Tearing the whole thing down and building it back up is what Baylor Bears coach Matt Rhule said needed to be done after the Art Briles scandal rocked the program. It didn’t take long for him to fulfill his prophecy. One year after going 1-11, the Bears knocked off Texas Tech in their regular season finale to become bowl eligible and they remain in-state to face the Vanderbilt Commodores in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl.
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NCAA Football Betting at BookMaker.eu
Baylor Bears +4
Vanderbilt Commodores -4
Not reaching bowl eligibility wouldn’t have been the worst thing for the Bears, considering they are still rebuilding. And that’s what makes their accomplishment that much more exciting. Given their situation some bumps along the way were expected. And the Bears hit most of them. They proved to be a resilient group, though, displaying the toughness of their coach along the way. A 33-point drubbing by Oklahoma and a 44-point loss to West Virginia could have sent the Bears running for cover. Needing one win in their last three, Baylor dropped the first two and faced a bowl-in game with Tech in the finale. The Bears scored 21 second half points, overcoming a deficit to win outright as a 6-point dog.
Vandy was in a similar situation in its last game, needing a win to become bowl eligible. And the Dores blew the doors off rival Tennessee, 38-13, for a fantastic finish to the year. The Commodores were lamenting what might have been after losing to Kentucky to fall to 3-5. There was a five-point loss to Notre Dame and a close 37-27 defeat to Florida that proved they were better than their record. Vandy turned it around by winning three of its last four games, including the last two, and covering the spread in each of its last five games.
Baylor has an edge in total yards with an average of 441.7 per game. That’s the culture in the Big 12 and teams need to move the football to keep up. Vandy is just shy of 400 yards per game and the club that possesses the football will have an edge. And that edge should go to the Bears, who convert 43.8 percent of the time on third down. When moving the chains the Bears have proven to be deadly with a 4-0 record when converting more than half their chances on third down.
The Commodores had a nightmarish time getting off the field partly because of their inability to get after the quarterback. They finished 119th preventing third down conversions during the regular season and allowed seven teams to succeed on more than half their third-down tries. That doesn’t bode well for the Dores in this one.
Player(s) to Watch
The numbers don’t say so, but the offensive output is a product of the environment. The Big 12 is a run gun conference while the SEC actually plays defense. Get the Commodores out of the league and they’re pretty damn good, with a 3-1 non-conference record. And they have a trio of offensive players that went overlooked in the toughest conference in America. Kyle Shurmur is having the best season of his four-year career completing 64 percent of his throws for 2,844 yards with 23 touchdowns and just six picks.
Shurmur shredded Tennessee in the last game going 31 of 35 for 367 yards with three touchdowns, and he has weapons around him. Ke’Shawn Vaughn has rushed for over 1,000 yards and averages 7.0 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns and Kalija Lipscomb is the main target through the air with 81 catches for 886 yards and nine scores.
Live Betting Preview
Sustaining drives is what will keep Baylor in this game. The Bears have been good on third down and they should have some success keeping the ball away from Vandy’s offense. Neither team has been good in the red zone so consider that when live betting this game at BookMaker.eu. But Vandy has been more impressive with a tougher slate and the Dores are 6-1 against unranked foes. Shurmur and Vandy should outscore the Bears to come away with a victory.
NCAA Football Odds: Vanderbilt 34, Baylor 24
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