Texas at Baylor -2.5 O/U 63.5
The Baylor Bears (8-3, 5-3 Big Xll) host the Texas Longhorns (7-4, 4-4) in the regular season finale for both teams Saturday. Texas enters off an upset win at Texas A&M on Thanksgiving, booting a last-second field goal to win 27-25 and kicking their rival A&M out of the Big Xll as the Aggies move to the SEC next season. A closer look at the box score shows Texas gained just 237 yards offense at 3.6 yards per play and benefitted from four A&M turnovers. Meanwhile, Baylor put a beating on Texas Tech last week 66-42 and the Bears have won four straight games and are now 6-0 SU/ATS at home. With over 600 yards offense including 79 running plays for 360 rushing yards last week, the Bears should be ready to run again this week versus the Longhorns.
Few state rivalries
have been dominated by one side more than Texas over Baylor from 1999 to 2009. The Longhorns have made a habit of absolutely burying the Bears annually, with wins by 33, 24, 21, 32, 62, 30, 56, 51, 34 and 62 points. Last year the Bears broke through against big brother, beating the Longhorns in Austin 30-22 as 7.5-point underdogs. At that time, Texas was going through their worst season in decades, but the Longhorns did have a top-10 defense that allowed just 300 ypg. This season, Texas again has a top-10 defense allowing 297 ypg and 4.5 yards per play. Texas ranks 59th on offense this season with 390 ypg and 5.4 yards per play, while Baylor checks in with the nation’s No. 2 offense averaging 576 ypg and 7.42 yards per play; trailing only the Houston Cougars. The Bears score 43 points per game including 45 and 42 points in recent home wins over Oklahoma and Missouri; two teams that beat Texas this season. Against four quality Big Xll defenses this season (Oklahoma, Missouri, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M), Baylor averaged 7.3 yards per play (same as their season average) and nearly 35 ppg.
Texas will need to rely on its defense again this week and hope the running game can have success between the tackles after a couple poor rushing performances the past three games (less than 90 yards/game and 2.5 ypr in two games). The Texas backfield has been banged up of late and their quarterback play is developing but still sub-par with Case McCoy now starting. But Baylor does allow 199 rushing ypg and over 5.2 ypr, and the Longhorns have a big edge in special teams. But can Texas contain Robert Griffin lll (7 rushing TDs, 34 TD passes, and 5 INTs) and the explosive Bears offense? Griffin will play this week after suffering concussion like symptoms in last week’s win. He has posted an out-of-this-world QB rating of 191; which for the record is higher than former Texas quarterback Vince Young’s nation-best 163 QB rating in 2005. While this will be Griffin’s toughest test facing a strong Texas defense, he did pass for 479 yards and rush for 72 yards against Oklahoma in victory and passed for 425 yards with 27 yards rushing while playing from behind in a loss at Oklahoma State. Texas did slow Griffin some last season with 219 passing yards and 17 rushing yards. But this game is in Waco, and the Bears should reach 425 yards offense and average at least 6.7 yards per play. Can the Texas defense create more turnovers and help its average offense generate enough scores with shorter field position?
While many public bettors have piled on to Baylor with the recent renaissance, there are still plenty of Longhorns lovers that can’t believe Texas could ever be an underdog to Baylor. The Bears are shooting for their sixth win in Big Xll play, which would be their best ever in a season. Plenty of motivation with a decade of dominance by their opponent should have the Bears at their best. Tune in Saturday on ABC and see if Griffin can lead the Bears to victory and complete a sensational season as one of the nation’s top players and Heisman hopefuls.
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