start of the 2010 season against teams unranked in the AP Top 25 Poll. This marks the 10th time in the 17-year Stoops era that Oklahoma enters the Texas game undefeated (OU is 7-2 in the previous nine). This is the first time ever that Texas will face OU with four losses.

The Sooners are 3-1 ATS on college football picks this season and 2-2 O/U.

 

Last Meeting
Oklahoma was a 16.5-point favorite last October in the Cotton Bowl at the State Fair of Texas but won only 31-26 (total was 57). The Sooners led 17-13 at the half despite having just 29 yards of offense -- OU had a 91-yard kickoff return for a score and 43-yard TD interception return for a touchdown. But the Sooners scored the first two touchdowns of the second half to provide a cushion. They had 202 second-half yards. That was the first time Stoops ever coached in this game against someone other than Brown. Knight was 12-for-12 for 120 yards and a touchdown. Samaje Perine rushed 18 times for 62 yards and a score. Tyrone Swoopes, who is now the backup QB at Texas, completed 27-for-44 for 334 yards, two scores and a pick. Oklahoma has won four of the past five in the rivalry.

NCAAF Free Picks: Not much doubt who wins, but take the points. Maybe UT will show some heart. Go 'Under' the total at BetOnline. OU is 2-7 ATS in its past nine October games. The 'Under' is 7-3 in Texas' past 10 following an ATS loss.