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Baylor Football In Unfamiliar Role - Double Digit Favorites Over Uconn

9/19/09

They were the underdog, but the Baylor Bears escaped their week one game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons with a 24-21 victory. They now face a lesser challenge in the Connecticut Huskies, a team that traveled to Ohio for their first game and took a win from the favored Bobcats. After that they lost a close game to the No. 19 North Carolina Tar Heels. The Huskies took last yearís meeting 31-28, but they will have a harder time beating Baylor on the road this time around. Baylor is favored by -10.5 at offshore sportsbooks with an over/under total of 45.5.

When Connecticut traveled to Ohio for their first game, they were the underdog. The game was big for Ohio students and many expected a win; Connecticut spoiled that. Sophomore RB Jordan Todman played an excellent game, rushing for 157 yards and a TD. He had a long run of 58 yards. Senior RB Andre Dixon was also solid with 100 rushing yards and a long run of 24 yards. QB Zach Frazer threw a whopping 4 INTs, but somewhat made up for that with 3 TD passes. He canít afford to throw that many INTs against Baylor. They will make him pay for it. UCONN played strong against North Carolina, but turned the ball over twice. The running game was slowed down, and a late safety ultimately cost them the win. Connecticut needs to cut down on errors and play mistake free football.

RBs Jordan Todman and Andre Dixon are the strength of the Huskies offense. The Huskies were ranked 13th in rushing in 2008. QB Zach Frazer is prone to throwing INTs, and that makes me worry about the passing game. However, he does have several capable WRs. The defense has always been strong for Connecticut. They do well against the pass, ranking 9th in pass defense in 2008. The LBs at UCONN are as good as you will find anywhere else. The offensive line seems like it could use work, but they have done a good job of making holes for the RBs thus far in the season.

The Baylor Bears looked very strong in their first game of the year. The defense forced the ultra accurate Riley Skinner to throw 4 INTs, and kept him off balance for the majority of the game. QB Robert Griffin played well for the Bears, throwing for 136 yards and 1 TD. RB Kendall Wright had just a few carries, but picked up 51 yards and a TD. Jay Finley got the majority of carries at RB, and rushed for 91 yards. David Gettis was the best performing WR, catching 5 passes for 65 yards and 1 TD. I canít really criticize anything that Baylor did in this game, although Iíd like to see the defense keep teams from scoring points in the second half of games.

Baylor finds their strength in Robert Griffin. He was amazing as a true freshman, throwing for 2,091 yards and 15 TDs while also rushing for 843 yards and 13 TDs. If he plays a big game then the Bears are likely to win, but conversely if he gets shut down then they will likely lose. Iíd like to see Baylorís defense put pressure on Zach Frazer early and often. He tends to throw a lot of INTs and if they keep the pressure on then itís bound to happen.

We're never thrilled about laying points. More good things can happen, as a bettor, when backing solid dogs then when laying significant points. Especially with a team like Baylor. Baylor has not had a winning season in forever. They are 30-74 this decade. They haven't won more than 5 games in a season this decade. Baylor and Uconn played a fairly even game a year ago, with Uconn pulling it out in the final minute. We generally would like to see a team prove themselves worthy of being favored by double digits before backing them. Baylor has not done that.

There are several things in the Bears favor however. There's a buzz on campus. Ticket Sales are up 12%. They are looking for a little revenge as a result of losing a heartbreaker in Storrs last year. Uconn's starting QB is out, and the Uconn team has been hit with the flu bug. So, things are set up nicely for Baylor. The big question is, can they, for the first time in many, many years, live up to the hype and deliver in this unfamiliar role? The last time they were favored by this much was against Army in 2006. What happened? Baylor lost straight up 27-20.

We want no part of this one in any serious way. Uconn is too dangerous of an underdog. We'll pass.

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