Texas Bowl Pick

216
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Texas Bowl

Pick

Vanderbilt

vs.

Baylor

12/27/18

The Texas Bowl is a classic scenario in which both teams needed to win their final Game to be in this spot. It wasn’t an overly great season for either Baylor or Vanderbilt, but both are in a bowl. The Commodores were -4 point favorites with an over/under of 55 (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) for the Game in Houston.

Baylor (5-6-1 ATS) somehow made it to a bowl even without any great wins and numerous troubling outings. The Bears lost by double digits to Duke early in the year and also at home to TCU in the final month. Either way, Matt Rhule got his team here and that’s reason enough to back Baylor. As for Vanderbilt (8-4 ATS), it got a few more wins, though some of that can be attributed to Schedule as three of its wins were against the only three SEC teams that didn’t make a bowl.

There’s little to separate these teams, but the injuries to Baylor could be what decides the Game. Top receiver Jalen Hurd (69 receptions, 946 yards) is out with injury, which definitely doesn’t help quarterback Charlie Brewer, who wasn’t much improved in his sophomore season with 7.40 yards per attempt. Guys like Denzel Mims (699 yards) and Chris Platt (504 yards) can step up for Hurd, but neither are the same player. Running back JaMycal Hasty is questionable to play, but John Lovett (546 yards) showed in the final Game that he could pick up the slack, going for 125 yards against Texas Tech. Vandy’s defense doesn’t do one thing well, but it wouldn’t be surprising if Baylor focused on the ground Game early against a defense allowing 4.8 yards per carry and 187 rushing yards per Game.

Of course, it’s the same situation on the other end as Baylor allowed 5.0 yards per carry and 174 rushing yards per contest. That’s where Vandy running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn comes in after a stout 1,001-yards, 10-touchdown campaign in which he averaged seven yards per carry. He left with an injury in the finale, but should be good to go against Baylor and could easily notch another 100 yards, which he was doing consistently late in the year. It also helps that senior quarterback Kyle Shurmur (23 TDs, 6 INTs) doesn’t turn the ball over and often did enough combined with Vaughn to form a one-two punch. Throw in top wide outs Kalija Lipscomb (886 yards, 9 TDs) and Jared Pinkney (698 yards, 7 TDs) and this offense may be a little too much for the Bears.

Neither team overwhelms on the defensive side, but without Hurd, there’s a question of how dynamic the Baylor offense can look. It had success against Texas Tech in the finale, but struggled in almost every road Game. The Baylor run defense could also be a major issue against a team that found its running Game late in the season.

The Bears are 0-5-1 ATS in their last six non-Conference Games, while the Commodores have covered their last five and are 5-1 ATS in their last six out of conference.

Our Pick – Vanderbilt -4

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