Free Expert NCAA Football Picks: Kansas State Wildcats at Baylor Bears Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 12/4/2014
Kansas State Wildcats at Baylor Bears, Saturday Dec. 6, 7:45 p.m. ET
Baylor does not control their destiny, but with a win in this important regular-season finale they give themselves the best possible chance to make the inaugural College Football Playoff. Then all they can do is sit back, wait, and hope for help in the conference championship games.
This game alone won't change the minds of Baylor's critics on the selection committee, but a win against a very good opponent in a high-pressure situation certainly wouldn't hurt. Kansas State can't make the playoff - not unless things get really crazy this weekend - but they can cap a very impressive season, and earn a spot in an important bowl, with a win here. The Big-12 schedule makers couldn't have come up with a better game here - other than Baylor and TCU - to cap off the regular season and provide counter-programming to the primetime conference championship games.
Kansas State at Baylor Betting Storylines
The first concern for anyone looking to handicap this game has to be the status of Baylor QB, and all-round superstar, Bryce Petty. He is the most important player on and for his team. He suffered concussion-like symptoms after his last game against Texas Tech after being forced to leave the game. If he were unavailable then it would be a massive problem for his team. He insists he is going to be ready to play, though. By itself that means little, but when you combine that with the fact that Petty was at practice and participating on Tuesday it seems unlikely that his availability will be an issue. Still, it is definitely something to keep an eye on as the week develops and the game draws nearer.
Oddsmakers are certainly paying attention - the line was much later to post in this one than would be normal, and Petty is the obvious reason for that. It's much like what happened last weekend when Arizona's Anu Solomon was injured and the line was held up for a couple of days. A lesson can be learned from that game, too - trust nothing. Solomon was deemed highly unlikely, and the line was posted to reflect that. In the end, though, he played, was effective, and led his team to victory.
The Bears have eaten the Wildcats alive in recent years, and the biggest reason for that is simply speed. Baylor has plenty of it, and Kansas State can't seem to deal with it. To overcome that hurdle - they can't get any faster in a hurry, so they need something else - they need to create turnovers. Luckily, Kansas State is among the better teams out there at doing just that. They have forced at least two turnovers per game in an average of seven games per season over the last three years. They are a ridiculous 20-1 in those games. If they can force more turnovers than Baylor then they can keep the ball out of the dangerous hands of Petty and company and they have a much better chance of coming out on top.
Baylor's lone loss has come against West Virginia, and a lot of early analysis for this game has suggested that Kansas State can use that result as a blueprint for what to do here. I'm not buying it. West Virginia went down the path of relentless pressure. They blitzed, blitzed and blitzed some more. They sacked Petty four times and countless more times were able to get in his face and cause issues. Kansas State is not going to try that for one main reason - they would fail. They don't have a particularly strong pass rush and don't use it as a tool in the same way. Instead, they slow things down defensively and force opponents to cover a lot of ground to score. It has been very effective for them, and it would be a mistake for them to go away from that. If Baylor loses this one, in other words, it will be in a different way than their previous loss.
Kansas State Wildcats at Baylor Bears Odds and Betting Trends
The game has opened with Baylor favored by 7.5 points at home . That number didn't post until Wednesday, though, and has not been widely posted as of Wednesday evening. Public action on this one won't be as significant or as telling as it would be in a game as high-profile as this one. The total was posted at 66 points.
The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams. The home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings. Four of the last five meetings have gone "over" the total. The Bears have covered the spread in their last five December games. Kansas State is 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a straight up win.
Kansas State Wildcats at Baylor Bears Expert NCAA Football Predictions and Picks
I come back to one result when looking at this game - K-State's lopsided loss to TCU. TCU and Baylor are similar, talented teams. The Wildcats are not
quite at the same level - though I respect them immensely. Baylor should be as motivated as possible heading into this one. Trusting Petty is a slight
risk, but if he is close to capacity he is very tough to deal with. Baylor is the pick. At this point, though, I'll hold off for a while to make the bet
and hope for the best with some line movement.
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