Southern Methodist Mustangs at Baylor Bears (-33,
Tenth-ranked Baylor feels like it still has something to prove
when it opens its new $266 million on-campus McLane Stadium on
Sunday against visiting Southern Methodist. The reigning Big 12
champion set an NCAA record by scoring 52.4 points per game and
led the nation with 618.8 yards in 2013 but finished 2-2 –
including a 52-42 loss to Central Florida in the Fiesta Bowl.
The Bears’ high-flying offense has to replace two running backs
and a key lineman but senior quarterback Bryce Petty has lots
of targets returning.
“Our offense is going to be unbelievable – faster, stronger and
more physical,” the Heisman hopeful told the media earlier this
month. “We have more athletes than we’ve had in a long time.”
Sophomore Neal Burcham won the job to replace SMU quarterback
Garrett Gilbert and the Mustangs need an improved defense to
aid the transition. SMU’s June Jones has never had back-to-back
losing seasons in his 15 years as a coach.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1.
LINE HISTORY: A large portion of offshores
opened the Bears as 31.5-point home faves, but that line is now
Baylor -33. The total is currently 74.5.
INJURY REPORT: Mustangs – DB J.R. Richardson
(Questionable, illness). Bears – WR Corey Coleman
(Questionable, hamstring), WR Clay Fuller (Out indefinitely,
WEATHER REPORT: Forecasts are calling for temperatures
in the low-90s with wind blowing from the south at 13 mph.
WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “The Bears were the highest
scoring team in college football in 2013, and Bryce Petty
should keep the offense clicking again this season. They only
return four starters on defense though, and the secondary looks
like a big question mark.” Covers
Expert Jesse Schule.
ABOUT SOUTHERN METHODIST (2013: 5-7 SU, 6-6
ATS): Burcham started the final two games in place of
injured Gilbert and finished the year completing 58.7 percent
of his passes for 556 yards and two touchdowns. Junior receiver
Darius Joseph (808 yards, five touchdowns) was ranked second in
the American Athletic Conference last year with 103 catches and
linebacker-turned-running back Kevin Pope will give the
Mustangs depth in the backfield. SMU has three defensive line
starters and linebacker Stephon Sanders (86 tackles, 13.5
tackles for loss) returning to a defense that allowed 412.6
yards and 33.3 points last year.
ABOUT BAYLOR (2013: 11-2 SU, 9-4 ATS): Petty
(62 percent completions for 4,200 yards, 32 touchdowns, three
interceptions) and the Bears have five of their top six
receivers back, including Antwan Goodley (71 catches, 1,339
yards, 13 scores) and Levi Norwood (47, 733, eight), who is on
a 27-game reception streak. Shock Linwood will be the primary
back after rushing for 881 yards and eight touchdowns last year
behind departed 1,000-yard rusher Lache Seastrunk. Linebacker
Bryce Hager (71 tackles in nine games before a season-ending
injury) and safety Terrell Burt (61 tackles, two interceptions)
return to lead a young defense.
* Favorite is 4-0 ATS in their last four meetings.
* Mustangs are 0-4 ATS in their last four non-conference
* Over is 4-0 in Bears last four non-conference games.
* Over is 21-5-1 in Bears last 27 home games.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Sixty-five percent of Covers
Consensus bets are backing Baylor.