Alamo Bowl Preview: Oregon vs. Oklahoma

Bob Stoops will be back on the sidelines serving as OU's interim head coach when the Sooners face Oregon on Wednesday night.

No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners vs. No. 14 Oregon Ducks

Line: Oklahoma -7

Total: 60

Where: Alamodome

When: Wednesday, 12/29 at 9:15 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

The CDC changed its COVID-19 guidelines from a 10-day quarantine period to a 5-day quarantine period in an announcement on Monday afternoon, but the virus is still going to impact Wednesday’s Alamo Bowl.

No. 14 Oregon is expected to be without more than 30 players in their matchup against No. 16 Oklahoma, with many of those absences due to COVID-19. The Sooners are going to be missing several players of their own, but they should have a much more complete roster.

One thing the teams have in common is an interim head coach. Oregon will have Bryan McClendon leading the way following the departure of Mario Cristobal, while Bob Stoops will lead the Sooners in place of Lincoln Riley.

Oddsmakers opened Oklahoma as a 4-point favorite earlier this month. The line slowly moved around before settling at -4.5, but it shot up to -7 following Oregon’s COVID-19 situation that was revealed on Monday. Wednesday night’s total opened at 63 and has been bet down to 60.

Oregon was already going to be without some key players, as defensive lineman Kayvon Thibodeaux, wide receiver Devon Williams and cornerback Mykael Wright all chose to opt out in preparation for the NFL draft. Williams was the team’s leading wide receiver this season, catching 35 passes for 557 yards and four touchdowns.

As of now, it appears as if quarterback Anthony Brown will be available on Wednesday. He completed 223 of 350 pass attempts for 2,683 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. The Ducks had their College Football Playoff aspirations dashed in a pair of losses to Utah down the stretch, including a 38-10 setback in the Pac-12 title game.

Running back Travis Dye led the rushing attack with 193 carries for 1,118 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Brown was second on the team with 142 attempts for 637 yards and nine scores. The Ducks will be without backup running back CJ Verdell, who is sidelined with an injury.

Their wide receiving corps will also be severely impacted on Wednesday. Not only is Williams out, but they are also missing their No. 4-No. 6 options in Johnny Johnson III (injury), Jaylon Redd (injury) and Mycah Pittman (transfer). This leaves Dye as the team’s top option in the passing game as well.

They are facing an Oklahoma defense that will be without defensive lineman Nik Bonitto and Perrion Winfrey. The Sooners also lost quarterback Spencer Rattler and tight end Austin Stogner to the transfer portal. However, Rattler was replaced by freshman quarterback Caleb Williams midway through the season.

Williams dropped two games as the starter, falling to then-No. 13 Baylor and then-No. 7 Oklahoma State. He completed 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,670 yards and 18 touchdowns, while throwing just four interceptions. Wide receiver Marvin Mims caught 30 passes for a team-high 648 yards.

Running back Kennedy Brooks rushed for 1,111 yards and 10 touchdowns on 184 carries, averaging 6.0 yards per attempt. Williams added 408 rushing yards and six touchdowns of his own. Second-leading receiver Jadon Haselwood entered the transfer portal and committed to Arkansas, so he will not be available on Wednesday.

Neither team was great on the defensive side of the ball, as Oregon ranked No. 60 in yards allowed per game (371.8) and Oklahoma was No. 68 (381.9). The Ducks allowed more than 140 rushing yards in four of their final six games.

Oregon has only covered the spread in six of its last 18 games, while Oklahoma has covered in its last four neutral site games. The Sooners have covered in five of their last seven bowl games.

The pick: Oklahoma -7

This spread is about to get tricky once it passes through the key number of seven, but there is plenty of value to be had before that point. Oregon is going to have virtually no depth available in this game and it is going to be without multiple key players on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma is missing a few starters, but it still has most of its production available and is not dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. This is the unfortunate reality when it comes to handicapping games this bowl season—it’s almost impossible to know who will be available and what they are worth to the point spread. Oregon’s program is a mess due to COVID-19, a coaching change and player personnel turnover, so Oklahoma is the play as long as this line is available at -7.

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