Houston at Oklahoma Preview & Free Pick [9/1/2019]

Houston (0-0) at Oklahoma (0-0)
When: Sunday, September 1, 2019
Where: OU Memorial Stadium,
Norman, Oklahoma
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: ABC
Opening Odds: Oklahoma -26/80

Another season, and another potential Heisman Trophy quarterback begins under center for the Oklahoma Sooners this weekend, as they host the Houston Cougars on Sunday night in Norman. Jalen Hurts comes over from Alabama to follow in the footsteps of Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, who both enjoyed record-breaking seasons en route to becoming the No. 1 overall picks in each of the last two NFL Drafts. Hurts went 26-2 as a starter for the Crimson Tide and will lead what is expected to be one of the top offenses in the country under head coach Lincoln Riley. The Sooners made the CFB Playoff last season and lost 45-34 to Alabama, making it four straight seasons of 11-2 or 12-2 records. The Cougars have a pretty good signal-caller in their huddle as well with the return of senior D’Eriq King, who is one of only three quarterbacks in FBS history with at least 35 passing touchdowns and 13 rushing touchdowns in a single season despite missing the last 2.5 games due to injury. Houston was 7-1 last year before injuries on the defensive side hurt them and they finished 8-5 including an embarrassing 70-14 loss to Army in the Armed Forces Bowl. The offense should be fine under new head coach Dana Holgorsen, who has directed units that has ranked 10th or better nationally 10 times in the last 14 years. Holgorsen went 0-7 against the Sooners while at West Virginia and allowed at least 44 points six times. Oklahoma has won two of the three all-time meetings but lost the most recent one – 33-23 in Houston to begin the 2016 season.

King threw for 2,982 yards and ran for 674 more while also setting an American Athletic Conference single-season record with 50 touchdowns (36 pass, 14 rush), including at least one rushing score in each of his 11 games. The offense returns eight starters including junior receiver Marquez Stevenson, who caught 75 passes for 1,019 yards and nine TDs last season and running back Patrick Carr (898 yards, five TD). The defense could be a problem with only four starters returning and the loss of No. 9 overall draft pick Ed Oliver is big. Isaiah Chambers returns from a season-ending knee injury after ranking 14th in the AAC with 4.5 sacks despite playing only five games. Houston will host Prairie View A&M next week.

Hurts seemed like a lock to take over the Sooners offense, but according to Riley, he barely beat out two freshmen (Tanner Mordecai and Spencer Rattler) for the job. Just four starters return on offense, but one of them is running back Kennedy Brooks (1,056 yards rushing, 12 TDs), who ranked third in FBS with 8.9 yards per carry and was one of eight freshmen nationally to run for over 1,000 yards. OU does have experience back on defense, but they’ll need to get better after finishing dead last in the Big 12 in scoring and total defense. The unit allowed 33.3 points a game and 454 yards of total offense per contest.

You have two explosive offenses against two horrendous defenses in this opening week contest. I know the total is high, but I’m taking the over anyway. Both teams averaged well over 40 points a game last season while allowing over 30. This is going to be a shootout.

Pick: OVER 80

Betting Trends:

Cougars are 15-4 ATS in their last 19 games on grass.
Cougars are 16-7 ATS in their last 23 games in September.
Cougars are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
Cougars are 4-12 ATS in their last 16 road games.
Cougars are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall.

Sooners are 15-7 ATS in their last 22 home games.

Over is 4-0 in Cougars last 4 road games.
Over is 6-1 in Cougars last 7 games overall.
Under is 5-1 in Cougars last 6 games on grass.
Over is 5-1 in Cougars last 6 non-conference games.
Under is 4-1 in Cougars last 5 vs. Big 12.

Over is 6-1 in Sooners last 7 games in September.
Over is 6-1 in Sooners last 7 games on grass.
Over is 5-1 in Sooners last 6 home games.
Over is 12-3 in Sooners last 15 games overall.