College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Baylor vs. TCU: Will Bears Cruise to Victory on Saturday?

College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions for Baylor vs. TCU: Will Bears Cruise to Victory on Saturday? article feature image
Credit:

Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Gerry Bohanon.

  • Baylor travels to TCU following a week that featured the departure of Gary Patterson from Fort Worth.
  • The Bears are coming off a road win against Texas and have won three straight overall, while the Horned Frogs are spiraling out of control.
  • Mike Ianniello previews the showdown and offers up his best bet.

Baylor vs. TCU Odds

Baylor Odds -7 (-110)
TCU Odds +7 (-110)
Moneyline -275 / +220
Over/Under 58 (-110 / -110)
Time Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
TV FOX
Odds as of Friday and via DraftKings

It’s easy to chalk up the 2-7 season in 2020 in Dave Aranda’s first season as a lost COVID season. The Bears were never able to establish their identity under Aranda, but after a full offseason, they have really hit their stride.

Baylor is off to a 7-1 start, with their lone loss coming at Oklahoma State. With just one conference loss, the Bears sit third in the Big 12 standings and enter the first College Football Playoff rankings at No. 12.

Baylor has a good shot to reach the Big 12 Championship and even an outside shot at the CFP if they win out.

Just 90 miles north, things are much bleaker. TCU is just 3-5 as it has dropped three in a row and five of its last six.

Things have gotten so bad in Fort Worth that head coach Gary Patterson, a man who has a statue outside the stadium, was shown the door in the middle of the season after 22 seasons building the program.

It will be very interesting to see how the Horned Frogs players are able to respond after losing their coach and the face of the University.


Baylor Bears

Baylor Offense

It was expected that the former LSU defensive coordinator would bring a strong defense to Waco, but it’s the Bears’ offense that has been surprisingly terrific. The hiring of offensive coordinator Jeff Grimes from BYU might have been the best move of the offseason.

Oklahoma is the only team in the Big 12 that has posted more yards than the 465.5 yards per game that Baylor has racked up this season. The Bears average over seven yards per play and have scored at least 30 points in six of their eight games.

Baylor runs the ball like a hungry grizzly bear chasing its food. The Bears rank second in the country in Rushing Success Rate behind a fantastic offensive line that is fourth in Line Yards.

The Bears average 238.1 yards per game and 6.0 yards per carry on the ground. They are led by running back Abram Smith, who is one of the best stories in the country this year.

Now in his fifth year in Waco, Smith redshirted in 2017 and then tallied just 12 total carries in 2018 and 2019. He then converted to linebacker during the 2020 season, finishing the year with 48 tackles.

Now the main running back, Smith is averaging 116.3 yards per game and has 11 touchdowns. He is averaging a ridiculous 7.4 yards per carry.

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>> @abramsmith_28 #SicEm | #BUncommon pic.twitter.com/Xrwyyg4QgD

— Baylor Football (@BUFootball) October 30, 2021

Another big element to the Bears’ rushing success is the dual-threat ability of quarterback Gerry Bohanon. He has seven rushing touchdowns this year to go along with 12 passing touchdowns and just three interceptions.


Baylor Defense

The biggest surprise of Aranda’s first season was how much the former defensive coordinator’s defense struggled. They have really improved on that side of the ball in year two, especially up front.

Baylor’s front seven has taken a big step forward, both against the run and at creating Havoc. After finishing 58th in Rushing Success rate and 66th in Havoc rate last year, the Bears have improved to 27th in Rushing Success and 23rd in Havoc rate.

This linebacker unit is one of the best in the conference with Dillon Doyle, Terrel Bernard and Matt Jones combining for over 17 tackles per game.

Opponents have struggled to create big plays against the Bears, and they are allowing just 19.4 points per game, the second fewest in the Big 12. They have only allowed more than 24 points once all season.

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TCU Horned Frogs

TCU Offense

On the surface, Max Duggan’s 14 touchdowns and four interceptions look really solid. But Pro Football Focus’ premium stats tell a slightly different story. Duggan has 11 big time throws and 10 turnover worthy plays this season.

Duggan is good with his legs though, and he along with Zach Evans and Kendre Miller give the Horned Frogs the 26th-ranked Rushing Success Rate.

Evans, the highest-rated recruit in TCU history, has battled injuries, but when he is healthy, he is one of the best running backs in the country. He was averaging 139.7 yards per game in the four games he was fully healthy before battling injuries over the last three weeks.

TCU’s big boys up front have been terrific in the trenches. The Frogs’ offensive line ranks 27th in Line Yards and is fifth in Pass Blocking.


TCU Defense

Patterson’s teams have always been known for their defense and TCU typically possesses one of the best defenses in the Big 12.

It is likely the steep decline on the defensive side of the ball for the Horned Frogs this season that led to Patterson’s dismissal.

TCU finished fourth in Rushing Success and seventh in Passing Success last season and was in the top 40 in most defensive categories. However, the defense fell off a cliff this season. The Horned Frogs rank 124th in Rushing Success this year and 111th in Pass Success.

They have struggled in just about every category, sitting 127th in Line Yards, 122nd in preventing Big Plays and creating Havoc and 112th in Finishing Drives. They also rank 118th in coverage grade and 125th in tackling.

Only Kansas has been worse defensively among Big 12 teams. TCU is allowing 443.3 yards per game and 6.9 yards per play. They have been especially bad against the run, letting teams pick up 5.3 yards per carry.


Baylor vs. TCU Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Baylor and TCU match up statistically:

Baylor Offense vs. TCU Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 2 124
Line Yards 4 127
Pass Success 58 111
Pass Blocking** 2 84
Big Play 6 122
Havoc 46 122
Finishing Drives 21 112
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

TCU Offense vs. Baylor Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 26 27
Line Yards 27 79
Pass Success 68 43
Pass Blocking** 5 56
Big Play 32 17
Havoc 62 23
Finishing Drives 95 64
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 61 125
Coverage 52 118
Middle 8 67 87
SP+ Special Teams 29 47
Plays per Minute 96 80
Rush Rate 60.% (30) 60.8% (25)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Baylor vs. TCU Betting Pick

When the Horned Frogs have success on the ground, they win. In their three wins this year, they are averaging 281 yards per game with 11 rushing touchdowns. In their five losses, they are averaging 165.4 yards per game with just four rushing touchdowns.

Defending the run has been the strength for the Bears this year and TCU will struggle to consistently pick up explosive runs on the ground against them.

Baylor, on the other hand, should have a ton of success on the ground against a TCU defense that ranks 124th in Rushing Success and 127th in Line Yards. Baylor ranks among the top five in the country in both categories.

TCU has allowed 240.3 yards per game over its last six games and has surrendered 17 total rushing touchdowns.

As you can see from that matchup analysis above, Baylor has a big advantage in just about every category on both offense and defense. The Bears should dominate this game on the ground and take away TCU’s ability to consistently run the ball.

I like the Bears -6.5 and would play them to -8.

Pick: Baylor -6.5

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