Oklahoma Sooners Overvalued in 2014-15 College Football Season

Steve - CollegeFootballWinning.com

Monday, August 11, 2014 2:04 PM GMT

Let's look at the Oklahoma Sooners' 2014-2015 college football odds and analyze where the team stands regarding betting value this season.

In a previous article, we expounded on our thesis that expectations for the 2014-2015 Oklahoma Sooners have grown this off-season because of an extraordinary 2014 Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama. Believing that victory to be an anomaly, we think the betting public has overblown expectations for Oklahoma entering this upcoming season. Adding to our earlier thesis, this article discusses more betting conditions and tendencies surrounding the Oklahoma Sooners this 2014-2015 college football season.

 

Oklahoma’s Bob Stoops Against-the-Spread (ATS)
Bob Stoops enters his 16th season as the head coach of the Sooners, and that means we have a lot of data on him (which is just the way we like it). Overall, he is 53.93% ATS. Stoops is at his most profitable at Home, winning 57.14% of his games ATS in Norman. Away, he is 50.54% ATS- a losing figure in the world of bet-$11-to-win-$10 (where the breakeven point is 52.38%). “Big Game Bob” is fresh off the second largest against-the-spread margin-of-victory for the 2013-2014 Bowl Season. He returns a Sugar Bowl-winning MVP in quarterback Trevor Knight, the greatest percentage of tackles of any defense in the conference, and the most returning offensive line starts in the Big 12. Everywhere we look, the college football odds for his Sooners to win the 2015 National Championship are fourth-shortest or even shorter. All of that adds up to one thing: high expectations.

 

Expectations in College Football Betting
As an admitted oversimplification, betting lines are driven by expectations. Elevated expectations for teams are never good for ATS outcomes. In an earlier article, we outlined general preseason predictive principles, and discussed three conditions for a profitable ATS season:

Be unranked in the preseason polls. As this is being written, the Associated Press (AP) Top 25 Preseason Poll is weeks away from its release, but given Oklahoma’s off-season momentum, we expect the Sooners to be in top-5. (They are already ranked third in the USA Today Coaches Poll.) Oklahoma under Stoops has been ranked in the preseason top-5, eight different times. They finished those seasons averaging 50% ATS. For the seven seasons the Sooners were NOT ranked in the preseason top-5, they finished averaging a very profitable 58.43% ATS.

Be unprofitable the prior ATS season. In 2013, Oklahoma was 8-5 (61.54%) ATS - quite profitable. In the previous 15 seasons under Stoops, they were NEVER more profitable (than the prior season) after a profitable one; they always had a poorer ATS average. In fact, after their profitable ATS seasons under Stoops, five of the seven subsequent seasons were unprofitable. Since 2013 was Stoops’ fourth-most profitable season at Oklahoma, 2014 looks less promising.

Increase the straight-up (SU) wins from the prior season. With Stoops at OU, the Sooners had profitable ATS seasons ALL seven times they increased their SU wins from the prior season. When Oklahoma had the same or fewer SU wins from the prior season, seven out of eight times they were unprofitable. In order for OU to increase their SU wins from 2013-2014, they would need at least 12 SU wins. Without a conference championship game, it is still possible for the Sooners to play in 14 games: their 12 regular season games plus 2 College Football Playoff games.

 

Schedule Notes

Utilizing the NCAA’s method of determining strength of schedule, Oklahoma ranks a poor 93rd. Take a look at their 2014 schedule below:

At CollegeFootballWinning.com, we have reason to believe that OU will not go undefeated through their regular season. If that were the case, given their perceived weakness of schedule, even a single regular-season loss would likely eliminate OU from the College Football Playoff. Who might beat the Sooners this season? Consider this list of suspects:

TCU- Oklahoma goes to Fort Worth for this matchup. The last two games have been decided by and average of just 5 points.

Texas: Their Red River Rival has new UT head coach, Charlie Strong. While the college football world speculates about Strong’s success with the Longhorns this season, the facts reveal that Stoops is just 4-5 SU versus Texas in their last nine games, and OU lost handily least year.

Kansas State: Sure this game is in Norman, but Kansas State beat Oklahoma SU the last time these two played here (in 2012). Bill Snyder is Bob Stoops’ mentor, and Snyder is rarely out-coached.

Baylor: The Sooners have lost two of their last three games to the Bears, including a 29-point blowout loss last year.

DATE

OPPONENT

LOCATION (STADIUM)

NOTES (Oklahoma Under Bob Stoops since 2003)

08/30/14

Louisiana Tech

Norman, OK

(Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)

OU is 5-6 ATS in season-openers, and 6-5 ATS in Home-openers. All 11 of their season-openers have been against non-‘Power 5 Conference’ teams. OU has been the favorite in all 11 games. From the opening to the closing betting line, OU has only become LESS of a favorite three times. Therefore, in most cases, if you like the OU side in this matchup, then bet them on the opening number; if you like the LA Tech side, then wait to bet them much closer to kickoff.

09/6/14

Tulsa

Tulsa, OK

(H.A. Chapman Stadium)

Stoops’ Sooners are 5-1-1 ATS vs. Tulsa (dating back to 2001). OU is 1-0-1 ATS in Tulsa (since 2002). Since 2003, the line direction (from the opening to the closing betting line) has only suggested the wrong side once (in five games). Stoops is just 42.86% ATS in non-conference Away games (since 2003).

09/13/14

Tennessee

Norman, OK

(Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)

OU has not played UT since the Orange Bowl of 1968. OU is just 1-4 ATS vs. the SEC. The Total has gone UNDER in four of those five SEC games. Despite the poor record vs. the SEC, since 2003, Stoops is at his best in non-conference Home games, going 61.54% ATS.

09/20/14

West Virginia

Morgantown, WV

(Mountaineer Field)

OU is 0-3 ATS vs. WV, failing to cover the SPREAD by an average of 16.5 points. The line direction (from the opening to the closing betting line) has not suggested the right side in any of the three contests. OU is just 4-7 ATS in conference-openers, including going 3-2 ATS when those conference openers are Away.

10/4/14

TCU

Fort Worth, TX

(Amon G. Carter Stadium)

OU is 2-2 ATS vs. TCU. The Total has gone Under in all four contests. The average total score has gone under the closing Total by an AVERAGE of 14.5 points, and never by less than 8.5 points! Since 2003, OU is 60% ATS after a bye week.

10/11/14

Texas

Dallas, TX

(Cotton Bowl)

Since Stoops has been at OU, the Sooners are 8-6-1 ATS vs. Texas. The Sooners are 6-3 ATS when favorites in those games. The Total has gone Over 60% of the time.

10/18/14

Kansas State

Norman, OK

(Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)

Since 2003, OU is 4-4 ATS vs. KSU, and the Home team is 75% ATS in the series. In that span, the line direction (from the opening to the closing betting line) has only suggested the correct side once. The Total has gone Over in five of those eight contests.

11/1/14

Iowa State

Ames, IA

(Jack Trice Stadium)

OU is 5-2 ATS vs. ISU, including going 2-1 ATS in Ames. In the seven game series, the line direction (from the opening to the closing betting line) has only suggested the correct side twice. The Total has gone Under in four of the seven contests, however, the Total went Over in two of those three games in Ames. Since 2003, OU is 60% ATS after a bye week.

11/8/14

Baylor

Norman, OK

(Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)

OU is just 3-8 ATS vs. BU, and 0-5 ATS at Home vs. the Bears. OU has been a double-digit favorite in all but one of those games (which was one of their three ATS wins). Since 2003, Baylor has been responsible for 23.81% of all of OU’s Big 12 Home ATS losses.

11/15/14

Texas Tech

Lubbock, TX

(Jones AT&T Stadium)

OU is 7-4 ATS vs. TT, including going 3-2 ATS in Lubbock. The Total has gone Under in 6 of the 11 games, but the Under has been correct for 3 of the 5 games in Lubbock. OU was the underdog in just 1 of those 11 games vs. TT- an ATS win for the Sooners.

11/22/14

Kansas

Norman, OK

(Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)

OU is 4-3 ATS vs. KU. The line direction (from the opening to the closing betting line) has indicated the correct time each time the game was played in Lawrence, yet not once when the game was played in Norman. The Total has gone Over four out of seven times in the series, and all three times the game was played in Norman.

12/6/14

Oklahoma State

Norman, OK

(Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)

Since Stoops has been at OU, the Sooners are 9-6 ATS in their Bedlam game. OU is an impressive 7-2 ATS since Mike Gundy became OSU’s head coach. The Total has gone Over in five of the nine games played with Gundy as OSU’s head coach. As favorites vs. Gundy’s Cowboys, OU is 6-1 ATS. Last season (2013) was the first time in the Stoops-Gundy era that OU played OSU after a bye week. Beating the SPREAD by 19 points gave OU their second-best ATS margin-of-victory in those nine games.

Futures and More Suspect Sooner Situations
As this is being written, Oklahoma was compelled to suspend their best incoming recruit, 5-star running back Joe Mixon. That is a significant concern, especially since they lost their top three running backs from 2013. This upcoming season will be the first time in Bob Stoops’ 16 seasons at Oklahoma that he will not have an upperclassman running back on scholarship.

Oklahoma’s defense is NOT suspect, but their leading returning tackler, linebacker Frank Shannon is still the subject of a “Title IX” investigation. Shannon was held out of OU’s spring game. Although he is now practicing with the team, the university could still suspend him.

While neither of the above is fatal for the Sooners, add that data to the fact that the 2015 College Football National Championship will be determined by playing-off four teams chosen by 13 people. For good or ill, this will be the most subjective method of determining the four best teams in college football since before the BCS. Given the extreme subjectivity of the selection process and the fact that we have no data on the results (since this is the first year of the process), we recommend the most conservative approach to your National Championship futures betting. Combining that conservative approach to National Championship futures bets with our thesis that Oklahoma enters the season overvalued, we recommend against wagering anything on an Oklahoma National Championship futures bet.

Compare the College Footbule Futures Odds offered by Top Sportsbooks

OU Betting Trends
The most noteworthy Oklahoma betting trends revolve around the direction of the betting line movement:

Since 2003, line movement (from the opening to the closing betting line) indicated the WRONG side in 63.64% of all OU’s Home games.

Reverse Line Movement (RLM): Usually an indicator of where the “sharp” money has gone when it opposes the majority of the public bets, the RLM side has been WRONG 60% of the time in games involving Oklahoma.

Since 2003, the Totals line movement for has suggested the WRONG side in 59.57% of Oklahoma’s games.

 

Preseason Conclusions
Because Oklahoma had a deceptively great Sugar Bowl, a profitable prior season, (will have) a high preseason ranking, and should be challenged to increase their SU wins from last year, we are not optimistic about the Sooners’ chances for being profitable in 2014. Likewise, we believe that Sugar Bowl performance has raised expectations while lowering Oklahoma’s futures odds to the point that both are exaggerated. Betting against the side suggested by the line movement in Home games might be the most lucrative betting proposition for Oklahoma in 2014.

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