Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 9:45 AM EST.
Oklahoma State -101 over Notre Dame
Playstation Fiesta Bowl - State Farm Stadium – Glendale, AZ
1:00 PM EST. In the buildup to the Big 12 Championship, Oklahoma State was heavily bet by the market since it covered in 10 straight games. Combining that with a 10-point win against Baylor, the team it was playing for the conference chip, there was speculation that the then #5 Cowboys were going to the College Football Playoff. The Pokes, despite being prone to being overvalued from covering so much before reaching Dallas, looked like easy money spotting a touchdown to the Bears who were being led by a freshman back-up quarterback. Instead of finishing the deed, the Cowboys found themselves an inch shy of winning the Big 12 title and perhaps a playoff berth when the Bears kept Oklahoma State out of the end zone on a goal-line stand for the ages in the final minute of regulation. Very quickly, the rhetoric and nasty adjectives describing Head Coach Mike Gundy’s inability to win big games bubbled up to the surface and the market is jumping ship on Oklahoma State here as a result. That propensity is enhanced by Notre Dame’s heightened market credibility.
Very quietly and unassumingly in non-stereotypical Notre Dame fashion, the Irish found themselves on the outside looking in of a potential College Football Playoff berth when it closed its season 11-1 with a top-five ranking. Normally, the Irish, in such a prominent position would be making headlines but seemingly all was an afterthought, as the discussion surrounded the looming showdown between Georgia and Alabama, Cincinnati making a run to be the first ever Group of Five Champion to make the College Football Playoff (Notre Dame’s only loss), the resurgence of Michigan under Jim Harbaugh, Ohio State as a contender (until Michigan knocked them off), and of course whether or not Oklahoma State could get over the proverbial hump and finally win the Big 12 under Mike Gundy.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame continued to win and cover like a broken slot machine, going 9-1 against the number in its final 10 games. While this may have been page five material throughout November, it is now at the forefront here in the Fiesta Bowl because it further substantiates getting behind the Irish against Oklahoma State. who the market perceives have a hurt paw. In essence, this is a huge buy-low opportunity on the Pokes and a sell-high venture on the Fighting Irish.
Indeed, it was a brilliant move of strategy for the Irish to promote from within and hand Defensive Coordinator Marcus Freeman the keys to the kingdom after Head Coach Brian Kelly’s sneaky departure to Baton Rouge. Assuredly, many saw the viral video of the Irish team reacting to the news on social media when Freeman was introduced as the next head football coach of the Golden Domers and thus, a big performance in this Bowl game is expected. However, we would urge Notre Dame backers to not be so quick to pull the trigger on the Irish under the assumption that Oklahoma State will be flat-footed by comparison because of the catastrophic heart-breaking defeat.
Oklahoma State has some unfinished business. When we also consider that Mike Gundy is the more experienced head coach who has been at the helm in bigger games compared to Marcus Freeman (who is literally in his first rodeo here as head coach), we have to like the prospect of Gundy circling the wagons and getting his team to finish strong while Freeman still may be working through the detailed-oriented game prep.
Furthermore, when we consider the résumés of both teams, Oklahoma State has an enormous advantage. Notre Dame’s best win this year came against the now unranked Wisconsin Badgers on a neutral site. Oklahoma State beat #7 Baylor once (ranked #21 when they beat them initially), defeated #10 Oklahoma, and then ranked #25 Kansas State and Texas (in Austin), respectively. While some of those results may not have aged well, one can still argue that the Pokes are the more battle-tested bunch playing in the Big 12 on a weekly basis while Notre Dame pads their schedule with teams like Toledo, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Florida State, and Navy to name a few.
No question this is a step-up in competition for the Irish while its opponent, in terms of competitive quality, is nothing out of the ordinary for Oklahoma State. Add in the coaching advantage and one could argue that the wrong side is in fact favored.
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Oklahoma St -101 (Risking 2.02 units - To Win: 2.00)