Oklahoma vs Cincinnati Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Sooners Exploit Abysmal Bearcats Defense

Oklahoma's offense has been lethal through three games, and Dillon Gabriel is a big part of that winning formula. Cincinnati struggled to stop Miami of Ohio last week, so it doesn't bode well for the Bearcats here, per our college football betting picks.

Jason Ence - Betting Analyst at Covers.com
Jason Ence • Betting Analyst
Sep 22, 2023 • 16:34 ET • 4 min read
Oklahoma Sooners Dillon Gabriel NCAAF
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Week 4 of the college football season sees the unbeaten and 16th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners travel to Cincinnati, as the Bearcats host their first Big 12 game since joining the conference. And we’re here to break down the college football betting odds for the game.

Dillon Gabriel and the Sooners offense are red-hot, ranked second in college football in points per game while leading the country in pass completion percentage. They’ll be hoping to feast on a Cincinnati pass defense allowing eight yards per pass play.

For the Bearcats, last week saw them lose to rival Miami of Ohio, ending a 16-game winning streak in the battle for the Victory Bell. They’ll have to hope they can rely on their fifth-ranked rushing attack and limit turnovers as they try to keep Oklahoma’s offense on the sidelines.

Our free college football picks and predictions for Oklahoma vs Cincinnati on Saturday, September 23 explain which player prop is your best angle for profiting off this contest.

Oklahoma vs Cincinnati best odds

Oklahoma vs Cincinnati picks and predictions

Cincinnati fans discovered last weekend why many Louisville fans celebrated when the Bearcats hired Scott Satterfield to move 100 miles up Interstate 71. Their stunning come-from-ahead loss to Miami of Ohio had many fans scratching their heads at the play calling on offense, and the inexplicable big plays allowed on defense. 

The Cardinals ranked 81st in the nation last season in plays of 20 or more yards given up — and that was their BEST mark of the four years defensive coordinator Bryan Brown was in charge of the Louisville defense.

Overall, their passing defense numbers weren’t terrible last year. But that’s skewed by how poor their run defense was. To put things in perspective, Brown’s defense faced the 15th-fewest pass attempts in 2022, but ranked 58th in yards allowed per attempt.

Through his first three games at Cincinnati, it’s been much of the same. They’ve given up 19 passes of 10 or more yards this season through three games, seven of which came from the offense of FCS opponent Kent State. Their opponents already have four completions of 30-plus yards, and two passes that went for at least 60 yards. 

But at a quick glance, you might think their defense hasn’t been bad. Dig deeper, though, and you’ll see that despite facing the 22nd-fewest pass attempts per game, Cincinnati’s allowing 7.7 yards per attempt. That ranks 89th in college football. And that number is even scarier when you realize their opponents have the third-lowest completion percentage this year.

That stat is misleading, and it’s going to go way up on Saturday. Pitt quarterback Phil Jurkovec has been terrible this season, and against Cincinnati he was an abysmal 10 of 32 on his pass attempts. And he still threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns.

So with all that in mind, you’ll understand why I’m foaming at the mouth to get Dillon Gabriel to throw Over 2.5 touchdown passes on Saturday at plus-odds for our best bet. He’s completing 82.5% of his throws so far this year, and the Sooners have already thrown 56 completions of 10 or more yards — 15th-most in the country. 

Oklahoma also ranks Top 20 in completed passes of both 20 or more yards and 30 or more yards. Gabriel’s thrown nine touchdowns the past two weeks against SMU and Tulsa, and he has multiple weapons at his disposal. The biggest one is Andrel Anthony, whose speed will be a nightmare if Brown allows him to get one-on-one coverage. 

Cincinnati’s pass defense couldn’t stop the passing attack of Miami of Ohio, as Brett Gabbert threw three touchdown passes and gained 237 yards on just 12 completions. They couldn’t stop Jerkovec from throwing for a trio of scores on 10 completions. 

Given Brown’s track record, it’s irrational to think he’s suddenly going to figure out a game plan that will stop Gabriel from throwing three of his own. The best odds on the board for our best bet can be found at bet365, where Gabriel throwing for three or more touchdowns in Week 4 is priced at +125. 

My best bet: Dillon Gabriel Over 2.5 Passing Touchdowns (+125 at bet365)
Picks made at time of writing may not reflect live odds.

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Oklahoma vs Cincinnati same-game parlay

Dillon Gabriel Over 2.5 Passing Touchdowns

Oklahoma -13.5

Cincinnati Team Total Under 23.5

We’re building on our best bet for a three-leg same-game parlay over at bet365, as I expect Oklahoma to win this one going away behind their high-powered offense.

First, we’re taking the Sooners to cover a 13.5-point spread. The current line sits at 14, but we’re going to take the hook just to be safe. Oklahoma and head coach Brent Venables will give Cincinnati’s run game real trouble, and if the Bearcats are forced to throw the ball to keep up, it could get ugly.

To that end, we’re also taking the Bearcats to score less than 24 points. They managed just 24 a week ago against Miami of Ohio, and had just 27 against Pitt the week before. That’s not great considering those defenses rank 88th and 49th, respectively, in points allowed per game. 

The Sooners have given up just 28 points in total against two FBS teams, and rank 12th in HAVOC rate on defense. They’re going to terrorize a Cincinnati offensive unit that ranks in the bottom-half of college football in HAVOC allowed and make scoring an extremely difficult proposition.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Oklahoma vs Cincinnati spread and Over/Under analysis

Being the road team hasn’t prevented fans from betting big on Oklahoma to win by two touchdowns on Saturday. The Sooners opened as low as -9.5 and were quickly bet up to as high as -15, before settling in the -14 range on average. 

For those who think Cincinnati will pull off the outright upset, you can get the Bearcats moneyline as high as +460 at Caesars, with multiple books pricing them at +450. 

Oklahoma’s 26 tackles for loss this season rank 11th in college football, and two of the teams ahead of them have played an extra game. The Bearcats have already given up 18 stops in their own backfield, and that number will go up this weekend. 

Making matters worse are the discipline problems Cincinnati is suffering. The Bearcats were undone last week with 10 penalties for 78 yards, and they’ve incurred the 13th-most penalty yards per game so far this year. Playing behind the sticks is a recipe for disaster when you’re trying to pull off an upset against a team like the Sooners.

As for the total, I’m staying away simply because I don’t know if Cincinnati will put up points in garbage time. I’m more interested in taking their team total Under, as we discussed in the parlay. Regardless, the total of 57.5 is back where it opened after it was bet up as high as 60.5 points. 

Oklahoma ranks fourth in total EPA and second in EPA per play, and I expect them to put up plenty of points against a Cincinnati secondary ranked in the bottom half of each of those metrics. If the Bearcats can’t convert their red zone chances into touchdowns, which was a problem last week, this one likely goes Under.

Oklahoma vs Cincinnati betting trend to know

Cincinnati’s team total has gone Under in each of their last four games. Find more college football betting trends for Oklahoma vs Cincinnati.

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Oklahoma vs Cincinnati game info

Location: Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Date: Saturday, September 23, 2023
Kickoff: 12:00 p.m. ET

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