It seems strange to see Baylor as such a tiny home favorite, but they is legitimate cause for concern here as Oklahoma may very well ruin the Bear’s College Football Playoff hopes.
There could be a mild upset on the horizon in a humongous Big 12 matchup with serious College Football Playoff ramifications Saturday night when the once beaten Oklahoma Sooners (8-1, 7-2 ATS) pay a visit to the undefeated Baylor Bears (8-0, 4-3 ATS) at McLane Stadium in Waco, TX at 8:00 ET in a game televised nationally on ABC.
The point spread at Bet365 has Oklahoma as a modest underdog for this contest with the current line at +3 with odds of -120.
20 Straight Home Wins
Besides being undefeated this season and ranked sixth in the latest College Football Playoff Rankings, Baylor also owns the longest home winning streak in the country at 20 games. The most recent home win two games ago vs. Iowa State was a costly one though, as starting quarterback Seth Russell suffered a severe neck injury that required surgery, although the good news there is doctors expect a full recovery.
Oklahoma is ranked 12th on the Playoff Rankings but the Sooners could obviously make a major leap with a big road win here. The reason they are ranked that low is a loss to a mediocre Texas team, but the Sooners have taken no prisoners since that shocking upset being the winning college football picks in four straight games while scoring at least 52 points in every game.
Leaky Run Defense and Freshman Quarterback
While we admit that it is strange to see Baylor as such a small favorite at home, especially considering it leads the country in scoring with 57.4 points per game and total offense at 665.6 yards per contest, there is legitimate reason for concern that the home winning streak will end here, beginning with the insertion of a true freshman at quarterback in Jarrett Stidham in place of Russell as the starter at Kansas State last week.
Granted Stidham proceeded to pass for 419 yards in his first collegiate start, but the offense was not nearly as efficient in the 34-27 victory. To put that score in perspective, Oklahoma also visited Kansas State during its four-game winning streak and dismantled the Wildcats 55-0 in Manhattan!
Now Stidham is facing probably the best defense he has ever faced, considering he was still playing high school football in Texas at this time last year, and he should be under a lot of pressure with the Sooners ranking second in the country in sacks with 34 through nine games.
But perhaps an even greater concern has been the play of the Baylor run defense as of late, as that unit has allowed 224.0 rushing yards per game over the last three weeks vs. Kansas State, Iowa State and West Virginia. With no disrespect intended for any of those teams, none of them have as potent a rushing attack as Oklahoma does. And similar to Kansas State, there is also a transitive property element to Iowa State too as Oklahoma crushed the Cyclones 52-16 last week.
Sooners Fully Equipped to Take Advantage
Sure the loss to Texas remains a mystery given how bad the Longhorns have looked since then, but if you excuse that one letdown and look at the rest of the Oklahoma contests, they seem well equipped to take advantage of the few Baylor weaknesses just discussed. We could easily see the Sooner rattling the freshman quarterback Stidham with a defense that is 21st in the country overall and 17th in passing defense, with the help of the aforementioned pass rush.
Furthermore, the Oklahoma defense has actually played even better than its already great raw numbers because it plays in a pass heavy Big 12 Conference where most of the team have great offenses while treating defense as an afterthought.
But do not forget that while the Oklahoma offense does not have Baylor numbers, it is still sixth in the country in total offense, 11th in passing offense and 25th in rushing offense. That latter ranking is most relevant here as the two-headed backfield of Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon has helped produce 211.3 rushing yards per game, and that duo should have its way with the Baylor front, thereby also opening up passing lanes for the ever dangerous Baker Mayfield.
A Visitors’ Series
Finally, this is a head-to-head series that has been dominated by the road teams from a betting perspective, as they are 12-3 ATS in the last 15 meetings. Also, Baylor is surprisingly 2-5 ATS in its last seven November games.
While McLane Stadium is obviously an extremely difficult environment for visiting teams, Oklahoma has the tools to take advantage of the Baylor weaknesses so we are calling for the upset in Waco Saturday night on ABC.
College Football Pick: Oklahoma +3 (-120)