Confusion, panic, and dismay characterize Baylor currently after scandal rocked the program earlier this year. Our college football odds analyst previews the Bears' 2016 season.
When it rains, it pours
Baylor’s football program is in disarray after authorities found it either ignored or covered up years of sexual assault claims. The school fired head coach Art Briles in late May, and a half (11) of the incoming 2016 recruiting class are gone, either released from their scholarships or suspended. Opening as low as +1200 odds (fifth choice) to win the national title back in January, Baylor’s college football odds price has slipped to +6000 at most sportsbooks (+6000 at BetOnline) since the dominoes began to fall.
The latest blow came earlier this week when sophomore quarterback Jarrett Stidham announced on twitter his intentions to transfer. He was in line to take over the reigns for Seth Russell in 2017. Stidham guided the Bears for much of the second half last season after Russell went down with a broken bone in his neck. Freshman Zach Smith is the backup if things go awry this season.
What can bettors expect from the Bears this year?
Probably much of the same, though it will be interesting to see how the youngsters respond to all the negativity that has unfolded. The fallout from the scandal will hit particularly hard in the next couple of years with recruiting all but at a standstill. This team, however, went 10-3 last season and return much of its core intact—minus Briles at the helm. Russell, for one, is back under center. He led the nation with 29 passing touchdowns and an 189.7 passer rating through seven games last year before season-ending surgery. Linebacker Taylor Young, who recorded 80 tackles last season, is the defensive leader, and on the Butkus Award watch list. Gone is last year’s one-time Heisman candidate, dynamic wide receiver Corey Coleman, selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Cornerback Xavien Howard and defensive tackle Andrew Billings also joined the pro ranks.
Former long-time Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe takes over the Bears on an interim basis. Grobe is in place as a motivator, tasked with keeping spirits up within the embattled program. Do not expect much change from an x’s-and-o’s standpoint this season. All of Briles’ staff retained their positions, and will not likely begin a mass exodus until December when a permanent coach is likely hired. Grobe, in fact, went on record saying he has no plans to touch the high-octane offense, led by Art’s son Kendal Briles.
This is likely good news for bettors. Baylor’s air raid offense led the nation in scoring the last three seasons, and the totals market has never been able to catch up. Since 2011, the OVER is a remarkable 43-19-1, each season returning a hefty profit (8-5 in 2015, 8-5 in 2014, 9-4 in 2013, 7-4-1 in 2012, and 11-1 in 2011). Briles designed a plug-and-play system with the perfect blend of pace and efficiency that should perform consistently this season despite events unfolding in Waco.
Betting Angles To Consider
One area sports investors may want to target in the totals market is Baylor’s out-of-conference games. Although the OVER has returned a profit in its Big 12 contests during the last five years, the bigger returns come when Baylor lines up against foes from outside the division. Since 2011, the OVER is 16-2 in these contests with an average combined score of 81.9, bettering a 70.9 average total. The sports betting market underestimates the strength and effectiveness of the offense, as the Bears eclipsed their projected team total in all but three games.
Baylor’s regular-season wins mark is offered at 9 games as of publication, with heavy action on the UNDER, a logical college football pick. This team is still top-25 material, and should earn a bowl game bid, but any realistic shot at a national title are far removed. In addition to the recent vacancies, too many distractions and a bundle of negativity are weighing the program down. Action on the field will serve as a space for most of the young players to cope, or forget about temporarily, the many problems encapsulating the team. One can expect the team to play a lot like last year and with similar numbers. Just do not expect on-field success down the road.
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