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West Virginia

vs.

Oklahoma

Big 12

Football Pick

9/7/13

This is the first Big-12 conference game, so whoever wins this will be in first place for the next week. That will likely be Oklahoma, who is a -21 point favorites at sportsbook.com, up from -19. That's what tends to happen for teams when they struggle against an FCS school as West Virginia did last weekend. The Mountaineers do not have the same offense they had a year ago, which was evident when they needed a late fourth quarter touchdown to beat William & Mary. They were actually down 17-7 at the end of the first half.
 
 The Sooners didn't look all that great on offense either, but their defense completely man handled Louisiana-Monroe. No one on the Warhawks rushed for more than 10 yards if that says anything. They were a combined 22 carries for 38 yards on the ground. Oklahoma also held Kolton Browning to 3.3 yards per attempt as he finished with 128 yards and one interception. Browning is a four-year starter and ULM doesn't have all that bad of an offense. The line is so high because West Virginia will likely have trouble scoring again this week.
 
 Unlike last year's 50-49 slugfest (Oklahoma won), this year will be a lot different. The Mountaineers are definitely not reaching 778 yards and both teams combined may not even reach 50 points. That's what tends to happen with teams when their previous quarterbacks -- who were drafted to the NFL -- are gone.
 
 Paul Millard wasn't terrible against William & Mary going 19-for-25, but he wasn't great. Charles Sims will have a bigger role this season for the Mountaineers at running back, which we saw last week when he rushed for 120 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries. If they can't run against the Sooners, this game may be over before we know it.
 
 Let's not forget West Virginia's defense has been one of the worst in the conference the past couple seasons. While Trevor Knight was pretty bad against LA-Monroe (11-for-28, 86 yards), he still managed three passing touchdowns and led the team in rushing with 103 yards. The OU offense is a lot different than when Landry Jones was at QB. Jalen Saunders is going to get the most targets at wide receiver as he had two touchdowns on only three receptions. The thing with the current 21-point line is whether Oklahoma will be able to score enough to reach those totals.
 
 All numbers are against the Mountaineers in this game as they are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games overall and 1-4 ATS in their last five road games vs. a team with a winning home record. The Sooners aren't much better with just a 1-4 ATS mark in their last five home games, although that one cover came last weekend. The under has hit four straight times for West Virginia, while the over is a surprising 7-1 in Oklahoma's last eight conference games.
 
 When handicapping early season college football, you evaluate talent lost and talent gained, along with talent retained. You then make assumptions based on that work. The assumption here is that West Virginia is likely to be just a shell of it's former self while Oklahoma should still be a force. That said, our best guess here is an Oklahoma blowout. Not a game we'd want any part of in the real world though.

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