Vanderbilt (6-6) is the underdog against Baylor (6-6) in the Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium on Thursday (December 27, 2018, 21:00ET).
The betting line was first offered at -2.5 points for Vanderbilt. This is Baylor’s first appearance in a bowl game since the far-reaching scandal that saw head coach Art Briles ousted from the program and exiled from college athletics.
Playing as they do in one of the toughest divisions in football, it’s always an achievement for Vanderbilt to reach bowl eligibility. Derek Mason continues to do a decent job in one of football’s most difficult positions, and with a win in the Texas Bowl could finish a decent (if not spectacular) season.
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed 64.0% of his attempts this season for 2,844 yards and 23 touchdowns. Shurmur is an efficient quarterback, with a passer rating of 146.0 this season. Ke’Shawn Vaughn gained 1,171 yards from scrimmage and rushed for 10 touchdowns, averaging an exceptional 7.0 yards per carry.
All together, Vanderbilt gained 397.8 yards per game and scored 27.7 points per game. The defense allowed 419.8 yards and 25.1 points per game, while Josh Smith led the Commodores with 4 sacks this season.
Baylor has a long road back to respectability, but Matt Rhule is getting them there. The team isn’t great, finishing 6-6 and fifth in the Big 12, but they’re certainly better than they were a few years ago.
The Bears offense features quarterback Charlie Brewer, who passed for 2,635 yards and 17 TD’s this season. Brewer completed 61.5% of his passes, which works out to a passer rating of 135.0. John Lovett ran for 1,001 yards and 5 touchdowns, averaging a remarkable 5.5 yards per carry.
Altogether, Baylor averaged 441.7 yards per game and 28.3 points. The defense allowed 412.6 yards and 31.2 points per game. James Lynch recorded 5 sacks this season.
Texas Bowl Betting Advice
Neither of these teams is truly elite on either side of the ball, so betting the over/under is tough. The over is 3-9 in Vanderbilt games this season, which might warrant some attention. The Baylor over is 6-6 this season. Betting the total(set at 55.0) could be the way to find value in this game.