This season I’ll be breaking down a few of college football’s biggest games each week and giving out at least one bet I like from each matchup.
Let’s take a look at TCU’s attempt to stay undefeated on the road at Baylor.
TCU vs Baylor Spread, current line:
TCU vs Baylor Best Bet Prediction:
I’d lean towards laying the points and betting on TCU, but my preferred action in this game is to take the over on TCU’s team total at 29.5 points.
When TCU is on Offense
TCU runs Sonny Dykes’s version of the Air Raid offense 一 a balanced attack with a 51/49 run-pass split in neutral situations, per Campus2Canton.
The Air Raid potentially gives TCU an edge over Dave Aranda’s defense. Baylor has allowed 35 or more points three times this season, and two of those were against versions of the Air Raid offense (West Virginia, Oklahoma).
To be fair, the Bears also dominated Texas Tech’s version of the Air Raid 一 but that was in large part due to three interceptions, more than Max Duggan has all year.
The area where the Air Raid may give Baylor the most issues is the run game. TCU’s three worst games based on yards per attempt allowed (excluding sacks) all came against the Air Raid:
- Texas Tech: 6.7
- West Virginia: 5.9
- Oklahoma: 5.6
The Air Raid spreads the defenses out, creating light boxes which have consistently been an issue for Baylor.
We saw this trend affect Baylor last week. Although Kansas State is not an Air Raid team, the Wildcats ran the ball into a light box 17 times, averaging 7.1 yards per attempt.
An area where Baylor’s defense potentially has an edge is with its pass rush, based on these opponent-adjusted numbers from Sports Info Solutions:
- TCU ranks 103rd in pressure rate allowed
- Baylor ranks 11th in pressure rate generated
We’ve already seen TCU’s pass protection cause issues against Texas Tech’s elite pass-rush unit (ranked third in opponent-adjusted pressure rate). Some key numbers for Duggan from that game against the Red Raiders:
- Pressured on season-high 53% of dropbacks
- Attempted season-low 23 passes
- 3-10, 48 yards, 4 sacks versus pressure
When Duggan does have time to throw, expect him to take a few shots downfield. According to Sports Info Solutions, Baylor allows a 49.2% completion rate on throws 15 yards downfield, ranked 111th.
When Baylor is on Offense
Baylor offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes runs a conservative offense. Here’s a few numbers on his play-calling:
- 54% rush rate in neutral situations, per Campus2Canton
- 73% rush rate on first downs
- 19% rate of throwing 15+ yards downfield, ranked 101st
- Ranks 77th in pace of play
The run game should be an interesting matchup, as Baylor’s traditional style typically forces its ball carriers into a stacked box 一 but TCU simply does not stack the box unless it’s a short-yardage situation.
Baylor averages 5.5 yards per attempt (ranked 55th) running into a light box, and should be able to move the ball on the ground against TCU.
In the passing game, Blake Shapen should have time to throw against a terrible TCU pass rush.
The Frogs are 101st in opponent-adjusted pressure rate. West Virginia and Iowa State are the only Big 12 defenses ranked worse 一 Shapen averaged over 9.0 yards per attempt against each.
So although Baylor will try to control this game on the ground, Shapen may have the ability to keep pace with Duggan if this turns into a shootout.
Final Thoughts on TCU vs Baylor Best Bets
TCU has been held under 30 points only once (last week against Texas), but as we discussed last week, Texas defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski dominates Air Raid teams.
It does not appear as though Dave Aranda has the same magic against the Air Raid 一 especially not this year, as Baylor has allowed 1,307 yards to the Air Raid in three games (435.7 per game).
If I had to bet this game against the spread I’d side with TCU, but I have more confidence in TCU going over its team total of 29.5 points.
Other College Football Betting Predictions for Week 12: