Oklahoma Football: Picking Every 2012 Game on the Board Against the Spread
The Golden Nugget sportsbook in Las Vegas has posted preseason lines on 111 of college football's biggest games for the upcoming season.
Seven of those games happen to involve the Oklahoma Sooners, who are once again a preseason favorite to compete for the national championship.
Getting through the Big 12 will be a huge test for the Sooners this season, as big games against West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU at the end of the year could very well decide the Sooners' fate.
I'll concede that it's still really early to be making predictions on next season's games, but what else are we going to do now that the numbers are out?
Here's a fun fact: The Sooners are favored in every one of their games this season. How many will they actually win? Let's take a look!
Week 4: Kansas State at Oklahoma (-16)
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Prediction: Oklahoma (-16)
With a 16-point spread, it's really hard not to take the points and go with Kansas State in this early conference matchup. It's even harder not to take the points when you realize Collin Klein, a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, will be once again quarterbacking the Wildcats.
However, the Sooners may have played their best game of the season against the Wildcats on the road last year. The Wildcats' prolific ground attack was stifled, and Klein was limited to just 58 yards passing and 92 yards rushing.
Though the Wildcats return all of their skill-position players on offense, only two offensive linemen are returning to the starting lineup. An inexperienced offensive line could play a huge factor in how the Wildcats fare this season.
When you couple their question marks on offense with the fact that the game will be played in Norman, another 58-17 trouncing could very well be in order.
Hopefully, Sooner running back Dominique Whaley will have a bounce-back performance after suffering a season-ending injury against the Wildcats last season.
Week 7: Texas at Oklahoma (-6)
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Prediction: Oklahoma (-6)
The Red River Rivalry is always a pivotal game for both the Oklahoma Sooners and the Texas Longhorns, and this year should be no different.
For some, the -6 point spread may seem a bit low, especially considering the Sooners are coming off of an impressive 55-17 victory, and the Longhorns will still be looking to solve their quarterback inconsistencies.
However, a new season gives way to a clean slate, and that especially rings true in a heated rivalry such as this.
The Longhorns had the 11th-best defense in the country in terms of yards given up per game last season. With defensive ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat returning to anchor the defensive line, as well as Quandre Diggs, Carrington Byndom and Kenny Vaccaro back in the secondary, the Longhorns will be even better this season.
If Texas can get decent production out of either David Ash or Case McCoy at quarterback, the Longhorns will have a great chance of competing for the Big 12 title.
The Sooners, however, showed that they had too much offensive firepower for the Longhorns last season, and this season will be more of the same.
While I expect the outcome to be much closer than 55-17, the Sooners should most definitely cover the six-point spread.
Week 9: Notre Dame at Oklahoma (-12)
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Prediction: Oklahoma (-12)
In what is set to be a huge non-conference matchup, Notre Dame will travel to Norman to face off with the Sooners for the first time since 1966. The two teams have faced each other just nine times in college football history, with the Sooners winning just one of those games.
This season, the Sooners have a really solid chance of turning that number into two, as they are already early favorites by 12 points. It seems like a pretty big spread for what could be a contest between two top-25 teams, but I'm confident in taking Oklahoma.
The Fighting Irish return key starters on both offense and defense, including All-American tight end Tyler Eifert and All-American linebacker Manti Te'o, but one area that's currently lacking in experience is the secondary.
As you can see, the picture I've chosen for this slide is of Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones. With two relatively inexperienced cornerbacks starting for the Irish, Jones should have no problem slicing up their defense.
This will be the most high-powered offense the Irish have seen in quite awhile. Not to mention, here's what Notre Dame's schedule looks like leading up to the Sooners in Week 9: Navy, Purdue, Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, Stanford and Brigham Young.
If the Irish can manage to get through that stretch of their schedule unscathed, then I may have to reconsider my prediction. However, if the Irish lose five of those seven games (which is definitely possible), I'm not sure they'll even be motivated enough to compete anymore.
It sounds harsh, but it's a possibility.
If you pile on enough losses early in the season, the motivation to finish the season without the hopes of a national championship, or just a BCS bowl in general, can be very detrimental to a prestigious program.
I'm calling Oklahoma in a blowout.
Week 11: Baylor at Oklahoma (-17)
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Prediction: Baylor (+17)
Here's what we know about this game so far: It's being played in Norman (which is a plus); Robert Griffin III will not be playing for the Bears this season (which is a major plus); the Sooners are a 17-point favorite (which is questionable).
Even without their Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, the Bears still have a talented offense, which will be led by senior wide receiver Terrance Williams (pictured—scoring the winning touchdown against the Sooners last season).
The Bears also return their entire secondary, which produced four All-Big 12 honorable mention honors last season. If the Bears can get solid quarterback play out of senior Nick Florence, they could once again contend for a Big 12 title.
With that being said, the Sooners are the superior team at nearly every position.
Last season's 45-38 loss at Baylor was the Bears' first ever victory over the Sooners, and the win should be 90 percent credited to the efforts of Griffin III and 10 percent to the Sooners' secondary troubles.
This will be a revenge game for the Sooners, and playing in Norman certainly will help. However, if the Sooners are still struggling in their secondary by the time this game rolls around, Williams and Tevin Reese will once again make the Sooners pay.
The Sooners should win, but Baylor will cover. Not to mention, this is a HUGE trap game for what's to come the next week...
Week 12: Oklahoma (-4) at West Virginia
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Prediction: West Virginia (+4)
Yes, it's West Virginia's first season in the Big 12, and yes, the Mountaineers did struggle at times defensively last season, which doesn't bode well coming to an offensive-powered conference, but I still think this will be the toughest game for the Sooners to win all season.
First, they have to play on the road in Morgantown, which is a raucous environment for any opposing team to play in. Secondly, the Mountaineers will have the best offense the Sooners will see all season.
Unless Mike Stoops brings his boys ready to play, this will get ugly.
Senior quarterback Geno Smith, who shredded the Clemson Tigers defense in last season's Orange Bowl by the way of 407 yards passing for six touchdowns, returns to the Mountaineers starting lineup with a plethora of weapons at his disposal, including senior wide receiver Tavon Austin.
Austin should be one of the best wide receivers in the Big 12 this season. Also returning are junior wide receivers Stedman Bailey and Ivan McCartney, two more-than-capable receivers that will cause fits for most Big 12 secondaries.
However, the Sooners are going to be able to score some points as well. The below-average LSU Tigers offense was able to put up 47 points on the Mountaineers last season in Morgantown, and that bodes well for the Sooners.
This is going to be a high-scoring affair, but I'm giving a slight advantage to the Mountaineers. It's likely that this game will come down to the final drive, in which case the -4 spread for the Sooners makes me nervous.
Week 13: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (-8)
Prediction: Oklahoma (-8)
There is going to be a lot of anticipation up to this game. Frankly, I'm already excited about it. I'm picking the Sooners to cover the eight-point spread, but not necessarily due to the obvious reasons.
Of course, I'm talking about the Cowboys losing quarterback Brandon Weeden and wide receiver Justin Blackmon to the NFL draft. While they are huge losses, I'm still expecting the Cowboys to be competitive in the Big 12 next season.
Junior running back Joseph Randle returns to anchor the Cowboys offense, and he will likely be the best running back in the Big 12 next season.
Even though the hopeful production at quarterback is still a mystery, the fact that Mike Gundy has already named freshman Wes Lunt as the starter has to mean something, right?
Still, the Cowboys may be the most impressive on the opposite side of the ball.
Cornerbacks Brodrick Brown and Justin Gilbert have a chance to be the best tandem in the country, and safety Daytawion Lowe also has NFL potential. The battle between the Cowboys defense and the Sooners offense will be a very intriguing storyline.
The most intriguing storyline, though, will be redemption.
The Sooners were absolutely demolished by the Cowboys last season by a score of 44-10. The win sealed both the conference title for the Cowboys and a spot in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Sooners will have this game circled on their calendar all year, and if they happen to beat West Virginia on the road the previous week, they could be riding their momentum to a big win at home against the Cowboys.
Still, it's Bedlam—anything can happen.
Week 14: Oklahoma (-10) at TCU
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Prediction: TCU (+10)
While I believe the Sooners to be the superior team, I'm giving TCU the points in this game.
That's not to say that I think the Horned Frogs will win the game, but it should be closer than 10 points. Here's why:
After previously going up against Notre Dame, Iowa State, Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, this will be the sixth straight week of what should be competitive games for the Sooners. Oklahoma should be worn down, and playing on the road against a better-than-average opponent scares me.
The fact that it's the last game of the season could work both for and against the Sooners. This game could have major implications for both teams—whether it's national championship hopes or just a matter of pride—it will be a tough end-of-the-season test.
This will be a statement game for newcomer TCU.
After having played all the way through their first rigorous Big 12 conference schedule, the Horned Frogs, led by junior quarterback Casey Pachall, should be battle-tested and ready to host the Sooners.
TCU should have one of the better defenses in the Big 12 this season, and playing at home is a huge boost. I'm thinking a -6 line for the Sooners is more appropriate than -10.