NCAAF Picks: West Virginia vs Baylor, Georgia Southern vs App State
The No. 12 Baylor Bears moved into first place in the Big 12 last weekend, after No. 10 Oklahoma suffered its first loss to Kansas State. On Thursday in prime time, the Bears go for win No. 8 and get a fairly easy conference foe on the verge of a four-game losing streak.
The 3-4 West Virginia Mountaineers dropped three consecutive games in October against then-No. 11 Texas, Iowa State and then-No. 5 Oklahoma. The Mountaineers’ fourth loss came to Missouri, 38-7, in the second week of the season.
Baylor has had the fortune of facing rather weak competition in the first half of the schedule, with steady victories over Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio, Rice and Oklahoma State.
The Bears’ toughest challenges came in a 23-21 win over Iowa State, third in the Big 12, and a double-overtime victory against Texas Tech. Baylor also faced a now-ranked Kansas State team in October, but maintained control throughout the 31-12 beating.
The Bears enter as 18-point favorites over the Mountaineers but haven’t been able to beat West Virginia since its 62-38 triumph in 2015. Since then, Baylor has played West Virginia close in two- and three-point losses, with the exception of last season, when WVU pummeled Baylor, 58-14.
This is a new Mountaineers team, though, no longer headed by Dana Holgorsen (now the coach of Houston). In Neal Brown’s first season as head coach, the Mountaineers are in rebuild mode, as quarterback Will Grier left for the NFL and has been replaced by Oklahoma transfer, Austin Kendall (1,429 yards, 11 TDs, seven INTs).
The Mountaineers average just 317.5 yards of offense (116th in the FBS) and are one of the 10 worst rushing offenses (97.2 YPG). They also allow the 11th most points per game in the country (36.8) and give up an average of 422.5 yards of offense.
Baylor, on the other hand, is excelling behind junior quarterback Charlie Brewer (1,866 yards, 12 TDs) and receivers Denzel Mims (519 yards, five TDs) and Tyquan Thornton (507 yards, three TDs). Upperclassmen John Lovett and JaMycal Hasty lead the rushing attack with a combined 808 yards and eight scores.
Baylor is 18th in scoring, with 36.0 points per game, 14th in yards per game (478.5) and 16th in opponent points per game (19.5).
The Bears are 4-1 against the spread in their last five conference games, while the home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings between Baylor and West Virginia. With vengeance on its mind, Baylor will pay West Virginia back for last year’s pounding and show the Mountaineers no mercy in their primetime matchup.
Pick: Baylor -17.5
Another one of the nine undefeated teams remaining in college football, Appalachian State moved up to No. 20 in the AP Poll following its seventh win on Saturday.
In Week 10, the Mountaineers confront Sun Belt foe Georgia Southern in a Thursday night matchup, with Appalachian State favored by 15.5.
The 4-3 Georgia Southern Eagles head into the game on a three-win streak, with slim victories over South Alabama and Coastal Carolina, plus a 41-7 beatdown of 0-8 New Mexico State.
The Eagles’ three losses in 2019 have come to 8-0 LSU, 8-0 Minnesota and 5-2 Louisiana. The Mountaineers also faced Louisiana on the road and handed the Ragin’ Cajuns a 17-7 defeat, but the rest of Appalachian State’s schedule has been underwhelming.
The Mountaineers rank eighth in points per game (40.8) and 14th in rushing yards per game (238.7). The Eagles also depend on the run and average 237.5 yards on the ground (15th in the nation) but are dead-last in the FBS in passing (46.3 YPG).
On defense, these teams are fairly evenly matched. Both rank in the top 30 in opponent rushing yardage and permit less than 200 yards through the air.
The last time Georgia Southern met Appalachian State, the Mountaineers had just entered the top 25 of the AP Poll but fell back out of the rankings, as the Eagles handed them a 34-14 loss in Statesboro. The Mountaineers haven’t fallen since then and now boast a 13-game win streak dating back to October 25, 2018.
With another revenge game on slate for Thursday, look for Appalachian State to come fired up to demolish the Eagles, but don’t expect to see much scoring.
Pick: Appalachian State -15.5 and under 44.5