Baylor Bears 2016 College Football Betting Preview
The boom came to Waco this off-season, throwing a hot program into total turmoil. Gone is Coach Briles, who woke the Bears up from hibernation into a national title contender, replaced, fortunately enough, by Coach Grobe, who once managed to win an ACC championship with Wake Forest. The Bears are still a pretty good team, but questions surround the future of this program.
Last Year in Review
Baylor started 8-0 last year, rising to No. 2 in the polls. But the injury bug began biting the Bears, especially at the quarterback position, and they lost three of their next four games, falling out of contention for anything. Then, as a short underdog, Baylor ran the ball for 645 yards in upsetting North Carolina in a minor bowl to reach double-digits in victories for the third straight season.
2015 Record: 10-3 SU, 6-7 ATS
2016 regular-season wins over/under: 9.5
2016 odds to win Big 12: 9/1
Briles was masterful in changing game-plans for the bowl, but he was forced out of his job in the spring because of some off-field improprieties. And the end of that story hasn’t been written yet. The Bears will suffer, though, from a reduction in scholarships.
This Year in Preview
The Bears only return 10 starters this season, tied for the fewest in the Big 12. Five starters are back on offense, led by senior quarterback Seth Russell (as long as his neck is good to go) and a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in Shock Linwood and Johnny Jefferson. But they have to replace four starters along the offensive line. And only five starters return on defense, none on the front line.
Baylor led the nation in total offense and scoring last year, and even with the holes up front they’ll be plenty dangerous again this season. But defensively they might not be able to match last year’s 28 points allowed per game.
Baylor will play one of the weaker Power 5 schedules in the country this season. The Bears get what should be three easy non-conference wins, and should be 6-0 heading into Austin Oct. 29. From there they get TCU and Kansas State at home, while the toughest test of the year comes Nov. 12 at Oklahoma. Baylor might be favored in every game but one this season.
Betting The Bears This Season
It’s difficult to discern how this team will adapt to the coaching change. Grobe will probably continue the up-tempo approach, but he is more conservative than Briles. Ultimately, public perception could provide Baylor backers with good betting opportunities, especially early in the season, in the form of more amenable spreads.