Oregon vs. Oklahoma Alamo Bowl Picks and Odds Analysis

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Anthony Brown #13 of the Oregon Ducks. Chris Gardner/Getty Images/AFP

The top-rated sportsbooks have released their college football odds for the Alamo Bowl between the Ducks and Sooners. Both teams lost two out of their last three: Oregon was thumped by Utah twice while Oklahoma lost to Baylor and then to rival Oklahoma State.

Oregon and Oklahoma were both playoff candidates who had their seasons derailed towards the end. Furthermore, both teams lost a lot of coaches and players. In order to understand what the best plays are for this game, it will be imperative to describe these coaching- and personnel-related changes.

For reasons that I will explain, you should bet the spread and the total for this game.

Oregon Ducks vs. Oklahoma Sooners

Wednesday, December 29, 2021 – 09:15 PM EST at Alamodome

Oregon Coaching Changes

This season, Oregon was led by head coach Mario Cristobal, who accepted the head coaching gig at the University of Miami. Cristobal will not stick around for this game. Instead, Bryan McClendon will act as interim head coach for the Alamo Bowl. He served this year as the team's wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

Moreover, despite accepting the head coaching job at the University of Oregon, offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead will remain in this role for one last time. Despite many of them making plans to move onto new programs, the remaining Duck coaches decided to coach alongside McClendon and Moorhead.

Oklahoma Coaching Changes

Oklahoma is dealing with a similar coaching situation at Oregon. But this does not inhibit one from deriving a strong betting angle from both teams' respective coaching situations because this similarity is less relevant to this bowl game.

Head coach Lincoln Riley has left for USC. His predecessor and long-time former Sooner head coach Bob Stoops will lead Oklahoma for this game. Several former OU assistant coaches are following Riley to USC and are focusing on their futures at USC at the cost of leading Oklahoma. 

One key absence will be defensive coordinator Alex Grinch who is largely responsible for the hype that the improved Sooner defense has received. Coaching is an underrated aspect to consider for our NCAAF picks because we tend to focus on the players. But there is a reason why certain assistant coaches are sought out over others.

It looked uncertain whether the Sooners could even fill the coaching staff in light of these coaching departures. Graduate assistants are having to step up as are other assistants on the offensive, defensive, and special teams levels.

Big Star Missing

Oregon will miss defensive end and superstar Kayvon Thibodeaux, who has already declared for the NFL Draft and could legitimately be selected first overall. Thibodeaux arguably would have been the best player on the field. The unanimous All-American played in 11 games this season, accruing 12 tackles for loss, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles in the process.

His absence was glaring. Stanford's game-typing drive at the end of regulation moved downfield because Thibodeaux had to leave due to a targeting call. Without having to deal with Thibodeaux, the Cardinal offensive line remained sufficiently composed. It stopped committing false starts and could finally provide adequate pass protection.

One may counter that Thibodeaux did not play against Ohio State and that, therefore, Oregon should have no problem beating another high-profile team without him. However, the Ducks did not win that game because of their defense. Know for your sports betting that they won despite their defense.

Buckeye quarterback C.J. Stroud dropped back 54 times and was only sacked twice and hurried once. Absent Duck pass pressure allowed him to amass 484 passing yards and three touchdowns to one interception in his second-ever college football game which followed a nervy showing against Minnesota. Buckeye running backs also benefitted with TreVeyon Henderson accomplishing 4.5 YPC and Miyan Williams 5.5.

Other Missing Players 

Other player absences will affect both teams on the defensive end. For Oklahoma, linebacker Nik Bonitto, defensive end Isaiah Thomas, explosive defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey, and linebacker Brian Asamoah have all opted out of the bowl game in order to prepare for the upcoming NFL Draft.

While all four guys are starters, one player worth highlighting is Thomas as he led OU with eight sacks and was second on the team with 11.5 tackles for loss.

As for the Ducks, top cornerback and well-decorated All-Pac 12 stud Mykael Wright opted out of this bowl game while fellow corner DJ James entered the transfer portal.

Key Offensive Players 

While some Sooner pass-catchers hit the transfer portal, the team's leading wide receiver, Marvin Mims, will play. Mims, with developing youngster Caleb Williams who amassed 18 touchdowns to four interceptions during the season and also posed a threat with his legs, will have a field day against a Duck secondary missing its best cornerbacks and its best source of pass rush.

Kennedy Brooks, who amassed 1,111 rushing yards on six YPC will also stay to provide offensive balance. Oregon's offense is also taking this game seriously because instead of initiating a youth movement at quarterback while looking to next year it elected to start Anthony Brown at quarterback in what will be the graduate transfer's final game.

Know for your best bets that, with the absences in OU's front seven, a gladly run-heavy Oregon offense will face fewer obstacles. Even without future NFL talent Devon Williams, the Ducks still have plenty of dangerous wide receivers. One noteworthy guy is former four-star recruit Kris Hutson who came on particularly strong at the end of the season, his freshman season.

The Verdict 

Oregon will have a coaching edge for this game while both teams have the motivated and able offensive talents necessary to exploit both shorthanded defenses in order to create a high-scoring game. For the above reasons, for your college football picks, expect an entertaining scoring fest in which the Ducks cover the spread.

NCAAF Pick: Ducks +4.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

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Ducks +4.5 (-108)
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NCAAF Pick: Over 61 (-108) with Heritage Sports

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Over 61 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.