Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM
A huge sign that Baylor is serious about joining the national elite in college football in 2014 is that they’re unveiling their brand new stadium Sunday Night in their nationally televised season opener against SMU. No longer is Waco a small Texas town that doesn’t matter…with facilities that seem quaint and outdated for the modern athlete. The growing metropolis on the Interstate between Austin and Dallas is ready for THE BIG TIME!
Last year’s team won the Big 12, and played in a BCS Bowl. Normally, that would be a pretty big announcement all by itself. But, last year wasn’t a particularly great one for the Big 12…and the Bears lost by double digits to American Athletic champion Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl. A statement that could have been made wasn’t. Well, the statement that was made was that Baylor WASN’T yet ready for the big time.
Will that change this season? Handicappers can begin to answer that question when watching SMU/Baylor Sunday Night on FOX1. Here are the key team numbers from our summer series of college conference previews…
Rankings: 41 on offense, 72 on defense
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 6 on defense
Quarterback: Neal Burcham (sophomore, threw only 109 passes last year)
Burcham replaced Garrett Gilbert late last season, and gradually started to find himself in a tight 17-13 loss to Central Florida in the season finale. That matters here because Baylor also played its season finale against Central Florida, posting a worse result! His stats suggested a lot of very short passes that the offense hopes will turn into big plays. Standard fare in a June Jones offense…which defenses actually figured out quite a few years ago. He may put up some numbers in a game that could feature extended garbage time. There’s no evidence yet that he’s ready to thrive in a shootout against a superpower.
Record: 11-2 (lost to Central Florida 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl)
Rankings: 1 on offense, 28 on defense
Returning Starters: 4 on offense, 4 on defense
Quarterback: Bryce Petty (Senior, Heisman Trophy candidate)
Baylor loves running up the score at home, as they regularly approach 70 points on the scoreboard against outmanned visitors. The problem this year is that they don’t return a lot of starters. You see that only four starters are back on both sides of the ball. In “systems” like this, it may not be a big deal. They didn’t lose a step when RGIII went to the NFL! You can’t ever be sure of that though until you see it happen. Be sure you play close attention to the DEFENSE Sunday. Baylor can’t possibly be a real national championship threat until they become scarier on defense. Even last year’s #28 ranking led to that 52-42 postseason loss (as well as a blowout loss at Oklahoma State).
Las Vegas Line: Baylor by 33, total of 74
Clearly oddsmakers think Baylor will be its normal high-octane self…and that SMU’s quarterback won’t be able to keep up. The projected score off that line combo is Baylor 53.5, SMU 20.5. Should handicappers be thinking more of “70” rather than “53.5” based on Baylor’s history? Or, will the lack of returning starters sink Baylor back toward the pack starting this week?
JIM HURLEY will provide the best from this game and Utah State/Tennessee for his clients. You can always purchase game day BEST BETS in all Las Vegas betting sports right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about seasonal packages, or combination packages for football and baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
One more day of college football action over Labor Day Weekend…before we transition into a new week. Here’s the upcoming schedule in the NOTEBOOK…
Labor Day: College Football TV Preview…Miami at Louisville
Tuesday: Tuesday: Final Look at AFC Market Estimates for Team Victories
Wednesday: Final Look at NFC Market Estimates for Team Victories
Thursday: NFL TV Preview…Green Bay at Seattle (pro season begins!)
Friday: Early College Preview…USC at Stanford
Saturday: College Football TV Preview…Michigan State at Oregon
Sunday: NFL Sunday Night TV Preview…Indianapolis at Denver
Wow…fantastic opening week matchups in the NFL…and a potential Rose Bowl preview with the Spartans and Ducks in Eugene.
Tonight…it’s all about SMU and Baylor. Are you ready to BEAR DOWN and earn your biggest football profits ever? The 2014 season is just underway…meaning there’s plenty of time to make your dreams come true under the guidance of handicapping legend JIM HURLEY!