No. 4 Baylor Bears (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. SMU Mustangs (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
College Football Week 1
Date/Time: Friday September 4th, 7:00PM EST
Where: Gerald J. Ford Stadium Dallas, T.X.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BAY -35/SMU +35
Over/Under Total: 75
The 4th ranked Baylor Bears will kick off their 2015 campaign this Friday night with a short trip north to battle the SMU Mustangs inside Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas. The Bears blew out the Mustangs 45-0 in a similar season opening affair last year. This Friday Baylor will go into Dallas as huge 35 point favorites against an SMU team that managed to win just 1 game in 2014. However, SMU is under new guidance this year with Chad Morris, the former Clemson Tigers offensive coordinator, at the helm. Morris is known for his offensive mastermind and it will be interesting to see what type of immediate impact he can make for SMU in 2015.
For Morris, SMU returns a pretty good core of talent with 8 starters returning on offense and 7 starters returning on the defensive side of the football. At Clemson, Morris was one of the top paid assistant coaches in the country and led the Tigers to some of the best offensive production in the programs history. However, Morris will have his work cut out for him at SMU as he tries to recruit the correct players to fill his offense. For now, the Mustangs are lacking in talent especially on the offensive side of the football. Therefore it will be interesting to see what kind of production they are able to get out of his team especially in a brutal season opener against a stacked Baylor team.
On offense, SMU will turn to junior Matt Davis to lead the offense. Davis completed just 54% of his passes last year while sharing time with Garrett Krstich. In fact, SMU quarterbacks as a group combined for 2,024 yards, 53.5% passing, with 6 touchdowns, and14 interceptions on the season in 2014. However, Davis gives this team the best option to move the football due to his dual threat capabilities. Davis led the Mustangs in rushing last year with 613 yards on the ground and his dual threat style of play is the best option for what Chad Morris likes to do with his offenses. Look for SMUs offense to attempt to spread the ball out to their wide receivers with short passes in space in effort to stretch the Baylor defense as they try to limit the pressure on Mustangs offensive front.
The Baylor Bears defense is a solid group which should be able to keep enough pressure on SMUs offense to keep them stifled for the most part. However, the Bears offense is where this game will be decided from a cover standpoint. I do not think anyone would give SMU much of a chance to win this game but a cover on the large 35 point spread is doable if they can play well. The problem is that nobody has had much of an answer for Baylors high powered offense which reached 40 or more points in 11 of their 13 games in 2015 and they will return the large majority of their firepower again this year.
Obviously, former quarterback Bryce Petty has departed after a stellar career in Waco. Stepping into the starting position with be quarterback Seth Russell. Russell played in the shadows of Petty for the last two years but will get his opportunity to lead the offense this year. Baylor has produced some excellent quarterbacks over the past few years and Russell has all the tools to keep the position at status quo.
However, what is impressive is all the weapons around Russell. Shock Linwood returns after a 1,252 yard and 16 touchdown season. WR Corey Coleman returns after leading the team with 1,119 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2014 along with a stellar receiving corps. It really does not even matter if Russell comes out firing on all cylinders because this Baylor offense is loaded with talent and they are going to produce. The question is how long will it take them to fire on all cylinders?
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This Baylor team has all the ingredients to be truly special this year and it is way too early for SMU to show any considerable improvement under Morris. Take Baylor -35!
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