Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 10/16/2014
Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers, Saturday Oct. 18, Noon ET
There are some undefeated teams that are so dominant and balanced that you would be more surprised if they lost than if they ran the table. Baylor is, for my eyes, definitely not one of those teams. They sure can score - they have at least one touchdown in all but two quarters they have played so far this year.
Their first five opponents were comically weak , though - SMU, Northwestern State, Buffalo, Iowa State, and Texas. Two of those teams have already gone through coaching changes during this season, and the other three either have issues or just aren't very good. Their toughest game was against TCU, and that was an insane 61-58 shootout that exposed issues on both sides. Are the Bears a good team? Yes. Are they good enough to run the table and play for the National Championship? At this point I'm far from convinced. With a trip to Oklahoma and home games against Oklahoma State and Kansas State remaining, a Baylor win here won't give us any concrete answers about this team, but it will at least prove that they are worth even more attention than they are already getting.
Baylor's win over TCU featured the highest combined score of any game ever played between Top 10 teams. The Bears are no stranger to high scores, though - when they lost 70-63 to these Mountaineers two years ago it was the highest total score in Big 12 history. We can be reasonably confident, then, that this isn't going to be a defensive battle. We also don't want to make the mistake of assuming that anything is determined until the final whistle - the Bears came back from a 21-point deficit to beat the Horned Frogs, and West Virginia was down two touchdowns in the fourth quarter last week against Texas Tech and escaped with the win.
Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers Betting Storylines
As good as the Big 12 is at scoring points, it doesn't particularly shine at running the ball. Baylor's Shock Linwood is the only running back in the country to average 100 or more yards per game. He's one of four different backs on this team that has averaged more than 5.2 yards per game and scored at least twice on the ground. West Virginia is vulnerable on this front - they have allowed 179.3 rushing yards per game, which ranks just 88th in the country.
The marquee matchup here is the quarterbacks. We have a great showdown here, which isn't surprising when you have the top offense by both points scored and total yards (Baylor) up against a team that is eighth in total yards. Baylor's Bryce Petty has seen his completion percentage and yards per attempt fall significantly since last year, but with 15 touchdown passes and just three interceptions in five games played it's hardly time to panic. In his second year at West Virginia after transferring from Florida State, Clint Trickett is having a great year as well. He has completed 68.5 percent of his passes, averaged a solid 8.7 yards per attempt - better than Petty's 8.6 - and has 12 touchdowns with just four interceptions. Petty has an edge based on his experience and overall accomplishments. However, given the systems they play in, the gap between them isn't nearly as significant as casual bettors would assume.
Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers NCAA Football Odds and Betting Trends
Baylor opened as eight-point favorites, and that has climbed only slightly to 8.5. A small majority of bets have been placed on Baylor, so the movement is consistent with expectations. The total opened at 81.5 and has fallen slightly to 80.
The Mountaineers are 0-6 ATS in their last six conference games and 0-7 ATS in their last seven in October. Their last five games against teams with a winning record have gone "over" the total.
Baylor Bears at West Virginia Mountaineers Expert NCAA Football Predictions and Picks
I just don't have enough faith in the Bears to give up this many points on the road - not against a strong offense playing a defense that doesn't inspire confidence. West Virginia has amassed 500 yards of total offense in each of their last five games, so they are capable of piling up some points. They have shown that they aren't intimidated by this team, and they know they have the chance to kill a giant and make a statement. West Virginia is 2-1 in conference play, so with a win here they would be right in the mix in the wide-open Big 12. The Mountaineers are the pick here.
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