The No. 16 Baylor Bears (6-1, 3-1 in Big XII) hosts the Texas Longhorns (4-3, 2-2) Saturday for a Week 9 Big XII battle at McLane Stadium.
Baylor is coming off a bye week after winning back-to-back games over the BYU Cougars (38-24 on Oct. 16) and the West Virginia Mountaineers (45-20 on Oct. 9). The Bears’ lone loss is on the road to the No. 15 Oklahoma State Cowboys in Week 5. According to USA TODAY’s Jeff Sagarin, Baylor is 5-2 against the spread (ATS) and 5-2 Over/Under (O/U) with only the 75th-toughest strength of schedule.
Texas also had a bye in Week 8 but lost back-to-back games to both Oklahoma schools prior. First, the Longhorns lost a 55-48 heartbreaker in the Red River Shootout vs. the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners Oct. 16, then 32-24 to Oklahoma State as 3.5-point home favorites.
Longhorns junior QB Casey Thompson leads the conference in passer efficiency rating (171.9) and passing TDs (15). The Longhorns are 4-3 ATS and 4-3 O/U with the 11th-toughest schedule in the country (according to Sagarin).
- Opening Line: Pick ‘em
- Current Line: Baylor -3
- Total (Over/Under): 61.5
The major market-making sportsbook Circa Sports in Las Vegas opened this game at a pick ‘em. Then early sharp action steamed Baylor up to current 3-point favorite. At the time of publishing, 65% of the cash but just 51% of the bets are Baylor, according to Pregame. So, after the “wiseguys” hammered Baylor early up to the appropriate number, the dusting on the betting splits is starting to settle.
On the other hand, the total is seeing some reverse line movement as roughly 90% of the action is on the Over (according to Pregame.com). But, the Texas-Baylor has been lowered from 64 at open to the current price.
It’s a small sample size, but Baylor is 4-1 ATS as a home favorite with a plus-11.7-point spread differential since head coach Dave Aranda arrived last season. Also, Baylor is 6-5-2 ATS in Big XII games and is 1-1-1 ATS following a bye.
This is Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian’s first year on the job. Texas is 1-2 ATS vs. ranked competitions, 1-1 ATS as a road team, 0-1 as an underdog, and 2-2 ATS in conference play this year.
Let’s follow the early sharp money and bet the Baylor straight-up. We are getting the party late, and there’s value in betting Baylor -3 (-110). But I’d rather not fuss with the points and just lay it with Baylor (-150).
The Bears have a substantial strength-on-weakness matchup with their ground game vs. the Longhorns lousy rush defense. Baylor has the 23rd-highest rushing rate in the nation, and Texas has the 106th ranked rush defense predicted points added (PPA). Furthermore, Baylor’s offense has the fifth-best line yards per snap in the trenches, while Texas’s defense ranks 79th in line yards per snap.
While the Longhorns have a better net differential in high-leverage situations (3rd down conversion and red zone scoring rates), Baylor’s 3rd-down and red zone offense should improve if it can pencil in 5 to 6 yards per rush. Moreover, Baylor has higher PPA, yards per play, and Havoc rate differentials than Texas.
PICK: Baylor ML (-150 on DraftKings)
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