Houston Cougars vs. Baylor Bears
Saturday, September 19, 2020 – 12:00 PM EDT at McLane Stadium
Baylor opens their season against Houston. Can they cover the spread?
Baylor football answered every question in 2019 with star head coach Matt Rhule. They flexed with the best defense in the Big 12, went 11-1 in the regular season, and made it to the Big 12 Championship game. However, things are going to be a lot different for the Bears.
For starters, they will be without Matt Rhule. He is now the head coach of the Carolina Panthers. With limited workouts and camps, implementing a new scheme will be tough to do. Baylor also caught every break last season. It seemed that every ball bounced their way in 2019, and simple regression will lead to tougher outcomes.
However, the Bears return a lot of key pieces of last year’s team. Their quarterback and the offensive line will provide chemistry for the offense. No matter who you play in the Big 12, you have to put points on the board.
Before Baylor’s conference games begin, they will play Houston. Can they cover the spread vs. the Cougars?
Keys for Baylor to cover the spread
Baylor needs to gel on defense to cover the 7.5-point spread. Switching coaches will make that a challenge. The good news for the Bears is that they already had a defensive-minded head coach in Matt Rhule. Dave Aranda will take pride in the secondary for Baylor, so they really need to step up in this game.
Baylor will also rely heavily on senior quarterback Charlie Brewer. He is a dual-threat option, so he just needs to take whatever the defense gives him. If he can avoid the major mistakes that cost Baylor in their game against Oklahoma last season, they will be in good shape to win. However, they need that extra push to cover the spread.
The Bears also need some receiver to step up in the absence of Denzel Mims. Mims led the team in receptions last year, and his production will be hard to replace. I expect Tyquan Thornton to lead the way in 2020, and Baylor will need to target him early and often in this one.
Keys for Houston to cover the spread
Houston mostly needs to make Baylor single-faceted in the offense. If both the passing and running game start clicking, Houston is going to have a long day. This mostly stops with slowing down Brewer. He can single-handedly break the Cougars defense.
If I were to develop the defensive game plan, I would stack the box and force Brewer to beat you on the pass. With limited workouts and a new head coach, passing games are more likely to have errors due to miscommunication. Baylor also has to replace Mims.
Houston also must win the turnover battle. When you’re an underdog using the College Football live odds, you need the ball to bounce your way a few times. Any interception or fumble recovery for Houston could be what helps them cover the spread.
That being said, Houston won’t settle for a close game. They want to go home victorious.
Keys for Houston to upset the Bears
The Big 12 has seen plenty of upsets already in their opening week, and this has the potential to be another. However, Baylor is well-coached and has continuity on offense. With an unprecedented offseason, any type of chemistry will help out. The previous upsets in the Big 12 scare me, but I like Baylor to be competitive and cover the spread.