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High-flying Oklahoma State puts fun back in college football

Updated September 21, 2017 - 8:57 pm

If the nickname “Fun ‘n’ Gun” hadn’t been claimed by the old ball coach, Steve Spurrier, and his high-flying Florida Gators teams of the 1990s, the moniker would be a perfect fit for the 2017 Oklahoma State Cowboys.

The No. 6 Cowboys (3-0) are averaging 54 points and 607 total yards this season and are 3-0 against the spread, whipping Tulsa 59-24, South Alabama 44-7 and Pittsburgh 59-21.

But even if Oklahoma State — a 13½-point favorite over No. 16 Texas Christian in Saturday’s marquee matchup — wasn’t a high-scoring cover machine, it still would be one of the most fun teams in college football.

Coach Mike Gundy leads the way with his glorious mullet, a questionable hairstyle choice that has been described as “business in the front, party in the back.” At the Big 12 media days, Gundy credited his mullet with helping “get our brand out there at Oklahoma State.”

Gundy also wore a singlet in February to promote the Cowboys’ top-ranked wrestling team and went rattlesnake hunting in March in rural Oklahoma. That prompted Oklahoma State receiver James Washington to show up at the media days wearing a mullet wig and holding a rubber rattler to poke fun at his coach.

The Cowboys have taken care of business in the front of their schedule, with senior quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Mason Rudolph throwing for 497 yards and five touchdowns in Saturday’s win at Pittsburgh. Washington was one of four Oklahoma State wideouts to finish with 100 yards receiving in the game, after which Gundy compared Rudolph’s work ethic to that of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

He then told Rudolph to ignore the hype, telling him, “They’ll name that street after you one day, and a couple days later, they’ll run you right down it.”

It’s been easy street for Cowboys bettors this season, and they’re banking on the roll to continue against the Horned Frogs in what promises to be a shootout with a total of 71½ points.

“Oklahoma State is the early-season darling of the betting public,” William Hill sports book director Nick Bogdanovich said. “Normally, I’d like TCU, but I’ve got to pass on this one. I’m not interested in fading Oklahoma State right now.”

The public and professional bettors are on the Cowboys at CG Technology sports books, which took a six-figure bet on Oklahoma State.

“You’re laying such a premium on them, but there’s no sharp action coming back on TCU,” CG Technology sports book vice president Matt Holt said. “It doesn’t look like anybody wants to get in front of that freight train right now.”

Battle of the Bulldogs

No. 11 Georgia is hosting No. 17 Mississippi State in the only other matchup of Top 25 teams. Georgia has been bet from a 6½- to 4½-point favorite over Mississippi State, which is coming off a 37-7 win over then-No. 12 Louisiana State.

“People are infatuated with Mississippi State now,” Westgate sports book manager Ed Salmons said. “Each time out, they’re getting better and better. Last week was probably one of the worst games I’ve ever seen LSU play against a team not called Alabama.

“But it’s a tough spot to back Mississippi State after a big win. It’s a letdown spot.”

Sharp action

Holt said CG Technology has taken heavy sharp action on North Carolina, a 2½-point home underdog to Duke; Kentucky, a 2-point home underdog to No. 20 Florida; and Air Force, a 3-point home underdog to No. 22 San Diego State.

“They keep hammering Air Force,” Holt said.

The wiseguys also keep betting on the Wildcats despite a 30-year losing streak to the Gators, who opened as 3-point favorites. But Holt and Salmons are wary of wagering on Kentucky.

“Kentucky and Florida, to me, are two different classes of football teams,” Salmons said. “That’s a game you bet Florida and dare Kentucky to win.”

Contact sports betting columnist Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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