West Virginia Mountaineers at Baylor Bears Pick 10/31/19
West Virginia Mountaineers (3-4) at Baylor Bears (7-0)
When: Thursday, October 31, 8 p.m EDT
Where: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
Point Spread: WVU +17.5/BAY -17.5 (BetNow)
Total: O/U 56
Outlook For Week 10
Did anyone have Baylor doing this? The Bears entered the year as a bit of an afterthought in the Big 12, but thanks to Kansas State knocking off Oklahoma, Baylor is in first place in the Big 12 and in total control of its own destiny. The Bears have five games left to play, and while Oklahoma and Texas are both still on the schedule, both of them have to come to McLane Stadium. If the Bears can get to seven wins in the Big 12, a very realistic goal, they’ll almost certainly play for the league title, and they could even get into the College Football Playoff picture if they can run the table.
In Morgantown, things are far less promising. West Virginia is sitting at 3-4 and has to find three wins out of five remaining games just to become eligible for a bowl. That looks like a pretty tall order because West Virginia’s best win to this point on the season is probably Kansas, and while the Jayhawks have gotten a lot better under Les Miles, beating them is still nothing to write home about. This game is close to “must-win” territory for the Mountaineers if they have any hopes of spending the postseason playing instead of watching.
How the Public is Betting the West Virginia/Baylor Game
The public has sided with Vegas so far in this one. Neither the line nor the point total has budged an inch since opening.
Corner Hakeem Bailey is suspended for the first half for targeting against Oklahoma. Linebacker Josh Chandler is out indefinitely with an undisclosed issue.
Running back Trestan Ebner is questionable with a lower-body injury, while linebacker Clay Johnston is out for the season with a knee injury.
More Picks: Navy at UConn Week 10 Pick
When West Virginia Has the Ball
West Virginia’s offense is a lot like the Owl City song: “Race the wind and take to the sky.” West Virginia barely even tries to run the ball, and the Mountaineers are essentially one-dimensional as a result. Granted, it’s not for nothing that the Mountaineers are a pass-heavy offense, as the Mountaineers are one of five teams in the nation that average fewer than three yards per carry. Instead, the West Virginia offense is built around Austin Kendall and his ability to connect with receivers T.J. Simmons and Sam James.
When things are going well for Kendall, and he gets time to make his reads, the Mountaineers’ offense can move the ball pretty well. But when he’s under pressure or faces a difficult secondary and has to force things, he’s a very average quarterback. Missouri threw him off his game completely in a 38-7 loss, intercepting him twice, and while he tossed three touchdowns against Texas, the Longhorns also picked him off four times because he had to force the issue to keep West Virginia in the game. Kendall’s not a bad quarterback to have, but there are certainly better options in the Big 12.
When Baylor Has the Ball
One of those better options is his counterpart at Baylor, quarterback Charlie Brewer. Brewer has had one bad day this season, a three-pick performance that the Bears barely survived against Texas Tech. Otherwise, he’s been pretty unflappable, throwing for 12 touchdowns and no interceptions against everyone besides the Red Raiders. Brewer is a smart, accurate passer who is not afraid to spread the ball around or go for big yardage. Of the Bears’ top eight receivers on the season, all but one of them averages at least 10 yards per catch.
Beyond that, Baylor backs up Brewer with a strong running game, as John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty both average over six yards per carry and both have four touchdowns to their name. This is a tough offense to stop, and little suggests that West Virginia is going to be the one to do it, given that the Mountaineers have been shredded for an average of 44 points in each of their past three contests.
Baylor is at its best when the expectations are low. Set them too high, and the Bears seem to play down a bit to their competition, especially at home. In their past 13 games at McLane Stadium, Baylor is just 4-9 ATS and is 3-12-1 overall against a team that’s under .500. West Virginia doesn’t have much to brag about either as of late; the Mountaineers are 7-20 ATS in the month of October and have lost five of their past seven road games ATS.
If you want to bet on the points, that might not be the best idea because these two have opposing tendencies. While the Mountaineers have never met a point total they didn’t love, hitting the OVER on eight of the past nine O/U totals in Big 12, the Bears have been a more defensive-minded squad. The over-under has hit the under in six of Baylor’s past eight games, meaning something has to give. That’s likely to be the under, as the over has hit in five of the teams’ previous seven meetings. The Bears are also likely a good bet here to cover the total, as the home team has covered in five of the past six meetings between these squads.
The weather forecast is being more than a little dramatic, as it’s actually recommending gloves and hats to avoid frostbite when the low temperature is only going to be 33 degrees. While that’s not pleasant, it’s certainly not frostbite temperature either. Still, by Texas standards, it’s going to be a cold night in Waco.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
If Baylor had Oklahoma coming up next, I’d be tempted to take West Virginia in this spot. But the Bears are rested, and they face a middling TCU squad next, not the Sooners. That game is likely to be the trap game for Baylor rather than a home game against a West Virginia squad that can’t run the ball against anyone and has been a sieve against the Big 12. The Mountaineers even gave up 24 points to Kansas, and considering that the Jayhawks managed a measly seven on Coastal Carolina, that’s another sign of a weak defense. I’m wagering on the Baylor Bears here.
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