- The Mountaineers have the nation's 11th-ranked passing offense, but Baylor is right behind them at 12. Can the Bears keep up with the Mountaineers despite the large spread?
Baylor at West Virginia (-14)
Thu. 10/25, 7:00 p.m. ET
Three things you need to know before betting on Baylor-West Virginia:
1. West Virginia is coming off a disappointing 30-14 loss to Iowa State, and the Mountaineers also just had their bye week—which isn’t necessarily a great thing in their case. Since September of 2012, West Virginia is 5-5 straight up and a miserable 2-10 against the spread when playing after an extra week off. Baylor, on the other hand, is 9-1 straight up and 7-3 against the spread off of byes in the same time frame. The Mountaineers have also had a lot of trouble covering against the Bears as of late, as Baylor is 5-1 against the spread in this head-to-head series since the start of the 2012 season. Also working in Baylor’s favor is the fact that West Virginia is a lousy 2-11 ATS when playing at home off of an upset loss to a conference rival since the start of 1992.
2. West Virginia’s passing defense ranks 54th in the nation, as the Mountaineers are letting opponents throw for 218.5 yards per game. But Baylor actually presents more of a challenge than this West Virginia defense is used to, as the Bears have thrown for 313.3 yards per game this season (12th in FBS) with 13 touchdowns and only five picks. The Mountaineers’ passing game has been slightly better, averaging 320.5 yards per game through the air (11th in FBS) with 22 touchdowns and eight picks. Considering West Virginia is averaging 36.8 points per game to Baylor’s 33.1, the Mountaineers won’t be able to hang their hats on the fact that they have an explosive offense. Both of these teams do. And while West Virginia’s aggressive passing defense has racked up seven picks in only six games, Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer has only thrown three interceptions this season. He’s taking care of the football and giving his team chances to win.
3. While quarterback Will Grier has been excellent this season—the senior has thrown for 1,919 yards with 22 touchdowns and only seven picks—the Mountaineers aren’t doing much to help him on the ground. In the loss to Iowa State, West Virginia’s running backs combined to rush for only 85 yards on 17 carries. The Mountaineers were similarly unimpressive in a close call against Texas Tech late in September, rushing for only 130 yards on 29 carries (4.5 yards per carry) against a very beatable defense. In fact, West Virginia’s only explosive rushing performance in the past four games came against Kansas. The Mountaineers rushed for 187 yards in that game, but the Jayhawks are allowing 167.9 yards per game on the ground this season. So it wasn’t anything new to them. If West Virginia struggles to get the running game going on Thursday, then Baylor will have no problem staying within two touchdowns—especially considering Baylor’s run defense has been the team’s Achilles' heel this season.
Pick: Baylor +14
Confidence Level: Moderate (on a scale of Low/Moderate/High/Very High/Extremely High)