Houston Cougars (0-0) vs 4 Oklahoma Sooners (0-0)
College Football: Sunday, September 1st, 2019 at 7:30 PM ET (Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium)
Moneyline: Houston Cougars (+1000), Oklahoma Sooners (-1300)
Spread: Houston Cougars (+23.5, -110), Oklahoma Sooners (-23.5, -105)
The last time Heisman candidates Jalen Hurts and D’Eriq King were on the same field, King ended Hurts’ high school career in a 71-21 blowout in the Texas high school playoffs. Hurts went on to play and win consistently at Alabama where he went 26-2 as a starter before Tua Tagovailoa replaced him in the 2018 National Championship. In an era where QBs often transfer immediately after losing a starting job, Hurts chose to stick around another year in Tuscaloosa and get his degree. His decision paid off as he came in to replace an injured Tagovailoa in the SEC Championship and lead Alabama to a last second victory over Georgia – the team he was benched against – to send the Tide to the playoff last year.
After graduating this offseason and transferring to Oklahoma, Hurts is eligible to play immediately and has won the starting job. The first team he will face in the Crimson and Cream is none other than D’Eriq King’s Houston Cougars. Four years since their last matchup has passed, but when asked about it this offseason, Hurts answered, “I haven’t forgotten.”
After defeating Georgia in his last meaningful snaps, will Hurts find some poetic justice in tonight’s matchup against King and Houston? Yes, but subscribe to Cover The Spread 365 now to find out why D’Eriq King and the Cougars will still find a way to cover the 23.5 point spread.
Houston Covers if…
D’Eriq King is at his best.
King was one of the best players in college football before suffering a season ending knee injury on November 15th vs Tulane. He threw for 36 TDs, 2,982 yards and just 6 INTs last season while adding 14 rushing TDs and 674 yards on the ground. He will be facing Oklahoma’s defense which finished 114th (out of 130 FBS teams) in total yards per game allowed (453.8) and tied for 125th with just 0.8 turnovers forced per game. In the 11 games King started last season, just once was Houston held to fewer than 40 points (a 45-31 loss to SMU). Last season’s potent offense remains intact as Houston returns its top three receivers (Marquez Stevenson, Keith Corbin and Courtney Lark) and their leading rusher (Patrick Carr). With Dana Holgorsen taking over for Major Applewhite as head coach, King should have all the weapons at his disposal to have an even better season this year. Holgorsen’s West Virginia team narrowly lost 59-56 against Oklahoma last season.
Oklahoma Covers if…
The defense steps up.
As noted above, Oklahoma’s defense was terrible last season, but Houston’s was worse. Houston finished 119th in scoring defense last year at 37.2 points per game allowed while Oklahoma was 101st at 33.3 ppg. The Cougars will improve defensively under Holgorsen with their 14 new additions from junior college and the transfer portal, but don’t expect the results to be immediate against the best offensive team in the country over the last few seasons. Oklahoma will score at will in tonight’s ball game, but the Sooners covering the 23.5 point spread will be determined by the effectiveness of the Sooner defense in slowing D’Eriq King.
Despite making the playoff and having a transfer quarterback step up to win the Heisman in each of Oklahoma’s past two seasons (Lincoln Riley’s only 2 seasons as a head coach), the defense has held the team back from reaching a national championship. This year everyone expects Oklahoma to pick up where they left off offensively with Jalen Hurts taking over the reins at quarterback, but will the defense finally turn a corner? It’s a tall task to prepare for the Houston offense with D’Eriq King at quarterback paired with new head coach Dana Holgorson who has had success offensively against Oklahoma previously. Holgorsen went 0-7 vs Oklahoma in the Big 12 and cited his frustration with getting over the Oklahoma hump as a reason for leaving Morgantown for Houston. Now he will have the talent to win his own conference if he coaches to the level of his opponents (or higher) at Houston, but will he immediately be able to put up points against the likes of Oklahoma?
Cover The Spread 365 Betting Trends
Houston are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games.
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Houston’s last 7 games.
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Houston’s last 6 games on the road.
The total has gone OVER in 11 of Oklahoma’s last 15 games.
Oklahoma are 7-1 SU in their last 8 games.
Oklahoma are 10-0 SU in their last 10 games at home.
Although we don’t expect Houston to have much success in stopping Oklahoma’s offense, expect King, Holgorsen and to hold their own offensively and cover the 23 points. The total has gone OVER in 11 of Oklahoma’s last 15 games, and I also like the over, but Houston +23.5 is the best value tonight. Not only does D’Eriq King have all of his top playmakers back on offense, but he’s also added to his offensive line with transfers Justin Murphy from UCLA and Gio Pancotti at the guard spots. Oklahoma’s offense will produce, but with 4 new starters on their offensive line paired with their terrible defense from the last few seasons, take the Cougars and the points tonight in a shootout.