Rogers' Game of the Week (10* NCAAF) >> Top Play Alert!
Baylor vs. West Virginia,
12/03/2016 15:30 EDT,
Score: 21 - 24
Point Spread: +17½/-110 Baylor
The set-up: Baylor opened the season ranked 23rd in the AP’s preseason poll while West Va. was unranked. The Bears opened 6-0 and rose as high as No. 9 in the AP poll but enters this game (its season-finale) on a six-game losing streak, needing a win to avoid a .500 finish (not likely, as more than a two-TD underdog). Meanwhile, the Mountaineers have been a surprise in the Big 12 here in 2016, entering this contest 9-2, including 6-2 in Big 12 play. West Virginia can do no better than 3rd in the Big 12 but the Mountaineers are 14th in the latest AP poll and 16th in the latest CFP rankings.
Baylor: The Bears comes in off an embarrassing 54-35 loss to a Texas Tech team that finished the season 5-7. It’s been a nightmarish year for the Bears, one which began with the firing of head coach Art Briles and a sexual assault scandal, featuring some sexual or physical assaults involving football players since 2011. That said, the school announced it still planned to play in a bowl game. “Our intent, at this time, is to accept a bowl bid for our student-athletes who have worked so hard to earn it over the course of this season," Baylor athletic director Mack Rhoades said in a statement provided to ESPN. "Our focus, as it has been throughout the season, is on our student-athletes and trying to finish strong against a great West Virginia team this weekend in Morgantown." 64-year-old interim head coach Jim Grobe announced on Monday that he will not return to coach after this season. “Honestly, football needs a fresh start," Grobe said. "All the other sports here are in great shape right now, and I would expect the next coach to have football competing for championships in a hurry. Whoever gets this job is going to be very fortunate."
West Virginia: The Mountaineers still have much to play for. A victory and West Virginia can win 10 games for just the ninth time in school history and if the Mountaineers can also pick up a victory in a bowl game, Dana Holgorsen's team would match the school record with an 11-win season. Not bad for a team picked to finish seventh in the Big 12's preseason media poll. If that isn't enough to get West Virginia fired up, there's the 62-38 beating the Mountaineers took last year in Waco by the Bears! Defensive coordinator Tony Gibson told The Dominion Post, “We've had Dec. 3, 2016, marked down for a long time.” QB Skyler Howard has been under the radar nationally in a QB-rich Big 12 but he’s thrown for 3,083 yards with 24 TDs and 10 INTs, while rushing for eight scores. West Va. averages 33.4 PPG on 514.6 YPG (10th) and its defense is allowing a respectable 23.6 PPG (37th).
The pick: No doubt West Va. deserves to be this big of a favorite but while we haven’t seen it since Baylor’s losing streak began back on Oct. 29th with a 35-34 loss to Texas, the Bears have the talent to play with West Va. I’ll take the big points and make Baylor a 10* play.