Baylor vs. West Virginia Pick – Thursday Night Football
Baylor Bears (4-3 SU, 2-4-1 ATS) vs. No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers (5-1 SU, 4-2 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 9
Date/Time: Thursday October 25th, 2018. 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Milan Puskar Stadium Morgantown, W.V.
By: Jay Horne, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: BAY +14/WVU -14
A full slate of college football games will headline the docket this Thursday highlighted by a Big 12 showdown between the Baylor Bears and no. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers in Morgantown. This Thursday’s return to primetime will be the Mountaineers first showing since being embarrassed by Iowa State two weeks ago. After climbing as high as no. 6 in the polls and starting to get some potential playoff hype, the Mountaineers squandered in a 30-16 loss to the Cyclones. With a needed week off in the rear-view, West Virginia can attempt to find their mojo this week as they fight to stay in the Big 12 Championship picture as two touchdown favorites over Baylor.
Can the Bears compete defensively?
The big question that I have entering this Thursday’s matchup is can Baylor’s defense step up to compete against this dynamic West Virginia offense? The Bears defense has not been impressive thus far this year allowing over 400 yards and 31 points per game. Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier is a veteran quarterback with an accurate arm. Grier has tossed 22 touchdowns on the year with 7 picks while completing 71% passing. Grier has the luxury of targeting one of best groups of receivers in the country led by the likes of Gary Jennings Jr, David Sills, and Marcus Simms. Therefore Baylor will have a very tough challenge against the pass this week and they must play better than we have seen in previous weeks if they plan to contend.
Keys to the game - Baylor
If anyone watched the Iowa State game, I feel like the Cyclones compiled the blueprint of how to beat this West Virginia team. Iowa State basically played keep away from this West Virginia offense by dominating the ground while controlling the clock. Iowa State racked up 244 yards on the ground against the Mountaineers and controlled the clock for nearly 40 minutes of gameplay. It is not a secret, West Virginia has struggled tremendously against the run despite what the stats may show. Therefore if Head Coach Matt Rhule wants to get his first signature win, Baylor must put a heavy emphasis on running the football.
The Bears offense, like West Virginia, typically spreads the ball around through the air. Quarterback Charlie Brewer has been pretty solid with 10 touchdown passes and 3 picks. This offense loves to get the ball in the hands of receivers Jalen Hurd and Denzel Mims who are averaging nearly 15 yards per touch. I am not saying that Baylor has to abandon their weapons in the passing game because that is a part of how they have successfully moved the football. However, I don’t think this game favors Baylor in a shootout. Therefore, a healthy dose of running backs JaMycal Hasty and John Lovett could really help keep the Mountaineers offense on the sideline.
History and Trends favor Baylor
I am not necessarily discounting anything West Virginia brings to the table. In fact, I have often praised their offensive talent this year. However, I just think Baylor has the resources to stand toe to toe with the Mountaineers this week. If you look at the history of these two teams, we have some other indicators pointing in the direction of the Bears as well. Out of the 6 meetings since West Virginia joined the Big 12, 4 of those 6 games have been decided by 14 points or less. In the two meetings they were not decided by 14 points or less, Baylor won both times outright. Additionally, Baylor has covered the spread in 5 of the 6 meetings against West Virginia during that period as well. I like the matchup and I like the historical trends as well.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Take Baylor +14