The Baylor Bears (5-1, 3-1 in Big XII) hosts the BYU Cougars (5-1) Saturday at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas, for a non-conference showdown. Although, this is a dress rehearsal of a future conference matchup since BYU will join the Big XII in 2023.
BYU lost its first game last week, 26-17, to the Boise State Broncos as 6-point home favorites. This past Saturday, the Cougars engaged in self-sabotage as they finished with minus-four in the turnover differential and committed nine penalties. BYU is 3-3 against the spread (ATS) and 1-5 Over/Under (O/U) with the 62nd-ranked strength of scheduled (according to TeamRankings).
Baylor beat the brakes off the West Virginia Mountaineers 45-20 as 1-point favorites in Week 6. The Bears outgained the Mountaineers 8.3-4.8 yards per play and held West Virginia to 90 rushing yards. Baylor is 4-2 ATS and 4-2 O/U with the 51st-ranked strength of schedule. Bears senior QB Gerry Bohanon is second in passer efficiency rating and passing touchdowns in the Big XII and fourth in rushing touchdowns.
- Opening Line: Baylor -3
- Current Line: Baylor -6.5
- Over/Under: 50.5
- Location: McLane Stadium
- Start Time: Saturday, October 16, 2021, 3:30 p.m. ET
BYU head coach Kalani Sitake replaced former head coach Bronco Mendenhall in 2016. Since then, BYU has been 10-2 ATS as a road underdog with a plus-8.9 spread differential. Also, the Cougars are 5-0 ATS in their last five games vs. Big XII competition and 4-0 ATS in their last four teams with a winning record.
There’s been insane line movement since this game opened up Saturday afternoon. Baylor opened as a 3-point favorite at Circa Sports in Las Vegas but has been steamed up 3.5 points on the consensus line. According to Pregame.com, there’s some buyback from the market as only 55% of the money and 51% of the bets placed at the time of publishing are on Baylor. But, the damage was done, and there’s little value in Baylor at its current price. As for the total, there’s been sharp line movement towards the Over, which has caused oddsmakers to move the total up from the 49.5-point opener.
It feels too easy to jump on Baylor’s bandwagon. Baylor has better non-garbage time predicted points added (PPA), better havoc rate differentials, higher yards per play, and red zone scoring rate differentials. The Bears rank ahead of the Cougars in ESPN’s SP+ Ratings and Football Outsiders’ FEI Ratings. In addition, Baylor has a higher net drive efficiency, net points per drive, and net points per play than BYU.
However, all of that intel is baked into the original consensus line, which opened Baylor -3. Furthermore, it isn’t like this line is moving based on new information. Usually, a 3.5-point swing for football over just a few days is enormous due to cluster injuries that pop up during practice or a random suspension. The reason for Baylor’s price soaring seems to be mostly market momentum. BYU only ranks four spots behind Baylor in FEI Ratings and six places behind in SP+ Ratings. Typically, in sports betting, it’s profitable to fade such a lopsided market.
Finally, this is a spot where BYU has outperformed expectations, and BYU’s victories are more impressive than Baylor’s. For instance, BYU beat a Utah Utes team that’s ranked ahead of Baylor in ESPN’s SP+ Ratings and an Arizona State Sun Devils team that’s trending up under head coach Herm Edwards. Those BYU victories stand out more than Baylor’s over a disappointing Iowa State Cyclones and a sub-.500 West Virginia. On top of that, the Cougars have covered 83.3% of their games as road underdogs since Sitake took over the program.
Pick: BYU +6.5 (-110 on BetMGM)
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