Date/Time: September 12, 8:00 p.m. ET
Spread: Baylor -33
In one of the more interesting home-and-home pairings of the last few years, the Baylor Bears will make the long trek to western New York when they take on the Buffalo Bulls. Baylor allowed a couple of field goals to Northwestern State this past Saturday, the only points they’ve allowed this season in blowout wins over SMU and Northwestern State. Buffalo, meanwhile, has allowed 85 points against Duquesne and Army. It would seem that the Bulls need to play better defense with Baylor, a 33-point favorite, coming to town.
Last season, Baylor hung 70 points and 781 yards on the Buffalo defense, which, at that time, featured NFL first-round draft pick Khalil Mack. With Buffalo’s undisputed top player gone, the sky is the limit for the Baylor offense. It likely won’t matter who is under center between Bryce Petty, who is nursing a spinal fracture, and Seth Russell, who racked up 435 passing yards on just 16 completions last week. True freshman KD Cannon had six catches for 223 yards and two touchdowns to be the next budding superstar at wide receiver for the Bears. If it’s any consolation for the Bulls, Baylor scored 139 points in their first two games last season and have only scored 115 points this season.
The Baylor defense is a concern overall, but there aren’t a lot of concerns against Buffalo. The Bears defense was vastly improved last season, by nearly two touchdowns against per team. They only returned four starters this season and only two of their top eight tacklers. Baylor didn’t force a single turnover against Northwestern State after forcing three against SMU. Baylor has also committed 21 penalties through two games. Better teams will exploit that.
With top offensive players Branden Oliver and Alex Neutz gone, the Buffalo Bulls haven’t missed a beat. Joe Licata has eight touchdown passes through two games and junior running back Anthone Taylor has run for nearly 200 yards. Taylor was the only returning running back that had a carry last season. Marcus McGill and Ron Willoughby have each had 100-yard games already this season as the Bulls lost both of their top receivers from last season. The Bulls scored 21 of their 39 points in garbage time against Army, who led by 30 early in the fourth quarter.
Along with the big losses on offense, the Bulls defense looks a lot different and it shows. Without Khalil Mack and undrafted free agent signing Colby Way, the Bulls have given up 839 yards through two games. Duquesne actually had a fourth quarter lead against the Bulls defense in the opener. Only four starters returned from the best defense Buffalo has had since 2009 and the returns have not been great.
Baylor has been a covering machine under Art Briles over the last three seasons with a 28-12 mark. Overall, Briles is 47-29 ATS. The Bears are just 1-6 ATS as road chalk over the last three seasons. Buffalo is 21-30 ATS under Jeff Quinn with their 0-2 record so far this season. As a home dog, the Bulls are 5-6 ATS under Quinn, but 5-3 over the last thre seasons.
Free College Football Pick: Baylor Bears
If the Bulls still had Branden Oliver and Khalil Mack, this could be a slightly different game. Without the same type of running game to keep the ball away from the Baylor offense, the Bears may have no problem hanging 60-something points on Buffalo. Buffalo could score and it’s hard not to like them because Baylor doesn’t have a lot of incentive or desire to play this game. The athletic mismatch in this game is way too much to overlook.
Adam Burke is a freelance writer and amateur handicapper with a knack for finding value through matchup analysis and a deep understanding of the sports betting market. His main area of expertise is baseball, with a background in sabermetrics and advanced statistics. He is the host of The Gridiron Gambling Report and our college football and college basketball BangTheBook.com podcasts on the BlogTalkRadio Network.