Capper Favors Baylor -2.5 vs. Michigan St. for the Cotton Bowl

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, January 1, 2015 2:50 PM GMT

Thursday, Jan. 1, 2015 2:50 PM GMT

Don't miss this revealing article on today's Cotton Bowl matchup as Michigan State goes up against Baylor. Find out which team made the cut on our college football picks. 

Michigan St. vs. Baylor (-2-) 12:30 ET ESPN
For each contest, the handicapper must face the following conundrum.  He must choose to follow a team’s negative or positive momentum, or look for a team to let down or bounce back, following their most recent performance.  There are also technical considerations that must be factored into the equation and of course, fundamentals are a key concern in any matchup.   One factor that rarely is analyzed is when a team gets snubbed by a Bowl committee to play in the first ever National Championship game. That is exactly the angle I follow today in making this strong Bowl selection on the Baylor Bears.

Michigan St. has a tremendous amount of technical and fundamental support in this game.  They are led by HC Dantonio, who is a righteous 11-3 ATS in the underdog role.  As always, this is one of the top defensive teams in the land, as the Spartans allow just 20 PPG and only 294 YPG.  Adding to that resume, and a major reason for their 10-2 SU, 8-4 ATS season, is a greatly improved offense. Behind offensive triplets QB Cook (with a 22/6 ratio), RB Langford and WR Lippett, the Spartans average 43 PPG.  This happens with a balanced attack that is running for 235/5.1 and passing for 262/8.8.  This team enters with solid momentum, having won and covered their last 3 contests by a combined score of 116-28 vs. Maryland, Rutgers and Penn St.  Only a 49-37 loss at home to Ohio St. prevented this team from playing for the Big 10 title.  Adding further fuel to their fire is the fact that under HC Dantonio, the Spartans have won and covered each of their last 3 Bowl games, all in the role of underdog.   Michigan St. had a solid +17 net TO margin for the year and allowed the 2nd fewest sacks in the country.  But the chink in the armor is revealed in their 2 losses.  In the 46-27 loss at Oregon and 49-37 loss to Ohio St., the Spartan offense was burned for a combined 95 points by just such a balanced up-tempo attack, as they will face today.  Combined with the Baylor Bowl snub, it spells bad news for Michigan St.

Betting Trends Make Baylor -3 the College Football Pick vs. MSU

It is the contrast of styles that makes Baylor so attractive in this fundamental matchup.  For Baylor HC Briles has developed a truly potent attack.  Starting with QB Griffin and continuing with QB Petty, these Baylor Bears have been a very explosive unit.  Remember, the only chink in their armor was when they lost 41-27 at WVU, the week after they authored a 21 point comeback at home vs. TCU in a 61-58 victory.  This high-powered Baylor attack averaged 48 PPG.  Much like Michigan St. was a balanced unit, going for 235/4.7 overland and 346/8.9 through the air.  A 38-27 season ending victory vs. highly regarded Kansas St. appeared to be enough to get them a Final Four bid.  Yet, the committee was more impressed with the Ohio St. wipeout of Wisconsin, paving the way for the Buckeyes to get the final bid. In a post-season interview, Briles was visibly upset about the snub.  While all the ink goes to the Baylor offense, it is an improved defense that allows 108/2.9 overland which makes them nearly the defensive equal of Michigan St.  Remember, they play in the more offensive prolific Big 12 conference. 

Combination of the Spartan’s failure when stepping up in class, the improved Baylor defense and most importantly, the Final Four dis, gives us a strong selection on Baylor today for our free college football picks

Free College Football Picks: Take Baylor at 5Dimes

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