The Baylor Bears are off to one of the best seasons in school history. They bounced back from their crushing loss at Kansas State with a solid 60 minutes of football against Iowa State last week, winning and covering the spread as better than two touchdown favorites. They’re in the role of underdog this week as they travel to College Station to battle in-state rival Texas A&M for the last time as conference companions.
The Aggies opened as 8 ½ point favorites, and after getting bet up to 9 ½, the line has been moved down to 8 points at most sites. There’s no doubt the 12th man will be in full effect this Saturday, but don’t underestimate Baylor’s motivation in this game. Consider backing the underdog with more than a touchdown and the best player on the field.
One reason for liking the Bears has to do with the way the Aggies left the Big 12. Unless you’ve been living in a cave or under a rock, you realize that Texas A&M finally had enough of Longhorn arrogance and gave UT the collective middle finger and headed for the conference door. What they didn’t care about, however, was what would happen to the little guys in the conference if the Big 12 dissolved. Baylor was one of those little guys. Sure, Texas and Oklahoma held the conference together. But Baylor was so angry about the Aggies leaving that they threated suing the school. My thinking is that even though Texas looks like the bad guy to almost everyone, Baylor is different. To Baylor, this game is personal. I like backing underdogs that have an unusual amount of purpose, and that is precisely the case in this game.
But there are several other reasons for liking Baylor to cover the spread. One is a guy named Robert Griffin III. This guy is the real deal. He’s been outstanding all season long and could easily be a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. His favorite target is Kendall Wright and together the two make up one of the deadliest, most underrated tandems in the Big 12 if not all of college football.
He gets a soft secondary to play against this week. Texas A&M has been picked apart over the last three games, allowing an average of nearly 450 yards per game! Against both Oklahoma State and Arkansas the secondary nearly singlehandedly lost the game for A&M. Luckily for the Aggies, the offense did enough last week against Texas Tech, but the defense gave up 40 points.
Baylor can run the ball, too. They’ve had success all season and against Iowa State, the Bears rushed 67 times for 391 yards. Sure, the Cyclone defense is nothing special. But whenever an offense can rush nearly 70 times for nearly 400 yards in a single game, it’s worth taking notice of.
The big question mark for Baylor is their defense, which is not good. They’re giving up nearly 30 points a game. But here’s where the motivation factor comes to play. Look for the Baylor defense to come ready to go this Saturday. They’ll want to give the A&M offense something to remember. They’re not going to shut them out, of course, but I expect the defense will play well enough to keep Baylor in the game.
At 8 points, there still seems to be a decent amount of value for Baylor. The A&M defense has been subpar for several weeks and the secondary is allowing more passing yards than any team in the country. If you take into account the motivation factor, A&M’s defense, and Griffin being the best player on the field, backing Baylor with more than a touchdown seems like a good play. Good luck!