Baylor Bears (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (1-1 SU, 2-0 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Friday, September 21st, 2012/8:00 p.m. EST
Where: Malone Stadium, Monroe, La.
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Baylor -7.5/UL-Monroe +7.5
Over/Under Total: OFF
College footballs biggest surprise of the 2012 season, the Louisiana-Monroe
Warhawks, will get their shot in the national spotlight and their
15 minutes of fame when they host the Baylor Bears Friday
night on ESPN.
The Warhawks became a household name two weeks ago when they shocked the college football world with a, 34-31, upset of Arkansas in overtime. Louisiana-Monroe went into that game as 30-point underdogs, so to say theyve come from nowhere this season is not an understatement.
Last week Louisiana-Monroe proved they werent just a flash in the pan by taking another BCS big boy, the Auburn Tigers, into overtime before finally dropping a tight contest, 31-28 (as 14-point dogs). Warhawks QB Kolton Browning (237 yards, 3 TD) and the offense continue to make plays and protect the football (zero turnovers, only one in two games), which has allowed them to play with teams theyre not supposed to be challenging at all.
The problem is that the Warhawks wont likely sneak up on the Baylor Bears this week. The Bears simply cannot afford to look past the Warhawks at all even though Baylor plays No. 8 West Virginia next week (classic look-ahead spot), especially since they almost got caught napping in last weeks narrow win over Sam Houston State, 48-23. Trailing 20-10 at half, the Bears awoke in time to outscore Sam Houston State 38-to-3 in the second half to fight off the upset bid the week before their matchup against the giant-killers Louisiana-Monroe.
It also looks like the Warhawks arent going to sneak up on the bookmakers this week either. After covering a 30-point and 14-point spread the first two weeks, this week the Warhawks are getting the single-digit respect theyve earned since Baylor opened as 8-point favorites on the road at Malone Stadium in Monroe. As smelly as that number is (the sportsbooks are begging you to take the Warhawks), it appears its working as the early public money flows in on Louisiana-Monroe to drop the number to minus -7.5 at a majority of the books offshore and in Vegas.
As of press time there has yet to be an over/under total released to the public.
What makes this game a tough one to handicap is that even Baylor head coach Art Briles has no idea what to make of the Bears, stating on Monday that Baylor is still looking for our identity without question. What is known is that the Bears offense and QB Nick Florence have picked up right where they left off last season with RG3, putting up 59 and 48 points in successive weeks.
The problem is the Bears defense also appears to picking up where they left off last season, giving up 24 and 23 points to the likes of SMU and Sam Houston State not exactly top-tier competition. The good news is the Bears defense is coming off their best two quarters in a long time, adding three picks and returning one for a score in the second half against Sam Houston last week.
Louisiana-Monroe has the type of spread-formation, throwing offense that the Bears are accustomed too playing in the Big 12, but even still Browning put up 410 yards passing on Arkansas before balancing it out a little more with just 245 of their 410 total coming via the air attack. The problem for the Warhawks is that Browning is also their top running treat at the QB spot, so the Baylor defensive game plan can really focus on stopping one player to stop the entire Louisiana-Monroe attack.
With no history between these two programs, there are a limited amount of trends and betting angles to look at for guidance. Baylor has been solid against teams from the Sun Belt in the past (4-1 ATS L5), but Louisiana-Monroe is hot commodity for bettors right now (5-1 ATS in L6 overall) going back to the end of last season too.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is a classic case of the publics over-reaction to the hot Louisiana-Monroe team. Lets not forget that Auburn was 0-2 before getting taken to the wire by the Warhawks, and Arkansas is just flat-out lost right now. I dont think Baylor is great, but they almost got caught sleeping last week and Briles is too good of a coach to let it happen again. Louisiana-Monroe might get a little caught up in all of the national attention too. Baylor rolls by double digits, take Baylor minus the 7.5-points.
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