Big 12 College Football Picks: West Virginia Mountaineers at #2 Baylor Bears

West Virginia Mountaineers at #2 Baylor Bears
McClane Stadium – Waco, Texas
Saturday, October 17, 2015, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox
Opening Line: Baylor -18
Current Line: Baylor -21 1/2
Opening Total: 75
Current Total: 75
Opening Money Line: Baylor -1600 / WVU +900
Current Money Line: Baylor -1700 / WVU +1100

Baylor is a 21 point favorite against West Virginia Saturday.
Baylor is a 21 point favorite against West Virginia Saturday.

The 5-0 Baylor Bears are #2 in the country but some say they should be #1. A soft schedule has likely prevented the Bears from jumping over a not very impressive so far Ohio State in the polls.  The Bears host the 3-2 West Virginia Mountaineers Saturday. West Virginia is 0-2 in the Big 12 but the schedule makers did them no favors by scheduling Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and TCU all in the month of October. Baylor is 2-0 in conference behind 3-0 Oklahoma State and TCU.

West Virginia leads the series 2-1 against Baylor. All three meetings have happened since West Virginia joined the Big 12 four seasons ago. The home team has won all three meetings. Last year, the Mountaineers won in Morgantown 41-27. It ended up being the only loss in the regular season for Baylor and kept them out of the inaugural College Football Playoff.

West Virginia is coached by Dana Holgorsen. The Mountaineers opened the season with three straight non-conference wins all by blowouts. WVU beat Georgia Southern 44-0, Liberty 41-17 and Maryland 45-6. The Mountaineers opened Big 12 play with a 44-24 loss at Oklahoma. Last week, West Virginia hosted Oklahoma State. OSU jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and would lead 17-2 at halftime. West Virginia pulled to within 23-16 going into the fourth quarter. The teams traded field goals before West Virginia tied it up at 26 with 2:44 left. Oklahoma State had to punt on their next possession and the game would go into overtime. The Cowboys scored on their possession and West Virginia failed on fourth and goal from the 11. The Cowboys escaped with the 33-26 victory on the road. Although both teams combined for almost 800 yards of total offense, the game was sloppy with 7 turnovers and over 160 penalty yards (107 by West Virginia. The Mountaineers were 5 point favorites and the total was 63.5. West Virginia is 2-3 ATS and the total is 1-4 this season.

Baylor is coached by Art Briles. The Bears have road wins over SMU 56-21 and last week at Kansas 66-7. Baylor has home wins over Lamar 66-31 and Rice 70-17, along with a neutral site win against Texas Tech 63-35 in Arlington, TX. Baylor was a 46 point road favorite against hapless Kansas and the total was 76. The Jayhawks were tied briefly at 7 in the first quarter but would trail 52-7 at halftime. The Bears racked up 644 total yards to 227 for Kansas. The Jayhawks had 3 turnovers including a fumble returned by the Bears for a touchdown. Baylor is 3-1 ATS and the total is 4-1 this season.

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West Virginia is outscoring teams 36-20 this season. The Mountaineers are #31 in scoring and #34 in points allowed nationally. West Virginia averages 488 yards per game on offense including 266 passing and 222 rushing yards. The Mountaineers are #30 or better in all three categories nationally. On defense, WVU is allowing 342 total yards including 202 passing and 140 rushing yards. The Mountaineers are in the top 50 in all three categories. West Virginia has forced 16 turnovers and has 11 of their own. The Mountaineers average 87 penalty yards per game and opponents average 66. West Virginia is 41/90 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 21/80. The Mountaineers have forced 10 sacks and allowed 17 this season. WVU is 21/25 scoring in the red zone with 15 touchdowns, and opponents are 9/12 with 5 touchdowns. The Mountaineers have allowed 2 defensive touchdowns

Quarterback Skyler Howard has completed 61.6% of his passes for 1,277 yards with 11 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and also has 63 carries for 289  rushing yards and 2 touchdowns. Back-up William Crest, Jr. has seen some action in the three blowouts so far. He has thrown for 53 yards, and has 15 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Wendell Smallwood has 89 carries for 597 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 16 catches for 94 yards. Rushel Shell has 73 carries for 280 yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 4 catches for 56 yards.

Receiver Shelton Gibson has 20 catches for 448 yards and 5 touchdowns. Jovon Durante has 17 catches for 247 yards and 3 touchdowns. Daikiel Shorts has 18 catches for 241 yards and a touchdown.

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Baylor is outscoring teams 64-22 this season. The Bears lead the nation in scoring. Baylor is averaging 725 yards per game on offense including 367 passing and 358 rushing yards. The Bears lead the nation in total offense, #2 in rushing and are #8 in passing. Baylor is allowing 364 total yards per game on defense including 235 passing and 129 rushing yards. The Bears are #48 or better in total and rush defense. Baylor has forced 13 turnovers and has 8 of their own. The Bears average 90 penalty yards per game and opponents average 84. Baylor is 40/71 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 34/88. The Bears have forced 11 sacks and allowed 5 this season.  Baylor is 26/29 scoring in the red zone with 24 touchdowns and opponents are 10/12 with 8 touchdowns. The Bears have a defensive touchdown this season.

Quarterback Seth Russell has completed 63.8% of his passes for 1,527 yards with 22 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and has rushed for 189 yards on 27 carries with 4 touchdowns. Back-up Jarrett Stidham has thrown for 310 yards with 4 touchdowns, and also has a rushing touchdown.

Running back Shock Linwood has 75 carries for 722 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 2 catches. Terence Williams has 55 carries for 396 yards and a touchdown. Johnny Jefferson has 50 carries for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns, plus 3 catches. Devin Chafin has 19 carries for 106 yards and a touchdown. He is probable with a hamstring injury.

Receiver Corey Coleman has 31 catches for 678 yards and 13 touchdowns. Jay Lee has 18 catches for 405 yards and 4 touchdowns. K.D. Cannon has 13 catches for 232 yards and 3 touchdowns.

West Virginia is 4-1 ATS on grass, 1-4 after a straight up loss, and in Big 12 games, 2-9 in October, and 1-5 against teams with winning records.

Baylor is 7-1 ATS after gaining 450 total yards or more, and allowing less than 275 total yards, 21-5 after allowing 100 rushing yards or less, 25-6 at home, 4-1 against teams with winning records and on grass, 21-6-1 after scoring more than 40 points, 20-6 after rushing for 200 yards or more, 25-9 after allowing less than 20 points, 16-6-1 after a cover, 21-8-1 after a straight up win, 18-7-1 after a straight up win by 20 points or more, 28-11 after allowing less than 170 passing yards, 5-2 in Big 12 games and in October, 25-10-1 overall, and 19-8-1 after passing for 280 yards or more.

Baylor has won 13 straight home games. That streak is not likely to end Saturday. Although West Virginia is capable of scoring points in bunches, I don’t know if they have the fire power to get into a shootout with the Bears. Baylor has scored at least 60 points in the last 4 games, and is one shy of tying the record for consecutive 60 point games. I think Baylor does that and the game goes over the total.

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