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At the beginning of the season, did anyone think Baylor would be in talks to play in the BCS National Championship game? Or even more surprising is the spread in this game. The Bears opened as -13.5 point favorites at home against the Sooners and have since been bet up to -14.5 at 5 dimes sportsbook as of early Monday. Considering Oklahoma was -21 point favorites in this game last year, it's quite the turnaround.
The Bears deserve it all though, the undefeated record, and the No. 6 ranking in the BCS Standings. They're the top scoring team in the nation with over 63 points per game. Of course, you can point to the ease of their schedule for that, as they only scored 35 points in their toughest game at Kansas State. Yes, they've been at least 28-point favorites in every game but that one at KSU, in which they were 17-point favorites. Still, it's been quite the performance.
Things haven't been as smooth for the Sooners, who were the preseason favorite in the Big 12. They have struggled to produce consistently on offense and their defense is still a question mark. That said, Oklahoma still only has one loss and are one upset away from being in true contention for top of the conference.
Blake Bell leads the Sooners at quarterback and will be the most important piece in this game. Since they can't stop Baylor from scoring, it's going to fall on Bell to keep this offense moving. Bell can't have a repeat performance of the Texas game when he threw two interceptions and couldn't get anything on the ground. The Sooners lost that game against Texas, 36-20. Bell needs to get going early on with his legs and through the air. RBs Brennan Clay (538 yards) and Damien Williams (412 yards) will get a heavy dosage to keep the Baylor offense off the field.
The Bears have struggled defensively against West Virginia and Kansas State, so it'll be interesting to see what they do here. It wouldn't be surprising if the Sooners kept up on the scoreboard.
The Baylor offense isn't what you'd think it'd be either. Bryce Petty has nice numbers at quarterback with 2,453 yards, 18 TDs and only one INT, but it's their running game that excels. Their top two running backs both average over eight yards per carry. Lache Seastrunk has 869 yards and 11 touchdowns followed by Shock Linwood with 443 yards and seven TDs. Tevin Reese and Antwan Goodley are just as good in the passing game with both having eight TDs and at least 800 yards.
Obviously, the Sooners haven't faced an offense like this yet, so it's going to be a challenge. Considering Oklahoma let Texas run rampant over them for 255 yards, what will Baylor be able to do?
This is Baylor's first of three straight games against current ranked teams. If they want to show the world they belong in the Top 10, a big win would only help that notion. However, this isn't going to be a free win. Blake Bell and company have the ability to put points on the board, as well.
The Sooners are just 1-4 ATS in their last five conference games, and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a bye week. The Bears are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 conference games and have covered seven straight against a team with a winning record. In this series, the road team is 14-3 ATS in the last 17 meetings.
To think the Sooners can't compete here would be a mistake. All one has to do, is look at these teams historically to determine that. The Sooners have been the superior program for decades. They have been one of the superior programs in college football for decades. They recruit talent, year after year after year. That hasn't changed. Don't think we're seeing a changing of the guard here. We're not. The Sooners will continue to be the better program for years to come.
It's not as if the Baylor program, in one year, became two touchdowns better than Oklahoma. That simply isn't logical. If you're looking for more reasons to back the Sooners here, consider schedule strength. Baylor simply hasn't played anyone yet. To their credit, they have done what good teams are supposed to do to cupcakes. They have blown them off the field. But their stiffest test came against Kansas State and the margin there was just 10 points. We'll start to see how good the Bears are from here forward as their schedule gets a bit more difficult.
So, with all of that in mind, why are we not backing the Sooners as a Key Release tonight? Well, two reasons. One is revenge and the other is our model. Let's talk about revenge first. Revenge is one of the most powerful motivators in college football. In fact, revenge is almost meaningless in just about every other sport you can wager on, including the NFL. But in college football, revenge is very real and should never be overlooked. In this case, it isn't just revenge for a loss a year ago. It's revenge for a lifetime of being used as a doormat by the other team. Baylor has been used as a whipping post by the Sooners for, well, forever. If there is any chance whatsoever that Baylor can run up the score in this spot, they will, and don't think for a minute that that very seed hasn't been planted in the Baylor players minds by the coaching staff.
The other reason is our model. We respect our model. When we go against our model, we usually regret it. Last week we used Miami as a Key Release over Florida State. We felt the game would be closer. Our model predicted Florida State on top by a score of 40-16. The actual final was 41-14. See why we respect our model?
Same deal here. We think the Sooners keep it close. Our model says Baylor by a score of 41-19. What's that saying? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice........yeah, whatever. We have to pass this one because of our model and the huge revenge factor at work. Enjoy this one and good luck if you wager. As an opinion only, Oklahoma +15.5
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