This looks like a lot of points to give with a West Virginia team that has lost four straight games vs. the potent Texas Tech offense, but home/away splits make the spread seem justified.
The home team could win by a bigger margin than some think in Big 12 play Saturday afternoon when the potent offense but porous defense of the Texas Tech Red Raiders (5-4, 4-4-1 ATS) pay a visit to the seemingly slumping West Virginia Mountaineers (3-4, 2-5 ATS) at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV at 12:00 Noon ET in a game televised nationally on FOX Sports 1.
The point spread at Bet365 has West Virginia as a decided home favorite for this contest with the current line at -8 with odds of -110.
Both Teams on Losing Steaks
Texas Tech has a history of getting off to fast starts and then fading away at the end of the season, and in the immortal words of Yogi Berra, this feels like “déjà vu all over again!” The Red Raiders actually had undefeated TCU beaten if not for a lucky fourth down touchdown catch of a tipped pass in the final seconds by the Horned Frogs, and Texas Tech has not been the same since especially while allowing 70 and 63 points respectively in losses the last two games!
West Virginia meanwhile opened up this season 3-0 in non-conference play but has since been the losing college football pick in all four of its Big 12 Conference games to dip one game below .500 overall. To be fair though, three of those four losses were on the road at brutal venues in Oklahoma, Baylor and TCU, and in their only Big 12 home game, the Mountaineers took undefeated Oklahoma State to overtime in a 33-26 loss.
Eighth in Defensive Efficiency
And that West Virginia defense is the main reason why not only is it favored by more than a touchdown here, but also why we are expecting a big covering win. To put things in perspective, West Virginia held Oklahoma State to just 362 total yards as well as 26 points during regulation time of that unfortunate overtime loss, and that is the same Oklahoma State team that just put up 70 points and 662 yards at Texas Tech!
It may not be obvious from the raw statistics that have West Virginia 97th in the nation in total defense allowing 431.4 yards per game, but believe it or not the Mountaineers are an amazing eighth in the entire country in defensive efficiency according to our friends at Football Outsiders, a ranking helped along by facing a schedule filled with some of the best offenses in the land!
Also, as usual, the Mountaineers have played much better here in Morgantown where they are averaging 39.0 points and 518.3 total yards offensively and allowing only 14.0 points and 321.0 total yards per game defensively. Granted the first three home games were vs. a couple of cupcakes in Georgia Southern and Liberty as well as Maryland (which was held to six points and 326 yards), but ironically the loss to Oklahoma State was the game that legitimized the defense.
Even Allowed 475 Yards to Kansas
Sure, Texas Tech has faced a similarly brutal Big 12 schedule as West Virginia except from one breather vs. Kansas, yet the Red Raiders are an abysmal 113th in defensive efficiency according to Football Outsiders. Looking at their road splits, they are averaging 30.7 points and 495.7 yards offensively, not that much different than the West Virginia home offensive split, but the Texas Tech defense is allowing an average of 35.7 points and 505.3 yards on the road.
And remember that the Raiders held one of the worst teams in the FBS in Kansas to 20 points, but even in that game the 115th ranked Jayhawks’ offense managed to put up 495 total yards! We can see the Mountaineers scoring at will vs. Texas Tech here, especially at home where the balanced West Virginia attack is averaging 229.0 rushing yards on 4.5 yards per carry and 289.3 passing yards on an impressive 8.8 yards per pass attempt.
Time of Year When Texas Tech Falters
Finally, this is usually the time of the season when Texas Tech begins to fade away as the Red Raiders are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 November games, and based on their performances the last two weeks, they may have started their descent a bit earlier this year. Also, the Red Raiders are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 road games.
Given that the defenses of these two teams are actually separated by a lot more than just the raw stats would indicate, look for Texas Tech to continue to fade and for West Virginia to snap its four-game losing streak in rather handy fashion by double-digits at home in Morgantown on Saturday.
College Football Pick: West Virginia -8 (-105)