Oklahoma To Roll Over Houston Late In 2016 Advocare Texas Kickoff

Baker Mayfield

Jay Pryce

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 9:13 PM GMT

All eyes will be on the 2016 Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium in Houston on Saturday as No. 13 Houston Cougars face off against the No.3 Oklahoma Sooners. NCAAF Pick and preview inside.

Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners put up 43.5 points per game last season, fourth most in FBS. The offense returns seven starters, along with last year’s fourth-place Heisman finisher Baker Mayfield. Mayfield won the 2015 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year award, passing for 3,700 yards, 36 TDs and 7 INTs on 269 of 395 attempts. He also rushed for seven scores. Looking NFL ready, he performed great under pressure, tossing 12 TDs and 0 INTs when blitzed. It was the best rate among Power 5 quarterbacks.

Junior Samaje Perine and sophomore Joe Mixon will share the backfield again, after rumbling for 222.1 yards per game in 2015. The Sooners’ 5.0 yards per carry ranked 18th best nationally, adding to their fifth most 530.2 total yards per game. The only key player missing from last year’s unit is wide receiver Staling Shepard, who was drafted in the second round by the New York Giants. Don’t expect head coach Bob Stoops’ squad to slow down anytime soon.

Defensively, Stoops returns six starters to a unit that allowed a paltry 4.6 yards per play (14th). Key to those are safety Steven Parker and cornerback Jordan Thomas, each named to the Big 12 Preseason team. Expect another solid year, but they will be tested early with three of the Sooners’ first four games against top-15 teams, including No. 13 Houston, No. 5 Ohio State, and No. 14 TCU.

 

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Houston Cougars
First-year head coach Tom Herman guided the Cougars to a 13-1 record last season, finishing with a 38-24 trouncing of Florida State in the Peach Bowl . After cruising to an 11-0 start, a late-season loss at UConn squashed their chances at playing for the national title. They have the talent to threaten again. However, not hailing from a Power 5 conference, a loss in this game will likely knock them out of contention right off the bat. Herman and company will be rolling out all the stops in this one.

Offensively, Houston’s success starts and stops with Greg Ward Jr. A dual-threat star, Ward passed for nearly 3,000 yards and galloped for close to 1,100 more in 2015. His 67.2 completion rate ranked ninth in the nation. He has the talent to carry any team on his back, but will have help with Texas transfer RB Duke Catalon suiting up after sitting last season out.

Ward leads just five returning starters. The offensive line is the biggest concern versus the Sooners. It is a bit undersized comparatively and starts two new tackles. Expect Oklahoma to work the edges aggressively, and attempt to keep the versatile Ward inside the hash marks.

Defensively, Houston sports a stout front seven. It stuffed the run last season for 3.3 yards a per carry, 10th best in the nation. The concern is in the secondary with only one returning starter: senior Brandon Wilson. The defensive backfield was average at best, to begin with, and inexperience could haunt them against a prolific air-raid Sooners offense.

 

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Final Analysis
Houston is 5-12 SU (7-9-1 ATS) in its last 17 games against the Big 12, but two of those wins came as double-digit dogs. Herman is doing great things, and Ward will likely keep it competitive, but the Sooners are too much to handle. The talent gap is too wide. Stoops is 12-0 SU (7-5 ATS) against AAC and C-USA teams, the Cougars last two conferences, winning by a 29-point margin. We’re not expecting a rout of that magnitude in this one, and the 10 points is a pretty fair line all things considered, but Houston’s inexperience will hurt in the opener. They won’t be able to keep up late. Sooners win by two TDs and just cover the spread.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Oklahoma -10 (-110)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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