Baylor Bears (6-6) at Vanderbilt Commodores (6-6)
|Date & Time||Thursday December 27, 2018, 9:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: Vanderbilt Commodores -3.5 -- Over/Under: 55
The Baylor Bears & Vanderbilt Commodores will square off in the Academy Sports – Outdoors Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium this upcoming Thursday night.
The Baylor Bears bounced back from a tough 1-11 season in 2017 to finish the year with an overall record of 6-6. Baylor struggled a bit down the stretch, losing 4 of their last 6 games, however, picked up a big 35-24 victory over the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the final week of the regulation season to become bowl eligible. Baylor picked up solid wins over Oklahoma & Kansas State this season however, their most impressive game was a near upset on the road agianst Texas in mid-October. This will be the first Bowl game under current head coach Matt Rhule and won their last Bowl game in 2016 after beating the Boise State Broncos, 31-12, in the Cactus Bowl.
On the season, Baylor is averaging 28.3 ppg on 441.7 total yards per game (282.2 passing yds/g; 159.5 rushing yds/g). Offensively, Baylor has been led by QB Charlie Brewer who has completed 61.5% of his passes for 17 TD & 8 INT while averaging 219.6 passing yds/g. The top receivers for Brewer and the Bears have been Jalen Hurd (5.8 rec/g; 78.8 yds/g; 4 TD), Denzel Mims (4.5 rec/g; 63.5 yds/g; 8 TD), and Chris Platt (2.9 rec/g; 42.0 yds/g; 1 TD). Leading the way for the Bears backfield has been the duo of John Lovett (9.1 att/g; 49.6 yds/g; 5 TD) and JaMycal Hasty (7.4 att/g; 37.6 yds/g; 3 TD).
Defensively, Baylor is allowing their opponents to average 31.2 ppg on 413.3 total yards per game (238.4 passing yds/g; 174.8 rushing yds/g). Baylor forced just 9 turnovers on the season and currently have a -9 turnover margin.
The Vanderbilt Commodores finished their regular season with a 6-6 overall record and will be playing in their 2nd Bowl game under current head coach Derek Mason. Vanderbilt survived a very difficult SEC schedule and finished their regular season winning 3 of their last 4 games to become bowl eligible. Vanderbilt didn’t pull off any major upsets this season, however, gave Notre Dame all they could handle on the road in a 22-17 loss in mid-September. Vanderbilt lost in the Independence Bowl to the NC State Wolf Pack, 41-17, in 2016 and will be looking for their first Bowl win since 2013 when they beat Houston by a 41-24 margin in the BBVA Compass Bowl.
On the season, Vanderbilt is averaging 27.7 ppg on 397.8 total yards per game (240.2 passing yds/g; 157.6 rushing yds/g). Offensively, the Commodores has been led by QB Kyle Shurmur who has completed 64.0% of his passes for 23 TD & 6 INT while averaging 237.0 passing yds/g. The top receivers for Vanderbilt have been Kalija Lipscomb (6.8 rec/g; 73.8 yds/g; 9 TD), Jared Pinkney (3.8 rec/g; 58.2 yds/g; 7 TD), and C.J. Bolar (2.6 rec/g; 33.1 yds/g; 2 TD). Leading the way for the Commodores backfield has been Ke’Shawn Vaughn who has 10 rushing TD’s on the season while averaging 91.0 rushing yds/g on 13.1 att/g.
Defensively, Vanderbilt is holding their opponents to an average of 25.1 ppg on 419.8 total yards per game (232.6 passing yds/g; 187.3 rushing yds/g). Vanderbilt has forced 21 turnovers on the season and currently has a turnover margin of +8.
The Bears are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games in December, however, are just 0-5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games. The Commodores are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
It was a successful season for the Bears to get back to a bowl game and it certainly looks like Matt Rhule has that program headed back in the right direction, however, I think this is a tough matchup for Baylor. Vanderbilt defensive stats don’t blow you away, but you have to take in account that they had to face some high scoring teams in the SEC and I think they will be able to give Baylor some trouble. Vanderbilt has a solid QB in Kyle Shurmur and as I think he will be able to put up some points agianst Baylor’s 80th ranked passing defense, I’m taking Vanderbilt to cover this spread. Good Luck!