Had Utah won the Pac-12 title game, they would have gotten the Pac-12 back in the College Football Playoffs for the first time since Washington played in the 2016 Peach Bowl. LSU would have more than likely clobbered them. But since the Utes fell to Oregon Friday night, the sacrificial lamb is going to be Oklahoma.
A sacrificial lamb being led to the slaughter is all the Sooners are expected to be. That would explain why LSU (+120), Clemson (+200), and Ohio State (+225) have relatively similar odds (via DraftKings) while Oklahoma’s are a lot longer (+1200).
The Sooners are not expected to do much; that is all but guaranteed in the minds of many. They are just a team LSU has to play for a warm-up before facing either Clemson or Ohio State in the national title game. The line for that game opened at LSU by ten, but the spread has gone up as high as 13.5 points at some books.
It is a bleak outlook for the Sooners—so, why should anyone bet on them to win the national title? It will take a small miracle for them to get past LSU. But to get past Ohio State as well—we are talking a monumental effort.
But it could happen.
Beating any of the remaining teams is going to take scoring some points, and the Sooners finished the regular season as one of the best in the business at doing that (No.5 in the country; 43.2 points/game). Where they are going to run into trouble, of course, is going to be keeping the other team from scoring.
Against LSU, that will primarily mean slowing down the passing game. LSU happens to be one of the best in the country at throwing the ball with close to 400 yards a game. But the Sooners secondary isn’t too shabby. They allowed just under 200 yards a game this season (198.5; No. 24 in the nation).
For any of their defensive efforts to matter, however, they are going to need to score on LSU’s defense. The secondary is LSU’s weak point; they were 56th in the country this year allowing around 221 yards a game.
That’s a number you can live with when you have Joe Burrow throwing for close to 400. But Jalen Hurts just might be able to put up 400 yards on the Tigers.
If the Sooners are going to win, that is going to be how they do it. They are going to have to get into an epic shootout with LSU.
Getting past the Tigers is only the first part of the equation. They have to beat Ohio State or Clemson then. Whether it ends up being Clemson or Ohio State in the title game, it will be a team with a top-five offense and defense.
This Oklahoma team has not faced a team that good on both sides of the ball. While it is not hard to imagine their offense scoring enough to keep it interesting, it is hard to imagine the Sooners defense slowing them down enough on offense.
If you really want to put your money down today, put most of it on either LSU, Ohio State, or Clemson. But just in case luck happens to smile down on the Sooners put a few bucks on them. They are an incredibly talented team that could pull off an epic upset—but you don’t want to bet the house on it.