Vandy and Baylor Want to End Strong
The Baylor Bears and the Vanderbilt Commodores will meet at NRG Stadium on Thursday Night. They will be playing in the 2018 Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. Boy that was a mouthful.
Baylor’s big turnaround landed them in the Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl. The Bears followed a one-win season in Matt Rhule’s first year with a 6-6 record and a trip to a bowl game. Rhule’s Temple team beat Vanderbilt 37-7 in the 2014 opener. That was coach Derek Mason’s first game with the Commodores.
Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn had 1,001 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 144 carries this season. He averaged an SEC-best 6.95 yards per carry. He also led SEC backs with seven runs of 40 or more yards. Vaughn also averaged 13.1 yards per catch out of the backfield. He will be a huge test for a Baylor team that allowed 172.8 rushing yards per game. The Bears will also try to establish a ground attack as well. They averaged 208.5 rushing yards in their six wins. That was 98 yards better than in their six losses.
The Bears will be without receiver Jalen Hurd. He played through a knee injury in the regular-season finale and he helped the Bears beat Texas Tech. Hurd was named the Big 12’s offensive newcomer of the year after producing 69 receptions for 946 yards and four touchdowns. He had a operation on Dec. 4 that will keep him out. Hurd was converted from running back to receiver after transferring from Tennessee. He hopes to be healthy enough to play in the Senior Bowl in late January.
This, That, and a Dart Throw
Baylor was 6-6 overall and 4-5 in the Big 12 during the regular season. The Bears will need to focus on protecting quarterback Charlie Brewer. The athletic QB had 2,635 yards, 17 passing touchdowns, and six rushing touchdowns during the year. They will have to protect the ball after having a Big 12-worst minus-9 turnover margin. The line also allowed a conference-high 37 sacks. Running back John Lovett had 546 yards and five touchdowns. He is coming off a career-high 126 rushing yards in the regular-season finale. Receiver Denzel Mims had 49 catches, 699 yards, and a team-high eight touchdowns. He will try to replace some of Hurd’s production. The Bears lead the country with seven blocked kicks.
Vanderbilt was 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC during the regular season. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur had 2,844 yards and 23 passing touchdowns. He finished the regular season on a roll by completing 73.2 percent of his passes for 999 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception over the final four games. He needs 119 passing yards, seven completions and 16 attempts to pass Jay Cutler’s Vanderbilt career records. Shurmur already has the career record with 63 touchdown passes. He threw 16 of his TD’s to receiver Kalija Lipscomb. Lipscomb had 81 catches and 886 yards receiving. Tight end Jared Pinkney chipped in 45 catches and 698 yards. Cornerback Joejuan Williams had four of the team’s 12 interceptions. Vanderbilt finished the regular season plus-8 in turnover margin.
PREDICTION: Vanderbilt 31, Baylor 28
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl Trends
- Trend Under is 13-3 in Commodores last 16 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater. Hit % 81.20% (16) O/U 3|13 Push 0 W/L
- Under is 7-3 in Commodores last 10 games as a favorite. 70.00% (10) 3|7 0
- Over is 6-2 in Commodores last 8 games as an underdog of 3.5-10.0. 75.00% (8) 6|2 0
- Under is 5-1 in Commodores last 6 games as an underdog. 83.30% (6) 1|5 0
- Trend Over is 5-2 in Bears last 7 games as an underdog of 10.5 or greater. Hit % 71.40% (7) O/U 3|13 Push 0 W/L
- Over is 9-0 in Bears last 9 neutral site games as a favorite. 100.00% (9) 9|0 0
- Over is 10-1-1 in Bears last 12 games as a favorite of 0.5-3.0. 90.90% (12) 10|1 1
- Over is 5-0 in Bears last 5 neutral site games as a favorite of 10.5 or greater. 100.00% (5) 5|0 0
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