Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 3:15 PM EST.
Oregon +7 over Oklahoma
Alamodome – San Antonio, TX -Valero Alamo Bowl
9:15 PM ET. Some have dubbed the Alamo Bowl as “The Coachless Bowl” so the discussion surrounding both the Ducks and Sooners is which team is going to show up? The market has reached a definitive conclusion as the Sooners stand to be one one of the largest liabilities this bowl season and perhaps the most heavily bet side outside of a New Year’s Six bowl game. The subsequent line movements from where Oklahoma opened as a 4½-point choice to where it sits now, reinforces the heavy lean by the market on OU. When we dissect some of the sub-plots in this match-up, one could argue that Oregon situationally bodes value even before the added points are thrown into the equation.
One could not craft the storybook tales that surround the Oklahoma Sooners program. Fabled hero and legendary coach Bob Stoops retired from OU in the summer of 2017 and handed the keys to the program to his then Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley. Riley would go on to maintain OU’s position as a fixture in the Big 12 title race and a perennial contender for a national title. Riley would also produce two Heisman winners in his tenure. After Oklahoma lost the Bedlam Game to Oklahoma State on Thanksgiving weekend, any notion of OU returning to the College Football Playoff in 2021 vanished and soon thereafter so did Coach Riley for USC. That left a giant gaping hole in Oklahoma’s coaching staff for this bowl game until newly hired Brent Venables would take the reins in 2022. In Shakespearian fashion, Stoops emerged from the darkness and agreed to coach Oklahoma for the Alamo Bowl and have his “last ride” with the Sooners. The plotline drove the market into a frenzy and it has not stopped pounding Oklahoma since the news broke.
Oregon will also have a new head coach in 2022 after Mario Cristobal left for Miami while Georgia’s defensive coordinator Dan “The Man” Lanning will be coming into Eugene with heightened optimism that has already infected the Ducks locker room. For the Alamo Bowl however, the Ducks will be under the stewardship of an interim coach for this game, who happens to also be another former Dawg, Brian McClendon. While McClendon’s name does not carry as much prominence as Bob Stoops, he did lead Georgia to a bowl win against Penn State in 2016 in between the Mark Richt and Kirby Smart eras. The point is, he has experience stepping in when it matters most but perhaps more important to note is that the players responded to him. Moreover, he also has familiarity with the team he coaches.
Stoops is literally coming out of the woodwork for one game. With Oregon’s program responding positively to the Lanning arrival, former Auburn quarterback Bo Nix is making his way to Oregon next season so one can infer that the remaining pieces are still bought in.
Yesterday we all witnessed a 10-point favorite, Mississippi State lose by 27-points to Texas Tech in a game the media was spewing out that it was the Mike Leach revenge game and that he was going to stick it to the team that fired him 12 years ago. While this one is not the same thing, it’s similar in that the media is spewing out the return of Bob Stoops to inspire Oklahoma football one last time. Just like the Leach revenge angel was absurd, so, too, is this one, as it’s more of a distraction than anything else. We do not know how OU will respond to seeing its conference, New Year’s Six, and potential playoff aspirations all go up in smoke in heart-breaking fashion and how they will recover from being flat-left by Riley. It is not wise to lay inflated points to find out.
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Oregon +7 -107 (Risking 2.14 units - To Win: 2.00)