Saturday, October 3, 2009

Oklahoma at Miami Preview and Prediction

Editors Note: Robert is back again this week from for a preview of Oklahoma-Miami. The Hurricanes are hoping to bounce back after being washed out by Virginia Tech last week. OU QB Sam Bradford is not expected to play for the Sooners, but Robert does not think that means a whole lot anyways. A Miami win would be huge for the ACC in the national spot light, but a blowout could sink the conference further into the depths of the BCS Elite.

Robert Ferringo

Sam Bradford is expendable.

So was Paul Thompson. And Rhett Bomar. And Jason White. And Nate Hybl. And Josh Heupel.

Being the quarterback of Oklahoma requires about the same skill set as a cheerleader that holds one of those t-shirt cannons. Both positions simply need someone to stand up straight, point, and hurl. The rest is taken care of by the people around you.

I know that Bradford was the Heisman last year. But who cares? That means little to me. Behind the offensive line that he played with, and tossing to the weapons that he had at his disposal, I’m fairly certain that Greg Paulus could have looked like an All-World player in 2008. If you don’t believe it, simple peep the numbers that “Who, Me?” Starter Landry Jones has hoisted so far as a starter: an average of 311 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions per game with a completion percentage around 61.

So all of the concern about Bradford’s status for this week’s matchup at LandShark Stadium is ill founded. Bradford isn’t going to play and he won’t be needed. And such is the plight of the specialist in a society of disposable materials and in a post-industrial sport. It’s the reason that Oklahoma and USC and Virginia Tech and Florida simply keep winning year after year after year.

So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to brass tax here. At 8 p.m. on Saturday Oklahoma will be invading Florida to take on Miami. The Sooners have been instilled as 7.5-point favorites and the total is set at a seemingly attainable 50.0. Betting on this game has been scattered all week because of people (foolishly, in my opinion) waiting on the status of Bradford. The percentage of wagers in this game is around 50-50, but the money is clearly on OU because the number has been pushing past the key number of 7.0 and is currently headed to 8.0 and 8.5 at some books.

So don’t be sucked in to the Bradford Drama. And don’t be sucked into the Revenge Angle.

Most of the upperclassmen on the Miami team remember the savage bludgeoning that they took at the hands of the Sooners in Norman back in September of 2007. That 51-13 beating was one of the lowest moments of a disappointing decade for the Hurricanes. And no matter what has been said this week, that game has to be foremost in their mind.

And not just because the Hurricanes want revenge. But somewhere in the back of their minds has to be the thought that the Sooners could embarrass them again.

Oklahoma has won its last two games by a combined score of 109-0. Idaho State, whom Oklahoma wasted 64-0, was a joke. But Tulsa, an explosive offensive team that has been known to give giants fits, is a likely bowl club and a scoring machine that was blanked 45-0.

It’s not likely that Oklahoma is going to roll through south Florida and humiliate the Hurricanes. Not this weekend. And it’s even less likely that the Sooners are going to continue their shutout streak against a very potent Miami passing attack. But while the focus on the Sooners heading into this game is on the quarterback position the most important aspect of the OU’s killing machine: their defense.

The defense is the reason why the Sooners are favored by 7.5 points in this game. And their defense is the reason that they are going to win. Oklahoma’s front seven is the same unit that held the Florida Fun Bunch to just 24 points in last year’s national title game. They are the same team that held Graham Harrell and Texas Tech and Chase Daniels and Missouri to just 21 points apiece in meetings last season. Along with Tim Tebow and Florida that’s three of the most lethal offenses in the nation in 2008 limited to an average of 22 points per game.

Oklahoma’s front four is manned by four guys that will be playing on Sundays and two likely first-round picks. The secondary is experienced and the linebackers are badasses. And with two weeks to prepare for this game Oklahoma is going to be well schooled in everything that Miami likes to do.

How hot does Jacory Harris seem now?

The weather is going to be an interesting factor. The wind will be light but there are isolated thunderstorms rolling through the area and that should make for a wet field. But does that favor the underdog Hurricanes? I’m not sure. The great strength of the Miami defense is its speed. Over the last decade or so they haven’t been the most disciplined or technically sound group, instead relying on instincts and athleticism to get to the job done. It will be interesting to see if a wet field neutralizes their own speed and lends greater value to the sheer size and strength of the Sooners.

Also, home field hasn’t been a boon to Miami. The ‘Canes are just 7-18-1 against the spread in their last 26 home games. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is 6-0 ATS in their last six true road games, 8-2 ATS overall, and 8-3 ATS in their last 11 nonconference games. That includes an outright loss as a three-touchdown favorite against BYU to open the season.

Miami is, however, 6-1 ATS in its last seven games against the Big 12. The “1” was that maiming in Norman.

The bottom line here is that Oklahoma and Bob Stoops have been in these situations before and they have performed. Miami was clearly undervalued heading into the season. But they were also quickly overrated after two wins against nice teams (Florida State and Georgia Tech) but not elite ones. Oklahoma is elite. With extra prep time and legitimate dreams of a national title still in front of them, Oklahoma is going to take care of business. Miami will put up a fight. They might hang around early or make a “wait a minute” charge late. But this is going to be a two-touchdown game and the Sooners are going to be the ones on the right end of it.

Robert Ferringo is a professional sports handicapper for Doc’s Sports Services. You can purchase his selections or find more of his ramblings at


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