Houston Cougars vs. Baylor Bears Betting Picks and Predictions
18 September 2020
Last updated: 21 September 2020 at 4:45 am
Date: September 19th, 2020
Time: 12:00 PM ET
Venue: McLane Stadium
Spread: BAY -4.5
The Houston Cougars and Baylor Bears will face off in a game that will sit in the record books before it ever starts. After both teams were forced to call a COVID audible, this game was put together less than a week ago and announced over the weekend.
These two head coaches are Mike Leach disciples, but take very different approaches to the game. Cougars HC Dana Holgorsen is an offensive mastermind that has a goal of outscoring his opponent. Bears HC Dave Aranda is a defensive savant and he’s getting his first head coaching gig after winning the championship as LSU’s defensive coordinator a year ago.
While Baylor and Houston will play very different styles of football, Vegas still expects the game to be high-scoring and competitive. Let’s dive into what each of these teams will look to do with the ball when it’s in their possession.
When The Houston Cougars Have The Ball
The Cougars were fortunate enough to have D’Eriq King in the first place, but him leaving the program was a bit of a shock and his back-and-forth mindset couldn’t have helped recruiting.
Junior QB Clayton Tune will have to be better in this system if the Cougars want to be taken seriously. Holgorsen relies on his QB to be efficient and get the ball downfield, and 11 TD’s to nine interceptions is simply not enough to get things done.
Tune will have a great opportunity to improve with just about every skill position player for Houston returning plus some. A lot of the talent was redshirted in 2019, so we’ll see a much better Houston team overall this season. Against Baylor, he’ll have to step up as they won’t run the ball with ease.
Running backs Kyle Porter and Mulbah Car will head the backfield and I expect redshirt freshman Terrell Brown to make an impact as a change of pace back. Car averaged nearly seven yards per carry and is the team’s most explosive player on the field.
Leading receiver Marquez Stevenson caught 52 balls for 907 yards and nine touchdowns in 2019. With that said, Keith Corbin redshirted and he’s the team’s best wideout. If Tune can give him a lot more to work with, Corbin is one of the more talented receivers in the nation and he can make an impact against Baylor. Jeremy Singleton and Christian Trahan return as well and the familiarity with Tune should only mean positive things going into 2020.
Holgorsen knew Houston wouldn’t be great in 2019 after redshirting nearly half of the starters. That all changes this year as the coaching staff looks to make a massive leap in year two. I’m a believer, but this is a tough matchup.
When The Baylor Bears Have The Ball
Similarly to the Cougars, Baylor doesn’t lose much on the offensive side of the ball. QB Charlie Brewer is coming off a season in which he threw for 3,160 yards, 21 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
RB John Lovett split time with JaMycal Hasty (graduated), but managed to average a whopping 6.4 YPC and he’ll see a workhorse load in 2020. Senior Trestan Ebner will spell him as a pass-catcher.
WR Denzel Mims is off to play for the Packers, but nine of 11 starters return and there is adequate talent at wide receiver. Tyquan Thornton and R.J. Sneed combined for 1,219 yards and eight touchdowns in ‘19 and they’ll be asked to step up in a big way in Mims absence.
Head coach Dave Aranda is going to focus on the defensive side of the ball and it’s only fair to assume an already solid defense will only get better. Terrel Bernard led the Bears with 112 tackles in 2019 and is one of the best linebackers in the country. He’s going to be a fun toy for Aranda to play with as he is extremely versatile, able to both rush the QB and drop back in coverage.
If this was 2019, the Baylor Bears would be big favorites in this game. Dana Holgorsen punted last season and redshirted a lot of his starting talent. They’re getting 4.5 points here in a game I think they have a great shot to win.
This contest likely comes down to whether the Baylor Bears wide receivers can beat the talented Houston secondary one-on-one or not. John Lovett is going to have success early on if Houston runs their base defense. The Cougars aren’t great up front and they’ll need to stack the box to slow them down. When they do, it’ll come down to those WR’s vs a secondary that hunts for turnovers.
This Houston offense is going to look new and improved in 2020 and I expect the Bears to deal with some growing pains under a 1st-year head coach. Aranda is phenomenal and I expect all to be fine, but this pandemic forced teams into shortened camps and there could be some issues at no fault to his own. Give me the Houston Cougars with the points and I’m a fan of the ML as well.
The Pick: Houston Cougars +4.5
Alternate Pick: Houston to win +150
Give me the over here all day long as my favorite bet in this game. Both of these offenses like to play fast and while the Bears bring in one of the better defensive minds in college football, that’s not going to happen overnight. He will recruit his type of defense and we will see the result in years following.
The Bears are still going to play fast and we know Houston has one goal. To outscore their opponent. Clayton Tune is in his second year under this system and with these receivers. We know Baylor will score against a middling Cougars D. Expect points early and often here and for the over to hit comfortably.
The Pick: Over 62
Final Score Prediction: Houston Cougars 38, Baylor Bears 35