College Football Week One Betting Preview: SMU Mustangs at #10 Baylor Bears
Southern Methodist Mustangs at #10 Baylor Bears
McClane Stadium – Waco, Texas
Sunday, August 31, 2014, 7:30 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports 1
Opening Line: Baylor -30 1/2
Current Line: Baylor -33 1/2
Opening Total: 74
Current Total: 76
Opening Money Line: Baylor -21500 / SMU +8000
Current Money Line: Baylor -21500 / SMU +8000
The SMU Mustangs and Baylor Bears meet for the 80th time Sunday in Waco. The series is tied 36-36-7 including 18-18-3 in Waco. Baylor won the last meeting 59-24 in Waco in 2012. This will be the first game in Baylor’s brand new McClane Stadium.
SMU went 5-7 last season under coach June Jones now in his sixth year with the Mustangs. SMU had narrow losses to Rutgers, Cincinnati and Central Florida by a total of 10 points. A win in any of those contests would have made the Mustangs bowl eligible. SMU averaged 341 passing yards and 94 rushing yards on offense last year. The Mustangs allowed 272 passing and 141 rushing yards per game on defense. SMU was outscored 33-27 last season. Eleven starters are back including six on offense.
Baylor is coached by Art Briles, now in his sixth year with the Bears. Baylor started off the season 9-0 and had dreams of a playing in the BCS championship game. However, a blowout loss at Oklahoma State ended those dreams. The Bears would still win the Big 12 title but were upset by Central Florida 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl. Baylor averaged 359 passing yards and 260 rushing yards per game. On defense Baylor allowed 215 passing yards and 145 rushing yards per game. Baylor outscored teams 52-24 last season. Ten starters are back for the bears including 6 on offense.
SMU must replace quarterback Garrett Gilbert, now with the St. Louis Rams. Gilbert threw for 3,528 yards with 21 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and rushed for 267 yards and 6 touchdowns. Neal Burcham played in four games last season including starting the last two in place of an injured Gilbert. Burcham threw for 556 yards with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He will be the starter in 2014.
Former linebacker Kevin Pope is now the starting running back. He played running back in the last two games of the season and had 89 carries. Prescott Line will also get some carries after leading the team in rushing with 90 carries for 332 yards and 3 touchdowns. The offensive line returns three starters and should be improved.
The Mustangs must replace two 1,000 yards receivers in Jeremy Johnson and Keenan Holman. Darius Joseph is back after making 103 catches for 808 yards and 5 touchdowns. Der’rick Thompson, Stephen Nelson, and Jeremiah Gaines will also get a lot of targets in the prolific SMU passing offense.
Quarterback Bryce Petty enters 2014 as a dark horse Heisman contender after a fantastic 2013 campaign. He completed 62% of his passes for 4,200 yards with 32 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He also had 14 rushing touchdowns to lead the Bears in that category.
At receiver, the Bears must replace Tevin Reese who left as the #3 receiver in school history. Still Baylor is loaded at the position with Antwan Goodley who was first team All-Big 12 last season in his first as a starter. Goodley had 71 catches, and 13 touchdowns. Levi Norwood also returns after making 47 catches for 733 yards and 8 touchdowns. Corey Coleman, Clay Fuller and Jay Lee will also get a lot of targets.
Baylor must replace leading rusher Lache Seastrunk who left early for the NFL. Seastrunk had 158 carries for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns. Baylor also loses Glasco Martin who had 509 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. Still Baylor returns talented tailbacks in Shock Linwood (128 carries, 881 yards, and 8 touchdowns) and Devin Chafin (51, 295 and 4). Johnny Jefferson will also get a lot carries without Seastrunk and Martin.
The only real question on offense is the line which must be revamped with 3 new starters. Starting left tackle Spencer Drango missed spring practice after undergoing off-season back surgery. Right tackle Troy baker looks to return to full strength after an ACL tear prior to the 2013 season. Either way, the line must replace talented guard Cyril Richardson. If the line struggles it could slow down the high octane offense.
SMU is 4-1 ATS overall, 7-18-1 against Big 12 teams, 1-5 on grass, 0-4 in non-conference games and in August.
Baylor is 4-1 ATS in non-conference games, 20-6 at home, and 22-8 overall. The Bears have covered the last 4 games in this series, and were favored in each of those contests.
This should be a high scoring game with two prolific offenses. Still Baylor is just a much stronger team and should win this game handily. However, with such a large spread there is always the possibility of a backdoor cover.
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