AUSTIN (KXAN) — In 2013, ESPN wanted to develop a handicapping system similar to the one bookmakers in Las Vegas use to determine spreads and predict how games will go. The Worldwide Leader came up with the Football Power Index, and as far as the Red River Rivalry is concerned, ESPN and Vegas do not agree on who will win.
ESPN’s FPI gives the Sooners a 54.5% chance of beating Texas, and that’s based on ESPN’s number crunch of previous scoring data from all teams in FBS. In an explainer of its math equation, ESPN said if Vegas ever published its system, the Vegas data “would likely look quite a lot like FPI.”
As of Friday night, most sportsbooks have the Longhorns as 5.5-point favorites while some have Texas favored by 5 points.
|ESPN’s FPI ratings||Texas||Oklahoma|
|Special teams efficiency||28.8||58.2|
|Strength of record (rank)||1||4|
of the Red River Rivalry
Texas has beaten two teams who were ranked in the AP Top 25 this season and Oklahoma has yet to play a ranked team this season, so on that alone, the logical conclusion would be that Texas should be favored because they’ve beaten better teams. That is reflected in Texas “strength of record” portion of the FPI as the team with the country’s best, but a further dive into the numbers reveals ESPN doesn’t think highly of one phase of the Texas game.
Offensively, ESPN’s numbers say Oklahoma is better. The Sooners gets an efficiency rating of 88.9 based on how its offense contributes to its scoring margin on a per-play basis. Texas, meanwhile, has a rating of 81. These are on a scale of 0-100.
ESPN loves the Texas defense and how it contributes, giving it a 90.6 rating, the second-highest of all FBS teams. Oklahoma’s rating is 85.3 on that side of the ball.
Special teams, however, is where the ratings vary to an almost comedic level. Oklahoma’s special teams get a 58.2 rating while Texas’ has one of the worst ratings in the entire system at 28.8. Longhorns kicker Bert Auburn has had some struggles lately, missing three of his last four field goal attempts, but Sarkisian said he’s sticking with his guy and said “he’s too good of a kicker” to give up on and has no plans to make a change.
Keep in mind that Oklahoma’s win probability according to ESPN’s FPI is still pretty small. It’s better than a coin flip, but not by much. ESPN says teams with a 50-60% win probability in its FPI win 57% of the time. Texas is considered a heavy favorite to win outright by most sportsbooks with moneyline odds of -200 or more, giving the Longhorns an implied probably of winning higher than 66%. Using the Caesars Sportsbook moneyline odds at -205, the Longhorns have an implied probability to win at 67.2%.