Baylor vs TCU Predictions | Bettors Debate Saturday’s Big 12 Point Spread
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Baylor vs TCU Odds
How many times is Tanner going to continue to doubt the Horned Frogs?
He must be licking some psychedelic toads or something because he has now picked against TCU multiple times in our Spread Option article and seems to bet against them almost every week.
Unfortunately for Tanner, that has not been a very smart strategy, as TCU continues to be wildly underrated in the market. The Horned Frogs are a ridiculous 8-1-1 against the spread this season — the most profitable team in the country.
This offense has been ridiculous all season. It’s averaging over 40 points per game and seven yards per play. Both rank eighth in the nation.
Head coach Sonny Dykes and offensive coordinator Garrett Riley have come over from SMU and totally revamped this offensive scheme.
This offense thrives on explosive plays. TCU ranks fourth in the country in explosiveness and has excelled at picking up big plays through the air and on the ground. No team in the nation has picked up more plays of 50 yards or more this year.
Quarterback Max Duggan sits seventh in the Heisman odds and has thrived in this offense. He’s tossed 25 touchdowns — the most in the Big 12 — and has thrown just two interceptions.
Baylor’s Blake Shapen threw two interceptions last game. He’s got eight picks this season, the third-most in the conference.
Shapen has just four games with multiple touchdowns and three games with multiple turnovers. Duggan has multiple touchdowns in every start but one. TCU has been excellent against the pass, ranking 21st in the country in Success Rate, while Baylor has struggled and sits just 77th.
Both teams are really strong rushing attacks and should find success on the ground. But when they’re forced to drop back to pass, TCU has a big advantage.
With a spread under a field goal, this should be another close game. Well, all the Horned Frogs do is win close games. Give me the team with a quarterback I can trust to protect the ball and make a play.
I am so sick of this TCU luckbox.
TCU has won and covered in four straight games, but that’s a misleading statistic. In reality, TCU needed:
- A fourth-quarter late score to cover -3.5 against Kansas State
- A miracle last-minute fourth-and-1 touchdown to cover against West Virginia
- Three fourth-quarter touchdowns to cover by the hook against Texas Tech in a game it trailed in for 45 minutes
- An all-time letdown game from Quinn Ewers
The Horned Frogs have a good offense. They play pretty decent defense (although there are holes, which I will touch on). They are 10-0 for a reason.
But TCU is due for loads of regression. It’s +7 in turnover margin, higher than all but 17 FBS schools.
Also, it’s just time for TCU to lose. Sonny Dykes and the Horned Frogs are not ready to win out.
And in steps Baylor. The Bears are always great in the trenches on both sides of the ball, can always run the ball, and Dave Aranda gets his team up for these games. This team is perfect for forcing negative regression and bringing about down-to-earth games.
The Bears were home underdogs twice last season against Oklahoma and Iowa State. Bears went 2-0 against the spread and 2-0 straight up. Moreover, Aranda is a perfect 5-0 ATS as an underdog against top-15 teams, including four consecutive outright wins.
Our Action Analytics department makes this spread TCU -1, anyways. So, the value is clearly on the Baylor Bears Saturday afternoon.
Ianniello: All I’m hearing is that TCU has excelled at making big plays when it needed to, and even when it gets down, this team keeps fighting and claws its way back. Seems like a positive to me.
The Frogs beat Kansas State because Kendre Miller rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns against a run defense that ranks better than Baylor’s.
Saying TCU needed a miracle touchdown against West Virginia is a bit misleading when they were leading the entire second half and up 10 with five minutes left to play.
They started slow offensively against Texas Tech, but they made the adjustments needed and kicked into overdrive to outgain the Red Raiders by 80 yards.
Last week against Texas, their much-criticized defense held the former No. 1 overall recruit to a 43% completion rate and held the best running back in the country to 29 yards rushing.
Also, if you’re saying a late score to cover and beat Kansas State by 10 points is a negative… how do you view losing to them by 28?
That is what makes this team special. It can beat opponents in any way.
Duggan is a veteran quarterback who runs this option masterfully. Even when the offense is struggling, Miller and Emari Demercado are absolute home-run hitters capable of breaking away for a long touchdown on every single play. It only takes one.
Baylor’s defense has allowed over 400 yards in each of the last two games and now faces the best offense in the conference, which, as Tanner points out, is never out of the game.
McGrath: I’m happy you bring up explosiveness.
Baylor is elite at preventing explosive plays. It’s top-25 in preventing explosiveness on both standard downs and passing downs.
The Bears boast a top-20 secondary by PFF’s coverage grades, and Aranda’s defense can stymie Sonny Dykes’ best down-the-field play calls.
Meanwhile, TCU is one of the worst defenses in the country at preventing explosive plays. The Horned Frogs are bottom-10 nationally in explosiveness allowed, while the Bears are a top-20 team at creating explosive plays on the ground and in standard downs.
I believe that has something to do with TCU’s lackluster PFF coverage grade (70th) and pass rush grade (113th).
And while Blake Shapen isn’t my favorite quarterback in the nation, he leads a passing offense that’s top-25 in Success Rate and top-30 in EPA per play.
Shapen has the tools around him to succeed.
His offensive line is top-20 in PFF’s pass block grades and top-35 in Line Yards and preventing Havoc. The Bears have three running backs averaging over five yards per carry behind that dominant O-line, leading to easy play-action passes.
I feel pretty good about Shapen’s prospects against a TCU defense that can’t rush the passer and is lackluster in coverage. I feel worse about Duggan’s against Baylor’s defense on the road in Waco.
It’s cool that TCU has won all these close games. It’s about time it drops one, don’t you think?
Regression is the name of the game.
Ianniello: Baylor has been very good defensively in standard downs. But even if it does have success early and forces the Horned Frogs into passing downs, the Bears rank 126th in the country in Defensive Success Rate in passing downs.
That’s what TCU has done all year. If the defense stops it twice, it just picks up a monster play on third or fourth down.
Wide receiver Quentin Johnston might be the first receiver off the board in next year’s draft. He’s averaging over 15 yards per reception this year and has put up over 80 yards per game in road games this season.
While the Bears have good numbers against the run this year, they’re a bit inflated by success early in the year. Baylor has allowed over 150 yards on the ground in five of the last six games. TCU is actually allowing just two more yards per game on the ground, and they’ve each given up 3.8 yards per carry.
Baylor’s top running back, Richard Reese, has been battling injuries and has just 13 carries in the last two weeks. The Horned Frogs are top-40 in the country in Line Yards and are coming off their best defensive performance of the season.
So, while Baylor has question marks at running back, the Horned Frogs’ top dog is just hitting his stride. Miller has over 100 yards in five straight games. He’s averaging 7.7 yards per carry over the last three games.
The Bears rank outside of the top 50 in tackling and now face a back who’s top-10 in the country in missed tackles forced.
The Bears won a lot of games last season with a dominant defense. But now the defense is just average, and the offense doesn’t have the star power to keep up with this TCU offense that has dudes all over the field who can take one to the house on any given play.
McGrath: I call losing to Kansas State by 28 points a letdown game.
I call the game after that a tremendous buy-low spot for the Bears. Aranda is 4-1 ATS after a loss during his career in Waco.
Meanwhile, TCU has beaten everyone, every which way, by the slimmest of margins. It has to be exhausted after this string of wins, considering it’s playing its ninth straight big game in nine weeks, going all the way back to the win over rival SMU on Sept. 24.
Yeah, Baylor’s defense has been hit-or-miss all season. However, it’s always been strong against the explosive rush. That’s the one spot the Bears have been consistent week-over-week.
You say, “it only takes one,” but I highly doubt your Horned Frogs get that in this game.
Meanwhile, the Bears are excellent at creating explosive rush plays against a TCU defense that can’t stop them.
If someone is going to get “one,” it’ll be Baylor.
I trust Shapen can rebound after a horrendous week last week and shred a 3-3-5 stack defense that he dominated when playing Iowa State.
Baylor has the tools to stop TCU’s explosive plays and create some of its own.
And I know Baylor will stay ahead of the chains. The Bears are top-20 in Rush Success Rate, top-35 in Offensive Line Yards and top-30 in Standard Downs Success Rate.
Meanwhile, TCU ranks outside the top 50 in Rush Success Rate Allowed and Standard Downs Success Rate Allowed.
I’m not sure how TCU gets off the field on Saturday, and that will leave plenty of time for Shapen or the running back room to create the “one.”
Ianniello: Bet TCU -2.5
There’s a classic saying: “If you keep playing with fire, you’re bound to get burned.”
People keep applying that to TCU for some reason. Well, maybe you’re just really good at playing with fire. Those fire twirlers you see in Hawai’i play with fire all the time, and they’re fine.
It sure seemed last week that the Horned Frogs defense heard what the playoff committee said about them, as they shut out one of the best offenses in the Big 12.
If you want to point to this TCU defense, its tendency to start slow on offense sometimes, or its tendency to “play with fire” on occasion as a reason it hasn’t always blown out teams, fine.
But it doesn’t have to blow out Baylor. This is a spread of just -2.5. The Frogs can be trailing the whole game and score a touchdown late, which is fine with a spread this short.
They essentially just have to win the game, which they’ve proven every week they can do as well as the four best teams in the country.
Am I worried about Baylor having home-field advantage here? You tell me…
The Horned Frogs are just simply the better team.
This is a small number for a team still playing for a College Football Playoff berth and understands that the committee — and other haters like Tanner — still have doubts.
Something special is happening in Fort Worth this season, and I’m going to keep riding with the Frogs.
McGrath: Bet Baylor +2.5
This is just too good of a spot against Baylor.
TCU is gassed. It’s played in and won so many big games, and it’s time it drops one. Regression is calling for it.
Meanwhile, Baylor is going to bounce back in a big way on Saturday. Not only is it Senior Day in Waco, but the Bears are thinking about this matchup last season when TCU pulled off an upset victory to ruin Baylor’s playoff hopes.
Talk about motivation.
Not that the Bears need any motivation under Aranda. Again, to recap the trends I’ve sprinkled through my arguments:
- Aranda is 4-1 ATS following a loss.
- Aranda is 5-0 ATS (4-1 SU) as an underdog against top-15 teams.
- Aranda was 2-0 ATS and SU as a home underdog last season.
Baylor has the tools to stop TCU’s explosiveness while creating enough offense. And Baylor has likely never been more motivated.
The Bears take it to TCU on Saturday, knocking the Frogs out of the national title picture. Sic ‘em.