|Oklahoma at Baylor Point Spread Odds, Betting Trends & Matchup|
|Written by mark|
|Tuesday, 30 September 2008 22:19|
Red River Shootout
Now that they're back atop the national rankings for the first time in nearly five years, Oklahoma is focused on staying there.
But before they look ahead to their annual Red River Shootout versus Texas, the Sooners will open Big 12 play on the road against Baylor on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Oklahoma –26.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 78% of bets for this game have been placed on Texas Tech –7.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Oklahoma (4-0) rose from second in the poll after a 35-10 win over TCU last week combined with upset losses by Southern California, Georgia and Florida. The Sooners would almost be assured of retaining their No. 1 ranking with another win over Baylor, an opponent they've beaten 12 straight times in conference play by an average of more than 24 points.
The Sooners haven't been ranked No. 1 since routing Kansas State in the 2003 conference championship. They followed with a loss to LSU in the national championship game in their next contest.
With another big game coming up - their annual and often contentious matchup against the Longhorns a week from Saturday - Sooners coach Bob Stoops said his team remains focused first on the task at hand.
"That has never been an issue here," Stoops told Oklahoma's official Web site. "It's simple, because we have to go to Baylor. You guys may or may not be going, the fans may or not be going, but we are going, we have to play. ... We are going to be focused on Baylor and Baylor alone."
In the win over the Horned Frogs, Sam Bradford threw for a career-high 411 yards, including three long touchdown passes to Manuel Johnson, who set a school record with 206 receiving yards.
Johnson said this is no time for a letdown, considering the then-top ranked Trojans, No. 3 Bulldogs and fourth-ranked Gators fell to Oregon State, Alabama and Mississippi, respectively, a week ago.
"There's already a target on our back," he said. "I think we're something like the Yankees. Everybody wants to beat us. But with the No. 1 on our back, we're going to have to step it up. (Baylor) saw that Ole Miss beat Florida, they saw Oregon State beat USC, so I'm sure they're thinking why can't they do it?"
If Baylor is to have any chance, it will need to shut down Bradford, who leads the Big 12 with 16 touchdown passes. He threw for three TDs and 353 yards last season in a 52-21 rout of Baylor - a contest in which Oklahoma trailed 7-0 late in the first quarter.
Bradford, a sophomore, points to maturity as perhaps the biggest reason for his play in 2008.
"I feel my emotions during the game are a lot more together when things aren't going right, or maybe when we've had a couple of incompletions or a couple of plays that haven't gone the way that we planned," he said. "I feel like I'm in a lot more control and more calm. I don't get rattled as much as I did last year."
Baylor has been blanked nine times while losing 35 of its last 36 against top 25 teams. Though the odds are stacked against them pulling off an upset, defensive tackle Victor Rhodes is thinking big.
"It would be the best win in Baylor history, I think," he said. "I was talking to a gentleman the other day and he played on the 1941 team when they upset Texas when they were number one, and he was telling me that we can do it too."
Under first-year coach Art Briles, Baylor (2-2) needs one win to match its total from last season.
"What we are going to do is play hard for 60 minutes, play well for 60 minutes and win a football game in 60 minutes. Their rankings and all of that is going to be hyped up without us getting involved in all of that," Briles said. "We are going to get on our home turf and represent Baylor University. We've got our guys, our people, our university, so that is the way we are approaching the football game."
After four games, freshman quarterback Robert Griffin has proven to be Briles' most electrifying player. He's passed for seven touchdowns without an interception, and also leads the team with 395 yards and five scoring runs.
Griffin threw for 208 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for a fourth in a 31-28 road loss to Connecticut on Sept. 20.
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