A lot of intensity for Saturday's gridiron battle between the Texas Longhorns and Baylor Bears could go out the window just before the kickoff. Though both the Bears and Longhorns are guaranteed a share of the Big 12 title with a win, it still won't mean a chance at a BCS Bowl invite unless the Oklahoma State Cowboys lose at home to the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Cowboys and Sooners are slated to get underway at noon, and if OU can pull off the outright upset, the Longhorns and Bears will be playing for that coveted BCS trip.
Backing Baylor will mean laying nearly two touchdowns. The earliest line available on SBR's live college football odds had the Bears -14, with that spread dropping a half since then. A total should be available later Tuesday afternoon.
Winner & Loser Could Stay Home For The Holidays
If the expected happens in Stillwater, Oklahoma State will sail into the automatic BCS bid extended to the Big 12. It's possible, though not probable, that Baylor could get an at-large spot with a convincing win over the Longhorns, but that's a stretch.
The way Big 12 bowl tie-ins go, the outcome of this game just might decide who goes to the Cotton Bowl and who goes to the Alamo Bowl. Both are decent payouts, and will draw big crowds in Arlington and San Antonio respectively, but hardly the bowl trip players from both teams were hoping to take.
Baylor (10-1 straight up, 8-3 against the spread) is coming off a narrow win at TCU last week, the effort following up on the Bears' lone loss of the season at Okie State seven days earlier. The Bears needed two Pick 6's to get past the Horned Frogs, 41-38, falling well short of the 13.5 they were laying in Ft. Worth.
Texas (8-3 SU, 6-5 ATS) also just rebounded from a loss to Oklahoma State, taking down Texas Tech on Thanksgiving Night. The Longhorns rushed for more than 280 yards in the 41-16 victory, easily covering a 5.5 point line set by sportsbooks, and marking the fourth 'under' in their last five.
Injury Concerns on Both Sides
The 'Horns and Bears each have some injury concerns for this tilt. Texas could be very thin at linebacker with Kendall Thompson (concussion) questionable and Steve Edmond expected to miss the game.
Texas is also listing starting offensive tackle Josh Cochran as questionable with a shoulder injury, while backup tailback Daje Johnson will sit this one out due to a suspension.
On the Baylor side, the defense might be without middle linebacker Bryce Hager due to a groin injury.The Bears are still minus wide receiver Tevin Reese (wrist), whose absence he last four games as Bryce Petty's primary deep threat has been felt on offense.
Series History, Mother Nature & A Free Pick
Texas was 9.5 point chalk a year ago when the 'Horns and Bears hooked up in a classic in Austin. A 56-50 win gave Texas a 74-24-4 all-time record vs. Baylor, the 13th clash in the last 15 that went to the Longhorns. Four of the last five, and seven of the last nine, went 'over.'
After beginning the week under sun and temps in the mid-to-upper 70s, it's going to be downright chilly Saturday afternoon in Waco. The kickoff should come around the warmest point of the day (36ºF), with cloudy skies and a brisk 12-15 mph north wind. College football bettors will want to keep a watch on any lingering rain in the area, which is presently forecast to clear out by Friday evening.
I truly thought a Baylor victory in this one might throw the Big 12 into a three-way tie when we discussed potential upset spots and key conference games before the season started. A lot of the early emotions will be dictated by whatever happens in the OU/OSU matchup, making the first couple of possessions immensely important. Once again, my free college football pick will be on the Big 12 road 'dog.
My pick: Texas +13.5 at Bet365