This Game could end up being a bit closer than some people think. Oklahoma will again be one of the best teams in the country, but it has to break in a new quarterback and that isn’t always easy. Of course, the same goes for Florida Atlantic, which makes this an even harder spot for an upset. The Sooners are -20.5 point favorites with an over/under of 68 at 5Dimes Sportsbook.
The hype around Oklahoma camp is that the offense won’t take much of a step back with Kyler Murray at quarterback. There’s hype, but expecting Murray to match Baker Mayfield’s numbers is a stretch. That said, the offense will probably still be one of the best around with Lincoln Riley calling plays and Murray looked plenty capable in a few series last year, though he also struggled at Texas A&M in 2015. Picked ninth in the most recent MLB Draft, this is Murray’s last season in collegiate football and he has a lot on his plate. To help, the Sooners are loaded everywhere else with Rodney Anderson and Trey Sermon at running back, as well as top wide outs Marquise Brown and CeeDee LAmb. Throw in a line that has enough experience to be one of the best in the Big 12 again and another 40 points per Game is possible.
It’ll be interesting to see what FAU’s defense can do in this Game after a solid first year under LAne Kiffin. The Owls return 10 starters from that group so that could help immediately. And while they got out to a slow start last year, this team should be ready to roll with a full season of Kiffin already in the books. But stopping Akron to three points (last year’s bowl win) and keeping Oklahoma in check are two very different things. As long as Murray doesn’t flop in the opener, the Sooners should be set for around 40 points.
The other side of the ball will be equally entertaining after FAU managed 40 points and 500 yards per Game last year. Kiffin (and 25-year-old Charlie Weis Jr.) will probably have something up his sleeve as he already said he could use multiple quarterbacks in the opener with De’Andre Johnson, Chris Robison and Rafe Peavey all fighting for time. Johnson is a former Florida State recruit and Robison was dismissed from Oklahoma a year ago. It doesn’t help the new quarterback that the line only returns two starters and Willie Wright is the only returning starting wide out. Running back Devin Singletary will try and top last year’s 1,920 yards and 32 touchdowns, but that’s a tall task and going against this defense won’t be easy.
Oklahoma’s defense was previously a major issue, but the Sooners were better than expected last year under Mike Stoops and then they added Bob Diaco as an analyst in the offseason. There is experience and depth at every level so this group could be better and that could be what separates these two teams and leads to a blowout.
The spread isn’t huge and if you’re a believer of Kiffin, this could end up being a high-scoring Game that doesn’t get decided until the end. But based on talent alone and the differences in the trenches, the Sooners could ride their run Game and run defense to get the cover and win by three touchdowns.
Our Pick – Oklahoma -20.5